The Cathedral of Holy Wisdom in Polotsk was built by Prince Vseslav Briacheslavich between 1044-1066. It is first mentioned in the Voskresenskaia Chronicle under the year 1056. It is probably the oldest church in Belarus.
The cathedral is, like the Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kiev and Saint Sophia Cathedral in Novgorod, named after the Holy Wisdom of God. After building his own cathedral, Vseslav tried to seize the Kievan throne. Failing in that attempt, he raided the surrounding principalities; in 1067, he raided Novgorod the Great and looted the Cathedral of Holy Wisdom there, bringing a bell and other loot back to decorate his own Cathedral of Holy Wisdom. The cathedral is mentioned in The Tale of Igor's Campaign, where it says that Vseslav would make nocturnal trips to Kiev as a werewolf and would hear the bells of Holy Wisdom at Polotsk as they rang for matins.
The cathedral has been significantly rebuilt and heavily modified between the 11th and 18th centuries. Indeed, only parts of the church date back to the time of Vseslav, although the names of the builders are inscribed in a stone at the base of the cathedral: David, Toma, Mikula, Kopes, Petr, and Vorish. The burial vaults of 16 Polotsk princes dating back to the 11th century have been uncovered (indeed, Vseslav himself, said to have been a sorcerer as well as a werewolf, was buried in the cathedral he built). According to the Voskresenskaia Letopis (s.a. 1156), the cathedral originally had seven domes, later reduced to five after it was rebuilt following the fire of 1447.
During 1596–1654 and 1668–1839 church was a Greek-Catholic cathedral. It was rebuilt again in 1618–1620 by Greek-Catholic Archbishop St. Josaphat Kuntsevych following a fire in 1607, and again after a fire destroyed the cathedral and the city in 1643. In 1705–1710, Peter the Great and Aleksandr Menshikov used the church as a powder magazine; the magazine exploded. Over the next almost three decades (1738–1765), the Uniate archbishop, Florian Hrebnicki, rebuilt the cathedral. The Vilnius' architect Johann Christoph Glaubitz was responsible for the current appearance, which is an example of the Vilnius Baroque style. Currently it is a baroque structure with towers and the domes have been removed (or at least not rebuilt).
The cathedral housed a library and other important cultural artifacts, but the library was destroyed when King Stephen Báthory of Poland took the city during the Livonian War in the late 16th century. The town was also occupied by the French during the Napoleonic Invasion in 1812 (indeed, two battles were fought at Polotsk in August and October, the second seeing house-to-house fighting) and also during the Nazi Invasion in the 1940s during which a large number of inhabitants were slaughtered.
The cathedral has also changed functions several times over the centuries. With the Union of Brest, the cathedral became a uniate or Eastern Rite Catholic Church and remained as such until 1839 where Bishop Joseph Siemaszko terminated the union and restored the Belarusian Greek Catholic Church with the Russian Orthodox Church. During the Soviet period, the cathedral housed the Polotsk Regional State Archive (from 1949 to 1954). In 1967, restoration work took place as the cathedral was to be turned into a museum of atheism, but the museum was moved to Vitebsk in 1969. The cathedral is now part of the State Museum-Preserve of Polotsk and used as a concert hall with an organ.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.