Minsk inns of 18-19th centuries

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Minsk inns of 18-19th centuries

The first mention of Minsk inns dates back to 1494. Inns were divided into 2 types: “lodging” (close to modern hotels), with accommodation and a stable, and “non-lodging”, where you can only have a meal.

At the end of the 15-16th centuries “non-lodging” inns prevailed. They were simply built and contained 2 or 3 bedrooms, a brick oven for cooking, tables and benches. Inns were built at drive ways, at important trade roads crossing, at town gates and markets.

Tea houses, coffee shops and wine vaults, that were situated in Sobornaya square, are examples of places where people used to go back then. The Gostiny Dvor complex, situated in Svabody Square, was built in the 18th century. There were different shops, wine vaults and tea houses.

At the corner of Sobornaya Square and Shckolnaya Square, in Lifshitz’s house, there was the restaurant Gorkavi. It was famous for its

Old Polish honey and good wine.

In the middle of the 19th century, there was a coffee shop in Sobornaya square. It was called Tsuckernya. Poets, artists, actors and musicians gathered there. It was always full with people, and everyone enjoyed the atmosphere.

Until the Revolution (the February Revolution of 1917), the “Regulations of Punishments Imposed by Justices of the Peace” had been functioning in Minsk. Under the law, “if a shop assistant does not help an intoxicated man, who is clearly isn’t able to control himself, the shop assistant is fined.”

At the famous hotel Europe, there was a first-class restaurant belonging to Saulevich. Visitors were entertained with women’s orchestras from Romania and Hungary. At the corner of Zakharova Street and Gubernatorskaya Street, there was  the Novomoskovskaya hotel (Melzer’s house) with 30 bedrooms and a restaurant. Currently it’s the Belarusian National Bank, at 20 Independence Avenue.

Until the Revolution, the hotel Odessa and the restaurant Medved were situated at the corner of Zakharievskaya Street and Bogadelnaya Street (Mashkileison’s house). Different musical performances were held at the restaurant. Nowadays,  the central bookshop is located here.

On Uryievskaya Street, there were the theatre, that hosted a variety shows, and the restaurant Akvarium. The restaurant was popular among Minsk men of fortune. The owner would serve daintith dishes and entertain his guests with performances of famous Russian operetta singers, gypsy ensembles etc.

The American club was located on Krasnaya Street, where there is a tram depot now.

It was a big wooden house, built in 1914. The building of the club was sponsored by Belarusians, who lived in America and Canada. It was always crowded with people. People came here to watch movies, variety shows, different plays etc. You could even read a book in the library or have a meal for a reasonable price at the café here. After the Revolution, the club was renamed Belarusskaya Khatka and became a place where Belarusian clerisy would meet.

With the beginning of World War I, the “prohibition” was introduced. Drunk tanks (a jail cell or separate facility accommodating people who are intoxicated, especially with alcohol) and rehab facilities were closed. But then people learnt how to brew moonshine, learnt about alcoholic poisoning and speculation.

Photo: svidnoe.lel.by