Ancient castles and fascinating museums, corners of untouched nature and large-scale hydraulic structures, ancient temples, monasteries and ancestral homesteads …
Grodno region is a unique region, its every corner boasts a variety of architectural and historical monuments, structures, original sights. Every year thousands of tourists from all over the world come to us to see firsthand the beauty of these places, to admire the stunning views and architectural masterpieces. The management of the culture of the regional executive committee told what sights entered this year in the top most visited places in the region,
1. Mir castle
The majestic building erected by magnate YuryIlyinich in the 20s of the 16th century occupies the first line in the rating. Every year, the Mir Museum Castle Complex receives over 300 thousand tourists. This year, here the 2 millionth jubilee tourist was met in a solemn atmosphere. That is how many guests visited the castle from the moment when it received the status of an independent museum (before that — a branch of the National Art Museum of Belarus), that is since 2011.
Mir Castle is one of the most important tourist attractions in Belarus. In 2000 the castle was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Today you can hear excursions in Russian, Polish, Chinese, German, English, French. Walk through the halls on your own, with a guide or use an audio guide, devote an hour or half a day to this. After all, the Mir castle complex is a castle-museum with 39 full-fledged expositions, earthen ramparts, picturesque parks and a pond, a church-tomb of the princes Svyatopolk-Mirsky. Plus, there is a well-developed infrastructure in the castle itself: a large and small conference rooms, where high-level events are often held, a hotel with 16 rooms, a restaurant with old-style cuisine. Now Belarusians are justly proud of one of the most beautiful castles in Europe. And guests are coming to the Mir from all over the world.
2. Old and New Castles in Grodno
Wherever the traveler starts a tour of Grodno, the roads will lead him to the banks of the Neman River to the walls of the Old and New Castles. According to history, the city began from the Old Castle. The first settlement on the Zamkova mountain arose as early as the end of the 10th and the beginning of the 11th centuries. In the 12th century, Grodno became the center of the Gorodo principality, in the 13th century it became part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The Grand Duke of Lithuania, Vitovt, built a stone castle after the fire of 1398. Grodno actually became the second capital, and the castle — the grand-ducal residence.
By the time of Stefan Batory,the King of Poland and the Grand Duke of Lithuania, the castle lost its defensive functions, and the severe Gothic building of Vitovt in 1580 was rebuilt by architect Santi Gucie from Florence into a luxurious residence in Renaissance style.
In the 20s of the last century, on the initiative of JozefIodkovsky, the famous scientist, a museum appeared in the castle. Today it is the oldest museum in the country. The museum expositions will tell visitors about the significant pages of the history of Grodno and the region, they will acquaint with the nature of the préjeman region. Now the complex of the Old Castle is being restored. According to the project, it will be restored as it was in the days of Stefan Batory.
The New Castle, which was built in 1734-1751, is on the neighboring hill. The story was made more than once in the New Castle. In 1793, Silent Sejm passed here, which approved the second section of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and in the autumn of 1795 Stanislav Augustus Ponyatovsky,the last king of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth,signed the crown renunciation.
Today, the building houses a historical-archeological museum and the Efim Karsky Regional Scientific Library — the first public library in Belarus, which was opened in 1830.
The Old and New Castles are among the most popular places for travelers to visit, including visa-free tourists. Since the beginning of the year, over 160 thousand tourists from all over the world visited museums.
3. Augustow Channel
The monument of hydraulic engineering architecture — the Augustow Canal is a unique place not only for the Grodno region. There are only two similar buildings in the world — the Caledonian in Great Britain and the Gothic in Sweden.
Construction of the most important transport artery, which connected the Neman and the Vistula, began in 1824.18 sluices, many dams and bridges were built on the channel on the Belarusian-Polish territory.
Today the Augustow Canal is a great place for active recreation, water, pedestrian and cycle tourism. Two years ago, the territory of the special tourist and recreation park «Augustow Canal» entered the visa-free zone for foreigners to visit. During this time, the facility infrastructure has changed.
At the Dombrovka airlock, for example, a favorite vacation spot for tourists, a museum of the Avgustovsky Canal was opened in the former house of the navigator, a pier for ships was equipped, in summer you can rent catamarans and boats. And you can buy a ticket and contemplate the neighborhood from the ship «Neman». Here are often held various festivals. One of the most beloved ones is the festival “August Channel in the Culture of Three Nations”, “August Channel Canals Friends”.
With the introduction of a visa-free regime, the working order of the Lesnaya-Rudavka simplified check-point on the Belarusian-Polish border has changed. For two years in a season — from April to October — it is open daily and does not operate on the declarative principle. This season, over three thousand tourists took the opportunity to cross the border on foot, by kayak or bicycle. Since the beginning of the year, more than 120 thousand guests have visited the Augustow Canal.
Kolozhei is called the St. Boris-Gleb Church — the oldest functioning church in the country, which, by right, is considered the top of the Grodno school of architecture. The temple was built on the right bank of the Neman in the XII century during the reign of the Grodno princes Boris and Gleb Vsevolodkovich and consecrated in honor of their heavenly patrons. According to another version, the temple was founded by their children. The miraculous image of the Mother of God “Kolozhskaya” is kept in the church, which is the patron saint and protector of the Grodno region.
The story of Kolozhi is full of twists and turns, but nature also influenced its fate. As a result of three landslides in the XIX century, the southern and part of the western wall of the temple were lost. Since then, from the side of Ne¬man the wooden temple, on the other — stone.
The cult monument of architecture of the XII century is now experiencing another stage of history — repair. The walls have already tried on new “clothes” — they replaced the wooden paneling of the church, renewed the roof, installed new windows and doors. The surrounding area is landscaped, the silhouette of the church was highlighted by a dozen decorative lights — now you can admire the temple in the evening. Improvement did not affect the flow of tourists seeking to see a unique monument of architecture. From the beginning of the year, over 100 thousand tourists visited the Kolozhskaya church.
5. Zhirovichsky Holy Dormition Stavropegic Monastery and Church of the Holy Archangel Michael in Synkovichi
Immediately, two religious buildings were placed on this rating line. Travel companies, to maximize the excursion program, often include them in one route. I must say, the impressions of such trips are unique, however, as the history of these temples.
The Holy Dormition Stavropegic Monastery in Zhirovichi, the main spiritual center of Belarusian Orthodoxy, is preparing to mark two significant dates in 2020: the 550th anniversary of the appearance of the Zhirovichsky Icon of the Mother of God and the 500th anniversary of the foundation of the monastery.
The five hundred year history of the monastery began on that day in the distant XV century, when the shepherds of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania Alexander Soltan saw the bright glow in the branches of a wild pear, which radiated the image of the Mother of God. Various sources claim that this happened in 1470. And already in 1520 an Orthodox monastery appeared in Zhirovichi.
The main monastic church — Holy Assumption Cathedral — was built from 1613 to 1650 years. According to the plan of the architects, the cathedral was arranged in such a way that the altar part of the temple is located just above the place where the pear grew, where the icon was displayed. In the iconostasis of the cathedral is kept the main shrine — the image of the Mother of God Zhirovichskaya. There are other revered icons in the cathedral, many of which are with relics of saints.
Last year, the monastery complex was built with new buildings — refectory, the architectural appearance of which was created according to the appearance of outbuildings of the XVIII – XIX centuries.
The Church of St. Michael the Archangel in Synkovichi is unique in that it has been preserved almost in its original form. It is believed that the temple-fortress was built no later than the XV century. According to legend, his story is associated with the name of Grand Duke Vitovt. In these places, he was hiding from Prince Yagaila, who was pursuing him. After Vitovt came to power, he did not forget about the dilapidated castle, in which he found refuge. The castle was rebuilt in the church, and in 1407 consecrated.
Everyone who arrives at the Synkovichi church, leans against the list of the Athos miraculous icon of the Mother of God “The All-Daughter”. This is truly a miracle. The copy has amazing power and works wonders, which can be read in the «Book of Testimonies of the Miracles of Healing.» The icon helps to recover from oncological diseases, drunkenness and drug addiction, other ailments.
The number of pilgrims and tourists seeking to visit these places is growing every year. They come to temples from all over Belarus, as well as from Russia, Ukraine, Canada, Australia, Japan and Singapore.
6. Lida Castle
Judging by the number of excursions in Lida Castle held by the staff of the Lida History and Art Museum this year, more than 80 thousand people have visited the building since the beginning of the year. And if you consider that Lida Castle is open to the public all year round, the number of tourists can be safely increased several times.
For almost seven centuries, Lida’s life has been linked to its main historical landmark, Gedimin Castle. The prince of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania began building the structure in 1323. The fortress often saved the inhabitants of Lida from enemy raids. After the central part of Lida was severely damaged by a fire in 1891, the stones of the south-western tower and parts of the western wall of the castle were used to restore buildings affected by fire.
In 1920, the first restoration work began in the castle, thirty years later the Lida fortress was included in the list of architectural monuments taken under state protection.
The castle attracts travelers not only with its rich history, but also with unique knightly tournaments, medieval amusements and theatrical performances.
7. Novogrudok Castle
Everyone who comes to Novogrudok, certainly climbs the Castle Hill to see the majestic castle ruins. The architectural monument of the XIII century is also called the castle of Mindovg. Over the centuries, it grows towers and grows in size. In 1253 the coronation of Prince Mindovg took place here. The castle in Novogrudok repeatedly opposed the attacks of the conquerors: the Crusaders, the Tatars, the Swedish army. Today everyone recognizes him from the remnants of Kostelnaya and Shield Tower.
Tourists love to come to this place, and not only because the Castle Hill offers a stunning view of the surroundings. Every year there are jousting tournaments, other animated, interactive presentations, photo exhibitions and book presentations.
Every year, the castle is visited by thousands of guests. This year, for example, as told in the Novogrudok Museum of Local History, about 50 thousand tourists not only from Belarus, but also from the CIS countries and Europe visited it.
8.Museum-estate M.-K. Oginsky in Zalesie
Every year the museum-estate of Michal KleofasOginsky in Zalesye is becoming increasingly popular with our compatriots and foreign guests. One of the reasons attracting tourists here is to feel the full spirit of the era of the XIX century.
Antique exhibits from the XIX century are collected in the estate: furniture, musical instruments, accessories, paintings, dishes that allow not only to show the coloring of the era, but also to create the effect of the presence of Oginsky in the estate.
The manor, like two centuries ago, is now becoming the center of cultural and musical life. This year over 30 thousand visitors have been here. Along with Belarusians — guests from abroad.
The most popular among the guests are theatrical tours. Museum staff in the costumes of the XIX century greeted visitors in each of the 13 rooms. Balls became a brand event in the region. Exhibitions, presentations of artists, dramatized tours for children, quests, and thematic events are held regularly in Zalesie. In the greenhouse, where more than 120 species of plants are gathered, there is a coffee shop, where you can refresh yourself with coffee and treat yourself to cakes and muffins. The newlyweds fell in love with the manor for the special color and often come here to hold a solemn marriage registration.
Manor every year becomes more beautiful.
A lake is being transformed, a bridge is being settled, a park, a water mill, and other buildings of the complex are being restored.
9. Golshany castle
Coming to see the Golshansky castle, tourists always linger a little longer: here, literally everything is fanned by legends. In 1525, after marrying Princess Elena Golshanskaya, the castle was erected by Pavel Sapega. Initially it was built as a fortification-defensive fortification, but over time, powerful walls gave way to the facade of a residential building. However, the remnants of the defensive walls have survived to our times.
What is the force of attraction of centuries-old walls? In numerous stories and legends related to the castle. After the release of Vladimir Korotkevich’s novel “ChornyzamakAlshanskі”, the scene immediately correlated with Golshany. However, in response to a letter from Edward Korzun, the former director of the local school and creator of the national museum, Korotkevich wrote that his Olshans with characters and tragedies are a collective creative image, literary abstraction. Anyway, White Panna and the Black Monk from the novel are still associated with this construction, and, according to local residents, sometimes they even manage to see their silhouettes in the openings of the castle walls …
Attracted tourists here and the regional festival of medieval culture «Golshansky Castle.»
Today, the Golshansky Castle is an object of special state care: the building is undergoing a revival-reconstruction. This year, funds for this purpose have been allocated from the President’s special fund for the support of culture and the arts. The most preserved elements are restored — the north tower, as well as the walls adjacent to it, and the rest of the castle will be preserved. Work on the finishing of the tower will continue next year. In the future, it will house a museum.
10. Krevo Castle
Almost every traveler, whose path lies through the small agro town of Krevo, will stop at a place to look at the ruins of Krevo Castle. The construction of rubble stone was erected in the 30s of the XIV century. The castle has witnessed many historical events.
In the dungeon of the tower in 1382, Prince KeystutGediminovich was imprisoned and strangled by the order of his nephew Jagiello. Another famous prisoner was kept here — the son of Keistut, Prince Vitovt, also a captive Jagiello. But he was prepared for another fate: he safely left the dungeon, dressed in women’s clothes.
In the XV century, the castle was one of the most powerful on the territory of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. In 1385, the Krevo Union was signed here — an agreement on the unification of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Kingdom of Poland. Over time, the fortress lost its strategic importance and began to collapse. The castle suffered the greatest collapse during the First World War, when the line of the Russian-German front passed through Krevo.
Work is currently under way to preserve and restore Krevo Castle. Funds for him, as well as for the castle in Golshany, were allocated from the Fund of the President of the Republic of Belarus for the support of culture and art. It is covered with a temporary roof, which in the future is planned to be replaced by a beautiful tile, the Prince’s Tower. The main works today are simmering on the north-western wall adjacent to the tower. That it is best preserved. The wall «grows» in front of his eyes, and brings it closer to its historical appearance that used for the construction of rubble stone.
The architectural restoration project provides for the restoration of other walls. After that, it is planned to restore the Prince’s Tower and restore the adjacent military gallery. There will be a museum exhibition in the future.
All this, of course, will make the castle even more attractive for tourists, but even now it cannot complain about their lack of attention. Every year, theatrical festivals are held near the walls of Krevo Castle, hundreds of guests from all over Belarus and abroad gather here. Traditionally, events are opened with a theatrical production dedicated to one of the pages of the castle’s history. Guests can participate in master classes of various masters, walk through the malls, buy handmade products, watch jousting tournaments.