Europe's 'last dictatorship' Belarus is now visa-free and easy to visit -- but is it worth the trip?

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Belarus remains a blank spot on the map for even the most die-hard Europhiles.

Snuggly surrounded by Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Ukraine and Russia, the land-locked country only drew 137,000 tourists in 2013, according to the United Nation's World Tourism Organization.

Part of this lack of interest stemmed from the severe visa requirements. For a long time, Belarus was on the list of countries that are hardest for Americans to visit. Visas could cost up to $420 for U.S. citizens.

Then, in 2005, Belarus again came into public eye when former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice labelled it 'Europe's last dictatorship' thanks to Alexander Lukashenko's reign as president since 1994.

However, starting on February 12, 2017, citizens of 80 countries can go to Belarus visa-free for up to five days if traveling by air.

Now the question has shift from 'Can I visit Belarus?' to 'Should I visit Belarus?'

If the only thing you know about Belarus' capital of Minsk is from Phoebe's scientist boyfriend David from 'Friends,' then you'll want to read on before before considering putting the last frontier European nation on your bucket list.

The country's destruction during WWII and subsequent rebuilding under Soviet rule is visible in the architecture. Lenin Street, KGB headquarters and Red Square in Minsk offer a preserved look at its time prior to 1991. Countless eye-catching domed cathedrals and soaring church spirals pierce the blue skies in Minsk and across the country.

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Amazing sites to see in Belarus
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Amazing sites to see in Belarus
Jews first began to settle in the town of Mir, Belarus- about 85km southwest of Minsk, early in the 17th century, long after the town was established. The town, and the castle, was once owned by the Radziwill family. The Germans captured Mir in June of 1941. First they executed Jews on charges of Soviet collaboration. Then they proceeded to take large groups of Jews out of town to be murdered. All those who remained in the town were murdered. Jewish partisans from Mir continued fighting the Nazis until the war ended. Mir, today is a small town with a population of 2,600 people. (Linda D. Epstein/MCT via Getty Images)
Minsk, Belarus - September 28, 2014: Unique Building Of National Library Of Belarus In Minsk At Night Scene. Building Has 23 Floors And Is 72-metre High. Library can seat about 2,000 readers and features a 500-seat conference hall.
Gomel, Belarus - March 12, 2016: Speech of creative choral collective during Shrovetide festivities outdoors, Gomel, Belarus
An old wooden orthodox church located in Dudutki, Belarus
Minsk, Belarus - October 1, 2016: View of Humpback bridge over Svisloch and residential complex 'At Trinity' on Street Storozhevskaya in Minsk. Unidentified people walk on Island of Tears on sunny autumn day
Church of saint Simon and Helena
Aerial View, Cityscape Of Minsk, Belarus. Summer Season, Sunset Time. Panorama Of Nemiga District
Vitebsk, Belarus - April 16, 2015: Unidentified people go on the street of Tolstoy overlooking the Holy Dormition Cathedral, Vitebsk, Belarus
Minsk, Belarus - July 17, 2016: memorial complex 'Hill of Glory' is a monument to the Great Patriotic War in Belarus.
Minsk, Belarus - May 19, 2015: Monument Near Building Belorussian Museum Of The Great Patriotic War In Minsk, Belarus
Minsk, Belarus - October 1, 2016: Unidentified people visit memorial complex 'Monument to soldiers-internationalists' on Island of Tears, Minsk, Belarus
The dishes of the traditional Belarusian cuisine - pie
Parliament building on the Independence square in Minsk. Belarus
Dudutki, Belarus - July 19, 2014: Warriors participants of the VI International festival of medieval culture and music 'Our Grunwald', dedicated to 604 anniversary of the legendary Battle of Grunwald
Minsk, Belarus - June 3, 2014: People resting, sitting on bench on Lenin Street in Minsk, Belarus
Nesvizh, Belarus - September 7, 2014: Unidentified people are going by the central square to the town hall of Nesvizh. The City Hall was built in the end of the XVI century and is the oldest buildings of the city government, preserved in Belarus
Minsk, Belarus - January 18, 2017: Facade of the largest in a country Palace of Trade Unions Centre
Lenin and Belarussian flag in front of Parliament building on the Independence square in Minsk, Belarus.
A residential castle of the Radziwill family in Nesvizh.
Mir, Belarus - August 28, 2016: Medieval castle in the Belorussian town of Mir against the blue sky. Mir Castle Complex
View to Castle
Brest, Belarus - August 30, 2016: Kholm Gate of Brest Fortress. Brest Fortress the first to receive the blow during the attack of the German troops on the Soviet Union during World War II.
'All Saints' church in Minsk, Republic of Belarus
Holy Assumption Cathedral of the Assumption on the hill and the Holy Spirit convent. Vitebsk, Belarus
Peter and Paul Cathedral in Gomel, Belarus. Winter season
ancient church in Gervyaty in Belarus.
Catholic Church ,built in 1785-1787 years, located in Ostrovec, Belarus , Church of Saints Cosmas and Damian
Minsk, Belarus - December 27, 2015: Interior of Garrison cathedral St. Nicholas Church in Memorial complex Brest Hero Fortress in Belarus.
Brest, Belarus - August 30, 2016: Monument to Russian soldiers. Brest Fortress the first to receive the blow during the attack of the German troops on the Soviet Union during World War II.
Minsk, Belarus - June 2, 2015: People walking near building Belorussian Museum Of The Great Patriotic War In Minsk, Belarus
The National Academic Grand Opera and Ballet Theatre of the Republic of Belarus is located in a park in the Trinity Hill of the city of Minsk. Local people call it the Opierny Teatr.
Dudutki, Belarus - July 19, 2014: Historical restoration of knightly fights on festival of medieval culture
A vegetable merchant mans her stall at Minsk's central market. Belarus.
Main food indoor market at Minsk.Minsk, Belarus, Eastern Europe
MINSK REGION, BELARUS - NOVEMBER 6, 2016: Women in traditional dress preparing meat at the Charka-shkvarka na Sule Belarusian cuisine festival, at the Sula History Park-Museum. Viktor Drachev/TASS (Photo by Viktor Drachev\TASS via Getty Images)
MINSK REGION, BELARUS - NOVEMBER 6, 2016: Participants in the Charka-shkvarka na Sule Belarusian cuisine festival at the Sula History Park-Museum. Viktor Drachev/TASS (Photo by Viktor Drachev\TASS via Getty Images)
Fried Potato Pancakes. Belarusian and German Cuisine. Stodio Photo
Dudutki, Belarus - July 19, 2014: Historical restoration of knightly fights on festival of medieval culture
Dudutki, Belarus - July 19, 2014: Historical restoration of knightly fights on festival of medieval culture. Knights In Fight With Swords
Minsk, Belarus - July 19, 2014: Historical restoration of knightly fights. The siege of wooden fortress
Dudutki, Belarus - July 19, 2014: Warriors participants of VI festival of medieval culture 'Our Grunwald', dedicated to 604 anniversary of Battle of Grunwald
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The National Library of Belarus is among the most curious in the world. Shaped like a rhombicuboctahedron, the building glows at night and is perched along the river bank, offering an observation deck overlooking Minsk.

Belarus is deeply connected to its tragic past during WWII when, as the territory between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, every citizen was affected. Monuments to the troubling times are erected throughout Minsk, including the granite Victory Monument, honoring soldiers who gave their lives to liberate Belarus. Another notable military tribute is the Island of Tears, a statue of weeping women and angels commemorating those lost in the 1979–89 war with Afghanistan.

Traveling outside of the main city will lead you to medieval palaces. Mir Castle is a World Heritage Site since 2000, but it is not just a pretty building. During WWII, the 15th century complex was used as a ghetto for the Jewish population. The Nyasvizh Castle is also considered one of the most beautiful places in Belarus, with ornamental lakes and lush, richly landscaped gardens.

For those interested in Belarus' pre-WWII past, consider planning a trip around a medieval festival. Belarusians celebrate their ancestors' pasts with knights' tournaments throughout the year with some of the most famous occurring May through September. Watch armored men battle 'Game of Thrones' style or don traditional garb and dance to folk music.

Then, when you feeling peckish, indulge in the hearty, rustic Belarusian food. Eat a meal of thick potato pancakes, stewed short ribs, pork and mushrooms and then chase it down with rye beer or, the national favorite, vodka.

So if you are a WWII buff, an architecture aficionado, want a glimpse at village life in Europe or just want to be the trailblazer among friends, consider Belarus for your next trip aboard.

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