The castle of Mir (16-17 c.c.)
Mir was first mentioned in the chronicles of 1345. Mir is famous for its outstanding example of Belarusan stone architecture: the ancient castle, founded at the beginning of the 16th century by Prince Juri Il’jinic.
After the County of Mir changed hands and became the possession of M.Radzivil-Sirotka in 1569, the castle was completed in several stages. Its architecture reflects the Middle Ages: strong fortress walls with towers, surrounded by earthen walls with bastions and a moat, protected the magnificent palace, the magnate’s residence. Monumental and unassailable, the castle remained the symbol of strength and power over several centuries. Its ornamental features give it the appearance of a palace – here the influence of traditional West European castle architecture can be felt. The long construction period of the palace-castle compound has left its mark; the castle is mainly gothic, whereas Renaissance features can be observed in the palace and the Eastern towers. The massive construction constitutes a link with Russian architecture. There was a time when the palace had three storeys and 40 rooms which were decorated with marble and luxuriously furnished. None of this has survived to the present day.
The Castle Tower
During its history, the castle was frequently besieged and attacked. Like Mir itself, the castle burned many times, was plundered, altered and destroyed. Several attempts were undertaken to rebuild it, but the wounds it had received in the course of the sieges of 1655, 1706, and 1794 could never really be healed. The Napoleonic invasion was especially disastrous: the palace was burnt, the tower blown up and the fortifications almost completely destroyed. After 1812, only part of the Eastern wing of the palace and three towers could be rebuilt. The park, laid out in the 17th century and changed several times thereafter, was another important attribute of the castle. At the end of the 19th century the park was re-designed and many exotic trees and bushes were planted. The park’s main attraction was a large artificial lake with a small island created in 1896-1898. In 1904 a further addition was made to the composition with the chapel which became the burial-vault of the princes of Sviatapolk-Mirski, an unusual building with a colourful mosaic panel, designed by the architect and member of the Academy of Sciences, R. Marfeld. Disastrous wars and social tensions during the last period in its history deprived Mir of many of its invaluable monuments. During the First World War (1914) the palace was burnt and the Second World War turned out to be even more destructive.
The Troicki Church 16 c.
While it was owned by the count of Radzivil-Sirotka, Mir enjoyed its heyday. During this period, the wooden Troicki church was built (rebuilt after the fire of 1865), soon after that the red-brick Catholic church of St. Mikalaj the Miracle-Worker was constructed (renovated in 1970), and a series of other significant buildings were erected in the town’s main square.The Mir castle is a significant and unique work of art and an invaluable monument of times long past. Erected by the skilled hands and talented minds of Belarusan masters, it deserves to take a place among the monuments representing the world’s cultural heritage. It embodies Mir’s history and Mir’s pride.Restoration work has been under way since 1978 and an extensive programme is being carried out with the aim of restoring the castle, palace and the park to their past beauty.