Minsk's main thoroughfare impresses with its sheer girth. Independence Avenue (colloquially called Francyska Skaryny Avenue) runs the length of the modern city, beginning near the train station at the stubbornly austere and expansive Independence Square (colloquially called ploshchad’ Nezalezhnastsi). Here you'll find a Lenin Statue with the imposing Belarusian Government Building behind it, and the 1910 red-brick Church of St. Simon & Helena, with its tall, gabled bell tower. Heading northeast, you'll pass the iconic Minsk Hotel and then come to the ominous KGB headquarters between Haradsky Val Street and Kamsamolskaya Street. Roughly opposite the KGB building is a long narrow park with the bust of Felix Dzerzhinsky, the founder of the Cheka (the KGB's predecessor) and a native of Belarus.
A couple of blocks further northeast is the grand Oktyabrskaya Square, and adjacent to this is Central Square (Tsentralny Square in Russian), 19th-century marketplace converted into a park. The grey building in the northeast of Central Square is called Dom Ofitserov (Officer's Building), which has a tank memorial devoted to the soldiers who fought for the freedom of Minsk from the Nazis. In the southeast, you would find the much-guarded presidential residence.
The Independence Avenue crosses the Svislach River, and passes through two of the city's main parks:
- Park Yanka Kupala and
- The Horkaha Central Children's Park.
Across the bridge, is the Museum of the First Congress of the Russian Social Democratic Workers' Party (the predecessor of communists party of USSR). In 1898, this is where the Russian Marxist party held its illegal founding congress. Diagonal to the museum is the earlier residence of Lee Harvey Oswald. About a 100 metres away is the Victory Square (ploshchad’ Pobedy in Russian) with the mark of Victory Obelisk and its interminable flame, which is just beneath the obelisk. Up north is the Jakub Kolas Square, another capacious square, that is unstiffened by an amusing parkland.
Independence Square also called Lenin Square, is dominated by the Belarusian Government Building (behind the iconic Lenin statue). The red-brick Catholic Church of St. Simon & Elena, built in 1910, is also here. Its tall, gabled bell tower and attractive detailing are reminiscent of many brick churches in the former Teutonic north of Poland.