Belarus – Old Ruins

The Palace in Ruzhany

Różany began its life in the late 16th century as the site of Lew Sapieha’s castle. The Sapieha residence was destroyed in the course of the internecine strife in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania when it was attacked by Michał Serwacy Wiśniowiecki’s forces in 1700.

Różany was rebuilt as a grand Neoclassical residence in the 1770s by Aleksander Michał Sapieha. The architect was Jan Samuel Becker from Saxony. The palace was set in an English park. Apart from the palace, there were a theatre (1784-88), an orangery, and several other outbuildings. It was Becker who designed the local church (rebuilt in the 1850s).

By the time of King Stanisław II’s visit in 1784, work on the palace had been suspended. The Sapieha estates were nationalised in the aftermath of the November Uprising (1831). Three years later, the palace compound was leased to Ari Leib Pines to be used as a textile mill and weaving factory.

In 1914 the palace was accidentally set on fire by factory workers. The First World War and subsequent financial hardships prevented the building’s restoration until 1930. The partially restored palace was ruined in 15 years, a casualty of the Second World War. The ornate palace gate survives and has recently been repaired.

The Castle in Golshany

The castle ensemble was built in the 17th century as Pavel Stephan Sapega’s residence.

The castle looks much like the castle of Mir. The front view of the Castle of Golshany resembles some Dutch castles near Antwerp (the approximate spelling of those castles is Besenstehen and Klaidael). The interior of the Castle of Golshany featured numerous frescos, stained-glass windows, moulded fireplaces, floors paved with terracotta ceramic tiles. There was a labyrinth of stone cellars under the castle, which used to be jocularly called a stone flower of mannerism.

The Northern War and the Swedish troops had no mercy on one of Belarus’ most beautiful castles. However, the devastation was fully accomplished in 1880 when the last owner of the castle would opt to blow up the towers and the walls in order to use the bricks for building a tavern.

What has left of the ensemble is two corner towers, the north-east and the north-west parts of the palace.

The place gave the Belarusian literature classic Vladimir Korotkevich the inspiration to write a bestseller book ‘The Black Castle of Golshany’.

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