Nesvizh Castle

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Nesvizh Castle
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Нясвіж і Нясвіжскі замак 12.jpg
View from the lake
LocationNyasvizh, Minsk Province, Belarus
Part ofArchitectural, Residential and Cultural Complex of the Radziwill Family at Nesvizh
CriteriaCultural: (ii)(iv)(vi)
Inscription2005 (29th Session)
Coordinates53°13′22″N 26°41′29″E / 53.22278°N 26.69139°E / 53.22278; 26.69139
Nesvizh Castle is located in Belarus
Nesvizh Castle
Location of Nesvizh Castle in Belarus

Niasviž Castle or Nesvizh Castle (Belarusian: Нясьвіскі замак, Niasvižski zamak, Polish: zamek w Nieświeżu, Lithuanian: Nesvyžiaus pilis) is a residential castle of the Radziwiłł family in Niasviž, Belarus. It is 183 metres (600 ft) above sea level.[1] Built in the 16th and 17th centuries, and maintained by the Radziwiłł family until 1939, the castle and the nearby Corpus Christi Church were instrumental in the development of Central European and Russian architecture.[2] In 2005, the castle, church, and surrounding environment were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.


The Radziwiłł portrait gallery

The estate was owned by the Radziwiłł magnate family from 1533, when it was awarded to Mikołaj Radziwiłł and his brother Jan Radziwiłł after the extinction of the Kiszka family. Since the Radziwiłłs were one of the most important and wealthy clans of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland, it was there that the Lithuanian Archive was moved in 1551. In 1586 the estate was turned into an ordynacja.

After the Union of Lublin the castle became one of the most important residences in the central part of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth.

In 1582 Mikołaj Krzysztof "Sierotka" Radziwiłł, the Marshal of Lithuania, Voivode of TrakaiVilnius and castellan of Šiauliai, started the construction of an imposing square three-storey "château". Although the works were based on a pre-existing structure of a medieval castle, the former fortifications were entirely turned into a renaissance-baroque house. Construction was completed by 1604, and they added several galleries half a century later. The château's corners were fortified with four octagonal towers.

In 1706, during the Great Northern War, Charles XII's army sacked the castle and destroyed its fortifications. Several decades later, the Radziwiłłs invited some German and Italian architects to substantially renovate and enlarge the castle. Antoni Zaleski decorated its yellow facades with baroque stucco work. The 16th-century castle gates were also reconstructed, and the two-storey gatehouse tower was crowned with a helm. It was at this time that the three separate buildings surrounding the central courtyard were joined into a single structure.

The main entrance to the princely residence

During the Polish–Russian War of 1792, the castle was seized by Russian forces and the Radziwiłł family was expelled. Soon afterwards the Lithuanian Archive was transferred to Saint Petersburg (where it still remains today), while the majority of works of art gathered in the palace were distributed among various Russian and Polish nobles in support of Catherine the Great. Due to the Second Partition of Poland in 1793, the castle became part of Russia.

Abandoned both by the original owners and by the Russian army, the palace gradually fell into disrepair. However, it was restored by the Radziwiłłs and between 1881 and 1886 the castle's interiors were renovated by Prince Antoni Wilhelm Radziwiłł and his French wife, Marie de Castellane. They also designed a landscape park in English style. With an area of more than one square kilometre, the park is one of the biggest such facilities in Europe.

After the Polish–Soviet War the castle complex and the surrounding area became part of the newly established Second Polish Republic in 1920. During that time, the castle was considered one of the most beautiful in the Kresy region.

During the invasion of Poland in 1939, the Radziwiłł family was expelled from the castle by the Red Army. In Soviet times, the castle was used as a sanatorium, while the park gradually fell into neglect.

A bird's eye view

In 1994, the castle complex was designated the national historical and cultural reserve. In 2005 the castle complex was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.[3]

The castle complex was extensively restored from 2004–2012. In 2008, the Belarusian edition of Komsomolskaya Pravda reported that a three-story gallery of the castle, dating from the 18th century, had been entirely demolished on account of "rotten brick" (see photo).

Other Radziwiłł castles[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Architectural, Residential and Cultural Complex of the Radziwill Family at Nesvizh". UNESCO World Heritage Convention. UNESCO. Retrieved March 15, 2021.
  3. ^ "Landmarks, historic and cultural, and natural sites of the Republic of Belarus on the UNESCO World Heritage List". Land of Ancestors. National Statistical Committee of the Republic of Belarus. 2011. Archived from the original on 10 June 2016. Retrieved 12 October 2013.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 53°13′22.36″N 26°41′30.25″E / 53.2228778°N 26.6917361°E / 53.2228778; 26.6917361