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Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Belarus

Welcome to reimagined castles!


The difference that strikes the imagination — how Mir Castle has changed in the last 30 years

Just brick fragments instead of stairs and ceilings, the sky instead of the roof… Today it is difficult to believe that Mir Castle — an architectural monument included in the UNESCO World Heritage List — once looked like that. How was the fate of Mir Castle decided? How long did it take to restore it?
What architectural monuments will be restored this year?

In dribs and drabs

The medieval castle in Mir — a unique blend of Belarusian Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque — was taken under state protection in 1947. However, it came to restoration only in the late 1980s, when it became a branch of the State Art Museum of the BSSR, and the Government of the BSSR adopted a Decree On the Status of Mir Castle as a Historical and Cultural Value of National Significance. 
In the 1980s, things finally got off the ground, but the restoration was going very slowly — not enough funds were allocated, there were not enough specialists. Nevertheless, the southwestern tower was opened to the public in 1992 and a flood of visitors poured into the castle, even despite the fact that excursions were held in the open air, in the courtyard, in any weather.      

Castle transformation 

When Belarus became an independent state, a completely different stage of restoration work began. Olga Novitskaya, Deputy Director for Scientific and Educational Work of the Mir Castle Complex Museum, restored the chronicle of events, “The most active phase of restoration took place in 2006-2010. Much more was done over those years than in all previous decades. Moreover, money was spent not only on the renovation of the building and the creation of museum expositions, but also on refurbishing of a hotel, a restaurant, and two conference halls. Initially, it was envisaged that this would be not just a museum, but a multifunctional complex where visitors would be able to stay overnight, hold a business meeting.”
Aleksandr Hanko, Engineer for Repair of Equipment, Buildings and Structures of the Mir Castle Complex Museum, has been working here since the early 1990s and remembers all the stages of restoration well. According to him, “In the post-perestroika [a series of political and economic reforms that lasted from 1985 until 1991] years, the restoration work went very slowly, and sometimes stopped altogether. There was a general concept, but small details were not taken into account. In the 2000s, in contrast, we already had a detailed plan, which took into consideration absolutely everything — from the location of the walls to the pattern on the stove tiles. We managed to solve a lot of complex engineering tasks, for example, to save the northeast tower, strengthen it and prevent it from collapsing. Dozens of enterprises contributed to the reconstruction of the architectural monument.” 
Aleksandr Hanko noticed, “Part of the floor tiles for Mir Castle were made at Keramin, forged chandeliers were manufactured at the Cascade enterprise in the town of Lida. There is a stand near the ticket offices where all the organisations involved in the restoration of Mir Castle are listed — there are more than a hundred of them. It is safe to say that Mir [can be translated as ‘world’ or ‘peace’] was rebuilt by the whole world.” 
Now Mir Castle is a multifunctional complex, where every detail is carefully thought out — from exhibition halls to a cloakroom. Although the restoration was officially completed back in 2010, the work is still ongoing. The plan for the near future is to recreate the Italian garden, as well as the Svyatopolk-Mirsky Palace located near the walls of Mir Castle, of which only a flank has been preserved. 

   Mir Castle in numbers 
• 39 exposition and exhibition halls
• More than 5,000 exhibits
• More than 130 full-time employees
• Over 340,000 guests visited the castle last year

Non-stop restoration 

In recent decades, our country has been actively restoring the architectural heritage, investing considerable resources for its preservation and maintenance. Tatyana Boksha, Head of Department for the Arrangement of Protection and Accounting of Historical and Cultural Values of the Ministry of Culture, shared the details, “The protection of cultural heritage is an indispensable prerequisite for the sustainable development of the state, strengthening its prestige, including in the international community. In our country, the principles of preservation and use of historical and cultural heritage were enshrined in the Constitution of 1994.”  
Currently, the State List of Historical and Cultural Values contains 5,683 objects, almost 2,000 of them are architectural monuments. Tatyana Boksha emphasised that the tasks of restoring them, and subsequently including them in the tourist and cultural turnover are being solved thanks to state programmes, as well as local investment projects. “The Castles of Belarus state programme, which operated from 2012 to 2016 and subsequently became part of the larger state programme Culture of Belarus for 2016-2020, 2021-2025, proved to be effective in attracting comprehensive attention to all castles preserved in the country. In addition, many repair and restoration works on historical and cultural values are financed by aid of the Culture and Art Support Fund of the President of the Republic of Belarus. In recent years, with the assistance of the Presidential Fund, the Puslovsky Palace and Park Ensemble in Kossovo was restored. Also, conservation with fragmentary restoration of Krevo Castle and the former Sapiega Castle in the agricultural town of Golshany was carried out. Thanks to the support of the Head of State, the chapel-tomb of the Paskevich family in Gomel has been reconstructed, and the stable building as part of the ensemble of former Mikhail Oginsky’s Palace-Estate in the agricultural town of Zalesye has been restored.”    Although dozens of architectural heritage sites have already been commissioned and receive tourists, the volume of design and repair and restoration work is not shrinking, and even increasing. In 2022-2023, about Br189m were allocated for the implementation of these goals. What sites — palaces and castles — will be reimagined in 2024? Tatyana Boksha provided the information, “Among the most iconic sites is the Palace and Park Ensemble in the village of Zhilichi, Kirov District: this year, it is planned to complete the development of project documentation for the restoration of the park and water system, the reconstruction of the carriage house. The restoration work will also continue in the Palace Complex in the urban settlement of Ruzhany, Pruzhany District, as well as in Krevo, Golshany and Novogrudok Castles. We hope that over time they will become no less famous and in demand than renowned Mir Castle.”                                                   

  What palaces and castles have been restored?
• 2005 — the Rumyantsev-Paskevich Palace and Park Complex in Gomel
• 2008 — the Potemkin Palace in Krichev
• 2010 — the Mir Castle Complex 
• 2011 — the Palace and Park Ensemble in Nesvizh, the Ruzhany Palace Complex of Sapiega Family
• 2015 — the Drutsky-Lyubetsky Palace in Shchuchin
• 2020 — the Puslovsky Palace in Kossovo, Lida Castle