Architectural, Residential and Cultural Complex 
of the Radziwill Family at Nesvizh (2005)
Belarus

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The Architectural, Residential and Cultural Complex of the Radziwill Family at Nesvizh is located in central Belarus. The Radziwill dynasty, who built and kept the ensemble from the 16th century till 1939, gave birth to some of the most important personalities in European history and culture. Due to their efforts, the town of Nesvizh came to exercise great influence in the sciences, arts, crafts and architecture. 

The complex consists of the residence castle and the mausoleum church of Corpus Christi with their setting. The castle has ten interconnected buildings, which developed as one architectural whole around a six-sided courtyard. 

The palaces and Corpus Christi Church became important prototypes, which marked the development of architecture throughout central Europe and Russia. 

  • Belarus 1992. Nesvizh Castle. 

Belarus 1992. Nesvizh Castle.

There is a lot of information available online about the Radziwill family, which is still well and alive, both in Belarus, Poland and abroad. A prominent family member of our time is Lee Radziwill, younger sister of the late Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. The following is but a very short compendium. The family story is available by using the link provided below. 

Radziwiłł (Polish and Lithuanian: Radvila; Belarusian: Радзівілы) is a noble family from the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. A branch of the Radziwiłłs became powerful magnates and their name is remembered as one of the most famous szlachta families in Poland, (later, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth). The Polish Radziwiłłs retained the right to use the title of Prince, granted by Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor after the Jageiellonian-Habsburg Congress at Vienna in 1515, which was a very unusual title among the Polish nobility). Their chief residence was Niasvizh Castle (Nesvizh) in present-day Belarus.  

Belarus 1996. Portrait of Nikolai Radzivil Chornyi, chancellor of Lithuania. Lithuania 1996. Painting of Miss Barbora Radvilaite.

'Hetman' was the title of the second highest military commander (after the monarch) used in 15th-18th century Poland and Grand Duchy of Lithuania. This title (and its variants, Hauptmann, ataman, otaman, wataman), was also used among Ukrainian and Russian Cossack since the 16th century. 

As mentioned on these pages, Belarusian and Lithuanian history is closely intertwined, also with the history of Poland. This is perhaps more evident when looking at the stately coat of arms of Belarus, compared to the Lithuanian State Emblem.  

The state emblem of both nations features  Vytis (the White Knight). 

The heraldic shield features a red field with an armoured knight on a white (silver) horse holding a silver sword in his right hang above his head. 

A white shield hangs on the left shoulder of the charging knight with a double gold (yellow) cross on it. Differently on the Lithuanian emblem, where the shield is blue. 

  • Belarus 1992. State Emblem. 
  • Lithuania 1992. State Emblem.

Belarus 1992. National Coat of Arms.

Lithuania 1992. National Coat of Arms.

The horse saddle, straps, and belts are white -- but blue on the Lithuanian emblem. The hilt of the sword and the fastening of the sheath, the charging knight's spurs, the curb bits of the bridle, the horseshoes, as well as the decoration of the harness, are gold. Both emblems are from the period of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, also known as Great Lithuania. 

Sources and links: 

Other World Heritage Sites in Belarus (on this site). Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, section Belarus for further information about the individual properties.  

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Revised 18 aug 2007  
Copyright 1999 Heindorffhus 
All Rights Reserved