The Mechanical Head in the Jesuit collegium in Polotsk
Sculpture, monuments, memorials
There is one very interesting historical landmark in the territory of Polotsk - a monument of XVIII century Baroque architecture. And certainly we are talking about the Jesuit collegium building, which was created thanks to the order of the Polish King Stefan Batory in 1580. This collegium was considered one of the richest in the whole country, and a famous Peter Skarga was its first rector.
A number of farm buildings were erected nearby for two centuries of the building's existence: barns made of stone, stables, a bakery, a brewery, a smokehouse, several factories. Over time, a pharmacy, an almshouse and a musical bustra went into function. A little later, at the direction of Alexander I Polotsky, the collegium was turned into an academy. However, in 1820 the school was liquidated, there was a pious school for some time, and in Soviet times a hospital was located there. Now there are several faculties of Polotsk State University in the former building of the collegium.
In addition to the fact that the building itself is of great historical value, an unusual restored exhibit has been displayed here recently - the Mechanical Head. This famous creation belongs to the talented hands of scientist Gabriel Gruber, who made a huge contribution into the development of culture, education and science in and outside Belarus. By the way, the master worked for a long time in the walls of the collegium in the XVIII century.
This object is a head of a gray-haired sage with moving eyes. The elder offers everyone passing by to ask him any questions in any of the known languages. At the same time the sage answers clearly, loudly enough, logically and, surprisingly, perfectly true! Such an unusual mechanism terrified the guests of the collegium greatly and caused extreme curiosity and interest in people, which, by the way, the Jesuits sought. Even adult visitors came to an indescribable delight at seeing this "Mechanical Head".
When answering a question, the sage's eyes moved, and the question was to start with the words "I greet you, let me ask ...". People came even from other cities to learn about the most unusual things from the "head", for example, from Moscow, St. Petersburg, Warsaw and even Berlin. And the graduate of the collegium and the well-known Belarusian writer Jan Borshchevsky took the project of the "Mechanical Head" for the basis of one of the stories included in the famous work "Shlyahtsits Zavalnya".
For some time the head of the wonder-wise man was under reconstruction, in 2015 the grand opening of the exhibit took place. The participants of the event were dressed as students of the collegium, and all the action looked like a theatrical performance. The modern head resembles the face of a philosopher from Ancient Greece Socrates. Now "Socrates" understands the questions in five languages, gives answers to them and does not stop amazing curious visitors.
In the future plans, people want to create a diorama of the oldest city in Belarus - Polotsk, and to install the latest interactive devices. Thus, Polotsk attracts tourists not only with unique architectural buildings, but also with unusual museum exhibits.