Brest Fortress was built in the 1830s at the meeting-point of two rivers, but not much remained from that period. Certainly don’t come here expecting to see medieval architecture – this is a Soviet WWII memorial to the devastating battle that resulted when German troops advanced into the Soviet Union in the early days of Operation Barbarossa in 1941. It earned the title of Hero Fortress for the courage demonstrated by Soviet soldiers when they fought against the Nazis army in 1941. Whilst the Nazis took the town of Brest – 90% of which was destroyed in the fighting – the two regiments garrisoned inside the fortress held out.
Today the fortress became a shrine to the terrible and heroic events that took place there. This is a large complex with several museums and one of the most important places to see in Belarus.
The colossal war memorial is a dramatic reminder of how WWII and an astonishing piece of work. The centerpiece is a sculpture called Courage, a 33.5 m high soviet war memorial made of stone. It tells a story of the heroic defense of the fortress through a series of carvings. There is an eternal flame which is guarded by 4 teenagers from the Pioneers Corps.
The key monument “Thirst” represents an injured soldier trying to get some water from the river. The monument reflects the bravery of the last remaining soldiers who defended the Fortress for many days without food or water.
The Bayonet Obelisk, 100 m high, can be seen from any part of the fortress, and is linked to the main Courage monument by 3 rows of tombstones. Only 216 of the 850 defenders who died here are known.