Nesvizh: The City Of A Romantic Castle

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Nesvizh was first documented in 1223, later becoming a part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. In the 15th century, while still a minor town, it passed to the Radziwill princely family, and remained the family's home until 1813. The first Belarusian language book printed in the Latin alphabet, a catechism by Symon Budny, was published in Nesvizh in 1562. During the Great Northern War of 1700–21, the city was significantly damaged by the Swedish troops. It was rebuilt in the 1720s by Michal "Rybenko" Radziwill. In the aftermath of the war, in 1740s and 1750s he founded a silk belt factory (which was later moved to Sluck), a cadet corps military school, several textile manufacturers and restored the Corpus Christi Church and a printing factory. Michal's wife, Franciszka Urszula Radziwill, founded the Nesvizh Radzivill Theater, which included a choir and a ballet school.

In 1764 and 1768 the city was occupied by Russian troops, and in 1772 the library, which included approximately 10,000 volumes, along with paintings and other objects of art, was transferred to St. Petersburg. Books from the library were granted to the Russian Academy of Sciences. Nesvizh Castle was founded in 1583, and between 1584 and 1598 two monasteries and a collegium, all belonging to different religious orders, were built. On the initiative of Mikolaj "the Orphan" Radziwill the city was granted Magdeburg rights in 1586. Two epidemics that occurred in the city in the 17th century led to an establishment of a pharmacy in 1627. The foundation stone of Nesvizh Palace was laid in 1584. It was rebuilt many times and as a consequence has features of manyarchitectural styles. In the late 19th century Nesvizh Palace was restored by the Radziwil family who also designed one of largest landscape gardens in Europe on the estate. After World War 2 Nesvizh Palace was used as a Sanatorium and the gardens became neglected. In 1994 the estate was designated the national historical and cultural reserve and in 2006 it was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List. Nesvizh Palace is considered the most beautiful palace in Belarus and attracts thousands of visitors every year. The gardens are a particular attraction, with ornamental lakes, and beautifully landscaped gardens. Nesvizh Palace went through an extensive renovation programme to restore it to its former glory. After intensive restoration works (since 2004), Nesvizh Palace reopened its doors for visitors in June 2012.

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Niasvizh Town Hall – a memorial of architecture of the 16th century – is the most ancient among the town hall buildings preserved in the territory of Belarus. Its construction began, in the judgment of quite a number of researches, under the design of the Italian architect Giovanni Maria Bernardoni after the town had acquiered the Magdeburg Right. From 1997 to 2004, the repair work was carried out at the Town Hall, memorial of architecture of the 16th-18th centuries. It resulted in an initial appearance of the facades, renewal of the tower upper floors. The tower regained a municipal clock (like the one in the 16th century) and observing platform. The interiors of the first floor were reconstructed for the museum exposition "Municipal self-government of Niasvizh in the 18th- the first half of 19th centuries". Nesvizh is the town that you will love at the first glance. That is why it is especially attractive for the people of art. At medieval culture fests the scenes from far gone epochs come alive in knights’ tournaments, dances of beautiful ladies, serious battles and buffoon performances. The “Ancient Nesvizh” festival usually takes place in July and attracts a lot of spectators. Join this fest and you will notice that all the past centuries seem to step aside uncovering the magic world of the Middle Ages. Nesvizh was named Belarus’ 2012 Capital of Culture. Nesvizh became the third Belarusian town after Polotsk and Gomel which had been given this honorary status.

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Sights in Nesvizh:

  • Nesvizh Palace. UNESCO World Heritage Site, a residential castle of the Radziwiłł family since 16th century.
  • Corpus Christi Church. A marnificent building from 1584–1593, one of the first Baroque churches in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Many members of the Radziwill family are buried here.
  • Slutsk Gate. An old city gate constructed around 1700, which takes its name from the nearby city of Slutsk.
  • City Hall. A building with Renaissance and Baroque features, one of not so many preserved city halls in Belarus.
  • The house of an artisan (House in the marketplace) is the only extant architectural model of a Belarusian urban dwelling with a baroque façade of the first half of the 18th century.
  • The building of the dairy plant. The building was constructed in the late XIX century and for a long time it housed the barracks.
  • The complex of the former monastery for Benedictine nuns is located in the southern part of the town. It was founded in 1590–1595. It was the first monastery for Catholic nuns in Belarus.
  • The memorial boulder "Wishes Stone".
  • English Park and Japanese Park. In 1913 a gardener from Great Britain started the development of a new park. The decision was taken to organize the territory to the north from the Old Park in a Japanese style.

Museums:

  • National Historical and Cultural Museum-Reserve (Leninskaya str., 19)
  • The Museum of History and Local Lore (Leninskaya str., 96)

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