This was a 10-hour tour of sure perseverance starting with getting on the bus surrounded by Russian-speaking tourists to the tour guide who spoke from the time we boarded the bus till the time we left the tour. I am sure she was very knowledgeable as so it seemed since she very rarely took a breath and her facial expressions were at first very humorous to a non-speaking Russian, as time wore on I had to leave the group and go off photographing things on my own just for the pure sanity of not know a word that was being said. But being the social person I am I did find a tour guide who was taking some Britain’s around so I horned in on their experience and listened for awhile. As the guide was walking away I went up to him and had him explain some other things to me. He did question what I was doing on a tour without an English interpreter, I calmly shared with him that I just married a Belarusian woman who spoke no English and I spoke no Russian and this was the tour we booked not knowing that English was not offered. His only question to me was “what in the hell were you thinking marrying a woman who speaks, no English and you know Russian,” He smiled as we parted and wish us good luck.
The Duke of Yuri Ivanovich Llyinich began construction of this castle near the village of Mir after the turn of the 16th century in the Belarusian Gothic style. German forces invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, occupying the castle and converting it into a ghetto for the local Jewish population, prior to the liquidation. Between 1944 and 1956, the castle was used as a housing facility, resulting in damage to much of the interior. In 2000 the castle was listed as a World Heritage Site. As I walked through this astonishing place questions filled my head, the main one being how did these knights get through these stairways.
The stairs rise and run are so inconsistent most steps are 12″ or higher it would be impossible for a person with my short legs to get up those steps without the aid of that nice railing that was installed but imagine wearing all that armor, with a sword, helmet and whatever else you had to carry with you attempting climbing up and I mean up to the top of the towers surrounding the courtyard of the citadel; now imagine passing, it would be impossible as it was for anyone coming or going in either direction today.
The castle was an amazing sight and to think I was walking around an area where people had been walking since the 16th century. I’d love to share more photos but that would be impossible on here but believe me, I have more than enough to build a beautiful colage. As we were limited with our free time Irina wanted to take it all in so she was in a hurry-up mode as I struggled to keep up, as her excitement grew so did the speed of things she wanted to get to and as fate would have it there is one way to slow a person down that is to take away the ability to walk. Irina was calling me down the spiral staircase trying to get me to turn around and come down backward for it might speed my descent as she turned from my view the next thing I heard was her calling my name and writhing in pain. I arrived as quickly as I could as she was tearing up from misstepping and twisting her ankle, it immediately began to swell up but being the individual she is, she would not let me miss the rest of the tour so she limped as I helped the best I could. We still had another 5 hours of touring left and tons of walking but that was not going to deter her from accomplishing this tour. Next, up Corpus Christi Catholic Church a Jesuit church being one of the oldest baroque structures outside of Italy influencing the later architecture of Belarus, Poland, and Lithuania. This church is located close by to the Nesvizh ensamble and contains the graves of members of the aristocratic and prominent family Radziwiłł. The church is notable for the fact that during the almost 425 years of its existence has never been closed. Back then, the church crypt became the third family burial place in Europe (after the tomb of the Bourbons in France and the Habsburgs in Austria). The church’s interior and design are a work of art. The frescoes are impressive. It was designed, built and decorated by the best ones at the time. People always ask me how I can get myself into trouble well you were not supposed to take pictures in the church and there were people keeping an eye out but me being me and knowing I would never get a chance like this I did the best job I could taking pictures when it was at all possible. (here are a few I took)
Imagine how old those crypts are and we were in the belly of the catacombs in the church, I had to touch one it was made of tin or a very light material just wondering what it looked like on the inside of that casket now, what was left to be seen. As we hobbled up the road about a mile to the Nesvizh Castle I could feel Irina’s weight relying more and more on my body structure to support her awful gate. We were arm in arm and doing the best we could to stay within sight of our group as we approached the castle to get in they were waiting for us to be admitted by our tour guide who didn’t seem too impressed that we were doing the best job we could. With our admittance, she started spewing about the water well in the center of the courtyard and how it was only used during times of war and crisis other than that people went outside the stone walls and fetched their water.