26 January 2011

Castle Hunting: Mirsky Zamak

One of the best parts about this castle hunting project is that it gets us into some uncomfortable positions. Last night, we were stumbling around in the cold and dark, trying to take pictures of Mir Castle, which is one of the more spectacular buildings of the trip. It was freezing, and our noses were dripping by the time we burst through the door of our favorite little cafe in town. We must have looked pretty wild.
We were out in the dark because of the awful weather that we've had here. It has been gray and snowy every day for a while (for the whole winter, really) and we didn't have any luck for the two days that we were in and around Mir. We did walk around a little and get some good pictures, but the castle was too difficult. Rebecca convinced me to take my tripod out at night so that we could at least get some good contrast between the snow and sky, which was a great idea.
As you can see, it is a fairy-tale building in a tiny town of little, wooden houses (and little, wooden outhouses). It is perhaps the biggest tourist attraction in Belarus, though we saw no tourists. It is more of an attraction in theory - as in, "if tourists were attracted to Belarus, it would surely be thanks, in part, to Mir."
The castle itself was originally built at the end of the 15th century, but has been expanded twice - once during the Belarusian Renaissance and again in a more baroque style in the 18th century. It has also been damaged in many wars, most notably during the Napoleonic wars and during WWII, when it housed a garrison of soviet troops and was subsequently bombed. It has been painstakingly renovated, and it looks amazing. The building houses a restaurant and nearly-completed hotel, so it is not all that "authentic" inside, though the courtyard is nice enough.
We may be passing back through Mir on our way to Brest, so, if the weather is nice, I may get another shot at it. For now, though, these pictures will have to do. I like the way they came out, even if I probably won't use any of them.

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