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Oktyabrskaya: The Minsk street that's gone from industrial centre to cultural hub

Oktyabrskaya: The Minsk street that's gone from industrial centre to cultural hub
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Giant graffiti on the walls of factory buildings. A burst of color amidst the heavy, dull Soviet architecture.

It is hard to believe but a few years ago Oktyabrskaya was a typical street on the outskirts of Minsk with half-abandoned factory buildings and little else.

However, thanks to street artists and a new wave of architects and designers, the road has changed completely - becoming a center of attraction for creative youth.

It all started in 2014 when a group of Brazilian street artists came to Minsk to paint alongside Belarusian artists on one of the most unusual streets in the Belarusian capital.

The international street art festival Vulica Brazil, which took place for three consecutive years, was organised by the embassy of Brazil in Minsk.

You can easily spend the whole day admiring the result of this collaboration on Oktyabrskaya Street.

Possibly one of the biggest murals in the world can be seen on building 19/5 at Oktjabrskaja street, by Brazilian artist Ramon Martins.

The collage of the endangered animals of Belarus, including deer and bison, the Belarusian symbol, covers more than 3000 square meters.

Belarus Fashion designer, Apti Eziev, often comes to the street in search of inspiration. He believes that over the past 5 years it has become a cultural hub for the city of Minsk.

"Thanks to this street, Minsk has become freer, it breathes. The youth lacked space for self-expression. People who come from other cities - they are so impressed they don't even want to go back home".

But it's not just urban artists who are attracted to the area today. Tourists adore the trendy bars and cafes at Oktyabrskaya street.

The manufacturing sector has not entirely abandoned Oktyabrskaya - one machine-making factory named after the 1917 October Revolution (MZOR) still operates there.

Financial difficulties prompted state-owned MZOR to lease or sell some of its facilities to Oktyabrskaya’s developers, but the firm still maintains some production with a reduced workforce.

The philosopher Olga Shparaga says the transformation of Oktyabrskaya Street to “a state within a state” is a model of positive change in the city and a dream Minsk for many.