How the castle was born
What is a castle? It is something about a fairy tale, about myths, legends and magic. It's about a place where nobles, kings, beautiful princesses live... Well, or they lived once.
There is such a place in Belarus as well - a real castle. It is the Nesvizh Castle. It is second only to Minsk in popularity: 400,000 tourists a year visit this monument of the late Middle Ages.
Once upon a time in the Principality of Lithuania, there was an unremarkable town of Nesvizh. But since the end of the 16th century it became bright and significant: in the year of 1583 Nikolai Christopher Radziwill “the Orphan” demolished a wooden estate in the north-east of the town of Nesvizh and laid the foundation for the future castle. His family - the Radziwill family - was one of the most distinguished in Europe. He planned to build a luxurious residence.
The construction was being led by the Italian architect Giovanni Bernardoni, who had a great talent, for almost a decade and a half and “the Orphan” had enough money and inspiration for it. The residence on the bank of the River Usha was growing rapidly and grew into a real fortress, which for the first 100 years remained impregnable.
The colourful biography of the Nesvizh Castle was being written for four centuries. It was rebuilt, burned, revived, acquired not only legends, but also various architectural styles: Renaissance, Baroque, Neo-Gothic, Classicism ... The medieval feudal castle gradually transformed into a palace and park ensemble with an ocean of external beauty, not to mention its inner beauty: pilasters, bas-reliefs, rich stucco, a huge courtyard with monumental buildings and a number of towers. There were magnificence and solemnity in everything! They were even in the greatness of nature, which was reflected in the mirrors of many ponds.
Interior of the castle
The maintenance of the Castle should be mentioned - there were 170 rooms in it! There were beautiful ceremonial halls: Royal, Golden, Hunting, and, of course, a Ballroom, as well as Marble and Weapon halls. And each was a separate work of art. And what is more, there was a library –one of the largest among private libraries of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the mid-18th century. There were almost 1,000 paintings in the Picture Gallery as well as collections of weapons, coins and decorative and applied art. That was what to be one of the richest European families.
Through regression to recognition
In 1812, following after his idol Napoleon, Dominique Radziwill went to the west. He became the last in the Nesvizh family dynasty of the older male generation. Since then, the residence had been in decline for almost 60 years, until Maria Dorota de Castellan Radziwill, a wife of the representative of the Berlin line of the famous family, took over in 1875. Maria not only restored the former greatness of the Nesvizh Castle, but also created a unique park around it.
In 1939, the Radziwills finally left their ancestral nest. After the war, the palace ensemble was adapted for the "Nesvizh" sanatorium - 3,000 Soviet citizens were treated there during the year. Only in 2004 did the restoration work begin. A year later the Nesvizh Castle was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, and seven more years later it opened its beautiful gates for the guests of the 21st century.
The old steps are squeaking from time to time, and dozens of eyes of the famous family are looking out from the portraits. These ancient walls were being inhabited by a huge family for 14 generations. The only female member of the Radziwill family has survived to our restless year 2020. She is 102 years old and lives in Warsaw.
They say that people are alive as long as the memory of them lives. The Nesvizh Castle does not let its inhabitants fall into oblivion - every day the old walls tell new stories to their guests. You just have to drive 100 kilometres from Minsk and make a discovery. Your own discovery.