Under reliable protection
<img class="imgl" alt="Facade of the Mir Castle" src="http://www.belarus-magazine.by/belen/data/upimages/2009/0001-009-382.jpg">[b]Many Belarusian architectural monuments and cultural figures are acknowledged global treasures[/b]<br /> Sixty years ago, Belarus joined UNESCO and, owing to co-operation with this organisation, people from all over the world are aware of our cultural monuments and outstanding personalities. At the moment, UNESCO’s prestigious World Heritage List includes the Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park (which is shared with Poland as a natural trans-border object), the Mir Castle Complex (in Mir, of the Grodno Region’s Korelichi District), an architectural-cultural complex of the Radziwills’ former residence in Nesvizh (Minsk Region), and the Struve Arc (a trans-border object which topographic points are located all over Belarus). As a result, all these architectural and natural monuments are known far beyond Belarus. In addition, staying under UNESCO protection guarantees them safe-keeping and integrity for many years. Moreover, they are likely to attract tourists and scientists from different countries.
Sixty years ago, Belarus joined UNESCO and, owing to co-operation with this organisation, people from all over the world are aware of our cultural monuments and outstanding personalities. At the moment, UNESCO’s prestigious World Heritage List includes the Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park (which is shared with Poland as a natural trans-border object), the Mir Castle Complex (in Mir, of the Grodno Region’s Korelichi District), an architectural-cultural complex of the Radziwills’ former residence in Nesvizh (Minsk Region), and the Struve Arc (a trans-border object which topographic points are located all over Belarus). As a result, all these architectural and natural monuments are known far beyond Belarus. In addition, staying under UNESCO protection guarantees them safe-keeping and integrity for many years. Moreover, they are likely to attract tourists and scientists from different countries.
Symbolically, the castles of Nesvizh and Mir are depicted on Belarusian 100- and 50-thousand banknotes, correspondingly. The National Bank has also produced coins, while the Belarusian Post (Belpochta) issued stamps devoted the above mentioned sights.
Let’s make a virtual tour to get close acquaintance with these unique places.
[b]Belovezhskaya Pushcha: royal hunting, aurochs and Father Frost[/b]
In the past, Polish King Jagailo and Russian Tsar Nikolay II often hunted in the Pushcha. Moreover, here, Jagailo met the Grand Duke of Lithuania, Vytautas, on the eve of the Battle of Grunewald in 1410 (when German crusaders were defeated in their attempt to occupy Poland, Lithuania and Belarus). The King also set the first restrictions on hunting in this forest; accordingly, the ‘reserve regime’ exists since his decree — making it over 600 years by now. The oak reminds us of Jagailo now — named after the famous monarch. This tree is situated on the Polish side of the Pushcha now and is already ‘dead’: it failed in 1974. Meanwhile, five century old oaks and pine trees are still found on the Pushcha’s Belarusian territory.
In the 18th century, the Pushcha witnessed a unique duel between Belarusian-Polish King August and a bear: for an obvious reason, the King was called Motsny (Strong) by his countrymen from then on, as he beat the animal.
The Pushcha’s modern history began in 1929 when bison were brought here from German and Swiss zoos to replenish the local population.
In their early 20th century reports, scientists wrote: ‘In the past and now, the Belovezhskaya Pushcha is among the most valuable of European places regarding its flora and fauna’. At present, it’s widely acknowledged that the Pushcha is the largest section of the primeval relic lowland forest which grew on the European territory in prehistoric times. It was gradually cut out but a relatively integral large section remained in the Belovezhskaya Pushcha area. In 1992, UNESCO included the Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park into its World Heritage List. In 1993, it became a biosphere reserve and, in 1997, was awarded the Council of Europe diploma.
The Belarusian Father Frost has his residence in Pushcha.
[b]Mir Castle: built for centuries[/b]
The Gothic-style Mir Castle is among the most important tourist sights. It was built in the 16th century but later, passed on to the Radziwills who turned it into a Renaissance building. A three-storey palace was constructed along the castle’s eastern and northern walls, surrounded by earthworks with bastions (on corners) and a moat. An Italian-style garden was planted in the northern part.
The castle was seriously damaged during numerous wars but, in the 19th century, it was bought by the Svyatopolk-Mirskie dukes who began its reconstruction. The work finished in December 2010, and the architectural monument opened for public. The ceremony was attended by the Belarusian President, Alexander Lukashenko, who stressed, “While looking at the castle, my heart feels the succession of many generations.”
At the moment, Italian and English style parks are being restored near the castle, in addition to a pond.
[b]Radziwills’ residence in Nesvizh worthily rivals Versailles and Kremlin[/b]
In the late 16th century, a palace was built in Nesvizh (under the Italian, Giovanni Maria Bernardoni’s designs) for the Radziwills family. It was reconstructed many times in the past, but still preserves its initial architecture.
In 2012, the residence opened its doors to the public, with the President becoming its first guest. Since the beginning of restoration work in 2004, some previously unknown vaults and plaster-covered frescoes were discovered. Museum employees have been searching for articles which could have remained at state treasure houses since their moving from the nationalised Radziwills’ residence in 1939. As a result, they discovered mirrors at the Yanka Kupala National Academic Theatre and portraits (which decorated its halls) were found at the National Art Museum. Apart from this, staff of the Nesvizh National Historical-Cultural Museum-Reserve have been actively searching for rarities in private collections and Director Sergey Klimov is now pleased to demonstrate some unique artefacts — which were once owned by the Radziwills (and kept at the museum at present); among them are dishware, documents and books. In addition, furniture has been assembled to fully recreate the century old atmosphere. The country has significantly contributed to the restoration of the old castle’s beauty and luxury with over $2m having been spent on the project.
No doubt, Paris’s Versailles, Moscow’s Kremlin, Krakow’s Wawel and Radziwills’ Mir and Nesvizh are links of a single chain: these cultural centres embody culture and nationhood of different nationalities.
Vasily Struve, from the Tartu and Pulkovo observatories, laid his arc jointly with colleague Karl Tenner in the early 19th century. It passed along western borders of the Russian Empire which now belong to different countries — spreading from Norwegian banks to the Dunai outflow in Ukraine. Belarus is situated half-way. A military geodesist and a General-Lieutenant of the Russian Army’s Joint Staff, Belarus-born, Iosif Khodzko was among the creators of this unique object.
The arc consists of points which make a single line on a map. In reality, these points represent boulders or bricks. This seemingly simple system enabled Struve and Tenner to define the size and form of our planet — doing this for the first time in history.
The arc connects 258 points across ten countries. 34 of them passed along Belarus but only 20 have been preserved to date. Five points are marked with special signs and are included into the UNESCO World Heritage List.
[b]Next in line[/b]
Several other Belarusian objects all have the chance to be included on the UNESCO List
This 30m high donjon-type tower was built in the 13th century on the border of the Belovezhskaya Pushcha. Its walls are 2.5m thick and the tower aimed to protect Ukrainian lands from the Yotvingians’ and Lithuanians’ invasion in times when the Lithuanian and Galitso-Volyn principalities competed for Western-Belarusian lands. At present, it’s one of the oldest monuments of the Roman-Gothic style in Belarus.
[b]Churches in Synkovichi and Murovanka[/b]
These Gothic-style churches were built in the Grodno Region during the early 16th century and were typical constructions of those times. However, they were truly unusual for the Orthodox architecture: churches of the kind were built only in Belarus and Lithuanian Vilnius.
[b]Nesvizh’s Farny Roman Catholic Church[/b]
It was built in the late 16th century and was similar to Rome’s Church of the Gesu. It was the first Baroque-style building on Belarusian territory and was the Radziwills’ family burial-vault. To this day, sarcophagi with the important peoples’ bodies are kept there.
[b]Gomel’s Palace-and-Park Complex[/b]
It’s one of the few Belarusian palaces and parks which have preserved their original 19th century form and architecture. This is the best example of the Classicism style in Eastern Europe.
The canal is a hydro-technical construction laid between Belarus and Poland during the 19th century. In the early 20th century, its Belarusian section was cleaned out and revamped — with help from the Belarusian Republican Youth Union. Canoeists are boating on its Polish territory and agro-mansions are being built. In turn, Belarus has constructed several summerhouses and a steamboat cruise was launched. The 2012-2015 Avgustovsky Canal programme is presently being realised.
The fortress was built in the early 19th century on the site of Brest’s historical centre. People have settled there since the 10th century and, in 2019, the city will celebrate its 1000th birthday. The fortress — known for its heroic defence from the Nazis in 1941 — is the centre of solemn events. Already, a memorial complex and a museum have been established here.
[b]Kolozha Church in Grodno[/b]
The church was built in the 12th century and is known for its unusual walls — laid from bricks and large boulders. In addition, it is decorated with ceramic tiles — both inside and outside. The church is located on the Nieman River’s steep bank and, in the 19th century, it partially collapsed. The issue of its saving is an active one at present, and an idea was proposed to build the lost walls anew.
[b]Saint Yevfrosiniya Polotskaya’s legacy in Polotsk[/b]
At over 1000 year old Polotsk, is Belarus’ oldest city. Its Holy Saviour Church was built under the order of the Polotsk duchess, Yevfrosiniya Polotskaya, who took vows and made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and has been preserved since the 12th century. Yevfrosiniya became the first woman canonised by the Orthodox Church in Eastern Europe. The local Sophia Cathedral also ‘recollects’ the nun who re-wrote books there.
By Viktar [b]Korbut[/b]