Zaslavl shakes off mould of time

On the first Sunday of September, for the second time, the city will hold the Day of Belarusian Written Language

Ancient Zaslavl is in joyful expectation. On the first Sunday of September, for the second time, the city will hold the Day of Belarusian Written Language.
By Victoria Korshuk

Ancient Zaslavl is in joyful expectation. On the first Sunday of September, for the second time, the city will hold the Day of Belarusian Written Language.

zasl.pngThe Director of the Zaslavl Historical and Cultural Museum Preserve, Nikolay Pogranovsky, is always glad to see journalists as he has much to tell and show.

“Zaslavl is one of the most ancient cities in Belarus. Next year it will celebrate its 1,030 anniversary. Unfortunately, time has defined that it, as well as Turov, have disappeared in modern history. Today Turov is an urban settlement, but once was the Duchy of Turov and Pinsk. Zaslavl is almost languishing in the shade of big Minsk. The Day of Writing is being held at the right time — reviving the beauty of the place and attracting attention to its strange history.”

Every one of us remembers the story from school of the tragic destiny of the Princess of Polotsk and her family, to which her husband, Duke Vladimir, was so cruel. After a vain attempt to revenge that, the first Belarusian Christian Princess Rogneda, known in monkhood as Anastasia, returned home. A new city was constructed for her and her son. Together, they began to extend writing on these lands, while Izyaslav, for his wisdom was given the nickname of Duke-Bookman.

Not only interiors will be renovated here for the holiday. A new tourist route will also appear here. Its most important point will be the sculpture of Izyaslav, in whose honour the city received its name. It will be unveiled on September, 6th in the Central Square. Nearby, a new amphitheatre is under construction.

zaslavl.pngFurther, constructions connected with the name of Jan Hlebowicz will appear on the tourist route. The ancient settlement Val — all that remains from the big gate of the 16th-17th century bastion castle on the location of reinforcements erected from the end of the 11th century. From all stone constructions of Zaslavl Castle, only the Gothic-Renaissance Transfiguration Church — the former Protestant church where Calvinists gathered — remains. The roof is now being changed here and internal furnishings are being completed.

Mr. Pogranovsky dreams to restore the castle of the Hlebowicz family, from which only foundation remains. He has already applied to the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Sport with this request. “We have so many exhibits, that it would be enough for 8 museums. 14,000 pieces! We could exhibit them in the castle,” Nikolay is inspired.

A children’s park is also included on the route: new rides; a pond, a fountain, a quay with souvenir shops and sculptures from fairy tales will appear there. Wooden and stone sculptures will be placed all across Zaslavl.

One important location is the 18th century Catholic Church of Nativity of the Blessed Virgin. This graceful church was constructed by the Italian architect Carlo Spampani. The church has been renovated at the expense of patrons of art. There is also the Children’s Museum of Mythology and forest, a museum of a long-term weapon emplacement Dot, a monument of Rogneda and Izyaslav and the ancient settlement of Zamechak. It is considered to be the remains of the fortified city of Izyaslavl.

The Chair of the City Executive Committee, Svetlana Kartasheva, reveals secrets of effective improvement, “We tried to involve all building organisations into the works on the city. If people make it for themselves, it means that they do their best.”

Zaslavl is waiting for visitors, not only for the holiday on September 6th and 7th, but also throughout the whole Year of Hospitality.
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