January 10, 2013
0288 & 0456 BELARUS (Grodno) - Mir Castle Complex (UNESCO WHS)
"This is a fertile region in the geographical centre of Europe, at the crossroads of the most important trade routes, and at the same time at the epicentre of crucial European and global military conflicts between neighbouring powers with different religious and cultural traditions", write on the official UNESCO site, in the description of Mir Castle Complex, included in the list of World Heritage Sites in 2000. A phrase which states, concise and exact, the causes of the turbulent history of the castle in the image, situated 90km south-west of Minsk, in the urban settlement with the same name, which has now only 2,500 inhabitants.
Built as a fortress at the end of the 15th century, by the order of prince Yuri Ilyinich, in Gothic style, the castle became in 1569 the property of the powerful Radziwill family, which held it until 1813. It was besieged in 1655, 1706, 1794, and 1812, being several times destroyed and pillaged, but each time reconstructed and extended, first in the Renaissance and then in the Baroque style. As says Oleg Trusov, "earth walls were made around the castle with bastions at the corners; a water moat surround them. To the north of the walls an Italian garden was laid, to the south - an artificial lake."
Abandoned for nearly a century, in 1891 it was purchased by prince Nikolay Ivanovich Svyatopolk-Mirsky, whose son, Michail, began to rebuild the Mir Castle (Mirsky zamok) according to the plans of architect Teodor Bursze. Until 1938 the castle was mostly restored, but at the time of the WWII it served as a ghetto for the local Jewish population, a halt before death. From 1944 to 1956 there lived people who remained homeless, but in the late 1960s began the research, then rebuilding of the castle, which lasted until the 1990s.
In the left of the first postcard is the chapel built by princes Svyatopolk-Mirskys in first half of the 20th century, in art nouveau style, where some members of his family were buried. It has a high tower-belfry and a mosaic with image of the Christ Pantocrator (Almighty).
On the first postcard is also Mir's coat of arms. I didn't found a description, but I can say that the black eagle with head turned to the left and wearing a crown on his head appears on the coat of arms of the Radziwiłł family. The three white bars (actually trapezoids) represent the Danube, Tisza (or Drava), and Sava rivers, and has Hungarian origins, being used by several noble families of Clan Korczak, that included the Ilyinich family, the first owner of the castle. The embattled wall represent probably even the castle.
About the stamps
On the first postcard
The stamps are part of the Wild Animals series, about which I wrote here.
On the second postcard
The stamp is part of the 13th definitive series Belarusian ornament, about which I wrote here.
Mir, Belarus – Wikipedia
Mir Castle Complex – UNESCO official site
Mir Castle – Mir Castle Complex official site
The Mir Castle – by Oleg Trusov
A Brief History of Mir Castle – A page of the town Mir conducted by Hebrew community
Korczak coat of arms – Wikipedia
Radziwiłł family – Wikipedia
sender 1: Iulia (direct swap)
sent from Minsk (Belarus), on 26.04.2012
photo: A. Nenagodzina
sender 2: YanaSmr (postcrossing)
sent from Pinsk (Belarus), on 13.10.2012