|• Mayor||Alexander Palishenkow|
|• Total||145 km2 (56 sq mi)|
|Elevation||280.4 m (919.9 ft)|
|• Density||2,100/km2 (5,600/sq mi)|
|Time zone||EET (UTC+2)|
|• Summer (DST)||EEST (UTC+3)|
|Area code(s)||+375 (0)162|
Brest (Belarusian: Брэст Brest or traditionally Берасце, Bierascie; Russian: Брест Brest; Lithuanian: Brestas, earlier name Lietuvos Brasta (literally, 'Lithuanian Ford'); Polish: Brześć; Ukrainian: Брест Brest, traditionally Берестя Berestia; Yiddish: בריסק Brisk), formerly also Brest-on-the-Bug ("Brześć nad Bugiem" in Polish) and Brest-Litovsk ("Brześć Litewski" in Polish, literally "Lithuanian Brest"), is a city (population 310,800 in 2010) in Belarus at the border with Poland opposite the city of Terespol, where the Bug River and Mukhavets rivers meet. It is the capital city of the Brest voblast.
The city of Brest is a historic site of many cultures. Here were concluded such important historical documents as the Union of Brest and Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. The city fortress was recognized by the Soviet Union as the Hero Fortress, a unique award.
The city, during medieval times, was part of the kingdom of Poland, from the 900s up until the Polish Partitions, where it became part of the Russian Empire in 1795. After World War I, however, the city again returned to the custody of Poland, until World War II temporarily when the city was taken by the Nazis. After the war, with the new boundaries with Poland, the city became part of the Soviet Union until the breakup of the country in 1991, placing the city in the custody of Belarus, where it remains today.
There are several theories of the city name origin. The most common are as follows,
- the name of the city comes from the Slavic root beresta meaning birch, bark,
- the name of the city comes from the Slavic root berest meaning elm,
- the name of the city comes from the Lithuanian word brasta meaning ford.
The Polish name for the city is Brześć, historically Brześć Litewski. The traditional Ukrainian name for the city is Берестя (transliterated Berestia).
Coat of arms
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The coat of arms features an arrow pointed upwards and a bow on a sky blue shield. It was adopted on January 26, 1991. Alternative coat of arms has a red shield, the first coat of arms of Brest was given by king Sigismund II Augustus in 1554.
|Climate data for Brest|
|Record high °C (°F)||11.6
|Average high °C (°F)||−0.1
|Daily mean °C (°F)||−2.6
|Average low °C (°F)||−4.9
|Record low °C (°F)||−35.5
|Precipitation mm (inches)||34
|Avg. precipitation days||11||9||12||12||16||16||16||12||15||14||14||13||160|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||49.6||70.6||133.3||177.0||238.7||249.0||260.4||241.8||171.0||114.7||45.0||31.0||1,782.1|
|Source #1: pogoda.ru.net|
|Source #2: HKO (sun only 1961-1990).|
The city was founded by the Slavs. As a town, Brest – Berestye in Kievan Rus – was first mentioned in the Primary Chronicle in 1019 when the Kievan Rus took the stronghold from the Poles. It is one of the oldest cities in Belarus. It was hotly contested between the Polish rulers (kings, principal dukes and dukes of Masovia) and Kievan Rus princes, laid waste by the Mongols in 1241 (see: Mongol invasion of Europe), and was not rebuilt until 1275. Later it was part of the territory of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.
In 1409 it was a meeting place of King Władysław II Jagiełło, duke Vytautas and Tatar khan under the archbishop Mikołaj Trąba initiative, to prepare for war with the Teutonic Knights. In 1410 the town mustered a cavalry company (banner) that participated in the Polish-Lithuanian victory at the battle of Grunwald. In 1419 it become a seat of the starost in the newly created Trakai Voivodeship. In 1500 it was burned again by Crimean Tatars. In 1566, following king Sigismund II Augustus decree, a new voivodeship was created - Brest Litovsk Voivodeship. After it became part of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1569, it was renamed Brest-Litovsk.
During the period of the union of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and Sweden under king Sigismund III Vasa (Polish–Swedish union), diets were held there. In 1594 and 1596 it was the meeting-place of two remarkable councils of regional bishops of the Roman-Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox Church. The 1596 council established the Uniate Church (known also as the Belarusian Greek Catholic Church in Belarus and Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Ukraine).
In 1657, and again in 1706, the town and castle were captured by the Swedes during their invasions of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. In an attack from the other direction, on January 13, 1660 the invading Muscovite Russian army under Ivan Andreyevich Khovansky took the Brest castle in a surprise early morning attack, the town having been captured earlier, and massacred the 1700 defenders and their families (according to captain Rosestein, Austrian observer). On July 23, 1792 a battle was fought between the regiments of Duchy of Lithuania (part of Polish Army) defending the town and the invading Russian Imperial Army.
On September 19, 1794 the area between Brest and Terespol was the scene of a victorious battle won by the invading Russian Imperial army under Suvorov over the Kościuszko Uprising army division under general Karol Sierakowski known in Russian sources as (Battle of Brest). Brest was annexed by Russia when the Poland-Lithuania Commonwealth was partitioned for the third time in 1795 (see: Partitions of Poland). During Russian rule in the 19th century, a large fortress was built in and around the city. The Russians demolished the Polish Royal Castle and most of the Old Town "to make room" for the fortress.
The town was captured by the German army in 1915, during World War I. In March 1918, in the Brest-Litovsk fortress on the western outskirts of Brest at the confluence of the Bug River and Mukhavets Rivers, the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was signed, ending the war between Soviet Russia and the Central Powers and transferring the city and its surrounding region to the sphere of influence of the German Empire. This treaty was subsequently annulled by the treaties which ended the war and even more so by the events and the developments in Germany and Eastern Europe.
In 1918, the city was declared part of the short-lived Belarusian Democratic Republic, then Podolia Governorate of Ukraine, to finally within Poland's borders following the Polish-Soviet War; a development that was formally recognized by the Treaty of Riga in 1921. In the fortress, heavily damaged during World War I, Polish Army troops with the headquarters of the 9th Military District were stationed, and the city itself became a capital of Polesie Voivodeship, in accordance of the pre-1795 tradition. In 1930 Wincenty Witos and some other prominent Polish statesmen were detained here before their trial in Warsaw.
During the Invasion of Poland in 1939 the city was defended by a small garrison of four infantry battalions under General Konstanty Plisowski against the XIX Panzer Corps of General Heinz Guderian. After four days of heavy fighting the Polish forces withdrew southwards on September 17 (more in articles: Battle of Brześć Litewski). Soviet Union's invasion occurred on the same day and as a result the Soviet Red Army entered the city at the end of September 1939 in accordance with the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact's Secret Protocol, and a joint Nazi-Soviet military parade took place on September 22, 1939. While Belarusians consider it a reunification of the Belarusian nation under one constituency (BSSR at that time), Poles consider it the date when the city was lost. During the Soviet control 1939-41 the Polish population was subject to arrests, executions and mass deportations to Siberia and Soviet Republic of Kazakhstan.
On June 22, 1941 the fortress and the city were attacked by Nazi Germany at the beginning of the Soviet-Nazi war, Operation Barbarossa, but held out for six days. Abandoned by the Soviet army nearly all the defenders perished. Brest was transferred to the control of the Reichskommissariat Ukraine. Brest's Jewish community was devastated under Nazi rule in 1942 of the 30,000 Jewish population only 7 Jews survived the Nazi exterminations. The city was liberated by the Red Army on July 28, 1944.
Following to the agreements of the Yalta Conference of February 1945, Brest's status as part of the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic was officially recognized in spite of Polish protests. The Poles of Brest, after 1,000 years of history, were encouraged to emigrate and during the 1940s and 1950s the majority left for Communist Poland. Today, Poles are about 1% of the population.
Sights in Brest
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (October 2012)|
A majestic Soviet-era war memorial was constructed on the site of the 1941 battle, to commemorate the known and unknown defenders of the Hero-Fortress. This war memorial is the largest tourist attraction of the city. The Berestye Archeological Museum of the old city is located on the southern island of the Hero-Fortress. It has objects and huts dating from the 11th – 13th century, that were unearthed during excavations in the 1970s. Brest is proud of its shopping mall, Sovietskaya Street. It was dramatically reconstructed in 2007–2009 to revive the initial view of the old town. In July 2009 the Millennium Monument of Brest was unveiled.
The Museum of Rescued Art Treasures has a nice collection of paintings and icons.
Brest also has the first Belarusian outdoor railway museum.
Earlier in Brest there was a synagogue, which was regarded as the first one in Grand Duchy of Lithuania. It is also the seat of an Armenian and of a Greek Catholic bishop; the former has jurisdiction over the Armenians throughout the whole country.
Brest City Park is 100 years old, but looks quite new after recent reconstruction.
Being situated on the main railway line connecting Berlin and Moscow, and an intercontinental highway (the European route E30), Brest became a principal border crossing since World War II in Soviet times. Today it links the European Union and the Commonwealth of Independent States.
Because of the break-of-gauge at Brest, where the Russian broad gauge meets the European standard gauge, all passenger trains, coming from Poland, must have their bogies replaced here, to travel on across Belarus, and the freight must be transloaded from cars of one gauge to cars of another. Some of the land in the Brest rail yards remains contaminated as a result of the transshipment of radioactive materials here since Soviet days although cleanup operations have been taking place.
Brest lies astride the Mukhavets River, that is known to Bresters as "the river". The river flows west through the city, dividing it into north and south, and meets the Bug River in the Brest Fortress. The river flows slowly and gently. You can hop into a tire innertube and take a relaxing float down this river. Today the river looks quite broad in Brest. The terrain is fairly flat around Brest. The river has an extremely broad floodplain, that is about 2 to 3 kilometres (1 to 2 miles) across. Brest was subject to flooding in the past. One of the worst floods in recorded history occurred in 1974.
A part of the floodplain was reclaimed by method of hydraulic mining. In the 1980s big cutter-suction dredgers were mining sand and clay from the riverbed, to build up the banks. After the dredging the river became deeper and the riverbanks higher. Today the river does not overflow its banks.
In the 2000s, two new residential areas are being developed in the southwest of Brest.
To the east of Brest the Dnieper-Bug Canal was built in the mid-nineteenth century to join the river to the Pina, a tributary of the Pripyat River which in turn drains into the Dnieper River. Thus Brest has a shipping route all the way to the Black Sea. If not for a dam and neglected weirs west of Brest, north-western European shipping would be connected with the Black Sea also.
The sport venues appeared on the northern riverside on the hydraulic fill, comprising an indoor track-and-field center, the Brest Ice Palace (Ice Arena) and Belarus' first outdoor baseball stadium. On the opposite riverside is a large rowing course opened in 2007, home of the National Center for Olympic Training in Rowing. It meets international requirements and can host international competitions. It has accommodation and training facilities, favorable location, 3 kilometres (2 miles) away from the border crossing along Warsaw Highway (the European route E30).
Sights around Brest
Belavezhskaya Pushcha National Park, 70 km (43 mi) north of Brest, is a biosphere reserve of world distinction and can be reached by car or bus. This medieval forest is home to rare European bison (wisent). There is a museum and a zoo, available for tourists in the forest, animals can be seen in enclosures all the year round. 2 hotels and some restaurants and bars are there. Excursions can also be taken by horse and cart into the interior of the forest. As a new tourist attraction, the forest features the residence of Grandfather Frost, known as Ded Moroz, the Eastern Slavic Santa Claus, that works all the year round.
Brest also hosts the first Belarusian outdoor railway museum. Brest City Park is old, but looks new after the recent reconstruction.
Kamyanets, Belarus, that lies on the way to the National park from Brest, features an outstanding landmark, the 13th-century tower of Kamyanets. The village of Kosova, where Tadeusz Kościuszko was born, is also in the Brest region and features a 19th-century palace and a nice Roman Catholic church.
Twin towns — Sister cities
- Menachem Begin, late Prime Minister of Israel
- Anabela Belikova, fashion model
- Jarosław Dąbrowski, Polish revolutionary and general
- David Dubinsky, head of the International Ladies Garment Workers' Union
- Louis Gruenberg, composer
- Nikolay Karpol, Russian women's volleyball coach
- Jan Lebenstein, Polish painter (pl)
- Pyotr Masherov, secretary of Belarusian committee of the Communist Party of Soviet Union
- Yulia Nesterenko, women's Olympic 100 m champion
- Louis Pizitz, founder of Pizitz department store chain
- Lois Pozez, founder of Payless ShoeSource
- The Soloveitchik rabbinical family associated with the Brisk yeshivas, and descendant Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik
- David B. Steinman, American structural engineer. He was the designer of the Mackinac Bridge even called "Big Mac".
- Ganna Walska, Polish opera singer
- Leontij Dovbush, (1935-2002) Belarusian artist 
- Encyclopedia Lituanica. Boston, Massachusetts, Vol. I, p.409. LCC74-114275
- "pogoda.ru.net –Climate Data for Brest 1981-2010". pogoda.ru.net. August 2011. Retrieved 26 April 2012.
- Climatological Information for Brest, Belarus, Hong Kong Observatory, accessed 26 April 2012.
- Joshua D. Zimmerman, Poles, Jews, and the politics of nationality, University of Wisconsin Press, 2004, ISBN 0-299-19464-7, Google Print, p.16
- Christopher R. Browning, Nazi policy, Jewish workers, German killers', Google Print, p.124
- "Побратимские связи г. Бреста". city.brest.by (in Russian). Retrieved 8 March 2010.
- "Офіційний сайт міста Івано-Франківська". mvk.if.ua (in Ukrainian). Retrieved 7 March 2010.
- "Miasta Partnerskie Lublina" [Lublin - Partnership Cities]. Urząd Miasta Lublin [City of Lublin] (in Polish). Archived from the original on 2013-01-16. Retrieved 2013-08-07.
- "Embassy of the Republic of Belarus in the Kingdom of the Netherlands - News of the Embassy". Netherlands.mfa.gov.by. 2011-05-16. Retrieved 2013-03-26.
- Dictionary of Minor Planet Names – p.269
- L. Dovbush
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|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Brest_(Belarus).|
|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Brest-Litovsk.|