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
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.
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.