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Pischalovsky Castle in Minsk

There are many architectural monuments in and around Minsk, but Pischalovsky Castle is strikingly different from most of them in two respects. It has hardly changed its purpose, remaining a prison for two centuries, and is also very well preserved, having passed through the historical cataclysms virtually intact.

History of Pischalovsky Castle

At first glance, the structure evokes a strong association with a medieval building. On closer inspection, the impression only grows stronger. Pischalovsky Castle is located in a strategically advantageous place, occupying the top of Romanovsky Hill. According to the canons, the castle wall is high and impregnable, and at the corners it is fortified with watchtowers. The building itself is rectangular, has three floors. It was built immediately with the specifics of its purpose. It was not a whim, but a brutal necessity. The old wooden structure where dangerous criminals were held was so dilapidated that it was no longer worthwhile to repair it; it was much more profitable to build a new one at once.

The construction was sponsored by the landowner Pischalo, after whom the complex was named. It is often called “Volodarka” after the name of the street where the main entrance looks out. Pischalovsky Castle has been repeatedly expanded and partially rebuilt, but in general terms retained its appearance. Some attribute it to classical and pseudo-Gothic styles, but more often they are inclined to believe that it is eclectic. This prison is considered one of the safest in the country because of its well-thought-out interior structure and is often referred to as the “Belarusian Bastille. The address of Pischalovsky Castle in Minsk has not changed for decades and is also listed in tourist booklets as Volodarsky Street. 2.

Pischalovsky Castle

Who got into Volodarka?

Initially, the prison complex was designed for criminals. There were also petty thieves. But during the Kalinowski uprising, the number of prisoners increased sharply at the expense of the rebels. There were so many of them that some of them were not imprisoned, but executed without trial right in the courtyard.

Playwright Vincent Dunin-Martsinkevich and his daughter were imprisoned for actively supporting the uprising. During his imprisonment, the play Pinskaja Shlyakhta was conceived and realized in sketches. Writer Yakub Kolas was imprisoned for three years for popularizing the Belarusian language and calling for it to be taught in schools. During his incarceration, he began to create the poem “The New Land.

Some activists, such as political activist Karus Kaganets, were put in Volodarka’s cell more than once for their political views and their fight for the independence of the country. The Pischalovsky Castle in Minsk also received Felix Dzerzhinsky as a prisoner on his way to prison. He was the only one who managed to make a successful escape from the citadel. Attempts by other prisoners invariably failed.

The Ghost of Pischalow Castle

The status of the prison, numerous executions and personal tragedies could not but leave a mark on history, so it is quite natural that over time the castle has had its own ghost. It appeared after one of the mass shooting rallies in the square. The body of one of the participants was hung on the gates of the prison and remained there without burial for several days. Later, prison officials began to notice a vague shadow in the corridors and to hear the rumble of chains on which the body of the executed man once hung.

No one has been able to see the ghost yet, but the legend has gained popularity and become an additional incentive to increase the flow of visitors to the site.

Pischalovsky Castle nowadays

The building withstood the war effort, but could not resist time. Since no large-scale reconstruction was ever carried out, one of the towers collapsed from time in 2008. After that, theories about the fate of the building began to be put forward.


  • to convert the castle into a hotel;
  • to open a military history museum;
  • to make an exhibition complex with catering points.

But so far these are only options for discussion, and they are quite vague. Guides recommend viewing the complex from one of the city’s observation decks. So you can immediately appreciate the grandeur of the architect’s plan and catch the features of the building itself.

Excursions to Pishchalovsky Castle in Minsk are only sightseeing, it is forbidden to go inside.

Many of the rooms are in a state of disrepair, the walls are held together with metal braces, and the towers are held on special ties. While there is debate about the fate of the monument, tourists are shown it from afar and told about the dark history of the place.

Pischalovsky Castle on the map of Minsk

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