In the 17th century, the village of Biaroza belonged to the Sapieha, a powerful magnate family in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, who founded a fortified monastery and a palace in the village. In 1648, the monastery was presented to the Carthusian monks who came from the Italian town of Treviso and settled in the monastery.
The cornerstone of the monastery was laid in 1648 by the monastery's founder, Kazimierz Leon Sapieha, in the presence of bishop Andrej Hiembinski and the nuncio of Rome, Jan de Torres. Historians state that the monastery's architect was Giovanni Battista Gisleni, who worked for 40 years in the eastern Commonwealth (now Belarus). Kazimierz Leon Sapieha, the son of the Commonwealth magnate Lew Sapieha and member of the powerful Sapieha family, was the main sponsor of the project.
The monastery was to be built on the place where a wooden cross was found in the forest. Therefore the monastery was also named after the Holy Cross. The monastery was consecrated in 1666, but work on construction of the church continued until the 18th century. As a result it became one of the most beautiful among the monastery churches of the Rhine province of the eastern Commonwealth (now Belarus).
The monastery was also expanded and became one of the biggest charterhouses in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The monastic order (the Carthusians) gave their name to the second part of the village's (which grew into a town) name (in Polish, the Bereza Kartuska; Russian, the Beryoza-Kartuzskaya).
In addition, the monastery had large living premises, a pharmacy, a botanical garden, and an economic infrastructure. A palace of the Sapiehas was built close to the monastery.
During the Great Northern War, the monastery housed a conference held by King August II of Poland and Tsar Peter I of Russia.
During its 200 year long existence the Biaroza bonastery was the owner of a large territory. The main sources of the monastery's income were land operations and gifts of local szlachta and magnates. The monastery acted as creditor, and monopolised the local trade of salt, wine, honey and bread.
In 1706, the fortified monastery was put under siege and then taken by assault and looted by the forces of Charles XII of Sweden. Two years later, Swedish forces again looted the area, which resulted in almost total depopulation of the town. It was also damaged by the armies of Alexander Suvorov in 1772, during the Partitions of Poland.
After the Partitions of Poland and the annexation of Belarus by the Russian Empire, the number of monks shrank to six persons and the monastery's huge treasures were robbed. After the closure of Carthusian monasteries on the territory of Poland, the Biaroza monastery remained the last active monastery of the order on the territory of the former Commonwealth.
Russian authorities made efforts to close down the monastery of Biaroza. In 1823 the monks were claimed to have taken part in the uprising led by Tadeusz Kościuszko thirty years earlier, but no evidence of this could be found.
After the November Uprising (1831), Russian authorities closed down the monastery. The monastery's infrastructure was given to the army. The city of Biaroza-Kartuskaja (Carthusian Biaroza) was renamed Biaroza-Kazionnaja (State-owned Biaroza).
The premises of the former monastery were used by Russians as casernes. After the next Polish uprising (1863) Russians started destroying the walls of the monastery and building casernes out of the monastery wall bricks. Poland regained independence after World War I, and in the aftermath of the Polish-Soviet War (1919–1920) the territory of Belarus was split between Poland and the Soviet Union. In the 1930s the former Russian barracks were rebuilt by the Polish authorities and adapted into a prison for political prisoners. After the reunification of West Belarus and East Belarus within the framework of the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic, a Soviet military unit was placed within the walls of the monastery. This led to the further degradation of the site.
At the beginning of the 1990s the monastery was placed on the list of the historic architectural heritage of Belarus. There was a project of renovation and restoration of the Biaroza monastery, however so far little progress was made.References:
Castle Rushen is located in the Isle of Man"s historic capital, Castletown. The castle is amongst the best examples of medieval castles in the British Isles, and is still in use as a court house, museum and educational centre.
The exact date of castle is unknown, although construction is thought to have taken place during the reigns of the late 12th century and early 13th century rulers of the Isle of Man – the Kings of Mann and the Isles. The original Castle Rushen consisted of a central square stone tower, or keep. The site was also fortified to guard the entrance to the Silver Burn. From its early beginnings, the castle was continually developed by successive rulers of Mann between the 13th and 16th century. The limestone walls dominated much of the surrounding landscape, serving as a point of dominance for the various rulers of the Isle of Man. By 1313, the original keep had been reinforced with towers to the west and south. In the 14th century, an east tower, gatehouses, and curtain wall were added.
After several more changes of hands the English and their supporters eventually prevailed. The English king Edward I Longshanks claimed that the island had belonged to the Kings of England for generations and he was merely reasserting their rightful claim to the Isle of Man.
The 18th century saw the castle in steady decay. By the end of the century it was converted into a prison. Even though the castle was in continuous use as a prison, the decline continued until the turn of the 20th century, when it was restored under the oversight of the Lieutenant Governor, George Somerset, 3rd Baron Raglan. Following the restoration work, and the completion of the purpose-built Victoria Road Prison in 1891, the castle was transferred from the British Crown to the Isle of Man Government in 1929.
Today it is run as a museum by Manx National Heritage, depicting the history of the Kings and Lords of Mann. Most rooms are open to the public during the opening season (March to October), and all open rooms have signs telling their stories. The exhibitions include a working medieval kitchen where authentic period food is prepared on special occasions and re-enactments of various aspects of medieval life are held on a regular basis, with particular emphasis on educating the local children about their history. Archaeological finds made during excavations in the 1980s are displayed and used as learning tools for visitors.