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Lida Castle in Belarus

In the city of Lida is one of the majestic medieval castles. Its history goes back several centuries. Built as a defensive structure against the Crusaders, it has brilliantly fulfilled its mission, after restoration turned into a museum. The Lida Castle is considered an outstanding monument of defensive art of the 14th-15th centuries, one of the oldest in Belarus.

History of the construction of the Lida Castle

In the Middle Ages often those who were stronger were right, so fortifications in strategically important places became an urgent necessity. So appeared a fortress in Lida, the order to build the Lithuanian prince Gedimin, wishing to stop the destructive raids of crusaders. The order came out in 1323. The construction lasted several years.

A mound was created to create dominance on the ground, on which the foundations of the fortress had already been laid. It has a rectangular shape, built according to all the fortification laws of the time with the obligatory sentry corner towers and thick, almost impregnable walls. They are laid out of partially hewn boulders with the filling of cracks with fragments of stones on the lime mortar.

Leeds Castle from above

The northern direction was protected by a moat, the eastern one by an artificial lake, but it appeared not immediately, but much later, approximately in the 16-17 centuries. The hill itself was ringed by the rivers Kamenka and Lideya. It is believed that Hanseatic craftsmen who openly disliked the Crusaders took part in the construction of the castle. When Prince Gedimin sent letters with invitations to craftsmen, those who arrived, after deliberation, took the basis of the knight’s castellum. The idea was adapted to the peculiarities of the landscape, and the area of the courtyard was enlarged.

The area was gradually built up and in addition to residential and farm buildings were erected church, fortress, court and archive building. The castle could easily withstand both a swift assault and a long siege. It constantly had a small garrison, in case of impending danger the walls could shelter the inhabitants of the surrounding settlements. It was still the residence of the nobility.

There have been significant events within the walls of the Lida Castle:

  • the wedding celebration on the occasion of King Jagiello’s marriage to Sophia Golshanska, who was barely 17 years old;
  • the death of Alexander, King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania;
  • more than 10 fires.

The Lida Castle has changed hands 8 times, many monarchs and grand dukes have stayed there. The most severe test was in 1659, when it was surrounded by the army of Nikita Khovansky and seized after cannon fire. Part of the walls were destroyed, the wells were filled and after the Russo-Polish war, there was no permanent garrison in the fortress.

Gradually, with the stabilization of the political standstill, the fortress lost its original significance. Part of its walls and one tower were dismantled in the 19th century, and the building material went to rebuild the city.

Reconstruction began only in the mid-20th century, when the fortress was recognized as an architectural monument of national importance and placed under the protection of the state.

The second life of Gedimin’s castle began as a museum. Particularly popular are theatrical performances, knightly tournaments and rich collections devoted to the Middle Ages and later eras.

Lidsky Castle in the Context of Modernity

Leeds Castle Inside

The museum attracts with the austere entourage of a real medieval fortress and interactive tours. One of the most popular, in addition to viewing the exhibits, offers participation in theatrical performances based on medieval motifs and themed games.

The exhibition “Twilight of the Middle Ages” is dedicated to the dark pages, when the Inquisition had almost more power than the princely power. The collection of torture tools includes the well-known Spanish boot, iron maiden, and other devices.

An interesting hall, where the scene of the wedding feast of Prince Jagiello and Sofia Golshanska was reproduced. Guests are greeted by mannequins in ceremonial robes and laid tables. You can study in detail the unpretentious menu of the time, unfortunately, you can’t try it, it’s dummies. The galleries display armor that you are allowed to touch with your hands and even try on. It is not forbidden to take photos or make videos.

For children there are special programs in the direction of “Journey to the Past” with interactive games and quests.

To admire the reconstruction of the events of many centuries ago, or to see a knight’s tournament, you need to specify the time of their conduct in advance.

In addition to permanent exhibitions are often arranged traveling exhibitions, and not to leave empty-handed, it is recommended to look in a souvenir shop.

Sad Legends of the Lida Castle

No castle can do without a ghost. It is claimed that there are even several of them in the fortress. It is related to the old days, when during one of the sieges, the commander ordered the defenders to stand to the last man, and he quietly disappeared through an underground passage. On moonlit nights, the ghosts of warriors torn apart by their enemies roam the corridors and galleries in a vain attempt to find the traitor.

The pines growing near the castle also have their own story. The story goes that they grew up on the site of the deaths of Franciscan monks who came to preach Christianity but were murdered by the locals. No one dared to cut the trees down, and when one of the peasants tried to cut off a branch, blood spurted out. No one else risked trying again.

Memo for visitors

In the Lida Castle very democratic rules, many exhibits can be touched and even tried on, like a knight’s armor. Photos and videos are allowed. To get to the annual events devoted to medieval culture, you need to find out about the date and time in advance. The most popular: the festival of hops, malt and water and the “Sword of Lidsky Castle”.

Location of the Lida Castle on the map

It is interesting to walk around the fortress on your own, but for a more thoughtful tour of the exhibits and get interesting historical information, it is better to join a tour group.

The museum is open daily from 10.00 to 18.30. The day off is Monday. Tickets are sold nearby, at 7 Zamkovaya Street.

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