Navahrudak: The Land Of Kings

Address: Grodno region, Navahrudak
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In the 14th century it was an episcopal see of the Metropolitanate of Lithuania. It is a possible first capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. It was first mentioned in the Sophian First Chronicle and Fourth Novgorod Chronicle in 1044 in relation to a war of Yaroslav I the Wise against Lithuanian tribes. During the 16th century, Maciej Stryjkowski was the first who, in his chronicle, proposed theory, that Navahrudak became the capital of the 13th century state. This statement is supported by several other scholars, while others dispute this notion, mainly because contemporary chronicles of the 13th century do not give any reference about Navahrudak as capital, even stating that city was transferred to the king of Halych-Volhynia.

Navahrudak was a part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth following the Union of Lublin in 1569. In 1795 it was incorporated into Grodno Governorate of Imperial Russia due to the Partitions of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. It was transferred to Minsk Governorate in 1843. The town was a center of thriving Jewish community, its 1900 population was 5,015. In the course of the First World War the town was under the German occupation from 22 September 1915 to 27 December 1918. On 22 June 1941 Nazi Germany invaded the USSR and Navahrudak was occupied on 4 July, following one of the more tragic events when the Red Army was surrounded in what's known as the Novogrudok Cauldron. During the German occupation it became part of the Reichskommissariat Ostland territory. The Red Army reoccupied the city almost exactly three years after its German occupation on 8 July 1944. During the war more than 45,000 people were killed in the city and in the surrounding area, and over 60% of housing was destroyed.

Navahrudak is the town with a rich history and heritage. The first outpost of the ancient capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania – the castle of Navahrudak – and a unique specimen of defense architecture of the 14th-16th centuries is located at one of the highest points in Belarus – Zamkovaya mount (323 meters above the sea level). The first Duke of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Mindouh, was crowned there. At present visitors of Navahrudak Castle can see a citadel (Zamkovaya mount), ruins of the stone castle and adjacent buildings (the Small castle) and fragments of the Church and Shield towers…

The museum dedicated to Adam Mickiewicz, a talented poet, an intellectual of the Romanticism era, the author of the famous Pan Tadeusz (Sir Thaddeus) and Dziady (Forefathers' Eve), was opened in Navahrudak in 1938. The museum is located in the house built by Adam Mickiewicz’s father Nikholai. During the war an extensive collection of family values was destroyed or removed but a large number of items was saved or bought back. The restoration on the 19th-century house was undertaken in the early 1990s. Thanks to it an outbuilding (with an underpass gallery to the mansion), a barn, a gazebo, and a well were restored next to the mansion. Today, the exposition in the museum features thousands of rare objects: personal belongings, portraits, numerous publications of different languages, antique furniture and interior decorations and also exhibits, dedicated to the Mickiewicz's friendship with other eminent people of that epoch.

Sights in Navahrudak:

  • Navahrudak Castle. Built in 14th century, now in ruins. Its location on a high hill makes it a magnificent viewpoint. The castle is sometimes referred to as Mindaugas' castle, though in fact it was erected several decades after duke Mindaugas' death.

  • St. Boris and Gleb Church. An Orthodox church which underwent many renovations and today combines elements of 16th century late Gothic, 17th century Baroque and 19th century Russian Revival architecture.

  • Transfiguration church. A Baroque Roman Catholic church with some elements remaining from an earlier Gothic one.

  • St. Nicolas Cathedral.

  • St. Michael church. A Baroque Roman Catholic church from the first half of XVIII century.

  • Mosque. A 19th century wooden mosque. A Tatar community existed in Navahrudak since at least 16th century.

Museums:

  • Museum of Local Lore (Grodnenskaya str., 2).

  • Adam Mickiewicz Museum, (Lenina str., 1).   

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