Belaj castle was mentioned in 1367 as Bray in a document by Aquileia patriarch in which was given away for one year to the nobleman and vassal Dujam of St. Vito from Rijeka. After the Uskok War (1615–17) in which was devastated castel St. Martin (Posert), previous center of Belaj estate, Daniel Barbo in the vicinity built this castle as a new residence. It was in the possession of his descendants until 1668 when along Paz, Čepić, and Kožljak was sold toJohann Weikhard from Auersperg noble family. All this castles and estates Johann united in a single manor Wachsenstein (Kožljak), and the center from the medieval castle Kožljak by which was named, was transferred to Belaj. Johann heirs reconstructed the castle in the Baroque style to rustic castle in the end of 17th and 18th century. It was in their property until 1945 when the Yugoslav government nationalized it and given to the use of local agricultural cooperative.
Today the castle is a registered monument of cultural heritage, privately owned, partially renovated and very well preserved. The central residential part of the palace is of rectangular layout, 40 by 20 metres, with four-storey wings. On three sides of the inner courtyard is closed by semicircular arcades on the ground floor and first floor, while the north-west wing entrance closes with facade decorated with stone portal and shallow attic with a distaff and a bell from the 18th century when the wing was upgraded for one floor. The appearance of the castle before the intervention was preserved in the Valvasor drawing from 1679. The walls of the gallery on the first floor until recently were painted landscapes depicting the castle and its surroundings. Left and right of the residential palace in the same line are located farm buildings with basements, stables and barns, which are connected with the castle high surrounding walls. These are long and narrow single-storey buildings with gabled roof.
On the ground floor is the chapel of St. Henry II, with baroque marble altar and painted altarpiece, tombstones of family Barbo and tombstones of noble families from Kršan, Kožljak and Paz transmitted in Belaj from St. Mary on Čepić lake after the closure of the Paulistsmonastery in 1783.References:
The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius is a world famous spiritual centre of the Russian Orthodox Church and a popular site of pilgrimage and tourism. It is the most important working Russian monastery and a residence of the Patriarch. This religious and military complex represents an epitome of the growth of Russian architecture and contains some of that architecture’s finest expressions. It exerted a profound influence on architecture in Russia and other parts of Eastern Europe.
The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius, was founded in 1337 by the monk Sergius of Radonezh. Sergius achieved great prestige as the spiritual adviser of Dmitri Donskoi, Great Prince of Moscow, who received his blessing to the battle of Kulikov of 1380. The monastery started as a little wooden church on Makovets Hill, and then developed and grew stronger through the ages.
Over the centuries a unique ensemble of more than 50 buildings and constructions of different dates were established. The whole complex was erected according to the architectural concept of the main church, the Trinity Cathedral (1422), where the relics of St. Sergius may be seen.
In 1476 Pskovian masters built a brick belfry east of the cathedral dedicated to the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles. The church combines unique features of early Muscovite and Pskovian architecture. A remarkable feature of this church is a bell tower under its dome without internal interconnection between the belfry and the cathedral itself.
The Cathedral of the Assumption, echoing the Cathedral of the Assumption in the Moscow Kremlin, was erected between 1559 and 1585. The frescoes of the Assumption Cathedral were painted in 1684. At the north-western corner of the Cathedral, on the site of the western porch, in 1780 a vault containing burials of Tsar Boris Godunov and his family was built.
In the 16th century the monastery was surrounded by 6 meters high and 3,5 meters thick defensive walls, which proved their worth during the 16-month siege by Polish-Lithuanian invaders during the Time of Trouble. They were later strengthened and expanded.
After the Upheaval of the 17th century a large-scale building programme was launched. At this time new buildings were erected in the north-western part of the monastery, including infirmaries topped with a tented church dedicated to Saints Zosima and Sawatiy of Solovki (1635-1637). Few such churches are still preserved, so this tented church with a unique tiled roof is an important contribution to the Lavra.
In the late 17th century a number of new buildings in Naryshkin (Moscow) Baroque style were added to the monastery.
Following a devastating fire in 1746, when most of the wooden buildings and structures were destroyed, a major reconstruction campaign was launched, during which the appearance of many of the buildings was changed to a more monumental style. At this time one of the tallest Russian belfries (88 meters high) was built.
In the late 18th century, when many church lands were secularized, the chaotic planning of the settlements and suburbs around the monastery was replaced by a regular layout of the streets and quarters. The town of Sergiev Posad was surrounded by traditional ramparts and walls. In the vicinity of the monastery a number of buildings belonging to it were erected: a stable yard, hotels, a hospice, a poorhouse, as well as guest and merchant houses. Major highways leading to the monastery were straightened and marked by establishing entry squares, the overall urban development being oriented towards the centrepiece - the Ensemble of the Trinity Sergius Lavra.
In 1993, the Trinity Lavra was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.