By Viktar Korbut
Apartments under 16th century roof
Since April, Mir Castle has been an independent museum, with almost 17,000 people visiting in the first three months of the year. Apart from the fortress, the site boasts a family vault, parks and a pond, while uniting Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque styles.
In early summer, the Castle will open its former princely apartments to tourists, with guests able to stay overnight. Dmitry Bubnovsky, who is heading work on the site, explains, “The hotel will have 16 rooms of various levels of comfort: deluxe split level apartments, business apartments and economy class rooms. Each will be styled with individually handcrafted reproduction furniture and decoration, painted in similar colours while having original names. The tiles, flooring and, even, the colour of each pair of curtains will be unique to each room, while the walls will be hung with photos of Mir Castle’s previous owners.” According to Mr. Bubnovsky, his specialists pondered the decoration of the rooms carefully before choosing the 20th century Modern style.
Additionally, the Castle is to have its own restaurant (in the cellar) able to seat 50 guests. One hall will be decorated in medieval style, faced with brick, while the other will be called Bely (White) and be in the modern style. A conference hall for 200 is already operational, able to host international conferences and providing synchronous translation into three languages.
The restored original interiors of the Castle are most intriguing, showing how residents lived in the past. 17th century furniture, ancient weaponry, reconstructed knights’ armour and old musical instruments stand alongside art works and reconstructed artefacts (manufactured in Belarus three centuries ago). Belarus’ Deputy Culture Minister, Tadeush Struzhetsky, believes that Mir Castle will become a major international tourist centre in coming years.
Delicate manners of Krasny Bereg
Reconstruction of another architectural site is to finish later this year: the 19th century former estate of Krasny Bereg (on the other side of the country, near Gomel). Its facades are now being restored, completing work begun three years ago; even the roof has been changed. Restoration of the interior is underway, with each room being unique. According to historians, the manor boasted decorations and furniture in Gothic, Renaissance, Romanesque and, even, Arabian styles. Ogee window decorations and chimeras on water pipes are in the Gothic style, as are the entrance gates to the estate.
Rococo, Mannerism, Empire and French Classic styles are located around the property making it a true illustrative encyclopaedia of architectural interiors.
Following in Adam Mickiewicz’s footsteps
Novogrudok Castle remains in ruins, with cracks in its walls. Its position on a steep hill has taken its toll, yet its two toppled towers stood in the times of Adam Mickiewicz — a Belarusian and Polish literary legend. Happily, restoration works are soon to begin on the site as part of the Culture Ministry’s Castles of Belarus programme, running from 2011-2018. It embraces 38 castles and palaces in all, explains Igor Chernyavsky, who heads the Culture Ministry’s Department for Preservation of Historical-Cultural Heritage and Restoration. He notes that the castles in Lida (Grodno Region) and Nesvizh (Minsk Region) and the Sapegis’ Palace in Ruzhany (Brest Region) are to be restored and opened as museums to the public. Forts such as those in Myadel (near Lake Naroch) and Minsk are also to be rebuilt, with castles in Krevo and Golshany (Grodno Region) on the projected list, to be agreed by the Government. As Mr. Chernyavsky stresses, these unique ruins ‘must be preserved to be further exhibited’.