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.
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.
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
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.
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.