The thematic exhibition "The Ancient Cities of Belarus", timed to coincide with the Year of Remembrance, is on show from 24 January in the 3rd-floor circular gallery.
Cities of the Belarusian land... Each of them has its own unique face, its own destiny, its own achievements and losses. Some are famous for their ancient past, for their exceptional role in specific historical events, others for their architectural monuments and modern constructions, some for their achievements in the country's economic development, for their youth.
Like people, cities are born, grow, reach a certain peak, then grow old and sometimes disappear. The first cities in the territory of Belarus appeared in the 9th-14th centuries. In the 10th century Polack and Turau already existed, and documents from the 11th century mention Brest, Minsk, Pinsk and Viciebsk. In the 12th century, Barysau, Homiel, Mscislaul, Rahachou, Sluck appeared. At the beginning of the 20th century, there were only 44 towns in Belarus, while in 1941 there were 65. Now there are 113 cities in our country. The exhibition takes the visitor on a unique journey through ancient cities and those celebrating their anniversaries this year, from the oldest to the youngest. There are more than 150 exhibits on display.
The exhibition opens with the best navigator of the Belarusian lands of its time, a facsimile of the famous Radziwill map of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (1648). It is the first accurate map of the country, showing 1,039 localities, including 342 in Belarus. The masterpiece was created by Tamash Makouski, a painter and engraver at the court of Prince Radziwill in Niasvizh, and Hessel Gerritsz, a Dutch engraver and cartographer for the Blaeu’s workshop in Amsterdam.
Original postcards from the late 19th and early 20th centuries offer a complete picture of a city from a bird's eye view, its sights - temples, squares, theatres, railway stations, picturesque streets and neighbourhoods, festive and everyday life and the culture of local residents.
Publications by researchers of cities and ancient cultural monuments add to the value of the exhibition. Among them is the prominent figure of Aliaksej Sapunou, historian, archaeographer and local history expert. His collection of documents on the history of the Viciebsk region from the 11th to the 19th centuries is demonstrated: "The Western Dvina River" (1893) and "Commemorative Book of the Viciebsk Province" (1902) with the owner's sign of the Sapunou's library.
Of particular interest is the Collection of Ancient Documents and Acts of the Cities of Minsk Province, Orthodox Monasteries, Churches and Miscellaneous Items (1848) with the ex-libris of Kark Chapski, the mayor of Minsk in 1890-1901.
The historical and local history digests, scientific works, historical essays, popular science editions on display testify to the fact that the ancient towns of Belarus had passed a difficult way of historical development as parts of various states, their residents created and preserved a considerable cultural heritage for their descendants, and famous personalities, natives of these places, made their small motherland famous by their work.
Richly illustrated albums and commemorative editions complement the exhibition.
We invite you to visit the exhibition until June 15, 2022.
The end date is subject to change.
The books presented at the exhibition can be ordered through the electronic catalogue of the National Library of Belarus.
For more info: (+375 17) 293 29 80.
Gallery and Exhibition Department