Monday, September 26, 2016

Mir Castle & Nesvizh Palace Tour, Belarus

Today was a ten tour day trip, around 270 km (168 miles), to Mir Castle and the Nesvizh Palace.

Mir Castle is in the town of Mir, southwest of Minsk.  Some duke began construction in the 16th century.  The castle changed owners several times over the years.  It had been abandoned for more than 100 years until 1895 when renovations began.

A chapel behind the castle

In 1921, and until 1939, the castle actually sat in Poland.  The Svyatopolk-Mirsky family owned Mir Castle until 1939 which is when the Soviet Union invaded and occupied eastern Poland.  When Germany invaded in 1941 the Nazis used the castle as a Jewish ghetto.  After the war, the USSR used it as a housing family from 1944 to 1956.  I don't know when modern reconstruction began.  However, in 2000, the complex was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Nesvizh Castle is 29 km (18 miles) south east of Mir.  This castle was completed sometime around 1604 by the Radziwiłł family which was one of the most powerful families of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

Like Mir Castle, from 1921 to 1939 it was in Poland.  The Red Army expelled the family when they invaded in 1939.  I don't know what happened to the place during WWII but I believe the Soviets later used it as a sanitarium.  In 1994, Belarus designated the it a national historic and cultural reserve.  It became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005.

I did manage to get English audio guides at each castle but the vast majority of the day was entirely in Russian.  A few of the Russian tourists were also on the previous day trips and they are starting to warm up a bit.  I think it seems very odd to them that an American is travelling to these places alone.

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