Lida Castle

Lida Castle


Location: Lida, Hrodna Oblast Map

Constructed: 14th century by Grand Duke Gediminas


Description of Lida Castle

Grand Duke Gediminas was very successful in his eastern campaigns. Many of the new lands simply opened their gates to the invaders without fear for their lives. However few trouble makers from the rich aristocrats or boyare still caused trouble. Additionally western neighbors, the Teutonic Knights were still a powerful military Catholic order that was willing to take these lands. Gediminas erected a series of citadel to keep enemies at bay. Lida Castle was just one of these fortresses established here in the years 1323- 25. This strategic location is defended by natural barriers, Lida and Kamenka rivers. Still Lida fort was taken by Teutonic knights in 1384 and again in 1392. For a brief time the castle belonged to Khan Tokhtamysh, a leader of the Golden Horde who burden down Moscow in 1382. Lida Castle was given to him as a present by his close ally, Lithuanian Grand Duke Vytautas. Ironically tatar khan refused to settle in a Western style building and set up his yurt near the castle. Yurt is similar to Native American tipi with vertical walls and lower tip of the structure.


In 1406 the family of Yury of Smolensk were held hostages in Lida Castle. His attempts to liberate them failed. As time have passed and European armies evolved, the walls of Lida Castle became less formidable. In 1506 Crimean Tatars took the castle, then Russians captured it in duration of the Russo- Polish War of 1659. The Swedes took the castle twice during their operations against the Russians in the Great Northern War. Two of the towers were blown up as they retreated. The fortifications became part of the Russian empire, but even in th late 18th century it was in a fairly good condition. During Polish rebellion against the Russian tsarina Catherine the Great, followers of Kosciuszko tried to occupy the grounds of the Lida Castle, but were quickly defeated by superior and much more advanced fire power.


During last century the castle saw little restoration. However it was actively used. It housed zoo and circus. In December a Christmas tree or a New Year tree was placed here. Ironically atheistic government machine did not break the tradition, but merely renamed it unable to force people to stop enjoy winter holidays. Today knight jousts are held here. One of the first things you will see then you will visit the castle is a distinct line between top and bottom of the construction. The bottom, lighter walls is the original fortification. The top red brick is a reconstruction from 1982. Walls and towers of the castle were heavily damaged by wars as well as vandalism after a more modern city burned down in 1891. Parts of the Lida Fort were simply torn down with its stone used for the construction of new houses.