The most magnificent castle complex of Belarus is located in the city of Nesvizh. Its construction was begun in the 16 century by the rich Radziwil princes, but later the Nesvizh castle was rebuilt many times, and now it is a beautiful palace combining nearly all architectural styles.
Originally, the Nesvizh castle was designed as a fortress. In 1583 Nicholas Radziwil started the works on the extension of the castle, as well as its conversion into a strong fortress on the bank of the Usha river. So, there appeared high ramparts and moats filled with water.
Apart from its defensive function, the Nesvizh castle emphasized the high rank of the Radziwil princes who were one of the richest families in Europe. By that time 30 kilometers to the north the Ilinich princes had already built the Mir castle, also mainly for prestige purposes.
The Nesvizh castle was severely damaged during the invasion of the Swedish troops of Charles XII in 1708. It was surrendered, and the Swede destroyed the fortifications, as well as the castle itself. By the middle of the 18 century the Radziwil rebuilt their family seat with great magnificence. Around the square there were erected the buildings more resembling a common palace.
The contemporaries were amazed by the luxury of the interiors of the Nesvizh castle. In the vaults of the castle there were kept the treasures of the the Radziwil family, including 12 golden apostles studded with precious stones. They were made by the order of Michael Radziwil who found Tatar gold.
The real apostles were securely hidden in the vaults of the castle, and their gilded wax copies are exhibited at the Portrait room. The robbers tried to steal them but could not do it. After the incident the wax figures of these robbers were placed near the apostles. So, there appeared the first collection of wax figures in the world.
During the invasion of the armies of Napoleon in 1812 Dominic Radziwil took the side of Napoleon and left Russia. After that the Nesvizh castle changed several owners. And only in 1860 the castle was returned to the Radziwil family who considerably enlarged the Nesvizh Park. There appeared the Castle Park, the Japanese Garden and the English Park. Total area of the Nesvizh castle and all its parks is 90 hectares.
Today there have been completely restored and opened the inner rooms of the Nesvizh castle. The Armory and palace galleries were also opened for visiting. By all means should you have a walk around the ramparts and in the parks.