Minsk, Belarus, is the capital and largest city in Belarus, situated on the Svislach and Niamiha rivers. Minsk is also a headquarters of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Minsk is located on the southeastern slope of the Minsk Hills, a region of rolling hills running from the southwest to the northeast, to the Lukomskaye lake in northwestern Belarus. Minsk is located in the area of mixed forests typical for most of Belarus. Pinewood and mixed forests are still present at the edge of the city, especially in the north and east. Some of the forests were transformed into parks (for example, the Chelyuskinites Park).
Minsk is the major cultural center of Belarus. Its first theatres and libraries were established in the middle of the 19th century. Now it has 11 theaters and 16 museums. There are 20 cinemas and 139 libraries. Cultural sites include: The Orthodox Cathedral of the Holy Spirit is actually the former church of the Bernardine convent. It was built in the simplified Baroque style in 1642–87 and went through renovations in 1741 to 46 and 1869; the Cathedral of Saint Virgin Mary was built by the Jesuits as their monastery church in the early 1700s, restored in 1951 and 1997; it overlooks the recently restored 18th-century city hall, located on the other side of the Independence Square; and two other historic churches are the cathedral of Saint Joseph, formerly affiliated with the Bernardine monastery, built in 1644 to 52 and repaired in 1983, and the fortified church of Sts. Peter and Paul, originally built in the 1620s and recently restored, complete with its flanking twin towers. Major theaters are: National Academic Big Opera and Ballet Theatre of the Republic of Belarus; Belarusian State Musical Theatre (performances in Russian); Maxim Gorky National Drama Theatre (performances in Russian); and Yanka Kupala National Drama Theatre (performances in Belarusian). Major museums include: Belarusian Great Patriotic War Museum; Belarusian National Arts Museum; Belarusian National History and Culture Museum; Belarusian Nature and Environment Museum; Ethnography and Folklore Museum; Maksim Bahdanovic Literary Museum; Old Belarusian History Museum; and Yanka Kupala Literary Museum. There are more than 30 nightclubs in Minsk.
The traditional Slavic restaurants in Minsk offer a variety of dishes, many of which are influenced by the flavors of the Far East and the West. At local restaurants, expect to be served pork in addition to a lot of mushrooms and potatoes. Try the unique Mochanka, a soup thickened with lard and served with pancakes.
Minsk 2 Airport is 27 miles east of the city center. Buses and taxis are available to the city center; travel time is about 60 minutes. Minsk 1 Airport offers flights to destinations including Kiev and Stockholm, plus international flights to regional cities. All trains arrive and depart from Minsk Central Railway Station located in the center of Minsk. There are several lines from Berlin via Warsaw and Brest with connections to Minsk. Another line runs from Vienna via Warsaw and Brest. Further direct trains are available from other cities, including Kaliningrad, Moscow, Odessa, Riga and Vilnius. Belarus has a temperate continental climate with medium to heavy rainfall in winter.
Minsk has a warm summer humid continental climate, owing to its location between the strong influence of the moist air of the Atlantic Ocean and the dry air of the Eurasian land mass. Its weather is, however, unstable and tends to change often.