(Nyasvish). That's the Belarusian spelling.
The Russian spelling is Несвиж
(Nyesvish) and seems to be more common.
Due to various transciption systems, there are
many spellings of this small town: Neswisch, Neswish,
Nesvish, Njaswish, Njasvish etc. The most common
spelling seems to be Nyazvizh
and Njazvizh respectively.
lies in the middle of nowhere but in the heart
of the Belarus, some 100 km southwest of the capital
→Minsk. The closest
larger city is called Баранавічы
(Baranavicy aka Baranowitschi) and is 50
km away to the west. South of Nyazvizh some rolling
hills can be found. Further to the south starts
a vast and sparsely populated fen. The rest of
the surrounding is rather flat, divided by some
dead-straight alleys and mainly used by agriculture.
Before 1939, the Polish border was only a couple
of kilometres away west of Nyazvizh.
to the priest, Nyazvizh has around 14,000 inhabitants.
is definitely one of the best preserved old towns
in the Belarus, which can be easily seen in the
centre. The town stretches from north to south
along a long street, but the northern part of
the town is rather new and not very interesting.
The main street is called вул.
(Street of the Soviets) - what else - and
crosses the central square. The bus terminal is
only 10 minutes away from the bus terminal on
foot at Soviet street - on the left side when
heading north. Right at the central square starts
the smaller вул.
(Lenin Street), leading to the castle.
Most attractions of the town concentrate in the
small area between the square and the castle.
The latter is already out of town, but only 10
minutes away on foot from the square.
was first mentioned during the 13th century, which
makes it a comparatively young town, since most
other large cities in the Belarus were founded
during or before the 11th century. However, the
town didn't start booming before the the second
half of the 16th century, when the Polish noble
family of Radziwiłł (Radzivill)
declared Nyazvizh its residency. Between 1584
and 1616, extraordinarily strong fortification
systems were constructed by Italian craftsmen.
The Radzivills were very influential at that time
- one member of the family even became the archduke
The first publishing company of Belarus was founded
in 1562 in Nyazvizh - issuing culturally important
City centre of Nyazvizh, view direction
The town itself became an important trade centre.
Several significant buildings such as the castle,
Polish churches, a hospital, St. Bernhard, Dominican,
Jesuit, Cistercian and other monasteries etc.
were built during the 16th and 17th century. In
the 18th century, a chapel, a cadett school, a
theater and more were added. Unfortunately, the
town was destroyed not just once after that. However,
compared to other cities in the Belarus it's remarkably
Getting there: The
best way to get to Nyazvizh is via
(Garadeya), in Russian Городея.
Garadeya lies some 15 km north of Nyazvizh on
the important Berlin-Moscow-railway. International
train do not stop there, but all other trains
do. Buses run regularly between Garadeya and Nyazvizh,
which takes around 30 minutes and costs 0.5 €.
Another option is to share a taxi with the locals,
which costs 1 Euro per person when there are 4
passengers. Bus tickets are sold at a counter
inside the train station, buses leave from the
square in front of the station.
From Garadeya, the Elektrichka
(commuter train) runs all the way to →Minsk
(2 hrs, 1.2 €), Baranovichi (1 hr, 0.40
€) and even to →Brest
(5 hrs, 2.70 €). Note that all international
trains stop in Baranovichi.
Garadeya is only 5 km away from the
M 1 - the motorway connecting Brest with
Moscow. Or Western Europe with Siberia so to say.
Therefore, Nyazvizh is also well accessible by
One of the architectural gems of Nyazvizh (if not
of the Belarus!) is the Фарный
(Farnyi Jesuit church) (whatever 'Farnyi'
means - I couldn't find out). The church was constructed
by an architect called Bernhardoni between 1584
and 1593. As a matter of fact, this church was the
first Jesuit building in Poland. A Jesuit college
was attached to the church, but the school closed
in 1826. The church was built in early Baroque style.
The former Jesuit church 'Farnyi'
Nowadays the church is used by the Catholic community,
although only 3,000 out of the 14,000 inhabitants
are Catholic (according to the priest; the rest
of the population seems to be orthodox). The priest
is a very kind man and lucky as a child when he
can use English. Although it's forbidden to take
pictures inside - at least that's what it says everywhere
- the priest told us that we can photograph whatever
we want. He offered us to take us around and show
as even restricted areas such as the crypt. The
altar from the 18th century depicts the Last Supper
in a somehow different way. The large crypt is used
as the burial place of the Radziwiłł
family - actually, the church was once built
to be the Radziwill family church. Numerous coffins,
not buried but simply standing around, contain the
remainings. The last Radziwill was buried there
in 1991 (if I got the priest right).
Inside the Farnyi church
Rather unusual is the way one of the women was buried
- here the coffin, there a large jar containing
her intestines. In a separate part of the crypt,
the coffins of some ten children are laid out. Those
children mainly died because of cholera. Entrance
to the church is free, but the church is only open
when the priest is present (because of the many
thieves he said).
Another real jewel is the дворцово
(Castle-Palace-Ensemble) - that's at least
the translation of the Russian name. It's already
out of town but very close. A beautiful alley, sandwiched
between two large ponds, leads to the castle. It
was built during the 16th century by the above mentioned
Bernhardoni for the Radziwill family. However, construction
wasn't completed before the 18th century. Among
other things, it today houses an important library.
The castle - here under construction
Unfortunately, the castle was destroyed in 1919
by the advancing Bolsheviki. Later on, the castle
was reconstructed half-heartedly to use it as a
sanatory. In winter 2004/05, the castle was under
construction. According to a large information board
at the gate, construction shall be completed in
Novemer 2006. One thing is for sure - the castle
will be nice after completion. But it was not stated
what the castle is going to be used for. There's
also a small museum near the entrance (on the other
side of the alley), but it was closed when we went
It doesn't come as a surprise that there's a monument
and an eternal flame dedicated to the victims of
the Great Patriotic War (aka WWII) next to the castle.
Nevertheless it's a very pleasant place and nice
to stroll around.
Winter scenery in Nyazvizh
There's plenty more to see - a nice tower and another
church, some old wooden and stone buildings, the
interesting old city hall in the middle of the central
square and some more. Everything is close to each
other, so it's easy to explore everything on foot
within half a day or so. Nyazvizh is definitely
worth a visit since, in contradiction to →Minsk
for example, it's possible to experience Belarusian
history (and Polish history) here.
Around 30 km further to the north, or to say it
very ungeographically, on the other side of Garadeya
lies the very small town Мір
(Mir), which features a large castle from
the 16th century. Unfortunately we hadn't had the
time to explore Mir. No problem - the castle can
be seen on the back of Belarusian 10,000 Ruble-bills.
The large city of Baranovichi didn't look very promising,
so we left it without strolling around. It looks
like a large, dull industrial town. But I might
be wrong. Attention: There are two large train stations
in town, with local trains and international trains
stopping at different terminals!
Travelers face three options: Wild camping, driving
on or staying at the Гасцініца
Nyazvizh). The only hotel in town can be
found at the central square behind the old city
hall in a grey, unspectacular building. Foreigners
pay 13 Euro per person in a double room - with own
bathroom and hot water. Staff is quite nice. There's
a small cafe in the first floor, but they seem to
open and close the place very spontaneously. The
hotel also houses the only real restaurant in town,
which turns into a disco late at night. The food
is average but plentiful and prices are normal (which
means a sufficient supper with starter, dessert
and some drinks costs some 4 Euro). Address:
vul. Belaruskaya 9 (note that no one seems to know
this name! Just ask for THE hotel). Tel.: 01770-553
The official website of Nyazvizh seemed to have
vanished! Here are other resources:
Very useful website about Nyazvizh incl. city
map, nice descriptions of all sights and pictures.
Unfortunately in Russian only.
Personal travelogue from a brave cyclist who also
visited Nyazvizh. Fun to read, but in German only.
Do you have or do you know a good
website on Nyazvizh? Don't hesitate, let me know!
After checking it, I would love to add it to the
link list. Please note that commercial websites
will be declined. For e-mail link see menu on