Central part of the city Vitebsk stores a huge history, including some that has been partially lost and forgotten. So, for example, on the site of today’s parking lot (the intersection of Lenin Street and Frunze Avenue) there was a Jesuit monastery with an impressive Church of St. Joseph (later - St. Nicholas Cathedral).

Jesuit Church and St. Nicholas Cathedral in Vitebsk
schematic representation of the cathedral and monastery building on a modern landscape

The first complex, still wooden, was built by the Jesuits in the mid-17th century. The construction of the stone church began already under the castellan and the governor of Vitebsk - Mikhail Martian Oginsky. It is believed that these works were completed in 1731, but the construction of residential buildings for monks and the development of the Jesuit college itself continued until the very end of the 18th century.

Where was the Cathedral of St. Nicholas in Vitebsk?
This is what the temple looked like in 1943, photo: be-tarask.wikipedia
Where was the Jesuit Church in Vitebsk?
The same month sunny

In almost all pictures and photographs that have survived to this day, the temple is recorded as it was after it was reconsecrated to St. Nicholas Cathedral (1843). Of course, the ancient church was then rebuilt according to Orthodox canons and architectural traditions. The main changes affected the towers, facade and interior. In addition, the complex lost its gate-bell tower, which was located to the left of the temple.

Where was the Jesuit Church in Vitebsk?
Zdymak with Kalektsy Viktar Barysenok. Prykladna 1943

Despite all these changes, the architecture of the temple remained unique; it showed a transition from Baroque to Classicism. What is quite atypical, the facade of the temple was decorated with windows of various shapes - rectangular at the bottom, arched at the top.

Where was the Church of St. Joseph in Vitebsk
war period photo

The church-cathedral in Vitebsk saw many changes, reconstructions, destruction, several wars, but in the middle of the 20th century a radical decision was made - to demolish this complex. Today, in its place is Freedom Square. What’s interesting is that conversations about rebuilding this unique monument have been going on for a long time. Moreover, the foundations of the old temple still remain underground. In this regard, Vitebsk is no stranger to restoring destroyed historical objects: Assumption Cathedral, Resurrection Church, Church of the Annunciation.

The lost heritage of Vitebsk - the Jeusite Church
1944, Zdymak from ebay site

In the bottom photo, see how the main churches of Vitebsk were located in the mid-19th century.

Vitebsk old town shot
source: VOCM, 1873

The same angle, but in 2024, it is clearly visible that there is room for restoration Church of St. Anthony and St. Nicholas Cathedral are free. We can only hope that over time funds will appear for this work.

View of Vitebsk from the town hall

Below is a point with the place where the Jesuit church in Vitebsk used to be:

If you are in this unique city, I advise you to take a walk to the old part and see how the synagogue was restored.

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