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The Niasvizh Castle is one of the most beautiful landmarks in Belarus. Thousands of visitors attend the Castle attracted by its history and glory. The estate and the town of Niasvizh were acquired by the Radziwil family in the middle of the 16th century. At that time the Radziwils were among the most powerful and wealthy clans of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The construction of the castle took almost 20 years. The square-formed castle was built close to a lake. The castle was located on a hill surrounded by a wide moat with bastions on the corners. Since the castle is located on an island, it was hard to approach or be occupied by intruders. Furthermore, until the 19th century, the only way to reach the castle was through a wooden bridge that was quickly demounted in case if a siege. The castle had the first Belarusian cannon foundry workshop. The cannons that were prodced here are known for their unusual names such as "Hydra", "Cerberus", "Owl".
During the Northern War, the castle was under attack of Swedish army and its fortifications were destroyed. In the second half of the 18th century defensive features of the castle on the backburner and it looked like a secular palace. Because of the unique decoration, some of its rooms have special names like Gold, Marble, Weapon ones. In 1795 castle was seized by Russian forces. After Napoleonic Wars the castle was confiscated by the Russian Empire because of Radziwils’ support of French troops. However, in the late 19th century it was returned to the family and later restored. At that time one of the largest landscape parks in Europe was established around the castle. Throughout its history the castle has been rebuilt many times as almost every representative of the Radziwils wanted to create something unusual. As a consequence, the castle is a mixture of many architectural styles like renaissance and baroque, rococo and classicism, neo-gothic and modernism.
In 1939 the Radziwil family was finally expelled from the castle by the Red Army. It was decided to use the castle as a sanatorium, while the park was abandoned. In independent Belarus, the castle was renovated and became the national historical and cultural attraction. Nowadays, Niasvizh castle is a great place to visit in Belarus. There is a museum, a hotel and a café inside the castle. There is also a tragic love story connected to the castle. According to the legends, a ghost of Barbara Radziwil also known as the Black Lady of Niasvizh lives in the castle. She was a lover of King Zhygimont II. After their secret wedding she was poisoned by the King’s mother, Bona Sforza. Sorrowful king tried to return his wife with the help of magicians and alchemists. According to the legend one magician could return the spirit of Barbara. But he forbade Zhygimont to touch her. But the King couldn’t resist the temptation to hug Barbara. From that time onwards, she can’t find her way back so she walks through the castle’s corridors dressed in all black.
Photo: Dmitry Vazhnik
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