There is a hidden corner in the northeast of our country. This wonderful land is spread on the map like a green page of forests and swamps Vitebsk region - Gorodok district. These places do not advertise fashion magazines, they are not included in the top places recommended for visiting and crowds of tourists do not rush here. In some places it is impossible to drive, and sometimes even pass, unstable mobile communications, a lot of water and mosquitoes.

Vitebsk region

And yes, the bears are getting divorced. But for some reason, those who have been here always come back. What for? For pleasure, of course! Agree - it is tempting to proudly announce in the office that you are leaving for places so remote from civilization. Yes, you will have to listen to sarcastic remarks, endure skeptical smiles. And only then, watching the sun quietly fall into the waters of the ancient lake, you suddenly realize that you are now on the island, absolutely one on one with the outside world, without intrusive intermediaries, continuously connecting you with someone with or without reason - and this really cool!

Eyes and ears open, and you are surprised to discover how amazing it is outside the dusty city. And there is something to see here.

In a remote village Belts, on the edge of civilization, an old wooden church lurked. They say that this is the easternmost Catholic church. Silently and alone, he stands among large trees, surrounded by scattered gravestones.

The times of its glory are in the distant past, when in 1896 the church was erected at the expense and by order of the Latvian community by Polish craftsmen. The temple is boarded up, but looking through the crack, you can see on the wall ... palm trees. It turns out that initially the walls of the temple were decorated with paintings on canvas. Alas, thanks to “kind” people, now only a few imprints of biblical scenes remain, including palm trees over the sacred Jordan River, which looks very exotic for our latitudes. It can be seen that something was added to the temple not so long ago.

We managed to find information that the church was transferred to the Orthodox Church in the early 2000s. But the temple is Catholic (or rather Lutheran) and they began to remake it in their own way without preserving historical features. Then the authorities by a strong-willed decision stopped this initiative. But there are no Catholics in these parts and there is no one to restore it. They say that there was even an option to disassemble it and transport it somewhere, but it is clear that he will not survive this.

Later, a caring person was found - Anatoly Dorofeev, Vice-Rector of Vitebsk University. He found interested investors in creating a museum of Belarusian culture in the church. But, as always, the matter ran into some bureaucratic moments, and a good person is no longer in this world. The door was boarded up and forgotten about. Near the porch are stone tombstones.

It becomes even sadder when you read that the church used to have a hewn stone fence. Behind it was a cemetery where gentlemen from the surrounding estates were buried. During the years of the struggle against religion, the crypts were dismantled. They say that in one of the crypts they found a coffin with a decayed body of a woman, on the clothes and shoes of the deceased there were gold buttons and buckles. The youth then sold these valuables for a liter of moonshine. And the townspeople made stoves from the brick of the vaults. The metal roof of the temple did not survive either: it was removed, and buckets were made from this metal, which were then used in the household. The temple itself for many years became a collective farm warehouse, where grain, salt, mineral fertilizers, and animal feed were stored. But if he survived all this, maybe he will live to see better times. Moreover, through the boarded up door you can see what powerful oak trunks lie at its base.

Continuation of the Latvian trace on Belarusian soil in a neighboring village Potash - the ruins of a school built in 1912.

The house had three classrooms, a hostel, rooms for teachers, a kitchen. This is what she looked like when she was young:

And now:

At the same time, the building was also used as a prayer house, which was closed in 1918. Looking at the ruins of the building, you can see how interestingly it was heated - chimneys radiate from a large stove in different directions.

Very close, behind a ravine on a steep hillock, there is an old Latvian cemetery. Old tombstones are randomly scattered in the fallen leaves. Some of the inscriptions are still clearly visible. Everything here evokes the frailty of life and the futility of human efforts.

These ruins open a sad page in the history of the "migration of peoples". First, a voluntary and hopeful exodus of Latvians from the lands of Courland and Livonia to the hospitable Belarusian land. And after thirty years of forced and cruel eviction from the land that suddenly became a stepmother to Siberia or to that very hillock behind the village.

No less sad and not so long history - the events of the Great Patriotic War. Here in these partisan lands, signs of those terrible days are found everywhere: commemorative signs on the site of burned villages, monuments to fallen soldiers and graves of unknown soldiers.

But, perhaps, the most vivid impression is left by a huge monument to partisans, which is located in a deep forest, at the location of one of the largest partisan camps.

In 1941-43 Shchelbovsky forests were inhabited by thousands of Belarusian partisans united in detachments. The bases of 7 partisan brigades were located here, including the 1st Belarusian brigade under the command of the Hero of the Soviet Union Minai Filippovich Shmyrev, better known as "Old Man Minai". According to some data in the triangle Vitebsk - Nevel - Surazh - Usvyaty - Vitebsk more than 12 thousand partisans acted.

Back in September 1942, the command of the 2nd Belarusian brigade decided to build winter camps deep in the Shchelbovsky forest, in the Golden Borok tract. Here was the base for the headquarters of the brigade, detachments and the hospital. Within three weeks, camps were built in the mighty pine forest for all 9 detachments of the brigade and its headquarters. Dugouts were built for the camp guards and dugouts for the hospital. Two kilometers to the east, a similar camp was built for the brigade. Kutuzov. This partisan town was called "Komsomolsk».

At the end of February, beginning of March 1943, during the punitive operations carried out by the German fascists, tens of thousands of civilians gathered in the places of partisan camps. A few kilometers from them, from all sides, partisan detachments and brigades were fighting. The fighting went on continuously both day and night. Particular difficulties were the lack of ammunition and the shelter of the wounded. Our aviation could not provide assistance to the partisans due to bad weather. At that time, there was an abnormal heat: the snow was melting, rivers, lakes and swamps were filled with water. Crossing them, the partisans and the population walked waist-deep in water. According to eyewitnesses, at the end of those fierce battles, the losses from both the enemies and the partisans were simply colossal. Today, almost nothing reminds of those terrible days, only the vigilant partisan-giant constantly keeps his watch.

As a symbol of rebirth and the triumph of life, a new temple has appeared in these picturesque places today. V village village, which stands on Lake Tiosto, there is an amazing place - a diocesan skete in honor of Saints Peter and Paul.

The history of the emergence of this quiet monastery in the backwoods of Gorodok is very interesting. Previously, this estate belonged to Timoshin family. Her master Sergey Dmitrievich, was a famous photographer in Russia. The artist was seriously ill and in 2003, three days before his death, he took monastic tonsure, and bequeathed the estate to the Vitebsk diocese.

A strange feeling arises when, passing by the abandoned houses of the Village and gardens overgrown with lush vegetation, you suddenly see the shining golden domes of the Church of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul on the hill.

There is also a peasant farm here.Petrovsko-Pavlovskoe"- a herd of sheep, goats, cows, a couple of horses, chickens, turkeys.

The novices help to cope with the household, for whom, according to their stories, obedience in a secluded skete helps to return to the true path.

Here is another new attraction - the nursery of northern maral deer.

Russian entrepreneurs leased several dozen hectares of land and built huge deer enclosures. Everything here is up-to-date – technology, video surveillance. There are many deer - whole herds, but sometimes it is difficult to see them, as they graze far from the road. And if you are lucky to get during feeding, you can see them in all their glory.

Reindeer are planned to be bred for sale in forestries, hunting farms, nature reserves and sanctuaries in Belarus. Over time, the farm plans to conduct ecological excursions and organize tours for domestic and foreign tourists.

But all this is just traces of a person on this earth, and the most attractive thing in these places is the miraculous beauty that surrounds you from all sides.

Lakes with strange names - Medesno, Tiosto, Tanay, - spread out in full breadth.

Their shores keep the secrets of ancient people who left their mark in the form of mounds - volotovok, and the waters have preserved for us a relic walnut - chilim.

Fairy swamps with unprecedented herbs:

and endless forests with thousands of shades of moss:

Forest roads, on which traces of bicycle tires and the bare heel of a bear cub peacefully coexist.

In these places there is a feeling that you are not the owner here, which arises when you disturb a duck family, reluctantly leaving their home on the river bank. Or, suddenly appearing, you will interrupt the water procedures of a hefty beaver.

When a raccoon dog slyly looks at you from the other side, and a huge elk runs across the road in front of the bike.

And then, at home, turning over in your memory these green pages smelling of strawberries, you understand that you will definitely come back here.

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