Castles and fortifications in Belarus

Nesvizh Castle

Nesvizh or Niasvizh Castle is a residential castle of the Radziwiłł family. The estate was owned by the Radziwiłł magnate family from 1533, when it was awarded to Mikołaj Radziwiłł and his brother Jan Radziwiłł after the extinction of the Kiszka family. Since the Radziwills were one of the most important and wealthy clans of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, it was there that the Lithuanian Archive was moved in 1551. ...
Founded: 1582 | Location: Nesvizh, Belarus

Mir Castle

The Mir (Mirsky) Castle Complex was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2000. Duke Yuri Ilyinich began construction of the castle near the village of Mir after the turn of the 16th century in the Gothic architectural style. Five towers surrounded the courtyard of the citadel, the walls of which formed a square of 75 meters on each side. In 1568, when the Ilyinich dynasty died out, the Mir Castle passed into the hand ...
Founded: c. 1520 | Location: Mir, Belarus

Brest Fortress

Brest Fortress, formerly known as Brest-Litovsk Fortress, is a 19th-century Russian fortress. It is one of the most important Soviet World War II war monuments commemorating the Soviet resistance against the German invasion on June 22, 1941 (Operation Barbarossa). Following the war, in 1965 the title Hero-Fortress was given to the Fortress to commemorate the defence of the frontier stronghold during the first weeks of the ...
Founded: 1830s | Location: Brest, Belarus

Old Hrodna Castle

The Old Hrodna Castle (also known as the Hrodna Upper Castle and Bathory"s Castle) dates from the 11th century as the seat of a dynasty of Black Ruthenian rulers, descended from a younger son of Yaroslav the Wise of Kiev. The 13th-century keep of the castle belonged to a type of Belarusian defensive tower represented by the Tower of Kamyanyets. Vytautas the Great added five Brick Gothic towers in 1391-98, transformin ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Hrodna, Belarus

New Hrodna Castle

The New Castle in Hrodna, Belarus is the royal palace of Augustus III of Poland and Stanisław August Poniatowski where the infamous Grodno Sejm took place in 1793. The royal residence was built on the high bank of the Neman River at a little distance from the Old Hrodna Castle which had suffered great dilapidation in the aftermath of the Swedish occupation in the early 18th century. The two castles are joined by a 3 ...
Founded: 1793 | Location: Hrodna, Belarus

Halshany Castle

Halshany or Holszany Castle is the ruined residence of the Sapieha magnate family and was the seat of the one of the largest land estates in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Paweł Stefan Sapieha commissioned its construction and it was erected circa 1610 to replace the older castle, built by of the Holszanski princely family, of whom Sapiehas were descendants and heirs. Also known as the Black Castle (although it is bu ...
Founded: 1610 | Location: Halshany, Belarus

Lida Castle

Lida Castle was one of several citadels erected by Grand Duke Gediminas of Lithuania in the early 14th century to defend his lands against the expansion of the Teutonic Knights. Other links in this chain of defense included Hrodna, Navahrudak, Kreva, Medininkai, and Trakai. The modern town of Lida, Belarus grew up around this castle. The site selected for the castle is naturally defended by the Kamenka and Lida rivers to ...
Founded: 1323 | Location: Lida, Belarus

Kamianiec Tower

The Tower of Kamianiec, often called by the misnomer the White Tower, is the main landmark of the town of Kamianiec in Belarus. Erected in 1271–1289 by the architect Oleksa as a frontier stronghold on the northern border of the principality of Volhynia, it is the only such tower remaining to this day in the area. The first record in the chronicles about the foundation of the tower dates from 1276. The advantageous l ...
Founded: 1271-1289 | Location: Kamianiec, Belarus

Lubcha Castle

Lubcha Castle was a residential castle of the Radziwill family on the left bank of the Neman River at Lubcha near Navahradak. The castle was founded in 1581 as a fortified residence of Jan Kiszka, a powerful Calvinist magnate. It had timber walls, a single stone tower, and was surrounded by moats on three sides, the fourth side protected by the river. Lubcha later passed to Janusz Radziwiłł, Great Hetman of Lithuania, w ...
Founded: 1581 | Location: Lubcha, Belarus

Pischalauski Castle

Pischalauski Castle is also sometimes called the Belarusian Bastille. The castle was built in 1825. It formerly served as a prison. The architect was named Pishchala. The castle was the site of the imprisonment of Belarusian writer Yakub Kolas from 1908 to 1911. A portion of one the castle"s four towers collapsed in April 2008.
Founded: 1825 | Location: Minsk, Belarus

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Luxembourg Palace

The famous Italian Medici family have given two queens to France: Catherine, the spouse of Henry II, and Marie, widow of Henry IV, who built the current Luxembourg palace. Maria di Medici had never been happy at the Louvre, still semi-medieval, where the fickle king, did not hesitate to receive his mistresses. The death of Henry IV, assassinated in 1610, left the way open for Marie's project. When she became regent, she was able to give special attention to the construction of an imposing modern residence that would be reminiscent of the Palazzo Pitti and the Boboli Gardens in Florence, where she grew up. The development of the 25-hectare park, which was to serve as a jewel-case for the palace, began immediately.

The architect, Salomon de Brosse, began the work in 1615. Only 16 years later was the palace was completed. Palace of Luxembourg affords a transition between the Renaissance and the Classical period.

In 1750, the Director of the King's Buildings installed in the wing the first public art-gallery in France, in which French and foreign canvases of the royal collections are shown. The Count of Provence and future Louis XVIII, who was living in Petit Luxembourg, had this gallery closed in 1780: leaving to emigrate, he fled from the palace in June 1791.

During the French Revolution the palace was first abandoned and then moved as a national prison. After that it was the seat of the French Directory, and in 1799, the home of the Sénat conservateur and the first residence of Napoleon Bonaparte, as First Consul of the French Republic. The old apartments of Maria di Medici were altered. The floor, which the 80 senators only occupied in 1804, was built in the middle of the present Conference Hall.

Beginning in 1835 the architect Alphonse de Gisors added a new garden wing parallel to the old corps de logis, replicating the look of the original 17th-century facade so precisely that it is difficult to distinguish at first glance the old from the new. The new senate chamber was located in what would have been the courtyard area in-between.

The new wing included a library (bibliothèque) with a cycle of paintings (1845–1847) by Eugène Delacroix. In the 1850s, at the request of Emperor Napoleon III, Gisors created the highly decorated Salle des Conférences, which influenced the nature of subsequent official interiors of the Second Empire, including those of the Palais Garnier.

During the German occupation of Paris (1940–1944), Hermann Göring took over the palace as the headquarters of the Luftwaffe in France, taking for himself a sumptuous suite of rooms to accommodate his visits to the French capital. Since 1958 the Luxembourg palace has been the seat of the French Senate of the Fifth Republic.