Welcome to castle for cup of hot coffee
By Lyudmila Minakova
Some time ago, over a hundred castles existed on Belarusian territory; sadly, their number has fallen drastically over recent centuries and many are in a ruinous state. To preserve these architectural monuments and attract tourists, the state has developed its Castles of Belarus programme, running from 2012-2018, which envisages the reconstruction of 38 historical-cultural sites.
“It took about a year to prepare the programme. Initially, it was planned to include only 16 sites but, eventually, the figure has reached 38,” explains the Head of the Belarusian Culture Ministry’s Department for Historical-Cultural Heritage Protection and Restoration, Igor Chernyavsky. These include not only castles (as most are in ruins) but palaces, citadels and, even, one ancient settlement in the village of Milograd (Rechitsa District); the famous Milograd archaeological culture probably originated here.
“All these sites are arousing huge public interest. However, we’re yet to worthily represent them. The programme aims to bring sites into order, distinguishing their particular features and making them open to tourists,” adds Mr. Chernyavsky. Works are to follow special plans which aim to preserve the original historical appearance of each site. Seven are undergoing conservation, with partial restoration: the castles of Novogrudok, Krevo, Golshany, Bykhov, Geraneny (Ivye District), Smolyany (Orsha District) and Telman (Bragin District). Full restoration is impossible, as their original historical appearance is unknown. Meanwhile, artefacts will go on show at Bykhov Castle in a permanent exhibition.
“The adoption of this programme is good news for early 2012,” admits the Director of the Bykhov District Museum of Local History, Sergey Zhizhiyan. “Bykhov Castle has been needing attention for a long time. Reasonable conservation, with partial restoration, will help preserve it for future generations.”
Works are to cover 19 archaeological sites where castles were previously located — including in the village of Zhaber (Drogichin District), Krivlyany (Zhabinka District) and Zaslavl and Braslav. Museums are planned for another five archaeological sites: in Turov, Milograd, Glusk, Ryzhkovichi (Shklov District) and in the city of Minsk. “The most major works are planned for Minsk’s citadel,” Mr. Chernyavsky tells us. “Its complex will be reconstructed in line with archaeological documentation, allowing us to see the history of our capital and to sample bygone dishes and beverages.”
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In line with the programme, seven castles are to be reconstructed, for further use as museums, hotels and cafes. These include a palace complex in Ryzhany, Grodno’s Old Castle, Kamenets Vezha (Tower), Lida and Lyubcha castles, Mir’s castle complex and Nesvizh’s palace and park estate.