HomeEuropeBelarusNesvizh Castle

Nesvizh Castle

Nesvizh Castle in Belarus is one of the most famous monuments of the Middle Ages and Modern times. It is located in the ancient town of Nesvizh, a hundred kilometers southwest of Minsk.

Going to Belarus, be sure to visit and examine this masterpiece of architecture and landscape art, you will get real pleasure and admiration for the cultural and historical masterpiece.

Where did the name “Nesvizh” come from?

There are several legends about it. The first says that in the old days a prince and his retinue hunted in these places, they got a lot of game, but one bear, shot by the prince himself, got away.

The prince’s servants searched for several days for the lost bear, but when they found it, it was already dead and smelled bad, it was “nesvizh. That’s how the name of the place came about. Not a very realistic option.

The second legend says that there used to be a huge mountain on this spot, and there was “nothing to see” around it. Then heavy rains came, which eroded the mountain into seven hills, and the winds drove the first settlers to them. It sounds like the Old Testament.

History of Nesvizh Castle

The first mention of Nesvizh is found in the chronicles of the 13th century, when a local prince died in the battle of the Kalka. Archaeologists are convinced that the stone castle and the settlement around it did not appear until the late 16th century.

Nesvizh Castle in Belarus

The first wooden castle, located in the territory of the modern Old Park, in the second half of the 16th century was rebuilt into a stone castle by Nicholas Radziwill Sierotka.

Nicholas was an extraordinary man, traveled extensively in Europe, went to Egypt and Jerusalem, was well educated, had broad European views, and freed serfs.

He began to rebuild his ancestral home by inviting the famous architect Bernardoni from Italy. He designed a stone castle with fortifications and built the Far Church in Nesvizh.

The castle was built like a medieval fortress: huge earth ramparts and deep moats, thick fortress walls and watchtowers, bastions and a unique dungeon with intricate passages.

The Radziwill family vitally needed reliable protection from numerous enemies, so the castle was a fortress, behind the walls of which you could hide from the most powerful weapons of the time.

Several generations of Radziwill lived in a stone castle, repelling the attacks of enemies. But at the end of the 18th century Nesvizh became the property of the Russian Empire. However, the Radziwill family was allowed to reside there.

In the 19th century came a period of decline of the family and the Nesvizh castle. It all began with the Patriotic War of 1812. Dominic Radziwill entered the war on the side of Napoleon Bonaparte and gave his castle to his brother as his headquarters.

Napoleon lost the war and fled to France, and Dominic fled with him. A year later he died suddenly, leaving no heirs. For a long time the castle was in disrepair, until another branch of the family from Germany settled there.

The new owners, who settled in the second half of the 19th century, fell in love with the castle and began to make great efforts to restore it and return it to its former glory. After 1917, Nesvizh Castle was again heavily neglected.

History of the Nesvizh Castle in Belarus

During the Great Patriotic War a headquarters was again organized in Nesvizh. This time – the headquarters of Hitler’s armored army of Guderian. After the war, the castle finally became a ruin.

Only in 2000 in Belarus was the first major reconstruction of this unique structure. At present, the restoration of the Nesvizh Castle continues every year, with serious financial resources invested in it.

Architecture of the Nesvizh Castle

From the time of its construction until its decline, the castle was rebuilt many times according to the architectural fashion of the time. Today, experts can easily see traces of the Gothic, Baroque and Classicism in its appearance.

Tourists walking around the castle, take photos and videos of the extraordinary beauty, inspect the old fortifications, earthen oxen, classic parks and ponds.

It is interesting to see the inner courtyards of the castle, especially the courtyard-well in the Italian style, The palace inside the castle is decorated with the family coat of arms. Inside the castle is a restaurant and cafe, they can be visited after the tour.

Nesvizh Castle Museum

Nesvizh Castle Museum - Belarus

Sometimes tourists see Nesvizh Castle only externally, not bothering to go inside the castle, and lose a lot from this. We strongly recommend visiting the Radziwill Residence Museum and seeing it in its entirety.

The palace’s rooms and halls display a variety of noble interiors, an ancestral library and archive. Of great interest is the armory, where you can see the weapons of the 16th-19th centuries.

The museum has an audio guide, he will tell in detail in different languages to tourists the history of the ancient Radziwill family, its family secrets and legends. Once you’ve been here, you will definitely get into the spirit of Nesvizh Castle.

Tourists are allowed to enter the beautiful castle only with a ticket. You can buy them at the ticket office near Nesvizh or at the information center organized at the Farny church.

About the price of tickets to Nesvizh you can find on the official website of the museum. It is open every day of the year from 10:00 to 19:00, except holidays and weekends, and is very popular with tourists.

Legends of the Radziwills

Nesvizh Castle was founded by the RadziwillsNesvizh was the ancestral home of the Radziwill princes. And this family was considered the most powerful, wealthy and influential after the kings in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. He was given the title of prince, the highest for the nobility in those days.

The Radziwill family gave the world a lot of unique, strong personalities, their exploits to this day are legendary. Many unique and surprising things about the Radziwill family can be found in the Nesvizh Museum.


As in any decent castle nearly five hundred years old, Nesvizh has its own ghost. The locals call it Black Panna. It is a beautiful, all-black-clad lady who appears in the castle at bad times.

The legend appeared in connection with a lady of the Radziwill family. In the 16th century, during the time of Nicholas the Black, his beautiful cousin Barbara, known for her extraordinary beauty, intelligence and education, lived in Vilnius.

Legends of the Radziwills - stories of Nesvizh CastleOne day Barbara met King Sigismund of Poland and fell in love with her. They started seeing each other in secret. Barbara’s brothers came to the Pole and demanded that he take care of their sister’s reputation and marry her.

But Sigismund’s mother, Queen Bona Sforza, dreamed of a more profitable party for her son to be related to the royal families of Europe. She disliked Barbara and all the Radziwills, calling them upstarts.

But the lovers Sigismund and Barbara went against the queen and were secretly married in church. Bona Sforza planned to poison her daughter-in-law, which she did six months later. Barbara died in agony.

King Sigismund took the death of his young wife hard. He came to Nesvizh and asked the local sorcerer to summon the spirit of his beloved. The sorcerer promised to do this on the condition that Sigismund would not touch the deceased.

The sorcery worked, and Barbara appeared at Nesvizh Castle. She was so beautiful, and looked as if alive, that the unhappy Sigismund could not stand it and touched his wife. Since then, Barbara finds no peace and wanders around Nesvizh.


The second most popular legend: the Radziwill princes possessed huge treasures. Many of the castle’s guests were convinced that it held treasures worth unimaginable amounts of money. The ambassadors of the Russian emperor wrote about it in their reports.

The most valuable were the sculptures of the 12 apostles of Jesus Christ from the New Testament, made of gold and silver and covered with precious stones. The castle held the gold of the Radziwill family.

But the sculptures of the apostles disappeared during Napoleon’s invasion of Russia, Napoleon’s subsequent defeat, and his flight to France. Prince Dominic Radziwill also fled with his troops, abandoning Nesvizh.

The day before, he instructed his steward to keep the statuettes of the 12 apostles safe by hiding them. The steward followed the prince’s orders and told no one about the treasure’s location.

Soon the manager died, and with him went to the next world the secret of the location of the treasure of the Radziwill family. The next year the prince died, and to this day no one knows where his wealth is.

Nesvizh parks

There are four parks around the castle and its pond. There are guided tours with different routes. The museum published a booklet “Nesvizh Parks,” where you can read about the parks, or better yet, walk through them yourself.

In the late 70s of the 19th century for the first time engaged in the development of gardening in Nesvizh park wife Antony Radziwill Maria Dorota. This is evidenced by the inscription on the stone in the Old Park.

When the castle and the Radziwill family fell into decline, the parks of Nesvizh were also in disrepair. Especially devastation and desolation became apparent after the Great Patriotic War. But in the late 80s, a gradual revival of the Nesvizh Castle and its parks began.

Detailed map of the Nesvizh Castle territoryEspecially for guests of the castle today restored four parks. Each of them is unique and inimitable, has its own style and image. A special feature of the parks is the presence of many sculptures, telling the history of the Radziwill family of princes.

Japanese Garden

The garden is extremely decorative, with many flowering trees and shrubs – cherries, plums, apricots. Some of the old plantings have been preserved. The fashion for a Japanese rock garden in those days had not yet reached Nesvizh.

There are also bridges and arbors, artificial hills and ponds in the Japanese garden, so beloved by the Japanese. There is a large arbor, which served as a tea house during the Radziwiłłs’ reign. The Japanese garden was not a novelty to the aristocrats of Europe in the 19th century.

Old Park

Parks in Nesvizh CastleIn the park you can find a sculpture of the beautiful Barbara or Black Panna, poisoned by her mother-in-law, who has not found rest and keeps wandering around the castle and its surroundings. The facts of meetings with tourists have not yet been recorded.

Much of the Old Park has been preserved in its original form. Even today you can see trees that are over 150 years old, and the historical alley, where there are busts of famous Nesvizh personalities.

English Park

In the 19th century, an English or French park was an obligatory component of the palace of any European aristocrat. The Radziwiłłs chose an English park. From the park you can observe the magnificent palace of Nesvizh.

Here tourists ride bicycles, renting them at the information center, you will get an unusual pleasure from the natural landscapes, skillfully made by local gardeners.

Marysin’s garden

This garden is the most neglected in Nesvizh. It recalls the grief that befell one of the Radziwill family – unhappy love. At the end of the garden is an island, where there is a monument to two lovers.

How to get to Nesvizh?

It is very easy to get to Nesvizh CastleIt is better to come to Nesvizh by own or rented car. You can move from Brest or Minsk. Tourists can also take electric trains, buses and cabs.

Nesvizh Castle after a long reconstruction opened to tourists in 2012. In addition to tours, there are periodic knightly tournaments, concerts, festivals, celebrations, etc.

You'll like it



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Popular Articles

Ancient World