Authentic Belarusian small towns: churches and cherries of Hlybokaye

Ivan Makarov | Live the World

November 23, 2022

People from post-Soviet countries are often crazy about a particular delight — condensed milk or "sgushonka". It’s a plain sugar bomb! And if you don’t eat it straight from the can, it will drip everywhere. Belarus is well-known for its dairy factories, but only two of them produce this guilty pleasure. When our car was passing Hlybokaye on the way to the Elnya Bog, everybody voted for the sweet-stop. But, we’ve stayed for the whole day. In addition to condensed milk, this authentic Belarusian small town has lakes, statues, churches, and cherries.

Hlybokaye is first mentioned in 1414, like a village in the Great Dutchy of Lithuania. It is named after one of the five lakes around it. Swimming is allowed only in Mushkatskoye and Beglets. «Hlybokaye» means «deep» in Belarusian. It is comfortably divided into an old town with main points of attraction and downtown with factories and neighborhoods. The dairy plant is on the outskirts and offers no tours. Ask a shop assistant in any grocery store to give you a special «Hlybokskaya sgushonka» and explore the old town.

© wikimedia.commons/ Аляксандр Дзехцяронак

Dungeons and bell-towers

The best is to start with two churches in the old town. Both were designed as catholic churches and were ordered by local governor Iosif Korsak in the 17th century. You can find his bust in the central alley of townsmen between the Trinity Church and The Nativity of the Virgin Cathedral. In 1865, the Russian Empire authorities expelled the Discalced Carmelites order. Five years later, the empty cathedral was converted into Orthodox Christianity. This cathedral has the biggest dungeon in the whole Belarus. Originally an underground chamber for praying and ceremonies, it was turned into a crypt. In the USSR, a local conservative food canning plant used its cold spaces like a giant refrigerator. To get there, you need the local guide. Ask the lady in the church shop if the guide is available or find a local tour agency to arrange the tour on your own. The guide could also take you to the 24-meter high bell-tower. It is the best observation point in the whole town. 


Tanks, planes, and cherries

Victory Park is a 5-minute walk away from the churches. Don’t get confused with a weird cherry statue in front of the park. Hlybokaye bears the title of the «Cherry Capital of Belarus». Each July, farmers gather in Hlybokaye for a week-long cherry festival with tastings, gigs, and contests. There is a monument to Soviet soldiers, military vehicle and a plane in the park. You can chill in the park or walk the trail with several cute statues around Kagalnaye Lake. 

Constitution on the graveyard

Visiting cemetery is not always a gloomy experience. Baron Munchausen on a cannonball greets you at the entrance to Koptevka Cemetery. The local sculptor got the idea after discovering the grave of Ferdinand and Wilhelmine Munchausen. The real baron died in Germany. It is hard to tell if they have anything in common, so the statue is just a gimmick, but a nice looking one. There is a real point of interest in the middle of the cemetery - a memorial pillar in honor of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth Constitution.

© wikimedia.commons/ Аляксандр Дзехцяронак

Getting to Hlybokaye

It will take you from 2,5 to 3 hours to get to Hlybokaye from Minsk Central Bus Station. Go early and take a nap on the bus. They depart at 7:20, 8:30, 9:40, 11:50 or 12:20 on Sundays. Ticket costs 10-14 BYN (5-7 $/€ ). Getting back is harder. The latest bus leaves at 14:20, while the only train departs at 0:20. Route buses are irregular and don’t operate in English, so ask a local to check if there are any on the day of your trip. Or check your luck with BlaBlaCar.

© wikimedia.commons/balepc

Lakes, churches, and cherries in Hlybokaye are worth a separate visit. Here are some extra hints for the treasures of authentic Belarusian small towns in case you’d get there by car or a bicycle. A real military plain memorial at the town entrance honors Hlybokaye-born aircraft designer Pavel Sukhoi. Take some time to visit Dendrological Park - a free-entrance botanical garden. Anti-alcohol museum with great land-art awaits for you in Mosar. In the end, take a selfie with a small copy of the Eiffel Tower in the Paris village.

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