Polotsk (or Polatsk) is a city in Belarus, in Vitebsk Oblast. First mentioned in 862, it is the oldest city in Belarus. Now it is a city of local importance with 82,000 inhabitants and with considerable architectural heritage from the times of old Rus as well as from the later periods.
Polotsk is one of the places that are considered the geographic centre of Europe.
Your only real choice from an international perspective is to fly to the capital of Minsk and then take the train or a bus. Unfortunately, only Belavia, the Belarusian national airline with a peculiarly Belarusian combination of high prices, poor service and bureaucratic procedures can bring you into this dictatorship directly.
EU citizens or those who don't have EU visa hassles may prefer to fly to Vilnius in Lithuania which is slightly closer, or even Riga in Latvia and then take the train. The trains don't run every day, so you'll need to double check timetables...
Polotsk is one of the most important railway hubs, with direct services from both Minsk and Vitebsk. The railway station is a bit to the north of the centre of town.
Although this is a tad more expensive, it's usually quicker too. No need to book in advance; just roll up and go.
As well as the larger inter-city style of coach, minibuses known as marshrutkas also take about 3 hours from Minsk, but you need to phone in advance to be sure of a seat.
The bus station is next door to the train station.
Belarusian drivers are poor drivers, often drive drunk and the sons and daughters of officials can be surprisingly aggressive, belligerent scoff-laws.
From Minsk: M3 towards Vitebsk until just after Lepel, and then the R46 (Р46 in Cyrillic) to Polotsk.
- 1 The Cathedral of Saint Sophia. This medieval building was completely redecorated during the Baroque period.
- 2 Transfiguration Church. A well-preserved building from the times of old Rus', with some later alterations.
- 3 Museum of Belarusian Printing. The collection includes some rare 16th-century editions. The building. It was erected in the 18th century as a monastery school. Francysk Skaryna, the first Belarusian printer, was born in Polotsk around 1490, and it is in memory of him that this museum was created.
- Museum of Traditional Weaving.
- Monument to the letter Ў. Monument dedicated to unique Belarussian letter Ў, not used in any other Slavic language.