The church of Saints Simon and Helena, also known as the red church, was built between 1905 and 1910. In 1932, it was closed to worship by the Soviet authorities and given to a Polish theatre company, then converted into a film studio. The Germans returned the church to worship in 1941. After the Second World War, it was restored to become a film studio again, and in 1975 it became the House of Cinema. The church of Saints Simon and Helena was finally returned to Catholic worship in 1990.
It is not commonly known that the capital of Belarus once stood at the crossroads of an ethnically diverse Eastern Europe, which has left its mark on the city’s religious architecture.
The Salzman Synagogue was built in 1864 through donations by the merchant Salzman for the poor Jews of Minsk in the suburb of Raków. During the Second World War, it was abandoned and was later rebuilt to house a sports club. Today, the two-storey brick building houses a chess centre.
The Cathedral of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul is the oldest church in Minsk that is still in use. It was built between 1612 and 1630 together with a monastery of the same name. Empress Catherine II (1762-1796) had the monastery church renovated between 1793 and 1795, but the monastery was then dissolved. In 1812, during the advance of Napoleon's troops against Russia, the Peter and Paul Church was destroyed by French soldiers and served as a field hospital for two months. The church was closed by the Bolsheviks in 1933 and resumed definitively in 1991.
St. Mary's Cathedral is the Catholic Cathedral of Minsk. The building was built in 1710 in the Baroque style as a Jesuit church. When the Society of Jesus was dissolved in 1773, it was transferred to the diocese. When the Diocese of Minsk was established in 1798, it became the Orthodox Cathedral of the diocese. After the reconquest of Minsk by the Soviets, the church was redesigned and incorporated into a Stalin-Classicist housing development - the main façade was transformed, the towers demolished and the interiors reused as a sports facility. It was given back to the Roman Catholics after the independence of Belarus in the 1990s, the towers and façade restored in that period (1994-97).
The Catholic Church of St. Joseph is a monument of 17th-century Baroque architecture. The church used to be an abbey, but in 1864 the church and monastery were closed and confiscated by the Russian authorities. The church was adapted into an Orthodox church, and the monastery buildings were transformed into barracks of the Kolomna Infantry Regiment and the premises of the Investigation Commission. Since the end of the 19th century, this desecrated church has housed its archives.
The Cathedral of the Holy Spirit was built between 1633 and 1642. At the time of its construction, the building belonged to a Catholic monastery in Bernardines. It was only in 1860 that the church was converted to Orthodox worship, and shortly afterwards an Orthodox monastery was inaugurated there in 1870. However, the monastic community was dispersed by the Bolshevik authorities in 1922. The church is now an Orthodox cathedral.
The Church of St. Mary Magdalene is an Orthodox church that was built in 1847 in brick. It was closed in 1949 and adapted for the storage of film and photographic archives. In 1990, the church was returned to the Orthodox faithful. It was the first church in Minsk to be licensed by the Soviet-era services after a long period of banning the opening of churches.
The first mosque in Minsk was constructed between 1900 and 1902 to accommodate the local Muslim population. In the 1960s, the mosque was destroyed by Soviet authorities. In 2016 a replica of the original mosque was reconstructed. In 2019, an Islamic Museum was opened in the Cathedral Mosque. The exhibition includes objects that tell the story of Islam in the lands of Belarus.