Brest is a city in Belarus at the border with Poland opposite the Polish city of Terespol, where the Bug and Mukhavets rivers meet. It is the capital city of the Brest voblast.
The city of Brest is a historic site of many cultures. It was the location of important historical events such as the Union of Brest and Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. The Brest Fortress was recognized by the Soviet Union as the Hero Fortress in honor of the defense of Brest Fortress in June 1941.
During medieval times, the city was part of the Kingdom of Poland from 1020 until 1319 when it was taken by the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. It became part of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1569. As a result of the Partitions of Poland, it was incorporated into the Russian Empire in 1795. After World War I, the city returned to Second Polish Republic. During the Invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union in 1939 the city was first captured by the Wehrmacht and soon passed on to the USSR in accordance with German–Soviet Frontier Treaty. In 1941 it was taken again by the Nazis during Operation Barbarossa. After the war, once the new boundaries between the USSR and Poland were ratified, the city became part of the Soviet BSSR until the breakup of the country in 1991. It is part of sovereign Belarus of today.
Brest has a transitional climate between the oceanic and humid continental regimes, but slightly leans towards the marine variety due to the irregular winter temperatures that mostly hover around the freezing point. Summers are warm and influenced by its inland position compared to areas nearer the Baltic sea.
A majestic Soviet-era war memorial was constructed on the site of the 1941 battle, to commemorate the known and unknown defenders of the Brest Fortress. This war memorial is the largest tourist attraction of the city. The Berestye Archeological Museum of the old city is located on the southern island of the Hero-Fortress. It has objects and huts dating from the 11th – 13th century, that were unearthed during excavations in the 1970s. Brest is proud of its shopping mall, Sovietskaya Street. It was dramatically reconstructed in 2007–2009 to revive the initial view of the old town. In July 2009 the Millennium Monument of Brest was unveiled.
The Museum of Rescued Art Treasures has a nice collection of paintings and icons. Brest also has the first Belarusian outdoor railway museum. Earlier in Brest there was a synagogue, which was regarded as the first one in Grand Duchy of Lithuania. It is also the seat of an Armenian and of a Greek Catholic bishop; the former has jurisdiction over the Armenians throughout the whole country.
Brest City Park is over 100 years old, and underwent renovations from 2004 to 2006 as part of a ceremony marking the park's centennial.
Belavezhskaya Pushcha National Park, 70 km (43 mi) north of Brest, is a biosphere reserve of world distinction and can be reached by car or bus. This medieval forest is home to rare European bison (wisent). There is a museum and a zoo, available for tourists in the forest, animals can be seen in enclosures all the year round. 2 hotels and some restaurants and bars are there. Excursions can also be taken by horse and cart into the interior of the forest. As a new tourist attraction, the forest features the residence of Grandfather Frost, known as Ded Moroz, the Eastern Slavic Santa Claus, that works all the year round.
Brest also hosts the first Belarusian outdoor railway museum. Brest City Park is old, but looks new after the recent reconstruction.
Kamyanets, Belarus, that lies on the way to the National park from Brest, features a landmark, the 13th-century tower of Kamyanets. The village of Kosava, where Tadeusz Kościuszko was born, is also in the Brest region and features a 19th-century palace and a Roman Catholic church.