The pearl of Gomel - the Palace of Rumyantsev-Paskevich

The pearl of Gomel - the Palace of Rumyantsev-Paskevich

A gift from the Empress

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Once upon a time, in the old era of Catherine II, brave commanders were rewarded not only with orders and letters of commendation, but also with entire towns. At the end of the XVIII century, the great woman Catherine II granted Pyotr Rumyantsev a small town, or, to be more precise, even "the village of Gomel"  for his heroic deeds in the war with Turkey. And along with Gomel he was granted a plot for the palace and money for its construction.

In the beautiful year of 1777, Field-Marshal-General Pyotr Rumyantsev ordered the construction to begin. The most picturesque place was chosen, on the high bank of the Sozh, which offered amazing views of the river and the splendour behind it.  He also invited prominent architects, so the palace in the style of early classicism promised to be flawless. And so it turned out to be.

At the beginning of the next XIX century, it was owned by the sons of Peter Rumyantsev. At first the owner was Nikolai. He  was the chancellor, and a great supporter and patron of the arts. He immortalized his good name by assembling a unique collection of books which later became the basis of the Russian State Library. His brother Sergey, a renowned diplomat and statesman, donated 28,000 volumes for the benefit of the fatherland and enlightenment. It was under the Rumyantsevs' rule that the town of Gomel grew into a prosperous town. Sergey preferred to live in St. Petersburg, however, and mortgaged his Gomel estate, which he later sold to the treasury in 1834.

New life of the Palace

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A new life began for the Rumyantsevs' palace. The palace was bought together with the town by another well-known military commander, Ivan Paskevich, also a participant of the war, but this time with Napoleon.  He was spending his time reconstructing the manor for 15 years, and built a huge park around it. All kinds of vegetation, including exotic ones, were brought in from various parts of Russia and from abroad. Alleys were planted, paths were made, lawns were laid, benches and sculptures were put up, and arbours were built. Beauty and luxuriance finally prevailed on these 18 hectares.

Lavish receptions and balls were organised in the front rooms of the palace which started to be called the Rumyantsevs and Paskeviches' palace. Even the Romanovs attended them. The Paskevich family were great admirers of various kinds of art. A great variety of collections had been gathered by the family: numismatics, watches, porcelain, military trophies, not to mention books. All this became the basis for the Gomel Museum of Art and History in 1919. It was created after the palace had been confiscated by the revolution and its last inhabitants, Prince Fyodor Paskevich and his wife Irina, had left the ancestral home.

Rumyantsev-Paskevich Palace in the XXI century

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And here it is, the XXI century. After repairs, reconstructions, and historical twists and turns, the Gomel Palace and Park Ensemble is one of the most beautiful architectural monuments in Belarus. And it is not only the wealth and luxury of the Palace of the Rumyantsevs-Paskeviches, but also the museum fund which amounts 260 000 items: a huge numismatic and ethnographic collection, a collection of paintings, manuscripts and old-printed books, icons ...

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It is also a chapel-mausoleum of the end of XIX century - 8 representatives of the Paskevich family are buried in it. Nearby there is the Peter and Paul Cathedral with the relics of Venerable Manefa of Gomel and you can finf here a winter garden in the park. There are a lot of subtropical plants, including a palm tree, which has lived there since 1888. Next to the winter garden is a 40 m tall viewing tower, almost 200 years old and with the same number of steps. In its former life it was the chimney of a sugar factory. It is not necessary to say what aesthetic pleasure awaits everyone who climbs to the top of this ancient chimney.

Finally, the palace and park ensemble is also a park of unbelievable beauty, in the embrace of which as a pearl lies the Rumyantsev-Paskevich Palace. The park is densely populated with 3,000 trees, including two oaks that are over 200 years old. A stroll through such a paradise garden becomes unforgettable! Especially with a little bonus in the form of... squirrels, which are plentiful everywhere here. But most importantly is that you can feed them. Not all people have a chance to get this kind of joy. But everything happens for the first time ever.