The One Thing You Must Do in Brest, Belarus

If there is only one thing you can do there, go and watch lamplighter lighting lamps on Sovetskaya Street around sunset.

Brest is a city with a long and complex history, and at different times it has been part of different countries and linked to different cultures. First mentioned in 11th century chronicles, Brest was a city in the eastern part of Kievan Rus. Many years later, with the collapse of the Soviet Union, Brest became a city of the modern Belarus.

Lamplighter has to be one of the world’s most charmingly antiquated, unique and romantic occupations. Up until and even throughout the 19th century, when candle or gas streetlamps were still the norm, lamplighter was a popular and well-respected job. They went around town igniting the street lamps at dusk, and then extinguishing them again at dawn; while on patrol, lamplighters often served a dual role as town watchmen. Today a lamplighter is an extremely rare job. There are just three cities in Europe employing lamplighters, and those are London in England, Wroclav in Poland and Brest in Belarus.

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A street lamplighter, who lit the lights at night to be put out in the morning, existed in Brest up to early 20th century. The first primitive tools of street lighting in Brest-Litovsk appeared in the late 18th century. At first there were paraffin candles, then oil lamps, and in the middle of the 19th century the streets of Brest lit 26 lamps filled with alcohol and turpentine mixture. Later it was replaced by kerosene, used until 1926.

Nowadays, a lamplighter has been employed since 2009 to light up the kerosene lamps of Brest. Start walking the pedestrian Sovetskaya Street slightly before the dawn, and you’ll see a clock. It’s the only way to learn the lamp lighting time. They say it’s related to the sunset time in Brest and changes accordingly.

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365 days a year lamp lighter Viktor Kirisjuk can be seen at dusk in his unique hat and uniform, lighting the 17 kerosene lamps. Catching him in the jolly act is pretty easy to do if you’re exploring the area in the evening. It’s also a prerequisite for camera-wielding tourists. The lamplighter lets everyone take photos with him and make a wish rubbing buttons on his old-style jacket. Hundreds of people come to watch the procession every day.

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lamp lighter brest belarus 1120369lamp lighter brest belarus 1120479After watching the ceremony, you can walk Sovetskaya Street and notice a sculpture of a bat with a lantern in his claws, a symbol of the fact that darkness will never come to Brest.

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lanterns brest belarus 1120553The special lantern theme in Brest is continued on Gogol Street, with a nice alley of chestnut trees growing on both sides. It provides the opportunity for a nice walk in summer and fall. First artistic lamps were placed there a few years ago. Now the alley is decorated with about 30 lanterns of wrought metal. Some of them are designed according to the works of Russian writer Gogol. Local businesses were involved in the project, presenting their own lanterns for the place. Five-pointed stars are placed at their feet with names of the participating companies engraved.

lanterns brest belarus 1120673lanterns brest belarus 1120633lanterns brest belarus 1120603lanterns brest belarus 1120605lanterns brest belarus 1120623lanterns brest belarus 1120682lanterns brest belarus 1120631You are also welcome to visit a square of vintage lanterns on Fomina Street. It was opened in 2007 and currently includes 17 old street lamps. Pre-war loudspeakers play music from the middle of the last century every day from 5 to 8 p.m.
Have you got your favorite street with old lanterns? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

  • Published by Anita on September 04, 2016
  • Traveled August 2016

    Author: Anita Sāne

    Anita 03 18

    About the author
    Anita is a part-time traveller, passionate photographer and a retired career woman from Latvia, 
    travelling mostly solo for more than 15 years. She is a skilled travel planner who plans and executes her travels by herself. Anita wants to show you how to travel the world and open your mind to new experiences. Follow her on FacebookInstagramPinterestTwitter and Bloglovin.



    Super! Paldies par rakstu! :)
    That must be such a great job to have. They would feel like celebrities with all that attention!
    Very interesting activity. The lamps are awesome. Thanks for sharing this glimpse of Belarus.
    Great piece of history being kept alive today. I love seeing how many people gather around to watch him light Brest.
    I never heard of this place, but it looks so interesting.
    Beautiful lamps in Belarus! Very interesting post!
    Great pictures! What a unique activity to do in Belarus! Thanks for the info.
    Such a nice idea and certainly an activity on which to build a fun trip to the area. I have never been to Belarus but if the opportunity presents itself I will certainly put Brest on the list. As others have stated, tradition is important and how wonderful the town have worked to keep this unique part of history alive.
    Adeola Naomi
    Beautiful images and thanks for sharing!
    What a unique experience, I had not heard of lamplighter ceremony. Love all the unique lamps photographs!
    How fun. I love the tradition of lamp lighting. I read a book when I was little about a lamplighter and loved it. How charming. I would love to visit Brest now!
    Such a pretty town with such a unique tradition. Love towns with unique traditions.
    It's really a unique event to assist, never saw that, thank you for sharing. Your pictures are beautiful.
    This is so cool and a great bit of history. Somehow we managed to miss it when we visited Brest! How did that happen! ;-( Looks like we'll have to plan a return visit!
    Marvellous post. I whackpacked in Belarus years ago but skipped Brest somehow. It's an easy city for me to get to now that I am based in Poland so will check it out on my next trip. Excellent work.
    That is so interesting! I love that there are still traditions such as this that exist. I would love to see lamplighter lighting lamps on Sovetskaya Street!
    I really liked this post. You've highlighted something that will attract travelers, rather than only be of interest to people already going. I'm glad technology hasn't stopped this tradition.
    This is such an off-beat and great tip! I'm thinking of trying to spend my 30th birthday in Belarus (the country has a certain significance to me) but planning it has been a nightmare. I've been trying to improve my Russian so I can use Russian language travel resources, but for the most part it seems like nobody cares about poor old Belarus. I'm glad I found your blog and I'll give the rest of these posts a read through. Great photography in this one!
    Great post, Belarus is really on my dream trips list and I have heard about this lighting the street lamps thing. By the way love the pictures! Belarus and Ukraine next summer for sure :)
    Amazing tradition. Something new I have heard :)

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