History Revives

Belarus has started the reconstruction of the Slutsk Brama, the architectural symbol of Nesvizh
The city has been hit by a real epidemic of renovation, the best pandemic you can think of. Scaffolds grow overnight near all major attractions, and finally the famous Slutsk Brama (the Gate). The reconstruction that the renovators call “a repair” has just been started, and a lot needs doing.

The Slutsk Brama is the only gateway to the city that has been preserved until now. Originally there were four gateways, as all towns of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania were to have gates. Since then only two gateways have remained — the Slutsk Brama in Nesvizh and the Ostraya Brama in Vilnius. Last year the Slutsk Brama was included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage.

The famous collector Vladimir Likhodedov has provided postcards from his personal collection, so the restorers can see now what the Gate looked like a hundred years ago. The architects are trying to make it look the same as at the beginning of the 20th century, magnificent and impressive
The Brama is connected with numerous urban legends: they say if you make wish under the Gate it will come true for sure. The Brama is a mandatory checkpoint for any wedding cavalcade: these ancient walls bring happiness. Some would say these are myths, but there is no real life here: the monument has been staying here closed and empty and forsaken.
Historically the Brama had several functions: there was a chapel here (with an icon that blessed the citizens and visitors presented by the Radivills), a customs house and city guards. Unfortunately, the current location of the Brama, or rather the location of surrounding facilities and the general city infrastructure (the monument is encircled by busy roads) will not facilitate the development of this tourist attraction. The Brama was left without any functions, and a place without owner turns shabby much faster than an inhabited house. The local authorities decided that the monument should have some practical value and are discussing the possible functions with the administration of the museum.

Last time the Brama was “repaired” in the 80s, not very long ago, but if we are talking about a 400-year-old building…

— We are working on the brickwork, says the scientific supervisor of the restoration of the Nesvizh architectural ensemble, Sergei Druschits. — Unfortunately, the Gate is in bad condition, and the brickwork is often worse than it is in the Radivills’ Palace walls, although they date back to the same epoch. Architects may change the shape of the roof to make it look like the ancient Brama and add small gable windows.

Last year there was a large archeological dig around the perimeter of the monument. The wall goes deep into earth, and brickwork is found deeper than one meter, while the entrance seems too low for knights that were supposed to ride into town.

— No, it was not like that, says architect Larisa Ponomaryova, the author of the reconstruction project. — Excavations proved that the exterior perimeter walls went two meters deep into the ground. We would like tourists to see this fortification structure. It seems riders had to dismount before entering the city.

Researcher Svetlana Adamovich found unique pictures that show that the tower was much higher inside the outer wall, while the entrance opening seemed to be going upwards.

The restoration project is truly interesting and unique, as it scrupulously follows the ancient design of the Brama, specialists say. But before launching the meticulous renovation procedures it is necessary to repair the building to get the ancient building ready to serve the city again.

Svetlana Rodionova
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