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During its 500-year-long history Bereza grew from a small settlement into a large industrial town. Religion played an important part in the history of the town whose former name was Bereza of Carthusians (in honor of the Roman Catholic Monastery of Carthusians).
Bereza is a town in Brest Region. The town is located on the bank of River Yaselda 102 km away from Brest. Railways connect it with Brest and Moscow, and motorways link the town with Kobrin and Baranovichi.
Bereza was first mentioned in chronicles in 1477 as a village in Seltsy Region. It was founded a man called Yan Gamshey, who also built here the Holy Trinity Cathedral.
Bereza was known as one of the most prominent centers of Calvinism in Belarus in the 16th century (from 1538 to 1600).
In 1617 the town became the property of the noble Sapega family who founded another cathedral in Bereza. In 1648 Kazimir, the younger son of Lev Sapega (Chancellor of the Great Principality of Lithuania) founded here a Carthusian monastery (construction completed in 1689).
The monastery was several times attacked during hostilities (the Russian-Polish War, 1654―1667; the Russian-Swedish War, 1656―1658; the Great Northern War, 1700―1721).
After the third division of Rzech Pospolita Bereza became part of the Russian Empire. The monastery was closed till 1830, and since 1863 its facilities had been gradually destroyed. Its bricks served as a construction material for a jail, where Polish authorities kept political prisoners in 1934―1939.
In 1939, after two decades of the Polish rule, Bereza finally became part of the Soviet Union. From 1941 till 1944 it was occupied by fascists who founded here a ghetto and killed over eight thousand Jews.
Kazimir Lav Sapega (1609―1656) — Underchancellor of the Great Principality of Lithuania, Bereza landlord and founder of a Carthusian monastery. In 1634 her signed a peace treaty with Moscow that was beneficial for Rzech Pospolita. Later he received the hereditary title of the Prince of the Holy Roman Empire from Pope Alexander VII.
Pavel Gorin (Kolyada) (1900―1938) — historian and statesman, scholar and President of the National Science Academy of Belarus (1931―1936), Doctor of History, vice chairman of the science committee under the Central Executive Committee of the USSR, head of the USSR History Department of Moscow State University. He was exiled and shot during the period of repressions. Later he was acquitted.
Semen Bresler (1911―1983) — Soviet chemist, physicist, biologist, founder of a scientific school in the sphere of biopolymers and molecular biology.
The major place of interest in Bereza is the Carthusian Monastery. Unfortunately, much of it was destroyed during numerous hostilities. However, you can still see the gate, the bell tower, the defense tower and the hospital.
The jail built in the 1860s hosts an exhibition hall.
Another attraction is the Church of St Peter and Paul (1864) decorated with icons made in the 18th and 19th centuries. The church keeps a rare illustrated Gospel that dates back to the 18th century.
In addition, there is a Holy Trinity Cathedral (1998, Belarusian renaissance).
The monument to victims of the concentration camp that was located here during WWII reminds us about tragic events in the history of the town.
Bereza hosts a number of well-known enterprises, such as Bereza Cheese factory OJSC, Bereza Canned Meat Plant OJSC, Belkelme CJSC JV (footwear) and Berezastroimaterialy (construction materials).
The town annually celebrates Bereza Day on July 15. the festivities include concerts, sports competitions and fairs.
The day of liberation of Bereza District from fascists (July 16) is annually marked by the memorial near the village of Zditovo.
The nearby located village of Sporovo annually hosts a regional humor festival called Sporovskiye Zharty.
Guests of the town may stay at Yaselda hotel, or Dom Okhotnika hotel.
Tourists of all ages who take interest in history will enjoy a visit to Bereza with its numerous masterpieces of architecture (17th―19th cent.).
Besides, Bereza may serve as a starting point of a tour around Sporovski nature reserve that boasts of intact swampland and lots of rare plant and animal species.
Legends and traditions
According to a legend, the site for the construction of the Carthusian Monastery was chosen after a miraculous appearance of a wooden cross with crucified Christ depicted on it.
Bereza is included in numerous travel routes and excursions, such a route down Yaselda River and a tour of Sporovo Lake.
Bereza is also part of the bicycle tour around Brest Region called Pearls and Talents of Polesse (120 km).