The two-storey Gomel palace of Field Marshal Pyotr Rumyantsev was built between 1777 and 1796 to a Neoclassical design attributed to Ivan Starov. The palace replaced the ruined castle of Gomel's previous owner, Michael Frederick Czartoryski. The central part is surmounted by a square belvedere with a wide flat dome. The six-columned Corinthian portico faces an extensive English park. The main portico is placed on a high platform and is supported by four Corinthian columns.
After Pyotr Rumyantsev's death in 1796, the grounds were slowly improved by his son Nicholas (1754-1826). His brother Sergei was the next owner. He was never interested in country housekeeping and promptly sold the palace to the crown (1834). Gomel was immediately purchased by another Field Marshal, Ivan Paskevich, who had both the palace and the park substantially renovated. He employed architect Adam Idźkowski to add a four-storey tower and a three-storey wing to the existing structure.
After the Russian Revolution the palace was nationalized to house a local museum. Paskevich's daughter-in-law Irina had to move from the palace into an ordinary flat. The buildings sustained heavy damage in the Russian Civil War and World War II. They were shared by the Gomel History Museum and the local pioneers' palace until the late 1990s. The current Neoclassical interiors result from a late 1990s restoration campaign.
The park contains a modern statue of Count Nikolay Rumyantsev. The original marble statues of Euripides, Venus, Athena, Ares, Bacchus, and the Nymph were lost. It was only in 2006 that the replacement statues were put in place. The Paskevich art collection also boasted several paintings by Ivan Kramskoi, Marcin Zaleski, and January Suchodolski, as well as a marble bust of Count Rumyantsev by Antonio Canova.
The bronze equestrian statue of Prince Joseph Poniatowski by Bertel Thorvaldsen, which Paskevich had brought from Warsaw as a trophy in 1842, was dismantled by the Poles during the Polish-Soviet War and transported back to Warsaw, only to be destroyed by the Germans in the 1940s. Its copy stands in front of the Presidential Palace, Warsaw.
Other buildings on the grounds are the Russian Revival chapel with the tombs of Ivan Paskevich and his family, a winter garden (which originated as Prince Paskevich's sugar-mill), several subsidiary outbuildings, and a set of cannons captured by Paskevich's soldiers in the course of the Russo-Turkish War (1828–1829).
By far the most conspicuous landmark in the park is the Neoclassical church of Sts. Peter and Paul. It was commissioned by Count Nikolay Rumyantsev from architect John Clark in 1809 but was not consecrated until 1824. The church is the seat of the local Orthodox bishopric.
An image of the residence is featured on the Belarusian 20,000-ruble bill.References:
German crusaders known as the Livonian Brothers of the Sword began construction of the Cēsis castle (Wenden) near the hill fort in 1209. When the castle was enlarged and fortified, it served as the residence for the Order's Master from 1237 till 1561, with periodic interruptions. Its ruins are some of the most majestic castle ruins in the Baltic states. Once the most important castle of the Livonian Order, it was the official residence for the masters of the order.
In 1577, during the Livonian War, the garrison destroyed the castle to prevent it from falling into the control of Ivan the Terrible, who was decisively defeated in the Battle of Wenden (1578).
In 1598 it was incorporated into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Wenden Voivodship was created here. In 1620 Wenden was conquered by Sweden. It was rebuilt afterwards, but was destroyed again in 1703 during the Great Northern War by the Russian army and left in a ruined state. Already from the end of the 16th century, the premises of the Order's castle were adjusted to the requirements of the Cēsis Castle estate. When in 1777 the Cēsis Castle estate was obtained by Count Carl Sievers, he had his new residence house built on the site of the eastern block of the castle, joining its end wall with the fortification tower.
Since 1949, the Cēsis History Museum has been located in this New Castle of the Cēsis Castle estate. The front yard of the New Castle is enclosed by a granary and a stable-coach house, which now houses the Exhibition Hall of the Museum. Beside the granary there is the oldest brewery in Latvia, Cēsu alus darītava, which was built in 1878 during the later Count Sievers' time, but its origins date back to the period of the Livonian Order. Further on, the Cēsis Castle park is situated, which was laid out in 1812. The park has the romantic characteristic of that time, with its winding footpaths, exotic plants, and the waters of the pond reflecting the castle's ruins. Nowadays also one of the towers is open for tourists.