Preserve "Slonim": a fairy forest, healing springs and a stone of lovers. Travel reportage from natural routes

Preserve "Slonim": a fairy forest, healing springs and a stone of lovers. Travel reportage from natural routes

The Republican Biological Reserve "Slonim" was announced in 1978.

The Republican Biological Reserve "Slonim" was announced in 1978 with the aim of preserving the pristine forest systems and their inhabitants in their natural state. It is unique in that a relict forest and swamps have been preserved here, a huge number of healing krynitsy beats from the ground, trout is found in the rivers, and ... boulders grow from the ground.

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- Are we sure we will get out of here? - this is the question we ask Vadim Eremeichik, the chief forester of the Slonim forestry enterprise and Vasily Afanasik, the local history journalist - our guides through the reserve, who have taken them to places where there are no roads and signs.

- Let's get out, don't drift, laugh the residents of Slonim .

I have seen such a fabulous wild forest only in the movies. Fallen giant trees block the road, tall spruces, pines and birches surround the ring, feet are buried in deep moss and fallen leaves. We go down the impromptu steps down the hill to the swamp, where a spring with the purest water gushes. A little further away, in the thicket, there are twenty-six (!) Burial mounds of presumably Prussian-Yatvyazh tribes of the 6th-17th centuries.

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It is doubly surprising that all these wonders, like the reserve itself, are located very close to Slonim in the Albertinsky forestry of the Slonim forestry enterprise. Its area is 4815 hectares. The forests are beautiful, powerful, because they are mostly ripe. The main forest-forming species are pine, spruce and birch. There are also aspen and oak forests several centuries old.

-The territory of the reserve combines elevated hilly-moraine-erosional and medium-altitude water-glacial landscapes, which are drained by the Issa River with its numerous small tributaries and springs, says Vadim Eremeychik. The amplitude of the relief fluctuations is about 30 meters, which creates such a picturesque relief. The flora has pronounced features of the transition from the Central European to the forest-steppe. In the ecological aspect, forest, bog, meadow-bog species dominate.

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From our guides we learn that more than twenty species of rare protected plants grow on the territory of the reserve - a Sarmatian censer ("forest balsam"), a red long-leaved pollen head, a lady's slipper, a gray mace bearer, a burnt orchis, a soft square, a three-incised boat, a European ram, a bather other. Some of the Red Book plants (especially representatives of the orchid family) are extremely rare in the republic and the Grodno region. And, for example, the pearl of the Belarusian flora - rock cinquefoil - has not been found anywhere else in Belarus. In the protected area, there are juniper wastelands, many other medicinal plants grow - it is not for nothing that the reserve received botanical status.

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Slonim region, together with nine other regions of the country, participates in a special UNDP environmental project. A lot of work has been done to find areas where the rarest plant species grow, so that these corners of nature would be preserved for future generations under state protection.

The reserve has become home to 22 species of mammals and 102 species of birds. Most of these species belong to the forest ecological complex. Six species of birds are listed in the Red Book: the white-backed woodpecker, the gray crane, the black stork, the small rat, the common kingfisher, the big bittern and two species of animals - the lynx and the badger. Beavers, European hare, ermine, pine marten and other animals are also found in forests and along river banks. Beavers feel like they are the owners of the reserve: they erect dams, "saw" trees and reproduce very actively. But the first beaver, they say, was brought by the former huntsman and "settled" here in the early eighties.

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From the bowels of the fertile Slonim land, healing springs gush out in different places. According to Vasily Afanasik, there are forty of them in the region, eighteen flow into Issa and are located directly in the reserve. These iconic crinches of the Bronze Age are the historical and cultural value of the Slonim region. Imagine: unique healing springs date back to the VII-I millennium BC.

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At any time of the year, you can meet people seeking healing here. It is believed that the water from the springs helps with various ailments. Legends, according to which, after taking it inside, the blind received their sight, the non-walkers got up, the childless were able to have children, are passed from mouth to mouth.

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We visited Belaya Krynitsa near Slonim. We drank healing water, washed our tired faces. They crossed themselves at the chapel above the krinitsa, calling out to the Lord with their hearts.

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The picturesque Issa River, the right tributary of the Shchara, 62 kilometers long, carries its waters through the reserve. The royal fish, brook trout, is still found here. For spawning, it comes out into all small tributaries.

Thousands of years ago Issa was, by the way, a deep artery that was of great importance for the inhabitants of the region. Some researchers compare the name of the Issa river with the Finnish "Suomi", which means "big, great". And in the Finno-Ugric languages the word "issa" means "willow". We like this version better, since there are many weeping willows along the banks of the river.


- Issa has always been famous for the abundance of fish, therefore she fed the local residents, - says Vasily Afanasik. - It was also used for timber rafting: along Issa - to Slonim, from there along the Shchara and Neman - to Grodno. And this is not surprising: the owners of the Khoroshevichi estate had luxurious ship groves and traded in construction timber.

Slightly downstream of the Issa is the village of Naguevichi, which was first mentioned in the "Acts of the Slonim Zemsky Court" of 1569 as a village that was part of Stanislav Nemira Zbozhny's Shilovichi estate, one of the centers of salt production. There were specially built salt ponds here. Issa is crossed by an old hotel known as Nesvizh, or Napoleon's tract, which once led to Stolovichi, Snov and Nesvizh. Now it is called the Minsk highway. At one time, the armies of various conquerors passed along this road: the Swedish soldiers of Charles XII, Napoleon's regiments, the troops of the German Kaiser Wilhelm and the fascist hordes.


-Winding Issa is adored by water tourists, says the chief forester of the Slonim forestry enterprise Vadim Eremeychik. And the employees of our forestry enterprise are no exception. We are kayaking along it. This is a real test for extreme people: the river in some areas is shallow, 3-4 meters wide or less, many different obstacles in the form of bridges, masonry, rubble, sometimes it enters the meadows.

There are ecological paths in the reserve: cycling and hiking. Employees of the Slonim forestry enterprise, the sports and tourism department of the Slonim regional executive committee, the Slonim tourist information center, the regional ecological center, the Joseph Stabrovsky regional museum of local lore will be happy to give comprehensive information on how to usefully spend time and relax on the Slonim land.


Two hundred years ago (in 1720) the landlord Voitsekh Puslovsky, the leader of the nobility of the Slonim district, was granted forest and land along the banks of the Issa River, not far from Slonim. Here he laid the foundation for the first buildings of a paper manufacture and built a manor complex. The estate got its name in honor of the beloved son of the count - Albert (before that the estate was called Yurzniki), whose tragic death is covered with legends. In the XVIII-XX centuries, the estate was surrounded by a huge landscape-type park, which along the banks of the dammed Issa passed into a forest park.

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We inspect a stone two-story palace in the style of late classicism, a farm building, a little haggard from time to time, we admire two hundred-year-old larch trees, maples and a beautiful reservoir. Only "antique" vases, near which lions guard the entrance to the palace, and the alleys of the old park - a romantic echo of the former nest of the Puslovsky family, are reminded of the past greatness and wealth of the estate.


Even under Wojciech Puslowski, a powerful industrial complex began to form next to the estate. Imagine: in the second half of the 19th - early 20th centuries, there were about a dozen enterprises here, which produced cloth and silk, matches and nails, bricks, paper and cardboard, ground flour, weaved carpets, poured cast iron! Since the Puslovskys increased their profits from land holdings by income from the sale of timber abroad, in 1850, with the help of serfs, they straightened the bed of the Issa River, diverting the current into a dug channel 3 kilometers long and about 10 meters wide, called Kopanitsa. At the expense of Counts Puslovsky, a railway was laid through Slonim. In a word, they were ambitious progressive people who invest a lot of money in their lands. Wojciech Puslowski, according to historians, has amassed an excellent collection of paintings by Italian artists on the estate.

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In the campaign of 1812, the estate was the headquarters of the French army, in the First World War - the German. The Puslovskys emigrated from their native nest in 1939, taking with them to England, according to legend, 30 railroad cars of various values. In Soviet times, the Puslovskys' estate was transferred to the balance sheet of a cardboard factory, thanks to which the Albertin estate and park complex was preserved. Nowadays the palace is the city communal property; the youth culture center is located here.

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In the summer of 2017, the first private hydroelectric power plant in the republic with a capacity of 200 kW per hour was opened on Lake Albertin, providing electricity to houses in the private sector. One of the largest enterprises of the paper industry in Belarus OJSC “Slonim Cardboard and Paper Mill“ Albertin ”operates in the buildings of a paper manufactory laid by the count in 1806.

The history of the Puslovsky family and the Albertin microdistrict are included in the tourist routes developed in the region and beyond.

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In the forest between the village of Yakimovichi and the suburb of Albertin, two boulders, covered with moss, rise - the largest boulder in the Slonim region. A beautiful legend is connected with its origin. They say that once on the way to the estate of Pan Puslovsky, a storm overtook him, and he decided to wait it out, hiding under a monolith. The strongest lightning strike broke the boulder in two, and the count remained alive. In gratitude, Puslovsky ordered to transport him to his estate, but the workers did not cope with the task: having gone four meters into the ground, the foundation of the stone was never found. And a cross was installed next to the split giant, which eventually disappeared. The stone was chosen not only by curious tourists, but also by lovers - the boulder, consisting of two halves, was called the stone of lovers.


-This geomorphological natural monument of republican significance is a lump of rock brought to the territory of Belarus from Scandinavia during the period of the Sozh glaciation about 150–220 thousand years ago, says Vadim Eremeychik. The lump is split in two. Its length is three, width - two and a half, height - three and a half meters. The stone is interesting for studying the direction of movement of glaciers and glacial waters, the geological history of the country, and, of course, as a tourist attraction. Guests of the region love to visit and take pictures here.

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By the way, there are many "newcomers from the past" in the Slonim region. Five of the most significant geological natural monuments are protected by the state and are studied with interest by specialists, schoolchildren, nature lovers: the “Broken Stone”, “Big Stone”, Krakotsky, “Big Stone”, Smovzhitsky, “Krakotsky”, Kolpak mountain boulders.



Stop near the village of Yakimovichi. Vasily Afanasik plunges us into the military past - he shows us German bunkers and dugouts during the First World War. The grandiose structures are striking in their power. From a huge dark room, where the spirit of war seems to be hovering, I want to go out into the air faster.

The picturesque places near the village of Yakimovichi in ancient times were famous for their “bee shepherds” - climbers, the progenitors of modern beekeepers. In the 16th century, there were many board trees in the Pushcha, in which Yakimov climbers cut out hollows for bee hives in order to later select honey.

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A local historian-researcher recalls how in 1969 in the vicinity of this village were filmed episodes of the film directed by Viktor Turov "Sons Go to Battle". Their class, involved in harvesting potatoes, was almost completely occupied in the crowd. Then there were more than forty years of journalistic work in the Slonim regional newspaper, and now the laureate of the Belarusian Union of Journalists' Golden Pen prize himself makes films about his small homeland and writes the Encyclopedia of Slonimshchyna in order to preserve the sacred that our ancestors passed down to us.

- And there you can see the once highest television tower in Europe - 374 meters, - says Vasily Vladimirovich. - In 1965, when it was just installed, the steel frame began to deform under the influence of electromagnetic fields. The structure twisted like a snake, taking on strange shapes. The builders had to install special suppressors of electromagnetic oscillations so that the tower, as expected, looked into the sky like an arrow.

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We conclude our journey in Slonim - a real tourist pearl of the country. The preserved historical center, majestic temples, the unique regional museum of local lore named after Joseph Stabrovsky, the drama theater, the Oginsky canal - all this must be seen. And, of course, to visit the center of Belarusian Orthodoxy - the Holy Dormition Zhirovichi stauropegic monastery, where, according to legend, the image of the Mother of God miraculously appeared. Thousands of pilgrims from all over the world come here with hope and faith, the word of God has been heard here for more than five centuries, and the atmosphere of goodness and peace helps to remember the main thing - the soul and those intangible values that make us human.

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