The first phase of the renovation of Mir Castle is now complete. Mir Castle is a specimen of the 16th-century architecture; it has been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List
Mir Castle has been under restoration for nearly 25 years. Much has changed over time. The Republic of Belarus has become an independent actor on the world’s political scene; the Castle has been recognized a world heritage property. This unique piece of architecture has become not only a source of pride and a historical landmark of Belarus, a country with a thousand-year-long history, but also a magnetic tourist spot. On the very first days after the re-opening of the restored parts of the Castle (which happened on 16 December 2010), herds of tourists flocked to Grodno Oblast to see the renewed Castle, and chances are this flow will only continue to rise over time.
Steeped in History
Historians are still uncertain about why Yuri Ilyinich, a prominent figure in what was known as the Great Duchy of Lithuania, decided to build his family estate in the form of a castle. Life was quite humdrum back in the 16th century as adversaries were scarce, the crusaders were crossed off the list of threats after their infamous defeat at Grunwald in 1410, the Tatars were no bother, and there were no wars with Moscow. In short, the time was really peaceful back then.
Yuri Ilyinich did not live in this place, as he worked in Vilnia for the royal court and traveled a lot. Maybe it was during one of such overseas trips that the idea of having a family nest in the form of an impregnable fortress struck him. The idea was not banal, to put it mildly, because up till then castles in what is now Belarus had been erected exclusively as duke’s residences and defensive citadels. Such were the castles in Novogrudok, Lida, Krewo.
Whatever the reason, at the end of the day it was Yuri Ilyinich’s initiative that led to the appearance of the first private castle in what is now Belarus. The architect of the Castle is unknown, but the local masons did a really great job with that Gothic-style brickwork.
Mir Castle is a combination of an country residence and a formidable citadel. It seems airy and light if observed from afar, as if it were cut out from velvet paper; and it is only when you approach it you get to realize the true power and might behind those walls and towers erected strictly by the book of medieval military science.
Yuri Ilyinich did not live to see the completion of construction of the Castle; neither did any of his four sons who died young. The unfinished family nest passed on to Yuri Ilyinich’s only grandson, also named Yuri Ilyinich, whose mother’s last name was not yet wellknown in the Belarusian lands at the time, Radziwill. It was the mother’s family that brought up the last one of the Ilyinichs, and it was to the Radziwills that he bequeathed the Castle (he never married and had no children).
That was how Krzysztof Mikolaj Radziwill Sirotka became the official owner of the Castle. It was under him that Nesvizh blos-