Mir Castle

Construction date: 15-17th centuries

Location: The Mir Castle – a masterpiece of Belarusian architecture – is situated near the village Mir, Korelichski district, Grodno Region

Type: Castle

Geographic coordinates: 53.45098771285611,26.472373008728027

The Mir Castle – a masterpiece of Belarusian architecture – is situated near the village Mir, Korelichski district, Grodno Region. This unique monument, included in the UNESCO World Heritage List, had been built and rebuilt for many centuries (15-17th centuries) by the magnate family of Ilyinich. The Mir Castle was erected on the right bank of the Miryanka River. If one looks at its plan, one can see that it resembles a warped quadrilateral. At each of the four corners there is a strong tower which juts out beyond the wall-line. The fifth tower with the only entrance to the castle is built in the middle of the western wall facing the city. In the yard there is a three-storied palace built along the northern and eastern walls of the castle.

The Castle of Mir was built from 1506 to 1510 by the feudal-dependent population of the Mir region and other lands belonging to the Brest Mayor, Courtier Marshal of the Great Duchy of Lithuania, duke Yuri Ilyinich. It was founded at the place of the former wooden farmstead that existed there. Some brickyards (called “tsagelni”) were built in the villages of Propashi and Birbashi specially for the needs of construction of the Mir Castle. Lime was brought here from Sverzhen situated near Stolbtsy. Hundreds of cubic meters of stone were transferred to one place where they were boasted and sorted out by peasants according to size and colour.

The family of Ilyinich owned the Castle of Mir up to the year of 1568. Then it was taken over by the Radzivills of the Nesvizh family line. From the end of the 18th century it was in the ownership of earls and dukes of the Hohenlohe, Berlenburg and Wittgenstein families; and from the 19th century up to 1939 it was owned by dukes of the Svyatopolk-Mirsky family.

The castle was seriously damaged during the Russo-Polish war in 1655. During the Great Northern War (1705) it was assaulted and burnt by the Swedes. In 1794 the tsar army took the castle by assault, suppressing the uprising of Tadeusz Kościuszko. By its walls the rearguard of the 2nd Russian army of Bagration, the cavalry of the general Platov fought courageously against the French cavalry of the marshal Davout on July 9-14, 1812. During the battles the palace and one of the towers were destroyed and burnt, outer bastion fortifications were damaged. Another battle by the castle walls was fought by the army of the admiral Chichagov and the French army on November 10-11, 1812.

Only in 1870 the four towers (except the northwest tower which had been blown up) were covered with hip-roofs. The palace was restored later. At the end of the 19th century a big pond was dug out to the south from the castle causing removal of the bastion fortifications.

Even now the Mir Castle complex surprises with its architectural harmony, unity with nature, rationalism and a thought-out system of fortifications, as well as its simplicity and laconism of forms.

All the towers have the same structure: tetrahedral core with octahedral convergent top. The architectural appearance of their facades is based on the alternation of decorative niches and ornamental brick belts of various forms and sizes. This technique was widely spread both in secular and ecclesiastical architecture of Belarus in the 16th century.

Along the wall-line there is a 70 centimeters wide ornamental brick belt built up of six rows of brickwork. The upper and lower rows of bricks are laid angularly in the form of the traditional kerb. Between them there is a line of deepened brickwork. Being limed, this brick belt was outlined against the red bricks, as well as another ornamental brick belt at the very top of the wall.

 

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