1. Trends of past years
Travelling across Brest Region, you’ll be drawn to the picturesque cities of Pruzhany and Ruzhany. However, on the way, you should drop in to Kossovo, to see its magnificent early 18th century castle: once home to the noble Puslowski family.
Kossovo Castle’s 12 crenellated towers look like chess rooks. With one for each month of the year, the four central towers symbolise the summer months. Its 132 rooms are notable for their individual design, having been decorated by once fashionable Italian artist Marconi. With intricate combinations of windows, the rooms are each only fully illuminated by the sun for two days annually.
2. Searching for surprises
Legends abound, including that one room once had a glass floor, with a huge aquarium beneath. It’s not hard to imagine the hosts’ amusement at their guests’ reaction on seeing the chasm below their feet for the first time. Another story asserts that the family kept a lion, due to theft being rife among the servants. Every night, they unleashed the predator to wander the corridors.
Many surprises were planned during construction, including an arch designed to create an echo, on the second floor of the eastern side of the castle. If you stand on a certain window and clap, a melodious sound greets you.
The castle was famous for its library of 10,000 books, which were sadly lost during the First World War, during plundering. It is also said that, at night, the ghost of Kazimir Puslowski’s grandson roams the corridors, tearing his hair, shouting and running. He lost the magnificent castle at cards.
3. Recollecting the feats of partisans
The second time that the castle suffered damage was at the end of the Great Patriotic War, when it caught fire during a skirmish between partisans and German Fascists. Nearby, in the middle of the marshes, there now stands a memorial to the partisans.
Between 1943 and 1944, Brest partisans were based at the castle, alongside the underground regional committee, editorial office and printing house of the regional underground newspaper Zarya. Now, there’s an open-air museum of wooden houses, dugouts, a well and ‘forest school’.
Partisans and their messengers were once able to travel through the marshes via secret routes; even one wrong step meant death. Now, a special boardwalk leads to the camp, proving popular with adults and youngsters alike. Young boys are in their element of adventure.
4. Feeling history
Tadeusz Kosciuszko, who was not only an Honourable Citizen of France, and National Hero of Poland and the USA, but a general with the American army, was born under the roof of small thatched cottage. A decade ago, that home opened its doors as a museum and place of pilgrimage for those who admire Kosciuszko. Kossovo Castle is located near the great man’s estate, making a trip to both sensible planning. Why not take of tour, and find refreshment in the cosy cafe located on the bank of a small lake, trying local cuisine…
5. Understanding why Belarus is blue-eyed
Lakes Vygonoshchanskoye and Bobrovichskoye are also worth your time, as are Oginski Canal and the remains of First World War pillboxes. Relax among tall pine trees, fish at dawn or take to the boundless woods to hunt.
By German Moskalenko