A small public garden in the heart of Minsk has a rich history and not by chance serves as the centre of “gravity” of a city life. His official, faded name is the Central Square. Long ago people renamed it in its historical version - Aleksandrovsky, probably, due to closeness to the residence of the head of Belarus Aleksander Lukashenko.
The square was laid in the middle of 19 century, during a rapid growth of Minsk. It was a trade and all empty areas were transformed into spontaneous markets. One market (its name was New market), rather careless, was formed on the place of the present October square. There was impassable mud, which was mixed by foots sellers and buyers. The governor’s palace stood on the opposite side. Evidently, the market got on governor’s nerves and he decided to remove it and to make a public garden. It was constructed in 1972 and looked like a quadrate. “Being at that time vice-governor M.P.Daragan put his whole soul and his own money into the tree-planting and flower-beds’ laying out. In the middle of the garden there is a pool with a fountain. In this square the city winter theatre is constructed”, - historical chronicles describes the appearance of square in Minsk.
It was named in honor of chapel in the name of the Sacred Alexander Nevski (the chapel was destroyed in 1929). Soon, in honour of opening a city waterpipe, a fountain was arranged. The water tower was placed in a corner of square, approximately opposite the present tank T-34. The fountain was decorated with the sculpture “A boy with a swan” designed by the Italian Bernini. The fountain and the sculpture exist until now and can be considered as one of symbols of Minsk.
In the other corner of the square the city "winter" theatre (nowadays the J.Kupala National theatre) was founded. In 1888 members of an imperial family arrived to witness the opening of the theatre.
Near the theatre, a well-known public toilet, or "retirad" as then spoke, was situated. Perhaps, this public place is unique. A rumour explained appearance of a small architectural form in an “Empire style” like this and like that. There is a story, that once two friends have quarreled, and one of them constructed this toilet in the image of a house of the offender, only in miniature. Revenge took place. But the historical chronicles denied the story. This unusual retirad is the result of a professional responsibility of an architect. In fact, an Arhierei`s town house (Arhierei is a member of higher orders of clergy) was situated right diagonally. And it was a structure of very characteristic architecture. So in order not to break harmony, a similar toilet was constructed.
As a rule, the favourite place of rest of townsmen has a nickname. The center of the public garden, where the fountain “A Boy with a swan” is situated, is known as "Panikovka". It is named in honor of Panikovski (a character of a cult book by Ilf and Petrov “The 12 chairs”, whose hobby was to steal geese).To make an appointment here is a usual thing. Sometimes the whole public garden is called "Panikovka". Recently the public garden has been completely finished. Balustrades made from modern building materials became an addition to the face-to-face fencing from the Ukrainian red granite.