Cathedral of St Sophia

Construction date: Build in the mid-11th century

Location: Polatsk

Type: Church

Geographic coordinates: 55.486134774604714,28.75767409801483

Welcome to Polatsk – the oldest town in Belarus and Eastern Europe.The town came into existence on an ancient trade route Between the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea and was first mentioned in 862 A.D. Having become the capital of the biggest principality in Europe, the town was the centre of Polatsk land for a thousand of years. A contemporary and a rival of Kiev and Novgorod, Polatsk became the cradle of Belarusian statehood, the mercantile centre of Slavs of the Western Dvina. Gifted architects, skillful craftsmen and jewelers gained fame to the town. More than 11 centuries have passed, but the glory of Polatsk has not grown dark. The archeological and architectural memorials preserved in our town endow it with uniqueness and charm.

On the high bank of the Western Dvina, near the Palata river mouth, the Cathedral of Holy Sophia built of white stone, raises its towers towards the sky. Build in the mid-11th century in pursuance of Vseslav the Magician’s order and reconstructed in the 18th century in the baroque style of Belarusian trend, the cathedral has always been a symbol of power and independence. Nowadays it houses a museum and a concert hall and a solemn organ music sounds under the vaults of the ancient church.

The Holy Sophia construction marked the birth of the Polatsk architect schooland influenced greatly its progress in the 12-th century. Talent and ability of Polatsk architects were embodied in the mid-12th century. It was built by an architect of Polatsk. The church is fine specimen of architectural memorials of the Slavonic peoples. Having provided the church with all the necessary things Euphrosine enclosed into it a golden cross with holy relics. The name of the man who produced the cross was Lasar Bogsha, one of the few ancient craftsmen whose name we know. The cross is the rarest piece of the jewelry craft of the 12th century. The buildings of the former Jezuitic Academy give evidence of rich cultural and educational traditions of our country.

Polatsk is a home town of Frantsysk Skaryna, a Belarusian humanist and educator, the first book-printer of Belarus. He gifted our people Bible printed in the Old Belarusian language in Prague.

In the 17-th century Simeon of Polatsk, a poet and a playwright, the beginner of school dramatic art lived and worked in Polatsk. The rampart of Ivan the terrible, Red Bridge, Peter the Great House and other memorials remind us of martial glory of our town-dwellers.

Today Polatsk is a big industrial centre of the Vitebsk province. In the town our guest can visit the Cathedral of Holy Sophia, the Museum of Book-printing, the Museum-library of Simeon  of Polatsk, the Museum of Weaving, art gallery and other places of interest.

Close to the ancient Polatsk a young town of Belarusian oil-industry workers stands. Navapolatsk, whose history began in 1958, invites you to visit the Museum of the Town History and culture, an art gallery, artists and folk craftsmen studios.

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