Minsk surprised me.
Brest disappointed me.
Grodno really won me over.
It started with my hotel – the Hotel Slavia, just blocks from the main square and a short walk from the bus station. Unlike the monstrous Soviet-era hotels I called home in Minsk and Brest, the Hotel Slavia felt more like a bread and breakfast.
When the receptionist cheerfully showed me to my room, I wondered if there had a been a mistake – I walked into a room close to the twice the size of any other hotel room I have stayed in on this trip. I had a double bed, couch, coat rack, flat screen TV, refrigerator, tea kettle and an enormous bathroom. I immediately regretted booking only two nights!
Luckily I fought the urge to just chill out in my luxurious hotel room and went out to explore the town.
Grodno (also known as Hrodna) sits near the borders with Poland and Lithuania and historically was part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and then the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. A Lithuanian Grand Duke was born in Grodno and two Polish kings died there.
The town wasn’t pulled into the Russian Empire until the late 18th century and wasn’t part of the Soviet Union until the start of World War II, when it was incorporated into the Belarussian Soviet Socialist Republic.
It didn’t surprise me, then, that Grodno didn’t feel very Russian or very Soviet at all.
Except, of course, for the fact that its main square is still called Sovyetskaya Square
Despite its precarious location, Grodno did not suffer severe damage during World War II. Therefore, many old buildings are still standing, including the Church of Saints Boris and Hleb, dating back to the 12th century, and the Bridgettine Convent, founded in 1642.
I can’t say there was really anything in particular to see in Grodno – no major sights other than a few churches, a nice park, and an underwhelming museum.
But everything was just so darned cute.
20 thoughts on “Grodno: The Cutest Town in Belarus”
My father was born there in1895 came to USA in 1913 thank God don’t know if he would have made it alive always wanted to see where he grew up
It was a great little town – hope you can get there someday!
If you ever get chance, you should go there. Its nice place with a lot of history WW2 and more.
I lived there for some time and even though a lot of upgrades were done its still beautiful city. Few new markets were opened.
Grodno is definitely the most beautiful city in Belarus. And it is not small at all with population of 400 000.
Love the brightly lit square and tree. Very festive, even if there was noone around. I imagine especially in the cold, people end up inside much more.
It actually wasn’t super cold when I was there (in the 30s) but it was drizzly so not ideal weather.
My name is Ekaterina from AlatanTour. It was very intresting to read your posts. I saw our country with your eyes and it seems very nice! Thanks for warm words! And it was pleasure to work with you! =)
Hi Ekaterina! Thanks for reading and thanks again for all of your help with planning my trip! It was a pleasure working with you as well. 🙂
Great post and wonderful photos. I love reading about your time in Belarus because it is definitely not a place I would have ever considered going. So you have me wondering …
Thanks Ellen! Yeah, Belarus definitely isn’t at the top of the list for most people, but I hope people will start thinking about it as a possible destination!
It DOES look very cute! That photo of the park is beautiful.
Thanks Amanda! Yeah, I pretty much walked around town, saying to myself “this is so cute” over and over again. 🙂
good to hear things like this! there is such little information about belarus out there in my opinion. and this town is really adorable. 🙂
Yep, hoping to spread the word that it’s a place worth thinking about visiting!
I love that there are still a lot of old buildings that didn’t get destroyed during the war. One of my favorite things about Europe is all the history, and it always makes me sad when a city’s historic buildings have been lost.
Yeah, it definitely had a different feel from Minsk, which was nice, but more modern because so much was destroyed. My favorite was the church from the 1200s (which is still in use – I was inside looking around and a funeral procession started coming in!)
That last picture looks like it could be at Disneyland, not in Belarus!
Haha, didn’t even think of that!
That was last days before snow snow snow :))
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