A visit to Mir castle was high on my wish-list on my visit to Belarus, and when I am driving south from Minsk on an early summer morning, I am looking forward to finally seeing it with my own eyes. My goal is to be there shortly after sunrise, and the drive turns out to be very easy, with the turn-off well signposted. I park a little away from the castle, and walk down to the small pond. When I reach the waterline, the scenery unfolding in front of me is of a perfect beauty: the water is completely still, and the early morning light makes the castle reflect with warm light. I stand for a while to soak in the view, and decide to walk around the lake. I have a lot of time; the castle is supposed to open after 10am. Soon enough, a light wind picks up, and the water is not the perfect mirror anymore.
The pond is a local fishing area, I soon realize: every ten metres, I see another guy, or group of guys, sitting on small stools, with their fishing rods. I am surprised no one seems to be catching anything: I can see big fish swim close to the shore. Close to the castle, I see an orthodox church in the woods, which is relatively new. I climb the earthen wall that surrounds the castle, and imagine that once upon a time, this must have been a moat. A policewoman passes by, followed by a small dog, and for some reason, the dog finds me interesting, and turns out to be a playful, cute animal that will accompany me. When I pass by the entrance to the castle on the western side, the gate appears open, and I sneak into the cobblestone-covered courtyard. I climb steep stairs with high steps to the tower, from where I enjoy the views over the countryside surrounding Mir. There are armaments of medieval knights on display as well. The castle was used as a ghetto by the Nazis in the Second World War; Jews were taken here before their execution in what must be one of the blackest pages of the history of Mir.
Women are cleaning the castle - which must be a never-ending task! - and I walk to the east side of the castle again, where I sit on a bench to watch the castle, its square towers, and the arched access bridge. While on a walk in the surrounding area, I decide to give the hotel inside a try. When I come back from a visit to Njasvizh later that day, I am in time to see the sun set on this medieval castle that was first built in the 16th century to protect the village of Mir. It is a small village, but counts an orthodox church, a synagogue, a mosque, and a catholic church as well, as testimonies of the rich heritage of this settlement. The night in the castle turns out to be a great experience, and it gives me the added advantage to see sunrise the next morning, accompanied by my faithful little dog. New adventures loom on the horizon, but I still feel a little regret when I leave the unique castle behind, and drive off this memorable world heritage site.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Mir Castle Complex (Belarus). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Mir Castle Complex.
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