The Castle of the Hodkevich and Sapega families in Bykhov

What can be more mind-blowing and atmospheric than ruins of old buildings, especially if many of them have a rich and interesting history? A castle in Bykhov is famous not only in Mogilev region but also all around Belarus for its inimitable mood, unique atmosphere of preserved secrets and mysteries of the past centuries and its history rich in legends and traditions. Unfortunately, today this palace and park ensemble exists only in the form of ruins, however, still has a huge tourism potential.

The Castle of the Hodkevich and Sapega families presents an outstanding monument of architecture of the XVI-XVII centuries. At all times, the town of Bykhov stood out from other towns for its significance in military-strategic terms since the late XIV century: that place was always a model of a town-fortress. In fact, the castle was built to strengthen the town boundary in order to be able as long as possible to withstand enemy assaults. It is noteworthy that such an idea was very effective.

In 1590, the famous Lithuanian Hetman Yan Karol Hodkevich got permission for the construction of a complex of castle fortifications; then the construction of a defense system was started. By the way, the whole palace and park complex was built for nearly thirty years, but it was worth the cost because the castle in Bykhov was among the most impregnable and massive fortifications in Belarus. It was located on the high bank of the Dnepr, and it was surrounded all around by a deep ditch.

While the construction of the structure, the castle had two owners. Yan Karol Hodkevich started the engineering works, but Lev Sapega had to continue them; and the latter became the rightful owner of that land in 1621. By the way, he significantly changed the appearance of the original design of the complex: added bastions not only in the territory of the estate but in all Bykhov. Thanks to such traditional fortifications, the town remained impregnable for several centuries; it could be destroyed by neither Cossacks nor the Russian troops.

The castle has been significantly reconstructed after a hundred years. The manor house looked like a structure rebuilt in Baroque and Renaissance at the late XVIII century. The palace has an enfiladed planning: interconnected rooms are located one behind successively with doors arranged on one axis. The whole complex presented a two-storey luxurious palace with a clock tower and a group of outbuildings. There were barrack-like buildings with octangular corner towers near the estate. On the whole, the entire architectural composition was in the form of an irregular quadrangle.

The manor house had several great halls and rooms for household needs, through which guests came to a gallery. The owners of the estate lived in separate rooms on the second floor. But, unfortunately, only ruins of once the luxurious and rich palace have been preserved. In 2004, a severe fire destroyed the remnants of the Sapegas’ house.

Now Bykhov that was a large commercial and cultural center in the Middle Ages is a small town. However, the remains of the stone building that once so securely protected the town today is considered the national heritage and attract tourists who have chosen rest in Belarus.