About The Brest-Hero Fortress
The Brest-Hero Fortress in Belarus, also known simply as the Brest Fortress (Bresckaa krepasc), played an important role in 20th century history. Originally called the Brest Fortress, it was renamed the Brest-Hero Fortress in recognition of its part in repelling German forces during Operation Barbarossa during World War Two.
The fortress now houses a museum dedicated to its own history and visitors can wander through its impressive ruins.
The Brest-Hero Fortress history
First established in 1830, the Brest-Hero Fortress became an active military site on 26 April 1842 designed as an impenetrable star between two rivers. The central structure known as the citadel was protected on all sides by fortifications, and Brest Fortress was an impressive symbol of national strength, defending the Soviet empire from the west.
However, its location also made the fortress a target for European invasion. As such, the Brest-Hero Fortress has changed hands on several occasions and suffered several attacks. Yet the fortress is most famous as a symbol of Soviet resistance to German forces as part of the Nazi’s Operation Barbarossa in June and July 1941.
Tens of thousands of Germans attacked the fortress during a siege that withheld for a long time thanks to a Soviet garrison of civilians backed by military support. Eventually, however, the fortress fell and was largely destroyed. After the war, Brest was liberated and the site was transformed into a memorial and retitled ‘Hero Fortress’.
The Brest-Hero Fortress today
Today, the Brest-Hero Fortress is known both for its symbolism and for its 19th century military architecture. Much of the defence is preserved today just as it was after the war, with crumbling walls and bullet holes dotting its surface. The on-site museum provides tour and lectures as well as displaying 4,000 items ranging from found items and personal belongings to documents and awards.
Among the stunning highlights of a visit to the fortress are the enormous stone giant, the star-shaped gate and the memorial called ‘Thirst’, depicting a sickly soldier having a drink of river water. The site is open between 9am and 5pm and expect to spend several hours wandering the fortress grounds.
Getting to The Brest-Hero Fortress
SItuated at the western edge of Brest by the Polish border, by car the fortress is just off the 2 or P17 motorways and there is parking along vulica Zubacova. The main entrance to the fortress is at the end of praspekt Mašerava but you can enter the complex from other gates. Be aware that part of the area is a border zone between Belarus and Poland.