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A notable attraction of our country, Belavezhskaya Pushcha is the remains of the primeval forest. It is one of four Belarusian national parks and the largest forest in the central European lowlands. The Pushcha’s name probably stems from a town of Bielaviezha in the centre of the forest. For the first time the Pushcha was mentioned in the records in 983. These territories belonged to different countries, and has always been a hunting place for local nobility. In the 12th century Prince Vladimir Monomakh used to hunt here. In 1410 it was ordered to harvest here meat of large animals so as to provide a great army with it before the Battle of Grunwald. But soon the forest was declared a protected area with a prohibition to hunt there, later tree cutting was also banned.
The forest was severely damaged during the First and Second World Wars that took place on its territory. Today the state border divides the forest into Belarusian and Polish parts. Belavezhskaya Pushcha represents the unique diversity of flora and fauna. Here you can find ancient oaks in the forest with 2-meters wide trunks and up to 500 years old. Belavezhskaya Pushcha is a natural habitat of more than 250 animal and bird species as well as 900 species of trees and flowers. Pushcha is proud of the world’s largest population of the rare bison, the European heaviest mammal. Since 1992 Pushcha is under protection of UNESCO.
The park's headquarters are at Kamieniuki village where you can visit a zoo, a library and a museum. Every New Year thousands of children come to the Pushcha are fascinated with fairytale atmosphere of the Father Frost’s residence. A hunting estate Viskuli is also located in the forest and is about 8 km from the state border. In 1950s, this residence was built as a hunting dacha for the high authorities of the USSR. On December 8th 1991, Viskuli became a place where the Bielaviezha Agreements were signed by the leaders of Belarus, Ukraine and Russia. The Agreements declared the end of the Soviet Union and established the Commonwealth of Independent States instead.
Photo: Nastya Quende; lifegid.com; liveinternet.ru
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