Njasvizh, 118km southwest of Minsk, is one of the oldest sites in the country, dating from the 13th century. It reached its zenith in the mid-16th century while run by the mighty Radziwill magnates, who had the town rebuilt with the most advanced system of fortification known at the time.
Over the centuries, war, fire and neglect diminished the town's status and today, it's a random mix of painted wooden cottages and bland housing, but with enough fine pieces of 16th-century architecture and a great park to happily occupy you for a few hours.
There's a small but interesting Local History Museum (55874; Leninskaja vul 96; admission BR5000; 8am-5pm), a healthy 2km walk from the bus station, with everything from farm tools to maps and photos depicting life over the centuries in Njasvizh.
From the bus station, walk southeast (to your right) down Savetskaja vul for five blocks to the 16th-century town hall, one of the oldest of its kind in the country. Two blocks south is the impressive Farny Polish Roman Catholic Church. Large and sombre, it was built between 1584 and 1593 in early baroque style and features a splendidly proportioned façade.
Adjacent to the Farny Church is the red-brick arcaded Castle Gate Tower. Built in the 16th century, it was part of a wall and gateway controlling the passage between the palace fortress and the town. There's an excursion bureau (54145; admission BR5000, Russian- language guided tours BR40, 000; 8am-5pm) in the gate tower, where you pay to enter the palace fortress grounds; the staff can help organise guided tours.
Further on is a causeway leading to the Radziwill Palace Fortress (1583), designed by the Italian architect Bernardoni, who was also responsible for the Farny Church. In Soviet times the fortress was turned into a sanatorium, and there are vague plans to turn it into a full-fledged museum. Only a few halls have been preserved.
Unesco protection and money would be better going to this fine architectural ensemble, rather than Mir; the splendid, lush parkland and nearby lake make for fitting surroundings. Across another causeway, you can reach a lazy picnic area by the sleepy banks of Lake Dzinkava, where you'll find pedal and rowboat rental.
Last updated: Feb 17, 2009
Bags feeling light?
Coffee table looking bare?
Get your guidebooks, travel goods, even individual chapters, right here.
Check out all our reviewed and recommended accommodation and book online.