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  A Brief History of Mir Castle

Mir Castle had important influences on the shtetl of Mir. The early owners controlled vast acres of land, possessed great power and made decisions that affected all the town's inhabitants.

The castle was built as a fortress at the beginning of the 16th century by the order of prince Yuri Ilyinich. Thick brick walls with slits, many towers, a rampart, a moat, and a drawbridge, were all part of the original structure. The building replaced a wooden feudal farmstead, which existed there in the15th century.

N. Radzivill-Sirotka became the owner of Mir in 1568. From 1569 until 1813, the town of Mir and huge estates surrounding it were owned by Radziwill family, who controlled numerous other communities in Poland/Lithuania/Belarus as well. During that time, the Radziwills rebuilt the castle in Renaissance style to create a three-storied palace along the eastern and northern walls. The halls were decorated with tile. They had an Italian garden developed to the north of the castle and created an artificial lake to the south.

There were sieges in 1655, 1706, 1794, and 1812 causing severe damage. Mir Castle was abandoned for nearly a century. The castle was restored at the end of the 19th century.

Mir Castle came into the possession of the Sviatopolk-Mirski family in 1891. Among the last owners were Prince Michael and then his nephew, Prince Basil Sviatopolk-Mirski. They owned many of the large businesses in the town, including (in 1929) the mill, the brickworks, the distillery, the starch factory, the pitch factory, the sawmill and the brandy factory. They employed many local people in the town, on their estates and in the castle.

In 1942, the last Jews from the town of Mir were imprisoned in Mir Castle. Several hundred escaped just a few days before the murder of the remaining Jews of Mir on August 13th 1942.

The castle is currently under ownership of the Belarusian Government.

In 1994, UNESCO placed the Castle of Mir in the top category of the world culture monuments. On November 29, 2000 the UNESCO included the Castle of Mir in the list of the world's legacy. The restored castle houses a museum including rooms which contain a history of the Jews of Mir.

For the latest information on the site, visit the UNESCO Mir Castle Complex web page


Mir Castle, September 1, 2002 during the cultural festival.

 
Princess Maria Sviatopolk-Mirski (center), niece of Prince Basil at Mir Castle,
sent the photos above to this web site.

There are old photos of Mir Castle and other recent pictures (1997) (1998) (2002) on this web site.

See also:
Mir Castle History 2
Belarus Travel Guide to Mir Castle
The Mir Castle
History of the Jews of Mir

 

Updated October 2011

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