Godel’s guide to Grodno
Grodno is a popular place for travel, not only for Belarusians, but also for guests from neighbouring countries. In Grodno you will find truly historic places: beautiful cathedrals, ancient castles on high hills and beautiful narrow streets.
Having offices in different cities and countries are a great opportunity not only to visit colleagues, but also to get acquainted with new locations and be inspired by its history and culture. Our team recently took this chance to the fullest. This summer, Head of Data, Siarhei Oshyn visited Grodno for the first time, where he met with Jr. Data Software Engineer, Pavel Belevich, who is a member of the Godel Grodno team. The Godel Technologies office opened in the city back in 2017, and now employs a large (more than 130 people) and most importantly – a friendly team.
After the trip, Siarhei was happy to share his thoughts of the trip and talk through some of the must-see places of Grodno.
Where to go in Grodno first?
The first place must be Castle Hill. It is the only surviving royal castle in Belarus where Knyaz Vytautas once escaped a fire thanks to a hand monkey, and the King of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth Stephen Bathory turned the building into a large-scale royal residence.
It is from the Old Castle you can enjoy the picturesque views of the main river of Grodno – Neman. Whilst walking along the Neman, we can meet our Godel Grodno office – it is located in the BC “Neman Coast”.
Looking at the Old Castle, our colleagues went to inspect the New, which stands opposite the site of historical events of European level in the XVIII century. Built in the Rococo style, the castle went down in history thanks to the abdication of the last Polish king, Stanislaw August Poniatowski in 1795.
Next to the castle is the fire tower from the early twentieth century, built after the large-scale fire in 1885, now serving as part of The Ministry of Emergency Situations. Opposite the fire tower is the Great Choral Synagogue, which was built in the 16th century by the Italian architect Santi Gucci. Since then, the temple has survived two major fires, but has been rebuilt each time. Now the Great Choral Synagogue is the oldest and largest in Belarus.
“The Kalozha church of Sts. Boris and Gleb turned out to be surprisingly classy and this is the XII century! From the tour guide, we heard that this is the main gem of the city. I am glad that I managed to watch it live”, Siarhei shared with us.
“After visiting the church, you can take a walk in the beautiful Kalozhsky park – it’s great for taking walks with the family on the weekend.” – adds Pavel.
Next, we pass through the park – and find ourselves in the main square of the city.
The square is dominated by the Cathedral of St. Francis Xavier, which has the honorary status of “basilica minor” issued by the Pope. “Our guide told us about the main highlights of the temple,” recalls Siarhei. “It has one of the oldest tower clocks in Europe and a 21-metre wooden Baroque altar (also one of the tallest in Europe).”
Next to the church is the oldest pharmacy in Belarus (and the only pharmacy-museum). Walk a little through the park Zhiliber – and stop at the only one that operates in Belarus, the Lutheran Church of the early twentieth century. Not far from the church is the old building of Yanka Kupala University, the facade of which is covered with maiden grapes, which gives it a particularly mysterious look. The Haradnichanka River flows nearby, along which there is a cosy park “Swiss Valley”.
From the windows of the Godel office, we can see two octagonal water towers, Kasya and Basya. According to one of the urban legends, the towers were named after two waterworks workers: the accountant Basya and the head of the farm Kasya.
It is impossible to pass the Grodno Drama Theatre, which has the shape of an inverted crown. It is often included in the rankings of the best architecture of Soviet modernism. It is here we finish our cultural program, walking along Sovetskaya Street, looking at the busy people returning home from work and smiling locals.
Where are the best places to eat?
Since we are still walking along Sovetskaya Street, we can go to “Djezva” or “Cocoa” for a coffee – Pavel advises us about these coffee houses where you can also try local pastries.
The city has many cafes and restaurants of traditional Belarusian cuisine. For example, for more serious dishes, our colleagues advise to go to the restaurant “Belastok”. The team especially praise their potato pancakes with chicken, which Siarhei, for example, even brought back with him to Minsk.
The Godel team also like to go for lunch at the Veranda Cafe, which is located on the ground floor of our Grodno office. In the cafe you can try both local and European cuisine. Siarhei and Pavel decided to end the wonderful weekend in the restaurant “Zevan Castle”, which is located 5 km from Grodno on the territory of the estate Karobchitsy.
And what do our Godel travellers say?
“Of course, Grodno is very different from Minsk,” Siarhei continues. – I immediately noticed such a large number of hills, which offer magnificent views. And the old town is well preserved here. In Minsk, to find something like that, you need to go somewhere special, and here it is literally at every turn. And pedestrian Sovetskaya is a very nice place with small bars and restaurants. ”
“Grodno is a very interesting city in terms of historical events and religious heritage. All these centuries-old castles and cathedrals give it a special and magical atmosphere.” Pavel finishes.