Nesvizh Castle (Нясвіжскі Замак, Несвижский Замок)

Nesvizh Castle is an UNESCO World Heritage Site situated near a town of Nesvizh in the Minsk Oblast of Belarus. It was constructed in 1533 by a rich magnate family of Mikołaj Radziwiłł as well as his brother Jan. This family was one of the most important and more famous in all of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Corpus Christi Church that was constructed within Nesvizh Castle between 1587 and 1603. It became a burial church for the member of the clan. It keeps coffins of 72 members of the family. It is connected by a dam over a moat that surrounds Nesvizh Castle.



Location: Nesvizh, Minsk Oblast    Map


Constructed: 1533


History of Nesvizh Castle


Nesvizh Castle originally started as a rich home of the aristocratic family. Private residence was turned into a military stronghold as politics turned to heated series of conflicts. In addition to walls and towers local engineers managed to create an intricate system of underground system of tunnels to the bottom of the moat that surrounded the citadel. Additionally many secret passageways were dug below ground that led outside of the Nesvizh Castle. By the time Poland began a war with Russia in 1654- 67 Nesvizh Castle was protected by 28 cannons that protected earthworks around a citadel. The defenders of the castle managed to repel two attacks of Russian forces in 1654 and in 1659. However its defences could stop Swedish troops under leadership of Swedish king Charles XII that sacked Nesvizh and destroying large portion of the original citadel during the Great Northern War.


In 1770 invading Russian army easily took the Nesvizh Castle. Radizwill family was allowed to keep their mansion, however all that changed during Napoleonic Wars. When Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Russian Empire the owner of the castle Dominik Hieronim Radziwiłł joined the French in their Russian Campaign of 1812 as a cavalry man. In fact Nesvizh Castle became an official headquarters of Jérôme Bonaparte, youngest brother of Napoleon I. Dominik eventually died of wounds he suffered in the Battle of Hanau at age 27. The estate passed to the Russian crown.


Nesvizh Fortress was abandoned shortly thereafter, but between 1881 and 1886 Prince Anton Radizwill along with his French wife Marie de Castellane decided to return to the family residence. They restored Nesvizh Castle and began to live here. They added a beautiful landscape park in an English Style that was quiet popular at the time. This was followed by New Park, Old Park, Castle Park, Japanese Park and so on. By the early 20th century parks around the castle covered over 90 hectares of land. However changes in political life of the region hit the family pretty hard. In 1939 after this part of Belarus became part of Soviet Union the family got kicked out again. Above you can see a photo from the early part of the 20th century where several women from the Radziwill clan are seen standing together. They were spared and allowed to leave the country by the Soviet government after international pressure became hard to ignore.


During World War II Nesvizh Castle became the headquarter of German general Guderian who headed Panzergrupper 2 at the time. Ironically just like Napoleon before him he also suffered defeat near Moscow. After the war Nesvizh Castle served as a sanatorium of KGB agents until it was completely abandoned. Today this historic building is restored to its previous glory on the outside as well as in its interior.