1. Go on a boat trip along the Pina and Prypiać Rivers
Only a boat trip will give you an all-embracing idea of Pinsk, a city located at the juncture of several rivers and canals. You will sail along the Pina, Strumień and Prypiać Rivers in quite a short time, admire the most fascinating south panorama of Pinsk and the natural beauty of Zarečča borough, as well as get an insight into the history of three flotillas linked with Pinsk.
2. Visit the former Jesuit College, Pinsk’s oldest building
Ranking among the three best schools of higher learning in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the college was under the patronage of Viĺnia (now Vilnius) University. There was a time when the ‘apostle of Palieśsie’ Andrej Babolia, canonised by Pope Pius XI in 1938, was in charge of studies there. The college was the alma mater of a great many prominent personalities, such as poet, historian and religious and public figure Adam Naruševič (Naruszewicz), historian and geographer Karoĺ Vyrvič (Karol Wyrwicz), and the reformer of Palieśsie Maciej Butrymovič (Mateusz Butrymovicz).
3. Visit the Museum of Belarusian Palieśsie
The museum’s most precious exhibits include a Scandinavian fork shaped as a trident, which reminds the visitors of the time of the Vikings, a stone sarcophagus from Turaŭ, a royal deed of 1785, and a wooden bicycle that belonged to a denizen of Palieśsie Viktar Iĺjučyk. The museum takes pride in its art gallery, often called ‘the Tretyakov Gallery of Palieśsie’. It features the paintings of the nineteenth century Russian realist artists, such as Ivan Shishkin, Vasily Vasnetsov, Vasily Perov, Vasily Polenov, and Konstantin Makovsky, as well as other artists, including Yehuda Pen.
4. Take a stroll along the Pinsk pedestrian street
The main road in Pinsk, now called Lenin Street and loved by Pinsk dwellers for its pavements, lamp posts and a variety of shops and restaurants, became a traditional place for strolls as early as the nineteenth century. Historical buildings and creative design of each block, with lamp posts and benches, imaginative pavement patterns and floral arrangements, make it the most beautiful street in the Old City. Today, it has a lot to offer, too. The Pinsk pedestrian street begins with ‘the Town of Crafts’, and you are greeted on a stroll by a bronze Pinsk Dweller that exemplifies people who have lived on the outskirts of Pinsk for ages.
5. Get inspiration from the stunning Franciscan Monastery
The Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary (1712–30) is the gem of the whole ensemble. In 1996 it was elevated to Basilica minor, the title awarded to only three churches in Belarus. Its sumptuous interior is a marvel of wood carving, it is here that the Pinsk Madonna treads on the clouds and the people of Pinsk and its outskirts worship the Christ Child. Belarus’ second largest old organ takes pride of place in the church. The church bell tower, called ‘the Tower of Pisa in Pinsk’ owes its nickname to its slight lean. The monastery buildings are used at present as the seat of the curia of the Pinsk Bishopric and the Higher Catholic School of Theology, where Kazimir Śviontak (Kazimierz Świątek, 1914–2011), the first cardinal in the recent history of Belarus, studied in the 1930s.
6.Feel the history of ‘Pinsk Wall’ under your fingers
The first civilian brick building in the city, Butrymovič Palace (1784–90) came to be known as ‘Pinsk Wall’. Built in the transitional style from Baroque to Classicism, it saw a whole constellation of illustrious names, including its first owner Maciej Butrymovič, known as the reformer of Palieśsie, and his grandson artist and composer Napoleon Orda. They are featured on a special display in the left wing of the palace.
7. See the alma mater of the first President of Israel
The oldest grammar school in Pinsk housed different educational establishments in succession: a grammar school for the nobility, a non-classical grammar school, a non-classical secondary school, and a state grammar school for boys. The list of its famous alumni includes dozens of distinguished names, but those of the first President of Israel Chaim Weizmann and the Academician of Architecture Ivan Žaltoŭski invariably come first.
8. Visit the church where Jakub Kolas wedded his wife
The Cathedral of St Barbara is the oldest existing Orthodox church in Pinsk. It was built in 1770–86 in the Baroque style as a Catholic church affiliated with the Bernardine monastery. In the 1830s it was rebuilt and re-consecrated as an Orthodox church. It was here that Kanstancin Mickievič, who went on to become one of the founding fathers of new Belarusian literature, married Maryja Kamienskaja on 16 (3) June 1913. The icon of the Mother of God Hodegetria of Jerusalem, painted at the turn of the sixteenth century, takes pride of place among the churches old icons.
9. Take a stroll along the old suburb of Karalin
It was founded in 1690 by the Starasta (lit. Elder) of Pinsk Jan Karoĺ Doĺski, who invited rich jews of Pinsk to settle in Karalin by the walls of his castle. Karalin embankment ensured the local inhabitants had a steady income, so Karalin flourished, fiercely competing with Pinsk. Karalin’s face is the beginning of Savieckaja (Biernardynskaja) Street. As you walk around Karalin, you can travel over a hundred years back in time, when young Chaim Weizmann and little Golda Mabovitch (Golda Meir) used to go along its narrow streets. They rose to international fame as the President and Prime Minister of Israel, respectively.
10. Listen to organ music in the former church of the ‘communist’ priests
In 1695 Jan Karoĺ Doĺski invited to Karalin secular priests living in a commune from Italy. They came to be called communist monks for short. They engaged in bringing up young people and preparing them for an ecclesiastical career. Writer Uladzimir Karatkievič admired their church, which looked like a miniature fortress. The former Church of Carlo Borromeo (1770–82) now houses a municipal concert hall.
11. Visit places associated with Ryszard Kapuściński, the best known native of Pinsk
Ryszard Kapuściński (1932–2007) was the eminent Polish writer and journalist, who was awarded plenty of prestigious literary prizes and nominated twice for the Nobel Prize in Literature. He was born in Pinsk, in ‘hospital in Biernardynskaja Street’, baptized in the Catholic Cathedral and started school near 3 May Square. His parents were teachers and the Kapuściński family rented flats in Teadoraŭskaja, Kaliejevaja, Viasiolaja and Balotnaja Streets. One of the houses in Suvorov Street has a memorial plaque in honour of Ryszard Kapuściński, who immortalised the Pinsk of his childhood in his Empire.