Mir Castle in Belarus, detailed information

Mir Castle

Mir Castle, built at the turn of the XV-XVI centuries, is situated in a small Belarusian town Mir in Korelichi district of Grodno region. Just half a century ago Mir Castle was still in ruins, but at the end of the last century it was tastefully restored and then it deservedly appeared on the UNESCO World Heritage List as an outstanding monument of the Central European castle and palace architecture.

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Video: Mir Castle

Highlights

Mir Castle is one of the most spectacular and popular tourist sites in Belarus. The former citadel and residence of Lithuanian aristocrats invariably impresses travelers with its harmonious and coherent appearance, despite the fact that elements of late Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture are intertwined in its architecture. Mir Castle is full of charming corners, where the atmosphere of the past centuries is recreated. There are festivals, balls, concerts, theatrical excursions during which guests are invited to dance in the ballroom with animators, dressed in ceremonial dresses in the fashion of the XVIII century.

On all the floors of the castle there are museum exhibitions, displaying antiquities from different eras. However, there are few exhibits, belonging to the environment of this citadel, all the property has been irrevocably lost during the decades of devastation, when the castle was half-destroyed. Some of the rooms are hotel rooms, including suites. There is an atmospheric restaurant and cafe at the Mir Castle. There are special excursions to the princely kitchen and to the wine cellar of the castle, where tourists can enjoy a tasting of delicious drinks and snacks.

History of Mir Castle

The region where Mir Castle is located has been an arena of military conflicts, political alliances and cultural borrowings for many centuries. Polish and Swedish kings, grand dukes of Lithuania and the Moscow tsars lay claim to these lands. From the south, the Crimean Tatars rushed here, robbing unprotected peaceful towns. The first owner of a vast estate – Lithuanian magnate Jerzy (Jury) Ilyinich, who was the mayor of Brest and Kaunas – must have been inspired by these disturbing factors and built not just a mansion, but a well fortified castle on the hill near the river Mireanka in the 1520s. The castle probably stood there in the previous century as well. Archaeological excavations carried out here during the restoration revealed a cultural layer on the territory of the castle with the remains of burnt wooden fortifications of the XV century.

In the second half of the 17th century Mirsky Castle, which by that time had passed into the possession of the powerful Radziwill family, found itself in the heart of a conflict region, where military clashes between the armies of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and the Russian Tsar’s army, which wanted to expand its western borders, were frequent. Medieval walls did not save the castle from the guns of the warring parties. The castle was first devastated in 1655 by Cossacks of Ivan Zolotarenko and the army of voivode Alexei Trubetskoy. In the same year the Swedes stormed the castle, ruining the Radziwill estate and destroying the castle buildings. In 1680s the castle was restored to its original appearance.

In 1706 during the Great Northern War the castle was severely damaged again. This time it was shelled by Swedish King Charles XII troops, after which it was taken by storm and burnt out. The consequences of these military actions turned out to be more disastrous than those of the previous battle. Prince Mikhail Casimir Radziwill returned the castle to its former splendor, but in June 1792 the cannons rang again under the walls of the citadel. Here the battle of Mir took place, in which ten thousand Lithuanian corps of Polish King Stanislaw August Poniatowski was defeated by Russian troops.

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During the Napoleonic wars the dilapidated citadel was abandoned. In 1812, when the French Emperor’s army was expelling from Russia, retreating army of Marshal Davout and cavalrymen of General Matvei Platov fought at the Mir Castle.

In the late 19th century the castle was restored by the Russian Prince Mikhail Svyatopolk-Mirsky, whose family owned this residence until the Second World War. In 1939 the Soviet troops invaded Western Belarus, which belonged to Poland. Mir Castle was again looted and significantly destroyed. After the attack of Hitler’s Germany on the Soviet Union the whole of Belarus was seized by the Germans. In Mir Castle, the Nazis set up a ghetto for local Jews. After a few prisoners escaped, all of the remaining prisoners were shot in the Italian Garden under the fortress walls.

In the post-war years, the ruins of the palace and towers were inhabited by refugees and local firefighters from the surrounding villages. Only in the 1960s the last inhabitants were evicted from the ruins. In the 90s the Belarusian authorities decided to restore this architectural pearl and turned Mir Castle into one of the most famous sights of the country.

Taking a walk around the castle

From afar, Mir Castle, built of brown bricks with white decorative inserts, resembles a smart chocolate house surrounded by a landscaped park. The first thing that catches your eye is the ornate northeastern tower, which used to house the living quarters. The gate tower, where the chapel is located, is also very impressive. The deep dungeons beneath it once housed a dungeon, of which there are bad rumors: according to legend, the ghosts of tortured prisoners often appear here.

The citadel was planned according to all the rules of late medieval and Renaissance fortification art. The 12-meter high walls of the fortress form an irregular square with sides of 75 meters. On the inside, log battle galleries ran along the walls. In the corners, four 25 meter towers extend beyond the walls. Each tower has five combat levels connected by narrow stone stairs. The massive first floors of the towers are tetrahedral, and heavy artillery was located here. The upper stories were octagonal, with loopholes to allow a circular crossbow and musket fire on their attackers. The entrance gate is in the base of the fifth tower, which stands in the center of the west wall. The gate is followed by an inner square, paved with stone, with a well in the center. All the buildings are decorated with cornices, ornamental belts, semi-columns, arched niches and other elements of fine facade decoration. In XVII-XVIII centuries many loopholes, which lost their defensive meaning, were enlarged and turned into arched windows of the apartments, which replaced reconstructed barracks. The combat towers and palace buildings were connected by underground passages, stretching beyond the citadel.

The last scion of the Illyinich family, who had no offspring, bequeathed the castle to his cousin, Lithuanian Duke Nikolai Radziwill. The rich aristocrat built two residential wings that adjoined the northern and eastern walls. There were also stables, a smithy, a bakery, and a beer hall. The first floor of the palace housed an arsenal and a food warehouse, a kitchen and household services. The second floor was occupied by the administration of the estate, rooms for servants and guards. Luxurious rooms of the princely family were arranged on the third floor. In the basements there were arranged wine cellars and utility rooms, secret passages. There is a legend that once the prince hid a rich treasure in one of the hidden corridors, which has not been found yet. It is said that among the treasures were statues of the twelve apostles cast in gold.

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The exhibition, located on the second floor of the north wing, is devoted to the secrets of the castle defenses, and in the next rooms are portraits and documents, introducing tourists to the succession of owners of the citadel. Other rooms of the castle have 36 thematic exhibitions and interesting collections. There are weapons from different eras, costumes, coins and medals, household utensils, antique furniture, jewelry and other antiques.

500 meters from the castle walls, in a landscaped English park, there is an asymmetrical chapel of St. Nicholas with a bell tower. The complex was renovated in 2008. In the underground crypt are the vaults of the burial vaults of Princes Svyatopolk-Mirsky, the last owners of the manor in Mir. On the facade of the chapel shines a gold mosaic panel depicting Christ the Almighty; to the left, on the bell tower, you can see a colored bas-relief with the family coat of arms of princes, as well as coats of arms of Moscow and Kiev – the cities with which the family of the last masters of the estate was closely connected.

Near the walls of Mirsky Castle there is an artificial lake, its mirror-like surface reflects the walls and towers. From the shores of the lake you can take spectacular photos. Excellent shots can be taken at the interactive photo platform, specially equipped for tourists. In the halls you can have a photo shoot with actors in period costumes.

Visitors to

Entrance to the castle complex and the park is free. There is a souvenir store and free parking. In Mirsky Castle there are theatrical performances, wedding ceremonies, educational quests. To participate in the game it is necessary to apply in advance.

The cost of the ticket to the museum is 18 Belarusian rubles. There is a 50% discount for pupils and students. The cost of the group tour for an hour and a half with a story about the history of the castle, its titled owners and the life of the inhabitants of the citadel is 24 Belarusian rubles. The individual tour will cost 50 Belarusian rubles. You can also take an audio guide at the entrance for Br3.

The Historical Museum of Mir Castle is open to visitors every day from 10:00 to 18:00. The ticket office closes at 17:20. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday the museum and ticket office hours are extended for 1 hour.

Where to eat

A cafe with snacks and two bars are at tourists’ disposal in Mir Castle. In the palace underground is a colorful restaurant. The menu offers dishes of the old Belarusian cuisine; in the vaulted hall with antique interiors and wrought iron decorations, live music sounds in the evenings. Here you can taste the specialties, cooked according to recipes of the chefs of princes Radziwill – spicy beef with cherry sauce and tender pork brisket stewed in beer. Very tasty is vereshchaka – fried meat slightly stewed in beet kvass. This dish is served with baked potatoes and bundles of fresh herbs. And also, be sure to try the contents of the portioned ceramic pot sealed with dough. This dish is called tzatzkalo. Inside the heated pot you will find pieces of meat with sauce, vegetables and potatoes. Once baked lid of dough served as both a spoon and bread. And, of course, you must try the rich Belarusian borscht and potato flapjacks with meat stuffing that melt in your mouth. The guests are offered hop liquors made according to medieval recipes, homemade kvass, good beer, and other quality alcoholic drinks. Restaurant is open daily from 09:00 till 23:00.

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Where to stay

Part of the premises of the Mirsky Castle is converted to a hotel, which is one of the ten best hotels in Belarus. The guests are welcomed by 16 luxurious rooms, the rooms are furnished with the furniture made according to the antique samples. The “comfort” class rooms are located on the mansard. The bathrooms of the suites have jacuzzis. The cost of living is from 125 to 300 Belarusian rubles per room per night; there is a possibility of adding extra beds for children. There’s a pleasant bonus for tourists who stay in this elite hotel: you can buy tickets to the museum for 8 Belarusian rubles, and for children – at half price.

Bicycles for rent

You won’t need four-wheel transport to explore the castle surroundings. It’s nice to walk around, looking for the best spots for memorable photos, all of them are within walking distance. If you want, you can rent a bicycle in the hotel of Mirsky Castle. The cost of rent is 4 Belarusian rubles for the first hour, 2 rubles for each subsequent hour. There are bicycle routes in the park in the extensive castle territory where there is a beautiful Catholic basilica and the burial vault of the citadel owners. You can ride through the picturesque surroundings, ride to the nearby lake, go to the tourist sites of Peace – churches and chapels, monuments, museums, look at the city market.

The old buildings of the city are lovingly and expertly restored. There is a famous art and restoration school in Belarus, its graduates restored interiors of Mir Castle and other historic buildings. Cyclists are given avenues with street plans where interesting locations are marked. Among them are the Gothic church of St. Nicholas, founded in 1599, the magnificent Church of the Holy Trinity, the old synagogue and the Market Square.

How to get there

Mir Castle is situated 100km south-west of Minsk. The best way for tourists who arrive in the capital of Belarus by plane is to take a minibus or car of the company Minsk Airport Transfer right from the airport. The office of this transport company is in the arrivals hall.

You can book a transfer from the airport to Mir Castle on the website of KiwiTaxi in advance.

The trip by business class car from Minsk to Mirsky Castle will cost 80 Belarusian rubles (per car), by a premium limousine – 90 Belarusian rubles, by minibus – from 100 to 150 Belarusian rubles, depending on the number of passenger seats. The cost of the trip includes a round-trip transfer and a two-hour waiting period at the parking lot at the castle.

You can get to Mir from Minsk central bus station by regular buses to Dyatlovo, Baranovichi, Novogrudok, Korelichi. The transport departs at 14:00, 16:10, 17:30 and 18:10. The cost of the ticket to Mira – 6.79 Belarusian rubles, the travel time – 1 hour and 30 minutes. The castle is within walking distance from the bus station.

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Near the Minsk railway station there is the terminal station of the shuttle buses, the route of which goes through Mir. Minibuses leave from 06:40 to 22:10 every hour. One can get on these minibuses at the stations of Minsk subway “Malinovka,” “Petrovschina,” and “Grushevka” (blue line). The fare is Br7 Belarusian rubles. A child under 3 years old can be taken free of charge.

In order to get to the Mirsky Castle by private car, you should leave Minsk by the highway E30 heading south-west in the direction of Brest. You should drive about 90 km without turning anywhere. There is a sign at the right turn to the M1 highway that goes through Mir. Approximately 10 km after the bend the road will lead you to the parking lot near the castle. It’s better to go out at 7-8 in the morning in order to avoid Minsk traffic jams. You’ll get to the Mirsky castle not in a hurry just by the opening of the museum ticket office.

Mir Castle

Mir Castle

daily 10.00 to 18.00, the museum ticket office is open until 17:20.

Adults – 14-16 Belarusian rubles, children under 7 years – free of charge, tours – from 20 Belarusian rubles.

Mir Castle is one of the most important tourist attractions in Belarus, an outstanding defense structure of the 16th century, included in the List of World Heritage Sites of UNESCO.

Today Mir Castle is a complex which includes a museum, two conference halls, a hotel and a restaurant. In the castle festivals, exhibitions and concerts, scientific conferences are held, tourists constantly come here, in the castle are often held wedding ceremonies.

Inside the Mir Castle you may see many, namely 39 expositions of historical and cultural content, which tells about the past events in this castle. There are armor, installations, paintings, and scenes from life.

Prices for guided tours in Mir Castle 2022

The standard price for a visit to the castle from Monday to Friday – 14 Belarusian rubles, on Saturday and Sunday – 16. For students of specialized secondary and higher educational institutions – 50% discount.

There is a right to visit the museum for free:

  • People with disabilities
  • WWII veterans
  • Conscripts and people performing alternative service
  • Children under 7 years old
  • Orphans
  • Children without parental care
  • People with disabilities, passing one of the stages of education
  • Museum workers

The cost of excursions, theatrical performances and quests starts with 20 rubles.

Working mode

The castle is open to tourists every day from 10 to 18. You can buy tickets until 17:20, after that the ticket office is closed.

Mir Castle

History of Mir Castle

For the first time Mir appears in the chronicles in 1434.

The castle was founded in the early 16th century by Prince Yuri Ilyinich. There were many reasons for building the castle: discord among feudal groups, threats from Crimean Tatars, prince’s desire to receive the title of Count of the Holy Roman Empire.

The first version of the building was made in Gothic style. Five towers were built, each one being a self-sufficient defense node. The towers reached 25 meters in height, had 5 fighting tiers with loopholes. The towers were designed in such a way that it was possible to lead a flank attack along the walls and to reach the enemies on the approach to them.

During four decades the Ilyinichi family could not complete the construction, and in 1568 the castle passed into the ownership of Nicholas Radziwill. For him the castle was supposed to become a residence – in the north-eastern part of the castle was built a three-story palace, three corner towers were rebuilt, and the earth fortifications were made around the castle. Behind them, a moat was dug.

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However in the late 16th-early 17th centuries the princely residence was moved to another castle, Nesvizh, and Mir castle became a kind of country house.

Mir Castle

The cellars and the ground floor contained utility rooms and storerooms, the first floor was occupied by the administration, court and chancellery, and the third floor by the living space.

For several decades the castle lived a quiet life, but it was stopped by the war between Russia and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. In 1655 the castle was devastated by the Cossacks and the Russian army.

After the war the castle spent 30 years in disrepair. In 1860 Catherine Radziwill tried to rebuild it, but the Great Northern War prevented it from happening.

In the early XVIII century, a new owner of the castle, Prince Mikhail Casimir Radziwill, began restoration works. Under his participation, the third floor was changed, and the enfilade of the Parade, Portrait and Dance halls appeared.

Mir Castle

In 1887 a law was passed that foreigners could not own lands in the territory of Russian Empire, so the castle was sold.

In 1891 the castle was bought by the Cossack Ataman of the Don Cossacks, Nikolai Ivanovich Svyatopolk-Mirsky. Under him and later under his son extensive reconstruction works were carried out.

During World War II there was a ghetto in the castle. Only in 1983 the restoration works were started in Mir Castle. In 1987 the castle received the status of a branch of the State Art Museum of the BSSR, in 1988 the castle received the status of historical and cultural value of the national importance.

In October 1992, the Southwest Tower hosted the opening of the first museum exhibit. In 2000. The Mir Castle Complex was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Mir Castle

Territory and Entertainment

Today the area of Mir Castle includes the castle itself with 39 expositions, parks, a pond near the castle building, the burial vault of Princes Svyatopolk-Mirsky, a hotel, two conference halls, a restaurant with an old food menu and a shop with Belarusian Souvenirs.

The castle is organized guided tours, guided themed tours to different parts of the complex, such as “Wars of the XX century”, “Mirsky Castle Owners” and others. Guided tours are conducted in Russian, English and Polish, it is possible to rent an audio guide. Thematic performances and quests in the castle for 10-50 participants can be ordered. There are also separate historical programs for school children.

For unconventional exploration of the Castle and its surroundings we offer bicycles for rent.

Mir Castle

How to get there

Mir Castle is situated 90 km from Minsk.

You can get there by car: highway М1 (Е30) (direction to Brest) till the turn to Mir →Р64 (Stolbtsy – Mir). There are signs along the route.

You may use cab transfer services from the National airport “Minsk” and from the city, as well as local cab services – Minsk Intercity Taxi, Beltransfer.

You may also get by bus: there are buses to Korelichi, Novogrudok, Dyatlovo and Lida that leave daily from the bus station “Tsentralni” in Minsk. All the buses go through the stop in Mir. You can buy tickets online.

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