The castle is Lida's main decoration and pride. And even if it doesn't have the exquisite architecture like Nesvizh Palace or is not as majestic as Mir Castle. In fact, Lida has the oldest castle in Belarus, which is austere and self-sufficient in its architecture. Its mission was utterly practical: to protect the locals from attacks by foreigners.
History of the construction of Lida Castle
Lida Castle was built by Grand Duke Gedimin in 1323. At that time the local lands were constantly attacked by crusaders, and thus the castles of Lida, Novogrudok, Krevo, Medniki and Troki were a common defense line. During those centuries the castle suffered a lot. It was plundered more than once, however only the Grand Duke Vitovt succeeded in conquering it just once. And in 1891, when Lida was almost ruined by a fire, authorities decided to dismantle the castle and build a house for inhabitants from its bricks. For a long time it had been in ruins, until the authorities started to reconstruct it in 1982. Two towers and a wall were rebuilt, but work is still going on in the courtyard.
Interestingly, the southwest tower, since the time of its construction and until 1533, had housed an Orthodox church. Nowadays, there is an exhibition telling about the dark times of the Middle Ages. Torture instruments are displayed in one hall, medieval armour and replica swords in another. You can try your hand at archery, try on armour and sword swinging under the guidance of animators. If you are lucky you may even be knighted.
Theatrical performance of The Wedding of Jogaila
You can attend a theatrical performance of The Wedding of Jogaila. The legend goes as follows: the Polish King Jogaila and his brother Vitovt arrive to visit Prince Simeon Dmitrievich. The monarch sees his daughter, falls in love and takes her as his wife. The young couple is not confused by their age difference as Sofia Golshanska is 17 and Yagaylo is 71. And at Lida castle the wedding cortege arrives for a feast on the way from Novogrudek, where the ceremony took place. to Krakov. After the performance, guests are invited to eat and taste medieval food - pea porridge, sausages and kvass.
There is truth in every legend. Thus, the wedding of Sophia Golshanskaya and Jogaila did take place in 1421, and she was the fourth wife of the Polish king. He had outlived the previous wives. But in the history of Lida Castle there were also other notable landmarks: its walls have seen almost all kings, princes and historical figures of the 14th-18th centuries such as Charles XII, Paul I, Alexander I, Nicholas II, Adam Mickiewicz, Ignacy Domeyko, and even more recent ones - Felix Dzerzhinsky, Leo Trotsky, Josef Pilsudski. From 1396 to 1399 famous Tokhtamysh Khan was staying in Lida castle. He was expelled from the Golden Horde, but Prince Vitovt sheltered the Basurman in the hope that he would help him in his war with the Moscow Principality. However, nothing came of it.
But Lida is not only famous for its castle. If you visit Lida Museum of History and Art, you will find exhibits found during excavations in the castle. Lida also has two beautiful churches - the Cathedral of St. Michael the Archangel, built in 1863, and the Church of the Holy Cross, which has never been closed since it was built in 1770. One of the relics of the church is the icon of the Mother of God with the Child, which was brought here in 1376 by the first Franciscan missionaries from Vinza, in the province of Belostok.
A visit to Lida is also worthwhile for the soulful atmosphere that permeates this small Belarusian town with a very rich history.