Grodno region boasts unique geographical location. Moreover, it is renowned for its numerous historical and cultural monuments which help to study the history of Grodno region and Belarus in general.
The route «Castles of Grodno» gives you a chance to enjoy the atmosphere of Middle Ages, to visit castles where different dukes and kings formerly lived and reigned. This excursion is a one-day- 500-km route that lasts 10 hours.
The route starts in Grodno – the city that once was proclaimed the monument of architecture and town-building. Along the highway A236, that was known already in late XIV century as a king’s road, we move to Novogrudok.
Novogrudok, also called Novgorodok, Novogorodok, Novy Gorodok in chronicles, is one of the most ancient towns in Belarus and the former capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.
First mentioning of Novogrudok goes back to 1044, but according to the archaeological findings the earliest settlements appeared in the end of X-th century. Located on picturesque hills in the center of Novogrudok upland, the oldest part of Novogrudok has a spectacular landscape and a colorful history that will be really interesting for great culture hunters.
In its two years in existence Novogrudok became one of the richest towns in Ponemanje (Neman territories). In 1253 when Novogrudok was the capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Grand Duke Mindaugas was crowned. Also every two years since 1581 the Lithuanian Tribunal – the highest appeal court of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania met here. Since 1795 Novogrudok was the part of Russian Empire, since 1921 till 1939 its lands belonged to Poland. And only in 1939 Novogrudok became the part of В S SR.
Since 2000 the town of Novogrudok celebrates the exuberant festival of medieval culture that includes knight’s tournaments and theatrical performance of horsemen at the bottom of Zamkovaya Mountain. The festival reaches its climax with the siege of Zamkovaya Mountain – colorful reenactment of medieval battle that took place in Novogrudok in the past.
Ancient town with distinctive traditions, marvelous beauty of landscapes, and numerous monuments of world heritage will definitely attract the interest of tourists.
Zamkovaya Mountain and Castle ruins
The ruins of Novogrudok Castle, located on Zamkovaya Mountain, are not only the attraction of the town, but also the main historical monument in Belarus.
Its history started in the middle of X cent. The construction of wooden fortification of castle-fortress began on Zamkovaya Mountain. The initial buildings looked like circle defensive walls. In the middle of XIII cent, a tower was erected and was called Schitovaya or Central Tower. It withstood the sieges of Galicia – Volhyman troops, the Tatars and others. In late XIV cent, it was reconstructed with brick. Three more towers joined by walls were built in late XIV- early XV cent., when the population had to protect itself from the knights of the Teutonic Order. The towers were called – Kostelnaya, Malaya Brama- Tower and Pasadskaya. On the eastern side of Zamkovaya Mountain Kolodeznaya Tower with a secret entry to the Castle was built.
In the end of XV century the next stage of reconstruction of Novogrudok Castle began. At that time the Castle had to repel the Tatar invasion. Thus, in the north-western part of the Castle one more watchtower joined with Schitovaya tower was built. At the same time, on the south-eastern side Meskaya brama-tower was built, joined by a wall with Kolodeznaya tower and Malaya Brama. As a result, by XVI century Novogrudok Castle had seven towers and was the mightiest on the territory of Belarus.
Severe damage was caused during the Russian-Polish War in 1654 – 1667. Mass destruction was inflicted by the Swedes during the Great Northern War. Towers and walls of the Castle were completely ruined. And only in 1922 – 1930 there were attempts to preserve the ruins from further decay.
The places of tourist attraction include Sts. Boris and Gleb Cathedral (XVI cent., elements of Gothic and Renaissance style), St. Nicholas Church (the former Franciscan Church built in late Baroque and Pseudo Byzantine styles), the Cathedral church (built in the early XVIIIth century in Baroque style), the Church of St. Michael (the former church of Dominicans Order built in late Baroque style with elements of classicism), the so-called Mindaugas’ Mountain (according to the legend it was the burial place of the founder of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania) and also several places connected with life of the poet Adam Mickiewicz, namely the Mickiewicz museum and the Mickiewicz Mound.
Sts. Boris and Gleb Cathedral XII cent. In XVII century the Church and the monastery were the residence of Uniate Metropolitan. However, it is also famous for the being of a wonderworking Icon of Novogrudskaya Mother of God from Zamkovaya Church within the walls of the church (from early XIX till early XX cent.). In 1914 it was taken out of the town and its present location is unknown. In the crypts of the cathedral there are graves of the Hreptovichy. The memorial fault of 1641 Droves this fact.
St. Nicholas Church was built in late Baroque style in 1780. At first it was established as a Franciscan Church of Saint Antony. In 1846 it was reformed into an Orthodox Church.
The Cathedra church in Novogrudok was built in the early XVHIth century in Baroque style instead of a wooden church that was founded in 1395 by Duke Vytautas. In 1422 the church was the place where Jogaila, the King of Poland and 16-year-old princess of Halshany Sophia got married. This event put a start to the reign of royal Jagiellon family in Poland, Czech Republic and Sweden. Also in this church in 1799 Adam Mickiewicz was baptized. In a chapel of the church there is a sarcophagus with 11 relics of Nazareth sisters, who in 1943 were shot down by the Nazi, later in 2000 they were canonized by the Vatican
The Church of Michael the Archangel – the former church of Dominicans Order was built in 1724 under command of a war chief K. Hodkevich. In the Convent there was a Dominican school, where A. Mickevich once studied.
The so-called Mindaugas’ Mountain where according to the legend the founder of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Grand Duke Mindaugas was buried – is another tourist destination in Novogrudok. Here in 1993 a memorial tablet was placed at the bottom of the mountain.
- A. Mickiewicz Mound, that is situated in so-called Mały Zamok (Small Castle) and A. Mickiewicz monument were built in the honor of this great poet and songwriter. A. Mickiewicz museum was first opened in September, 1938.
45 km away from Novogrudok there is an old settlement called Mir, where the travelers can visit the treasure of Belarusian architecture – Mir Castle.
Restaurant “Svityaz” Sovetskaya Street, 3 tel. (801597) 20938
Restaurant “Valeria” Volchetskogo Street, 6, tel. (801597) 26600
Cafe “Stary Gorod” Grodnenskaya Street, 3 (hotel “Pansky Dom”) tel. (8044) 7070070 (Vel)
Cafe “Molodezhnoe” Sovetskaya Street, 23, tel. (801597) 20568
Cocktail-bar “Chance” Volchetskogo Street, 36A, tel.(801597) 21589
Cafe “Angelina” Mickevich Street, 12 (hotel “Novogrudok”) tel. (801597) 24304
Cafe-bar “Rim” Lenin Square, 9, teL (801597) 20970
Busstation Mickevich Street, 19, tel. (801597) 21430
Hotel «Novogrudok» Mickevich Street, 12 tel. (801597) 23272,20796
Hotel “Pansky Do” Grodnenskaya Street, 3 tel (801597) 25385
Hotel JSC «Novogrudok Gas-Fitting Plant» Volchetskogo Street, 44, tel. (801597) 21265
Local History Museum Grodnenskaya Street, 2, tel. (801597) 21470
Adam Mickiewicz Museum Lenin Street, 1, tel (801597) 24340
Travel Agency «Novogrudok-Tour» Lenin Square, 4 tel. (801597) 22257,1617299
CASTLE COMPLEX “MIR”
The construction of the Castle probably started in 1506-1510 for a marshal Yuriy Ilyinich. In 1527 the duke Yuriy Ilyiriich died, when the construction wasn’t finished. His sons were meant to finish the building but the Ilyinich dynasty (Yuriy’s 4 sons and one grandson) died out during the next 40 years.
The grandson whose name was Yuriy as well, had the title of the Count Mirsky and left the Castle to his cousin Nikołaj Krzysztof Radziwiłł. Since that time Mir was attached to Radziwiłł territories and belonged to them till 1813.
Nikołaj Krzysztof Radziwiłł continued the construction of the Castle: he finished a 3-storey castle, mounded the corners, dug out a moat and a lake, setup an «Italian garden».
Mir Castle numerously suffered from different attacks and destructive fire. It was destroyed then rebuilt again and again after Russian-Polish War in 1655, Great Northern War, T. Kostiushko uprising. However, the major destruction was caused by the Great Patriotic War in 1812. Its next owners, the Dukes Sviatopolk-Mirskie, tried to rebuild the Castle, as well as its last owner – Mihail Sviatopolk – Mirski, also made an attempt of reconstruction after the great fire in 1914. The south-western tower has been preserved in its best. Now the tower is a place of exhibition of National Art Museum of Belarus.
In 2010 the renovated Castle Complex welcomed tourists. At present «Міг» Castle Complex is considered to be a historical monument, cultural and educational establishment. At the same time it conducts scientific and publishing activity, offers paid services.
The architectural Complex covers about 25 hectares and includes the castle (X VI -X X cent.), embankments of X VI -X V11 cent, landscape and formal parks, artificial lake, annex, Chapelle Ardente of Dukes Sviatopolk-Mirskie with a house of watchman and the gates, a wayside chapel. The demonstration area of museum show-rooms is 2806,6 m2. There are 38 static exhibitions. In the Castle there are two conference- rooms for high-level meetings, a hotel with 15 rooms, a restaurant with national cuisine, a souvenir shop selling the handiworks of belarusian craftsmen. Different music festivals and knights tournament, art and crafts festivals, lectures, museum fests take place on concert stages of the Castle Complex. Art festivals like «Mir Castle», «Musical evenings in Mir Castle», international medieval festival «The Legacy of Centuries» have already become traditional.
On the territory of «Міr» Castle Complex, in «Italian garden», there is a Chapelle Ardente of Dukes Sviatopolk-Mirskie, built in 1904 upon the project of famous Petersburg architect Robert Marfeld in modern style. The front of the chapel is decorated with a multi coloured mosaic panel «The Christ Almighty».
Our next stop is the picturesque shores of lake Svytiaz.
EATING OUT:Restaurant «Kolos» Gagarin Street, 2 tel: (801596) 22284
ACCOMMODATION: Hotel Gagarin Street, 4 tel: (801596) 22126
MUSEUM: Local History Museum Sovetskaya Street, 19 tel: (801596) 21175
BUS STATION Gagarin Street, 12 tel: (801596) 22174
Cafe «Ragneda» September 17 Square, 1, tel: (801596)
Cafe «Dorogoi zamkov» Krasnoarmeiskaya Street, 9 tel: (8029)6712464
Cafe «Mirumgrad» Krasnoarmeiskaya Street la, tel. (8029) 6111662
ACCOMMODATION: Hotel September 17 Square, 3, tel. (801596):
MUSEUM: «Міr» Castle Complex Krasnoarmeiskaya Street, 2, tel. (801596) 23035
BUS STATION: September 17 Square, 9 tel. (801596) 23174
Lake Svytiaz is a priceless gift of nature. It is located in the center of Novogrudok upland. It occupies 220 hectares and has the maximum depth of 15 meters. There you can find rare forms of preglacial fauna. According to the legend the lake is located in the place where previously the ancient Svytiaz – town was founded. The town was attacked by enemy troops. But due to Svytiaz women who preferred death to slavery, the town fell into abyss, burring the capturers. Instead of the town a lake appeared. Undulating landscape, picturesque shores and various flora were many times praised by Adam Mickiewicz in his writings. The poet often visited these lands and in 1820 – 1821 a famous ballad «Svytiaz» was written, later in 1821 the second; ballad «Svytiazianka» (Svytiaz woman) was created and almost at the same; time the third one – «Rybka» (Fish).
In 1970 the Lake Svytiaz and all surrounding area were pronounced to be an ecological reserve. Tourist can relax and restore their health on the shores of Svytiaz in the village of Valevka. Moving back to Grodno, we’ll drop in Lida and have a look at the sights.
After the city of Grodno, Lida is the second largest town in Grodno region.
The date of town foundation is still a point of dispute among their historians. Some of them believe that Lida was founded in 1180 after the devastation of Deinov Dukedom. Others think that the town appeared in 1323 when the Grand Duke Gediminas ordered to start the building of Castle on Lida territories. Lida town was first mentioned in the «List of Russian close and distant towns» that was made in 1387-1406. Lida appeared as a small trade-and-craft settlement near the Castle, later it consisted of ducal court, the town itself and Zarechie (the area across the river). Zarechie was located in the south and was quite small just several houses. Being a part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, since 1560 j Lida became the seat of Lida District in Vilnius Voivodeship. In 1590; Magdeburg Rights and coat of arms were granted to the town.
Lida Castle. The history of Lida is closely connected with the history of the Castle. In 1323 the Grand Duke Gediminas ordered to build in Lida a stone castle that would protect people from enemy attacks. This; military-defense construction withstood Crusader attacks, protected from the Crimean Tatars. Gediminas’s grandson, the Grand Duke Vytautas, reconstructed the castle and it became the mightiest in the whole Grand Duchy of Lithuania.
Zocks of ętodnenshchina – The Castle was the center of many historical events. Thus, in 1422 the 16-year-old princess of Halshany Sophia married the old Duke jogaila within the walls of the Castle. In 1433 the Castle was attacked by the troops of the Duke Svitrigaila, who wanted to reign in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The Castle was partially destroyed in 1659 after it was stormed by the Russians and the Swedes. Lida Castle was totally destroyed in summer 1794 during the battle between the King’s troops and Kosciuszko’s followers.
On the 22nd of January, 1940 Lida Castle was granted the status of architectural monument and in 1953 was taken under the State protection. At present the Castle in under restoration.
The Castle in Lida attracts many tourists. Every year it hosts the guests of international festival of medieval culture – «Gediminas Castle»; more than 30 teams of knights from the Commonwealth of Independent States and from Europe participate in the tournaments. The visitors of the Castle are greeted with a theatrical performance – the scene of marriage of polish king Jogaila with princess of Halshany Sophia. In winter tourist can enjoy skating and have a good time here.
Apart from the castle in Lida there are many other places of religious, architectural and historical value. For example, the Roman Catholic Church of Cross Exaltation built in late Baroque style (1770) upon the project of architect Johann Christian Glaubitz. Other places of splendid religious architecture in Lida are the Piarists Monaster (1797-1825) and St. Michael Temple-Rotunda located in St. Joseph Roman-Catholic Church.
The Roman Catholic Church of Cross Exaltation. This Catholic sanctity was built in 1765-1770 in Baroque style, supposedly by a talented master Jan Christian Glaubitz. The Church hosts the Icon of the Madonna and Child that was brought here in XIV cent, by Franciscan missionaries. According to the scientists, this icon was painted in the late XVII century and is one of the most ancient icons in Grodno Region. The interior of the church is lavishly adorned with fresco paintings and monumental compositions.
The Piarists Church of St. Joseph. The Piarists appeared in Lida in 1756 by invitation of Lithuanian treasurer and Lida headman Ignatio Scipio de Campo. A monastery and a bell-tower were built near the Church. In 1842 the Church burnt down, and the monaster was closed by the government. Only 20 years later the Church was restored. However, after the rebellion in 1863 the Church was reorganized into an Orthodox Church of St. Michael. Since 1960 a planetarium has been functioning there. In 1995 the Church was returned to orthodox Christians.
In 1512 Skoryna received a doctorate degree in medicine at the University of Padua. That is why in October, 20,1992, a memorial tablet devoted to Skoryna was opened there. The same year the statue was erected.
The population of Lida took active part in fund raising in order to build the statue to this remarkable representative of Belarusian Land.
His translation of the Holy Bible into Belarusian language was the first among East-Slavic nations and the second after the Czech one. In August, 6,1517 in Prague Skoryna releases his first book in Old Belarusian language, it was «The Psalter», and less than two years later he published twenty-two books of the Old Testament.
Restaurant «Continent» Kirova Street, 8, teL (80154)567321
Restaurant «Gediminas» Komsomolskaya Street, 23, tel. (80154)527512
Restaurant «Gronewald» Grunwaldskaya Street, 1, tel. (80154)529138
Cafe «Stary gorod» Sovetskaya Street, 9, tel. (80154)530076
Cafe “Syabrina” Sovetskaya Street, 7, tel. (80154)520277
Cafe “Grand” Kirova Street, 6, tel. (80154)526475
Cafe “Maentak” Tukhachevsky Street, 77b, tel. 8 (0154) 56-00-30
Cafe “Guesthouse” Lida district, Tsybory village, Pobeda 76, tel. 8 (0154) 57-75-60
Cafe “Mart” with open terrace The 8th of March Street, tel. (80154)567050
Cafe “Kalipso” Leninskaya Street, 14, tel. (80154)522202 Bar “Lidskoe pivo” Mickievicz Street, 32, tel (80154)529458
Bar “Continent” Kirova Street, 8, tel. (80154)567321
Fast Food Restaurant “Oblizuha” The 8th of March Street, 12, tel. (80154)527946
Hotel «Lida» Grunewaldskaya Street, 1 tel: (80154) 526150, www.gkhiida.by
Hotel «Elevator» Kirova Street, 4, tel. (80154) 530101 www.ekvatorjnedika.by
Hotel «Continent» Kirova Street, 8, tel. (80154) 567366 www.kontinenLmedika.by
Lida Castle tel. (80154) 532294, 521391,535064 www.Jixmuseum.ucoz.ru
State Institution «Lida Museum of History and Art»Pobedy Street, 37a, tel. (80154) 532294 www.lixmuseuirLucoz.ru
Lida district Center of Crafts and Traditional Culture «Spadchina»: Lida, Sovetskaya Street tel. 80154 526248
Tourist-information center Zamkovaya Street, 8, tel. (80154) 524832
Travel Agency: Ltd. «Address leta» Chapaeva Street, 8, tel. (80154) 52-43-44
BUS-STATION: Duke Gediminas Boulevard,1. tel. 114
RAILWAY STATION: Truhanova Street, 12b, tel. (80154) 536106
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