Island of Tears in Minsk: more than just a monument

Anano Chikhradze | Live the World

November 23, 2022

As I love history, I always loved visiting Minsk to explore it more and more. One of the most interesting places for me in this city is the Island of Tears. It is more than just a monument, and I will explain to you why. First of all, it is the monument to the fallen soldiers in the war in Afghanistan in 1979-1989. However, it is also a symbol of sorrow to all dead Belarusian warriors during the whole history of the country. 


More than 30,000 Belarusians took part in the war in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, around 800 soldiers died, several of them were lost, and many of them became disabled. The memorial complex is constructed on the artificial island that is located on the river Svislach. The Island of Tears is situated in the historical place that is the center of Minsk, and it is one of the main sightseeing points. The monument was built in 1985, when the war was still ongoing, while the complex was officially opened on the 3rd of August 1990. 

Picture © Credits to iStock/Olga355

A description of the Island

The Island of Tears can be reached by the arch-type bridge. Right after passing the bridge, you will see the icon of St. Mary, engraved in the stone. There is a script on the stone in Belarusian and Russian languages that says: “This memorial is built in the memory of the sons who were lost in Afghanistan, on behalf of the Belarusian mothers who do not want the evil to dominate on their or any other land.”

In the center of the memorial complex, you will see the chapel and the surnames of the 771 soldiers, written on the inner walls. Those soldiers are the ones who died in the war, and their relatives and family members can light a candle in front of each surname and pray for their souls. On the other side of the walls, you can see paintings that represent different scenes from the Bible. There is also a cross with an inlet ruby inside that rises above the church, and it is lighted by the lantern installed in the floor. The red stone is a symbol of the blood of Jesus Christ and the warriors who have died. 

Picture © Credits to iStock/bruev

A figure of a crying angel

The most breathtaking element of the memorial for me is the figure of a crying angel. The angel is crying because he could not save the Belarusian soldiers from death. The angel is also crying because he could not protect those who came back alive into their countries, as they have died anyway later because of the physical and spiritual trauma. Every year on the 15th of February, veterans of the war and the relatives of the dead and survived soldiers gather on the island to show their respect.

Picture © Credits to iStock/Dontsov

Tourists also visit the Island of Tears very often, and they agree with the fact that it is more than just a monument. If you visit this place, you will be amazed by its greatness and its deep aura. You will realize that there are things that are very important and worth thinking. Also, how meaningless is the war when the loss is very big. In my opinion, the author of this idea is a genius because he could express all those feelings and a big sorrow of the war. 

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