Gaitunishki

Hajciunishki is a Belarusian village which is situated alongside the boundary with Lithuania. It has only a dozen of buildings, but thanks to one of them, Hajciunishki achieved real fame. Here you can find the only fortified house in Belarus.

This architectural monument of the early XVII century remained not only because of its powerful walls, but also because for 70 years already there live mentally ill people. Psychiatric hospital is located in this building.

THE CITADEL OF NONHART IN HAJCIUNISHKI

For the first time Hajciunishki was mentioned in historical sources in the XVI century as Rimsha’s estate ownership. But in the early XVII century a new owner moved here fr om Vilnius – a Dutchman Peter Nonhart, known at that time as a fortifier engineer, reconstructing Vilnius fortress. Just over a year (1611-1612), he built a house here, which in the truest sense became a fortress.

Nonhart’s fortified house withstood several serious sieges in the times of the Great Northern War. As fortified house should be, along the whole its territory it was protected with a deep ditch and bank. Mini-fortress, rectangular in its perimeter (34x15 meters) had four round towers in its corners – with embrasure and 1.5 meter width walls. Another rectangular tower was located on the front side of the building and had three tiers and arched entrance.

Based on the documents left from the owner, he and his family lived on the second and the third floors of the tower built-in in facade. There was a small military community on the first floor.  Beneath there was a basement with brick vaults and well for autonomous water supply.

The house was surrounded by a garden. Not far from it there were some stone household outbuildings (butter and cheese making, smithy, stable) and on Zhizma river bank there were mill and tavern.

In 1633 not far from the fortified house Nonhart built Lutheran Shrine Chapel, wh ere he was buried. Unfortunately, nowadays only ruins with buttresses remind us about this chapel.

FROM HREPTOVICHI TO PSYCHIATRIC HOSPITAL

The fortified house in Hajciunishki was owned by Hreptovichi family and after that by  a well-known artist Johann Schröter. For a while its owner was Vavzhinetz Pyttkamer, married to Maria Verschak , whom Adam Mickiewicz  was in love with. The author of “ Pan Tadeusz”  is said to visit Hajciunishki more than once.

A well-known artist Napoleon Orda was amazed by the beauty of the fortified house and created a graphic drawing of it in 1877.

When the Soviet System came to power, the house was nationalized. In 1946 mechanics school was placed here for three years and 10 years later there was a regional psychiatric hospital. Since 1989 there is a psychiatric hospital for compulsory medical treatment at Nonhart’s house.

CAN ONE ADMIRE THE FORTIFIED HOUSE?

According to expert estimates, the fortified house kept safe for 80 percent, though the garden was cut down and now in round towers hospital toilets are situated. Besides, nowadays not far from the fortified house, one-storey building appeared. It is a medical building of strict regime. The barrack is curbed with barbed wire and is under police guard.

It was very difficult to get to the territory of this unique fortified house 10 years ago, because it was secure facility. Nowadays tourists are mostly welcomed here. Very often the administration of the hospital acts as tour guides. Though higher than the first floor tourists are forbidden.

Hajciunishki village is situated in Voronovskyi district of Grodno region five kilometers far from the railway station Byenyakoni and three kilometers from Lithuanian boarder. So, if you decide to visit Hajciunishki village and admire the fortified house, do not forget to pay fee for border zone entry – 0, 2 of base rate.

 

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