[b]Numbers of restored architectural monuments associated with world famous people are ever expanding[/b]What does it mean — a Motherland? In various Belarusian regions people would sure give different answers to this question. The Culture Ministry jointly with Grodno Regional Executive Committee has launched a contest to select the best design of a monument to Mindaugas, who is believed to be the founder and the first King of the Lithuanian Dutchy. The monument, both by its composition and plastic solution, is required to follow the top classical and national traditions of monumental art. By spring 2012, the ministry will have considered applications by sculptors. Mindaugas was the one who united Lithuanian and Belarusian lands in the XIIIth century, creating a single state, with the Pope recognizing it as a kingdom. History has always been a topic of interest in many Belarusian regions, with much efforts spent on ‘building bridges’ to connect us with past ages and reviving the traditions which unite Belarusians with lots of other European nations.
What does it mean — a Motherland? In various Belarusian regions people would sure give different answers to this question. The Culture Ministry jointly with Grodno Regional Executive Committee has launched a contest to select the best design of a monument to Mindaugas, who is believed to be the founder and the first King of the Lithuanian Dutchy. The monument, both by its composition and plastic solution, is required to follow the top classical and national traditions of monumental art. By spring 2012, the ministry will have considered applications by sculptors. Mindaugas was the one who united Lithuanian and Belarusian lands in the XIIIth century, creating a single state, with the Pope recognizing it as a kingdom. History has always been a topic of interest in many Belarusian regions, with much efforts spent on ‘building bridges’ to connect us with past ages and reviving the traditions which unite Belarusians with lots of other European nations. So, the year 2012 will be no exception in this respect, restoration of ancient monasteries, estates and cathedrals on-going with financial support offered not only by the state proper, but by private investors as well.
Monastery to host a hotel
The former Bernardian fratry in Minsk Uptown District will have been completely restored by 2013. The history of the buildings lined up along Kirill and Mefodiy street dates back as far as the XVIIth century, when there appeared a monastery. Later, the monastery hosted a prison and then — firemen quarters. Most recently, the principal building was used as a military commandant’s office.
When reconstruction activities unfolded in the historical centre of the capital, it was decided to restore all monastery buildings to host a hotel, a number of museums and other facilities.
“The principal monastery building is to be restored the way it was in the XIXth century,” says Sergey Baglasov, the facility’s research supervisor. “The reconstruction is to bring the interiors back to their former XIXth century appearance, revealing earlier layings, opening up arched ceilings and making ceramic tile identical to original tile samples found on the floor.”
The building is to host a 49-accommodation hotel, adjoined by small one-storey pavilions, which are to be built anew as their remnants were only fragmentary. The pavilions are to include a restaurant, a sports complex, a hairdresser’s parlor, an Internet-centre, a bar, a bookstore, and a costume rental store as well as utility rooms and a parking lot at the subsurface level.
The complex will boast a number of small museums: that of carriages, fire fighting and an archeological exposition with subsurface fragments of old buildings on display.
Off-the-map quarter on a river bank
Near the Bernardian monastery, parallel to the Svisloch river, there runs Zybitskaya Street, one of the oldest streets in Minsk. Once, it boasted a hithe, barks arriving here from the very Black Sea. None of these remained however. Up to the 1950’s, the lands had been densely built up, but then the quarter was demolished. Now there are plans to restore it, with 2 ideas under consideration.
The Belarusian Republican Scientific-Methodological Rada for Historical and Cultural Heritage has already approved the Minskproyekt design offer. Natalia Baranets, the project’s supervisor, having thoroughly studied the 1960’s topo surveys and the XVII-XVIIIth centuries layout plans, has come to the conclusion as follows: “To provide for reconstruction of the site the way it once was is impossible due to lack of documentary evidence.”
An alternative solution was proposed by an action group composed of graduates from the Belarusian National Technical University and the Belarusian State Academy of Arts. Its authors, having investigated deep into the archives, took all care possible to recreate the streets in their original appearance. Andrey Larry, one of the group of authors, has reviewed air photographic surveys and available photo archives, having also discovered precise dimension drawings for all buildings in Zybitskaya street as made in the XIXth century and early 1950’s, before the demolition. Larry is sure that the original appearance of Zybitskaya Street is possible to reconstruct.
Dostoyevsky celebrations in Dostoyevo
In 2021, the world is going to celebrate the 200th birthday of famous Russian writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky, who comes from Belarus’ Ivanovo District, which is close to Orda’s estate.
During a recent meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, Mikhail Myasnikovich, the Belarusian Prime-Minister, proposed to restore the Dostoyesky family estate in Dostoyevo settlement under the Union State cultural projects, and Mr. Putin was positive about the offer. The idea of Dostoyesky Estate’s revival was also supported by Belarus’ Culture Ministry, which has assigned some of its funds for these purposes.
Incidentally, Dostoyevsky’s Museum at Dostoyevo Settlement school (its cabinet of curiosities in January 2012 celebrating the 30th anniversary) has recently received a complete set of works of the fellow countryman, comprising 18 Moscow-published volumes. The valuable parcel, addressed to Mikhail Myasnikovich, was sent from Moscow and handed over by Tadeush Struzhetskiy, the Deputy Culture Minister.
Napoleon Orda’s come back
In the XIXth century, Krasniy Dvor Estate in Ivanovo District, which is in Polesie, belonged to the artist Napoleon Orda. The former school building in Vorotsevichy village already hosts a museum and a picture gallery dedicated to the artist. In 1943, an archeologic research was carried out at the site of the burnt nobility estate, which is now under restoration.
By now, there has already been casted the foundation and constructed a brick cellar with an arched ceiling. In December, builders started erecting a timber blocking, its first set made up by oak beams and the rest of sets — of pinewood. The front facade is to look like a four column porch with a small balcony. Exterior walls will be plated with wooden lath and whitewashed, the roof batten, widows small in size, the building itself accomodating half a dozen rooms, lots of stoves and fire-places — a design typical of the late XVIIIth century Polesie estates. This was how the estate looked at the picture painted by its famous owner.
A fruit orchard, comprising 180 apple trees, 100 pear trees and lots of plump trees of various kinds, adjoins the estate, while, at the back of the owner’s house, there can be found a pond, which remained unchanged till present day. All of the above information was obtained from the 1835 inventory compiled by the officials upon judicial order on its sequestration, which was the due Orda had to pay for his participation in the 1831 nationalist rebellion. Orda himself had to leave for France, staying there for another twenty five years.
On coming back from Paris after the pardon, Orda travelled all over his Motherland. It is thanks to his pictures, which amounted to thousands, that Belarusian and neighbouring nations can have an opportunity to see with their own eyes the way castles and palaces with their impressive parks would look like for Napoleon from Krasniy Dvor.
By Alena Nekrashevich