Minsk, what did I expect? Having read that Minsk was mostly ruined in the WWII, and re-built in the 50s in stalinist style, I expected grayness, concrete and a healthy dose of depression. As the LP says, whatever you expect, you will most likely be surprised. Sounds about right.
In fact, Minsk was not like that but I still struggle to come up with a fitting description. First of all, it’s strikingly clean, almost sterile. Buildings are not shabby and crumbly like in other post-Soviet places I had been; at least not on the outside. Second, the boulevards are wide and airy. At night, they have this orange-white combo of lighting, which gives them uniform and almost royal look. Third, there’s plenty of trees and green, which makes the overall impression almost pleasant. That said, stalinist architecture abounds and is quite imposing, impersonal and would be overwhelming for longer stays.
There is also lots of new construction going on, apparently to build capacities for some hockey championship taking place in a couple of years or so.
Weird facts: There is quite a lot bicycle paths and lanes, well maintained, but I don’t think I saw even one cyclist. KGB headquarters, ‘nuff said. There is a state circus building. Even foreign business places have names transcribed in cyrillic, so TGIF is ТГИФ; but McDonald’s is exempt from this, and is still old boring McDonald’s.
Of the lot, probably my favorite picture would be this one – the statue of the horses gave the place a friendlier face, and combined with the autumn colors, almost a glimpse of homeliness ensued.