The village of Zalesie in Grodno region
Smorgon district is very rich in various historical, cultural and architectural attractions. The township of Zalesie is not an exception. It is located 12 kilometers south-east from Smorgon, not far from the railway station of the same name which is situated on Molodechno – Vilnius railroad. In addition the township is located not so far from Minsk – only 90 kilometers to the north-west. It became the place of interest for tourists thanks to a legendary historical figure – a famous composer and politician Michael Cleophas Oginski who had been living in the estate on the territory of Zalesie for 20 years.
The pages of Zalesie history
Zalesie cannot boast of a rich and ancient history. It is mentioned in the historical chronicles only together with the name of a famous representative of Oginski family.
The estate is mentioned in 1865 as a farm in the rural district of Zaskovichi. There were only 4 houses and 50 residents of the Orthodox and the Catholic religions.
In the XX century Zalesie had the fate typical for the distant Belorussian villages. In 1921 it became a part of the Polish rural district of Benicia. In 1938 it was called Zalesie of Smorgon. Then there were already 18 houses, or households, inhabited by 138 people. In 1939 Zalesie became a part of BSSR. In 1944 it was a part of Molodechno district and after reorganization in 1960 became a part of Grodno region. Nowadays the population of Zalesie is about one thousand people.
Zalesie is comparable in importance with "Yasnaya Polyana" of Tolstoy, "Mikhaylovskoye" of Pushkin or "Karabikha" of Nekrasov.
The composer became the owner of the land, the wooden manor and the village in 1802. The large-scale building site was developed on the territory of the estate. It was planned to build a stone palace here.
The work was going rather slowly. Perhaps it was due to the fact that Michael Oginsky constantly had been living on the territory of his estate only till 1810. From 1810 to 1823 he visited the residence occasionally. The erection of the estate was finished in 1822. The estate was famous all around by music and poetry evenings. The masterpieces written by the hospitable host sounded here. According to the most popular and plausible version a brilliant world-famous polonaise "Farewell to Motherland" was written and sounded for the first time in the walls of Zalesie palace.
The death of Michael Cleophas Oginski brought the decline and decay to his residence. In 1920 the rest house was open in the building of the estate. When Zalesie was joined to BSSR a soviet sanatorium was opened here.
Fortunately, a large-scale reconstruction, which lasted for four years from 2011 to 2015, has been carried out in the estate. After the reconstruction the museum was opened in the manor. The exhibition of the museum allows to get acquainted with the life of the great Michael Cleophas Oginski.