Mir Castle Complex


Mir, Krasnoarmeyskaya street, 2

The Mirsky Castle Complex is a monument of medieval architecture, located in the village Mir. It is a former defensive fortification and a residence of the Iliniches, Radziwills, Wittgensteins and Sviatopolk-Mirskys - the most famous families in Belarus. The Mirsky Castle Complex includes a residence-fortress, earth mounds, a picturesque park created in the English style, an «Italian» garden, a pond, a chapel-tomb of the Sviatopolk-Mirsky family, a watchman”s house and a roadside chapel.

The small town Mir was first mentioned in chronicles in 1395 in connection with the attacks of the Crusaders. Nobody knows when exactly the construction of Mirsky Castle was begun. Some historians consider that most its buildings were built in the XVI-XVII centuries on the territory where the feudal estate was located, among plains, near the river Miranka. It”s believed that the gentry Ilyinich family was the founder of Mirsky Castle.

From 1522 till 1526 years four towers were erected. They were built in the form of octagonal prisms, located on the tetrahedral prisms. Their height was about 23-25 m. Later they built there the walls with the length about 75 m. They interconnected towers. As a result the castle got a square shape. The fifth tower was built in the middle of the western wall that was turned towards Vilna. It was used as the only entrance to the castle. In its basement was a prison, and on the second floor was a chapel. Also the metal gates were lowered from this tower to protect the whole castle. The thickness of the walls of Mirsky Castle, that had three-layer masonry of brick and stone, on top of the castle was about 2 m and at the bottom - about 3 m. The castle walls also had weapons loopholes.

In 1569 Mirsky Castle becomes the property of the Radziwill family. And they resumed the process of its construction. Soon the castle got some Renaissance features. Around the castle was erected an earth mound with the height about 9 m. There were citadels at the corners. There was a moat behind it that was constantly replenished with water of the river Miranka and the Castle brook. From this time you could had gotten inside the castle only by a special lifting bridge over the pit. Since then Mirsky Castle had become the permanent residence of the Radziwill graphs. Soon a three-storeyed palace designed by the architect Martin Zaborovsky was built in the courtyard of the fortress, at its northern and eastern walls. Its first floor and cellar were used as an armoury and storage of food. Footmen and all the count”s administration were housed on the second floor. The third floor was reserved for the duke”s apartments connected by stairs and a stone bridge with a special «Italian garden». One-storeyed office buildings were built along the southern and western walls of the castle.

Mirsky Castle was seized by the Cossacks of Hetman Ivan Zolotarenko in 1655. Then there were the wars with Russia and later with Sweden. The castle was badly damaged due to those turbulent decades. It was reconstructed only 80 years later. A main hall, a room for dancing and a portrait gallery appeared in the castle. The «Italian garden» was also restored.

The Wittgenstein family got Mirsky Castle in 1830-1840. None of them visited the village Mir. The castle was abandoned and slowly began destroying.

In 1891 Nicholay Sviatopolk-Mirsky, a commander of the Russian Empire, became an owner of Mirsky Castle. He decided to complete its reconstruction: a small palace and a tomb, as well as a garden were built on the territory of the estate. Dukes Sviatopolk-Mirsky tried to restore the castle tower and the east building. They also hired guards to protect the ancient manor from destruction.

There was the Jewish ghetto in Mirsky Castle during the Great Patriotic War.

In 2000 Mirsky Castle was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list. 6 years later there was started an active reconstruction that was finally completed by the end of 2010.

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