Lew Sapieha, the birthplace of Tsmok, the unique nature … It is the Lepel Area that never ceases to amaze.
We continue to introduce our readers to the most fascinating and picturesque places of our homeland of Belarus.
There are countless places in the country that combine the beauty of nature, the smoothness of the lakes, and the grandeur of ancient churches and castles. This time we headed to the Lepel District. This area is truly extraordinary, mysterious, and enigmatic. It is rich in lakes and forests. Let's take, for example, the Berezinsky Biosphere Reserve. It is famous not only within our country, but also far beyond its borders!
Anyway, join our tour, and we will tell you about the unique objects of the Lepel Area, which are definitely worth visiting.
On the territory of Lepel District, there are 136 lakes with a total area of 5,015.8 hectares, as well as 20 small rivers and about 60 streams.
The famous politician of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania Lew Sapieha was the owner of the small town of “New (in some sources 'White') Lepel” since 1586.
There, at the beginning of the 17th century, he initiated the construction of a church. This prominent man played a major role in the history of Lepel, for which he was immortalized as a monument at the entrance to the town park in 2010.
According to historical sources, on the initiative of Lew Sapieha, a wooden church of St. Casimir was built in New (White) Lepel in 1604. The ancient church burned down: it was replaced by another building in 1779, but that one was destroyed by fire in 1833.
At the expense of the local landowner Petr Malchevsky, the construction of a stone church began in 1857. It was completed and consecrated in 1876. In the 1930s, the church did not function and remained closed. Church services resumed in the 1990s and are held today.
While walking around Lepel, tourists can see a curious sculptural composition called Pyatachok. The thing is that the central square of the town has a round¬ed shape and resembles a five-kopeck coin, therefore the locals call it Pyatachok. The sculptor Lev Aganov used the image of a popular hero of folk myths and legends — the merry, hard-working and resourceful Nesterka, who allegedly went to trade at the local market.
The Lepel Area is also famous for its Lepel MKK, the Branch of Vitebsk Meat-Packing Plant JSC. The company has established itself as a reliable partner, working with twenty countries around the world.
The branch produces canned milk powder, whole milk products, ice cream, and butter. Production of whole milk powder is one of the major activities of the company. By the way, the plant has mastered the production of whey-fat concentrate, which is the basis for whole milk substitutes for milking calves.
Lepel is recognized as the small motherland of Tsmok (a mythical character similar to Zmei Gorynich from Russian mythology and the dragon from the mythology of Southeast Asia), which settled in the town park on the shore of Lake Lepelskoye in the autumn of 2013. Vladimir Korotkevich wrote about tsmoks living in the local lake in his book “Christ Has Landed in Grodno”.
Head of the department of sports and tourism of the district executive committee, Yelena Skorbo, noted that the novel describes how 40 tsmoks died out in Lake Lepelskoye in one night in the Middle Ages, and gives a detailed description of the way the monsters looked.
“It is thanks to the imagination of Vladimir Korotkevich that the whole cultural and literary Belarus knows about the death of the scary creatures in the reservoir,” said Yelena Skorbo. This is evidenced by the questions about the existence of Tsmok in Lake Lepelskoye, which tourists ask. We can only confirm that Korotkevich did write about it. However, there are eyewitnesses who claim to have seen a monster in Lake Lepelskoye. The legend of it has been passed down from generation to generation among the locals. Some people hope to see it during the celebration of pagan festivals, such as Ivan Kupala Day, the summer solstice day. Over the past few years, however, this mythological character has gained great popularity among tourists. Since 2014, the annual festival “Visiting the Lepel Tsmok” has been held.
By the way, there has been a custom in the area since ancient times, and it has been described by ethnographers as follows: after the wedding, each couple had to bring drinks and food to Tsmok, who allegedly lived in the lake. Otherwise, you'll be in trouble.
The main gem in the treasury of nature of the Lepel District is the Berezinsky Biosphere Reserve, which is the only specially protected natural area (SPNA) of the highest rank in Belarus, which is a member of republican SPNAs.
In the meantime, did you know that the Berezinsky Reserve has the cleanest air (the soil monitoring station is located here) in Europe and is recognized as the benchmark. It is its composition by which experts assess the degree of air pollution in other regions. And, in fact, the reserve itself was founded thanks to … beavers! The thing is that in the old days it was prestigious to have a beaver fur coat. Moreover, the product of the beaver's gland — beaver jet — was highly valued because of its medicinal properties. This is the reason why these animals completely disappeared in Belarus in the early 20th century. At present, by the way, their numbers have been restored.
The Berezinsky Biosphere Reserve is also the largest scientific and educational institution of global significance with its center in the village of Domzheritsy, a perfect place for 6,000 species of animals, 139 of which are rare ones included in the Red Book of the Republic of Belarus.
The Nature Museum, Forest Zoo, Mythological Tourism Center (includes the Mythology Museum and the ecological trail “In the Land of Myths”), Honey Museum, walks on ecological trails, where you can watch the birds and other inhabitants of the reserve. Because of this and beyond, guests of the magnificent reserve can immerse themselves in the world of nature.
Let's stop at the Mythology Museum. The worldview of the ancient Slavs about the world order was taken as the basis. In ancient times, the world was seen as the “Tree of Life”, which greets guests at the threshold of the museum. Ancient Slavs believed that the roots were the underworld (and the concept of hell did not exist in those days, it came much later). According to the beliefs of our ancestors, it was the Kingdom of the Snake King. The trunk is the world of people, the crown is the world of heaven, where gods, birds, and the souls of dead people live.
“The ancestors believed that the souls of dead people turn into birds,” said Yelena Olshevskaya, Deputy Director of Tourism. “If a person was good in life, it turned into a noble bird, and if not so, then its soul was reincarnated as a crow.”
In the museum, they will tell you a lot of fascinating things about the old traditions, rituals, and holidays. For example, do you know where the tradition of wearing a pin came from? In the old days it was believed that mermaids could take men and women with them, so people needed to protect themselves. Therefore, the ancestors carried something sharp with them to prick the mermaid if necessary. Thus it became customary for everyone to carry a pin as an instrument of protection.
Our guide also told an interesting story about the Milky Way (also called a “goose track” in Belarus). This was believed to be the path by which birds flew “to the warm lands”, located on the seventh level of the sky. By the way, at the Mythology Museum you will learn where the expression “in seventh heaven” came from.
There is a mythological trail next to the museum. Its main feature is 17 unusual installations, created with the participation of famous Belarusian designers and sculptors. Among the identified characters are Mermaid, Polevik, Pushchevik, and others.
The Mythology Museum is equipped with a small solar power plant, which describes the mystery of solar energy in modern language.
The idea that in the reserve they know how to attract tourists is evidenced by the fact that the Museum of Honey was opened there a few years ago. Bee trees, honeycomb frames, chisels, and more are among the dozens of rarities on display.
It's also worth mentioning that adults and children can not only hear about how bees collect nectar, but also see it in the museum. There is an unusual exhibit — a transparent glass beehive, where a real bee family lives in the season. And you can watch what the striped insects are doing in their lodge.
Another attraction of the Berezinsky Reserve is the treatment apihouse. From May to September, tourists can take advantage of the health service — a sleep on the hives.
Apihouse is a small room, inside of which there are two beds placed directly above the hives. Small holes in the hive house allow essential oil vapors and honey aromas to penetrate. This creates a special healing air inside. Yelena Olshevskaya emphasized that such inhalations have a beneficial effect on the respiratory system and the human body in general, killing infections and pathogenic bacteria. Moreover, hive therapy helps with back pain, headaches, fatigue, stress, and insomnia.
“The apihouse is safe,” assured Yelena Olshevskaya. “There are no bees inside it (and they can't get in), but all of their products get in through the ventilation holes. You just sit on the couch and rest, or, even better, fall asleep, lulled by the steady buzzing of bees.”
Another attraction of Lepel that you just can't ignore is the Skarbonka Store at the local Center of Handicrafts.
Nobody will leave here empty-handed, I assure you. There is a wide range of souvenirs, including handmade products.
Exclusive souvenirs of arts and crafts presented in Skarbonka also became a kind of brand for numerous guests of the town. It is said that whoever has not visited Skarbonka has not learned what more than 50 local craftsmen, who are members of an association with the same name, are famous for.
Special attention at the Center of Handicrafts is given to belts and bedspreads — branded products of Lepel. Local needlewomen recreated an authentic blanket specific only to the land of Lepel and made in a unique technique of weaving.
At the Center of Handicrafts, each employee is literally “burning” with its work, so it is sincerely glad to share knowledge of folk crafts and cultural traditions of Lepel District with all comers. They offer tourists a tour or a master class in various types of crafts. There are also exhibitions of famous artists that take place here on a regular basis.
The Lepel Area is rich in sanatoriums and health resorts. We visited the Pearl Sanatorium Multifunctional Complex, which is unique in terms of location, comfort, range of medical and recreational services. It hospitably welcomes everyone and helps quickly and effectively restore strength and recharge energy at any time of the year.
A separate three-story building is located behind the territory of the children's sanatorium on the shore of the picturesque forest lake Shchibot. Just think about it — the aroma of pine forests, crystal-clear air, and a picturesque lake … Amazing!
Thanks to the walking distance to the main infrastructure of the sanatorium, you can enjoy a wide range of high-quality recreation for adults and families with children.
Vacationers are provided with a variety of medical services, high-tech medical equipment for diagnosis and treatment, spa procedures, procedures for body aesthetics, and assistance from highly qualified doctors and attentive nursing staff. Individual approach to treatment allows guests to strengthen health thoroughly and get a charge of vivacity and positive energy for a long time.
It is safe to say that the Pearl Sanatorium offers leisure activities at a high level. Vacationers can enjoy a phyto-bar, recreational facilities with tea stations and thematic leisure activities, chamber concerts, musical evenings, and live music.
How will we remember the Lepel District? It is a mystical, fabulous, rich in forests and waterways land full of attractions. To summarize, if you have not been in the Lepel Area yet, then do not hesitate to hit the road. You are guaranteed to have a great travel experience.
Проект подготовила Екатерина Ляховская,
видео Александра Ходюкова,
фото Дмитрия Осипова,
web-верстка Чимковский Пётр
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