Old walls built anew
Well-loved Novogrudok Castle undergoes restoration
By Yekaterina Charovskaya
Guides in the Grodno Region have many sights to show tourists, including numerous historical places. Sadly, time has been cruel, with some formerly impressive buildings now completely in ruins. However, restorers promise to bring them back to life in the shortest possible time.
Ancient Novogrudok is worth visiting, regardless of where you are travelling from; its castle ruins send shivers down your spine, harking back to a bygone age. Despite having been destroyed in the war years, resulting in fences and signs declaring ‘no access’, tourists are eager to photograph the site. However, restoration works are in full swing for its three towers and fortress walls (hidden under many metres of soil). In addition, the picturesque remains of Kostelnaya (Roman Catholic) Tower are being restored. Metal underpinnings are needed to stop subsidence onto homes below its steep overhang. Meanwhile, a temporary rope system is pulling the wall in the opposite direction.
Of course, there’s little point in restoring any building unless the foundations are secure. The tower has had its faзade removed to allow fundamental work to be undertaken, explains Alla Zabavskaya, a specialist in historical-cultural heritage. Her work for the Novogrudok District Executive Committee’s Cultural Department has led to her overseeing the restoration of the Castle. She tells us that large cracks have appeared recently, saying, “Constructors disagree with us but we think that more damage has been caused as a result of fortifying Kostelnaya Tower’s basement, due to the heavy machinery operated. Trucks loaded with soil and concrete passed over, and numerous holes were drilled and cemented — up to 6m deep. Unsurprisingly, the vibrations led to new cracks.”
Time will show whether the restoration is a success and, of course, climatic conditions play their part: damp, mist and temperature fluctuations. The building, which actually once served as a jail, is also to have its faзade revamped. The central — Shchitovaya (Shield) — Tower has several walls in semi-ruin but should soon regain its former appearance, thanks to suitable materials: antique-styled high density bricks. The ancient architecture of the building is being preserved and, with care, under the supervision of historians and true professionals, it should remain standing for many centuries to come.