What to see in Belarus
Historical castles of Mir and Nezvizh
Tourist attractions Historical castles of Mir and Nezvizh
In Belarus, there are beautiful castles like that of Mir and Nezvich. They say that an underground passage joined them in the past and both have been included in the list of World Heritage Sites of UNESCO; the first for being a "living testimony of its turbulent history" and the second for "coming from some eminent personalities of the history and culture of the Old Continent".
Both are integrated perfectly into nature, in a striking green environment that retains its beauty all year round, although the parks and ponds show their greatest grandeur in the spring and summer months.The Mir Castle Complex, or Mirsky Complex, was erected in the city of the same name in the Karelichy district, which belongs to the Grozno region, 90 km southwest of Minsk.
The Tartar invasions in the lands of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania led to the beginning of its construction in the early sixteenth century, being completed in 1522 by the Grand Marshal, Duke Ilínich. At this time it had a mainly defensive function so a square structure was planned, with walls of 25 metres in height by 3 in width and 4 towers built in a Gothic style. A fifth tower located in the center of the west wall was the only entrance to the castle, which was accessed through a drawbridge.
From 1568 its new owners, the Radziwil Counts, gave it a more Renaissance style appearance by building a three-story palace and a moat around it inside the castle. Its facade was plastered with decorative portals of lime, plates, balconies and porches. The basement and the first floor was used as a warehouse, the second was the home of the lackeys and administrators and the third was the residence of the prince.
The subsequent war with Russia and the Northern War, from 1700 to 1721, caused the destruction of what had recently been built. In 1828 the castle passed to the Wittgenstein and after almost a century of semi-abandonment, from 1891 the property passed to the Sviatopolk-Mirsky family. The garden located on the right side was removed and replaced by a pond. A two-story palace was built near the castle and trees were planted between them. An artificial lake was dug in the southern part and an Italian garden was built in the northern part as well as a surrounding park. Its complete restoration was achieved in the third decade of the 18th century.
In 1939 after the accession of the country to the Soviet Union the castle passed into the hands of the state. During the German occupation, from 1941 to 1944, it suffered a lot of damage and housed a Jewish ghetto and a prison camp and after its liberation and until 1956, it was the main source of work for the locals, so parts of its interior grandeur were ost.
The Castle of Mir is a magnificent example of the late medieval castles of central Europe. It combines different cultural influences in its design: Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque, which combine harmoniously.
Today it functions as a subsidiary branch of the Minsk National Art Museum and is considered a masterpiece of architecture, making it one of the country's main tourist attractions. 120 km from Minsk and 30 km from Mir is the town of Nezvizh, one of the oldest in the country. In the main square are the old Town Hall and the House of the Market or of the Artisans, built in a Rococo style.
The architectural ensemble of the Nezvich Castle comprises the palace of the Radziwil family and the church of Corpus Christi, a Jesuit church from the late 16th century with impressive frescoes in its interior, and in whose crypt the remains of the richest clans of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania are buried.
The work began on a preexisting structure in medieval times. A rectangular castle was built surrounded by earthen walls, bastions and 4 defensive towers. The residential palace of the Radziwil family was finished in 1604. At the beginning of the 18th century it was destroyed by the Swedes and soon after restored with a more refined baroque aesthetic. In 1770 it was occupied by Russian troops and the family was expelled. Later it was abandoned, but the new descendants of the family restored it in the late 19th century and designed an English-style park. The invading Red Army again expelled the family in 1939 and used it for sanitary purposes.
In its ostentatious interior, you can see how the high nobility of the time lived. In the rooms of the palace, there are numerous works of art, large curtains and carpets, noble woods, ornaments bathed in gold, beautiful furniture and fireplaces and hunting trophies. You can also access the dungeons and cellars of the castle.
Dominique Raziwill hid the treasure of the family near Neszvich in 1812. The most valued are 12 golden statues representing the apostles. The Russian army dug through the whole territory without success and the Germans during the Second World War also made their own excavations and even used metal detectors, but they could not find anything.
The Castles of Mir and Nezvizh are considered symbols of Belarus and represent an authentic graphic testimony of the long history of wars and destruction that Belarus has endured.