Minsk's spiritual and historical core is the reconstructed 'Old Town' (also known as the Verkhni Horad, or Upper City), centred on pl Svabody. Much of the drinking and dining action is here. Southeast of the Old Town, the modern centre, rebuilt after WWII in the grandiose Stalinist Empire style, emanates from pr Nezalezhnastsi. A bit further southeast, Minsk's bohemian district is centred around vul Kastrychnitskaya. Outside the centre, Minsk sprawls for miles into featureless suburbs lined with drab concrete high-rises and monumental creations from the later-Soviet and Lukashenko eras.
Feature: Street Names
Between the Soviet, post-Soviet, Russian and Belarusian names for streets and places, things can get confusing in Minsk. We use Belarusian street and place names, as this is almost universally how they are written on signposts (in Cyrillic, of course, so you'll still have to transliterate). However, almost everyone uses the Russian names for streets, so there's room for real confusion. When giving addresses we use the abbreviations vul (vulitsa), pr (praspekt) and pl (ploshcha) to denote street, avenue and square. Russian speakers will call these ulitsa, prospekt and ploshchad, respectively.
It's worth learning both the new (Belarusian) and old names of some key streets and squares:
pr Francyska Skaryna