Attracting guests to festival of bright medieval culture

Sixth Golshany Castle Festival offers time travel

Sixth Golshany Castle Festival offers time travel


Golshany recently celebrated three jubilees: the 735th anniversary of its first mention in historical chronicles; the 610th anniversary of the birth of the mother of the Polish-Lithuanian Jagiellon family — Sofia Golshanskaya; and the 405th anniversary of the building of the ‘black castle’ — praised by Belarusian writer Vladimir Korotkevich in his detective novel. Entitled The Black Castle of Olshany, it was published in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and broke ground in its style and content. The palace of the Sapegi family is still attracting thousands of guests from Belarus and abroad, largely thanks to its festival of medieval culture.


Thousands of guests from countrywide and abroad have arrived for the festival of medieval culture

It’s pleasant to see its halls cleaned and prepared for renovation, although the process will be long, since it is costing billions of Roubles.  In 2015, Br400m was allocated as part of the Culture of Belarus state programme and, according to Galina Balinskaya — who heads the Oshmyany District Executive Committee’s Department for Ideology, Culture and Youth Affairs, this money is enough to roof one tower. Br5bn has already been spent on restoration. In late July, Culture Minister Boris Svetlov visited the site, showing the state’s involvement.

The Golshany Castle Festival was recently held for the sixth time, as part of local event tourism. Pleasingly, Golshany boasts the necessary potential, being a magnet for artistic entertainers. The festival draws guests not only from the Oshmyany but from the neighbouring Voronovo District. It’s truly prestigious to perform there.


I was most impressed by the Vir Street Theatre, whose show was based on famous pictures by Dutch artist Hieronymus Bosch, with costumes and decorations to suit the period.

It seems that our entertainers are always pleased to share their skills with others, as Minsk’s Soleil proved with its master class in medieval dancing. Meanwhile, the Belarusian State Musical Theatre performed extracts of classical works. This theatre has previously visited Golshany, forming a good tradition. Among other attractions were the cutting of the cabbage with a sword, and lifting handkerchiefs from the ground with a lance.


A portrait of Vladimir Korotkevich should have been placed visibly, having masterminded the revival of the holiday, which remained in oblivion for many years in this provincial town. Souvenir editions of his Black Castle of Olshany could also have been offered for sale. The novel is translated into many languages — including Lithuanian; in fact, guests from neighbouring Lithuania are common here. Such an edition could have included illustrations and drawings depicting the palace. Since the 19th century, many artists and photographers have drawn and photographed the site, including Yazep Drozdovich. Their pictures are rarely seen but would perfectly suit the book.

I’m convinced that the Oshmyany and Golshany authorities will realise plenty of ideas in time for the next festival, making it even brighter and the walls of the legendary palace even stronger.

By Victor Andreev
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