Belarus: Polatsk – Saint Eufrosyne Monastery

The women’s Saint Eufrosyne Monastery in Polatsk is the oldest orthodox religious institution in Belarus, founded in 1125 by the holy princess Euphrosyne of Polotsk. The Transfiguration Cathedral was built on the site in 1161 and is the oldest preserved church in the country. The princess became the Abbess Euphrosyne and donated a relic cross to the monastery the same year, which is believed to had been carved out from the life-giving cross of Christ. Whatever the legend is, the monastery sees tons of pilgrims from all over the eastern Slavic lands to see the cross. The unrestored thousand-year old frescoes on the walls are truly surreal. And you get royally yelled at for trying to photograph inside either the cathedral or the monastery, as digital photography is apparently not blessed by the orthodox religion (unless you buy and light a candle or two).