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Belarus by Hladkikh Olga

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    Architectural, Residential and Cultural Complex of the Radziwill Family at Nesvizh

    The Architectural, Residential and Cultural Complex of the Radziwill Family at Nesvizh is located in the Province of Minsk, in central Belarus. Radziwil family built this complex in the 16th century and maintained it till 1939. This powerful dynasty gave birth to some of the most influential personalities in European history and culture, who later on contributed to the areas of sciences, arts, crafts, and architecture. The complex consists of the residential castle and the mausoleum Church of Corpus Christi. The castle consists of ten interconnected buildings, surrounding a six-sided courtyard. The palaces and church have marked the development of architecture throughout Central Europe and Russia (UNESCO, 2009).

    Nesvizh belonged to the Radziwills starting from 1513. Before the castle was built, there used to be a house, inhabited by Duke Mikolaj Radziwill, the chancellor of Lithuania and the military governor of Vilnius. As he was protestant, he made Nesvizh an important center of the Reformation. The construction of the castle began in 1582. The residence of the castle has been preserved till now practically unchanged (UNESCO, 2009).

    In 1706, the Castle was occupied by the Swedes, who partially destroyed it. However, after they left in 1732 Michal Radziwill renovated the Castle in the time period of 1732-1758. He used architects from Germany, Italy, Poland, and Belarus (UNESCO, 2009).

    In the 19th century the ownership of the castle passed to Antoni Radziwill and his wife Maria de Castellane from France.  They added a terrace with Neo-Gothic turrets. They also created the romantic landscape park around the castle. After 1939, Nesvizh was taken over by the Soviet army, and then it was used by the Germans as a military hospital. After WWII the castle was used as a sanatorium, but in 2001 it was assigned to restoration to be used as a museum and a cultural center (UNESCO, 2009).

    Nesvizh complex became a World Heritage Site according to 3 criteria:

    -        It lead to the establishment of a new architectural school in Central Europe;

    -        It contributed to the development of building typology in the history of architecture of the Central Europe (the Corpus Christi Church)

    -        The Radziwill family was significant in transmission of the ideas from Southern and Western Europe to Central and Eastern Europe (UNESCO, 2009).

    Managerial Challenges:

    ·        Involving local community in implementation of the World Heritage Site plans;

    ·        Strengthening and increasing the number of government staff dealing with protection of the Heritage Site;

    ·        Introducing national legislative norms to fasten the responsibility of local authorities for preservation and proper use of the heritage (Niasvizh, 2012).





    Niasvizh (2012). International Capacity Building Workshop “World Heritage Properties: Conservation and Use for Sustainable Development. [online]. Available at:‎ [Accessed: 11 Nov 2013].


    UNESCO (2009). Architectural, Residential and Cultural Complex of the Radziwill Family at Nesvizh. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 11 Nov 2013].

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    Comments (4)

    Viewing 4 of 4 comments: view all
    Great presentation in the class Olga! It is very interesting to hear more about your part of Eastern Europe and the heritage sites of Belarus. Thank you for being such a great ambassador for your country. You also managed to mention some of the serious problems that the Belarus is facing when it comes to the preservation of the heritage (both natural and cultural).
    It would be interesting to hear your opinion on if you could see that the awareness of the cultural heritage that Belarus possess came to the mind of local communities surrounding it? Do local communities begin to realize the potentials of the heritage management and the possible positive outcomes for the society it may bring? Do you see it happening?
    Best regards,
    Posted 14:57, 12 Nov 2013
    Once again a very interesting article, thank you Olga !
    The history of this complexe is sure interesting, it went through so many changes over time... I think you succeeded in keeping its history simple but detailed at the same time, which is not an easy task. It is very clear and from reading I can easily get a good understanding of why this is a world heritage site.
    But on the other hand, I wish you had developed the managerial chanllenges a little bit more. You mention several issues but do not explain clearly in which way they are direcly related to the site you are talking about, and if measures have been taken in these direction. For example, what would be the benefits from the site if the local population was more involved ? Are they not involved at all nowadays ?
    Posted 19:04, 12 Nov 2013
    In Belarus the local population is not involved in anything related to Heritage sites. Everything is fully led and controlled by the government. I think it happens because people lack the knowledge about the role and potentialof heritage site. They know that the sites are special and need to be preserved, but they don't see any economic benefits or reasons behind it. I also think Belarus could use its heritage sites in a more effective way, if people knew about the benefits. The sites would be marketed in a more effective way and people wouldn't have any intentions to damage the sites in any way (such as write "Vasya was here" on the walls, etc).
    Posted 22:00, 12 Nov 2013
    Really good description of the past of the complex of the Radziwill Family. In my opinion you made clear why this complex is important for Belarus and for the rest of the World. What was really interesting for me are all the different purposes the complex hat to fulfill in the past, i.e. the use as a sanatorium. Nevertheless, I think that you could have focused a bit more on the managerial issues, but I really like that article!
    Posted 18:11, 13 Nov 2013
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