The Castle “White Kovel” in the village of Smolyany
Palaces, manors, castles
A tourist who wishes to feel the ancient Middle Ages atmosphere is certainly to visit the most ancient ruins of the castle in the village of Smolyany in Vitebsk region. The castle, once having West European features, was erected in the second decade of the XVII century. The construction, made of different sizes stones, represented several buildings and towers, forming the inner court. The towers of the castle were residential, there were big windows in them. It was planned to make the construction largely a three-storeyed building with five-tired tower at the gates and a large building under it. There were basement premises with secret underground passages under the building, and following one of them, according to the legend, it was possible to reach the monastery near Orsha. There was an artificial pond around the walls, which were more than a meter in width. The sizable castle was also protected with boulders and cannons.
The Great Duchy of Lithuania government leader, Semen Sangushko, who wanted to erect a residence for himself, took the lead of the castle building. For this purpose he applied for an architect from the Netherlands. A land route from Western Europe to Moscow crossed the territory of the village, therefore the castle often received famous guest and was even named “White Kovel”, that was non-typical for castles. By the way, it is the white colour that distinguished the castle from the majority of the other similar buildings. The family of Sangushko was the founder of the town Kovel. Probably, from here the castle’s name “White Kovel” comes. There were big fireplaces inside, and luxurious decor of the interior added some certain charm to the castle.
The history of the medieval architectural monument is rather eventful. The geographical situation of the castle became one of the reasons of its destruction, cause it was located near the Great Duchy of Lithuania border: the architectural monument was greatly damaged in course of numerous wars. Firstly the castle was damaged as a consequence of Polish-Russian war of 1654-1667. In a few decades the Great Northern war began and the castle was caught in the thick of the battle again. The construction was occupied by the Swedes, but the Russians carried it by assault, seizing the Swedish general. In course of the war the castle was burst. In the 30’s of the XIX century the building was sold “for constructional material”. Luckily, in a few decades V.A. Titov became the owner of the castle. He stopped the demolition of the wonderful building and even reinforced the remained tower.
The castle is surrounded with swamps and the river Dernovka, but it is worth coming up closer to the construction. Today it is a partially destroyed foundation, buried basement premises, fragments of the walls and the remnants of once five-storeyed tower with a part of the spiral stairs. Despite the demolished condition, the castle managed to preserve some features of the Renaissance. The castle appearance of two hundred years preserved in the pictures of the XIX century. At present the remains of the historical buildings need to be reconstructed, but no matter what the castle doesn’t lose its mysterious medieval fascination. Such places as the village of Smolyany allows to touch the history of the half-forgotten, almost magic Middle Ages.