Sunday, February 12, 2012

Belarus - Nesvizh Castle

This is my seventh blog post about my Belarus trip - the Nesvizh Castle.  The others have been about travel, activities, money, statues and monuments, buildings and architecture, and Mir Castle.  There are several more posts planned.

The second site we visited on Tuesday was the Nesvizh Castle.  What a beautiful place!  The day had gone from bright and clear to very foggy, so most of the pictures are different than at the Mir Castle.

Entrance to the castle itself
The following information about the palace I gathered from the UNESCO website. The Nesvizh Castle, also known as "The Architectural, Residential and Cultural Complex of the Radziwill Family at Nesvizh", was added to the World Heritage List because it led to the establishment of a new architectural school in Central Europe, because it represents an important state in the development of building typology in the history of Central European architecture in the 16th and 17th centuries, and because of the family's significance in being associated with the interpretation of the influences from Southern and Western Europe and the transmission of the ideas in the Central and Eastern Europe.

The large sign about the World Heritage List designation
This castle is located in central Belarus. The Radziwill dynasty, who built and kept the ensemble from the 16th century until 1939, gave birth to some of the most important personalities in European history and culture. Due to their efforts, the town of Nesvizh came to exercise great influence in the sciences, arts, crafts and architecture. The complex consists of the residential castle and the mausoleum Church of Corpus Christi with their setting. The castle has ten interconnected buildings, which developed as an architectural whole around a six-sided courtyard. The palaces and church became important prototypes marking the development of architecture throughout Central Europe and Russia.

The gate and to the right
After 1939, it was first taken over by the Soviet army, and subsequently the Germans used it as military hospital. From 1945 to 2001, it was used as a sanatorium. Since then it has been subject to restoration and adaptation to use as museum and as a cultural and visitor centre. In 2002, a fire destroyed the upper part of the residence and a part of the gallery, which were rebuilt in 2003.  The castle was opened to the public in 2010.

The main gate and to the left
The castle has ten interconnected buildings, including the palace, the galleries, the residence and the arsenal, which developed as one architectural whole around a six-sided courtyard.

A bit later without the fog
The buildings are set within the remains of the 16th-century fortifications that comprise four bastions and four curtain walls in a rectangular plan, surrounded by a ditch. The ensemble is in the middle of a cultural landscape that has various design components. The boundaries of the area cover an elongated territory with the main axe parallel to the Usha riverbed and waterfront.

Part of the frozen moat going around the castle
The castle is oriented from west to east. The entrance is from the west through the gate building, the lower part of which is embedded in the rampart. It has an octagonal two-story gate tower, topped with a helm. The original structure dates from the 16th century. The first floor and the tower were added in the 18th century. The principal building of the complex is the palace, which occupies the centre of the east side of the inner yard. It also dates from the 16th century, and was enlarged in the 18th century. This is a three-storey building on an almost square floor plan.

The corners are strengthened by four octagonal towers with alcoves. The ground floor, originally used as a treasury, has preserved the 16th-century vaults. On the first floor the interiors date from the 18th and 19th centuries. The south side of the court has the three-storey residence building, built in the 16th century, with a tower. The north side has a corresponding Arsenal building, which also used to house a chapel

These are connected to the palace via gallery structures, which cut the corners of the court. The court is then closed by annexes that connect these buildings to the gate structure.  The plan of the building is based on a Latin cross, with an elongated rectangular body from which project two lateral chapels with five sides and a chancel. At the crossing of the nave and the transept there is dome. The side chapels are roofed with domes without lanterns.

Crest of the family on the gate entering the property
Original construction 1583
Renovation 2010
The inside courtyard is gorgeous!  These pictures circle from left to right, but do not cover the full area of the inside courtyard.

This castle is on the 100,000 ruble note.

We walked around the palace as it was starting to get dark.

We also went through the museum at the castle, but you will need to wait for my next blog post to see those pictures.

How about you?  Can you imagine how much work it was to clean this place or how much it cost to heat it?

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