Sculpture park

Vases

The rise of the national consciousness of the Belarusians in the end of the 1980s – beginning of the 1990s, the growth of the interest in history and culture were reflected in the elements of park decoration. Three embossed metallic vases had been mounted near the Castle pond by 1992. One of them is dedicated to Radziwiłłs and includes the images of the family coat of arms and the coats of arms of the Great Duchy of Lithuania. There are words in Latin over the coats of arms: "Glory" and "Victory" – what had always accompanied the glorious family.

The second vase is dedicated to the Battle of Grunewald of 1410 when the united troops of the Pole Kingdom and Great Duchy of Lithuania inflicted a smashing defeat on the troops of the Teutonic Order putting an end to the 200-hundred year threat. This battle became the example of valour for successive generations, inspiring heroic deeds in hard times. The figures of the warriors of the Great Duchy of Lithuania finishing the Teutonic knights are clearly visible.

The third vase was mounted in commemoration of the national liberation rebellions of 1794 and 1863. Radziwiłłs had never abstained from the protection of the Motherland. Thus, Maciej Radziwiłł and Antoni Henryk Radziwiłł participated actively in the rebellion of 1794, and General Michał Gedeon Radziwiłł was one of the leaders of Pole insurgents in 1830-1831. The nobles and peasants are depicted together which symbolizes the unity of the people in the desire to acquire freedom and independence. There is lettering over the figures of "kasiners" (peasant insurgents, armed with re-smithed scythes): "For our freedom and yours" – the motto of the liberation movement. The lettering is made in two variants of the Belarusian alphabet: modern Cyrillic font and Latin alphabet, popular at the beginning of the XX century.

Composition "Undina's well"

The Old Park is decorated with a sculptural composition "Undzina’s well". The well marks a rill, steeped with legends about water-nymph goddess living there. Local peasants who were allowed to enter the Radziwiłłs' park for hay-harvest, used to call this place "Hot meadow": a few springs in this place tossed from the ground that did not get frozen in the winter. One of the springs was taken in stone framing and was called the "The well of Undine" - says a memorial stone set at the time of Antoni Radziwiłł. The creek that flowed from this spring was turned into a neat channel, which ended with a shady pond. A statue of a mermaid with two tails is mounted on a boulder in the Mirror Pond where the water of the rill was diverted.

In the legends of the peoples of Europe Undines were water spirits, the spirits of young women who committed suicide because of unhappy love. They are lovely girls, sometimes with fish tails that come out of the water and entice travelers into the depths by their beauty and the singing. It is thoought that if they give birth to a child of an ordinary man, they will get an immortal soul.

One of the most famous and eccentric owners of the Niasvizh castle was Karol Stanisław nicknamed "Panie Kochanku" ("My dear sir"), among other things, was famous for his love to incredible stories. For example, he liked to tell how during a trip in the Adriatic Sea, his ship sank to the bottom. The whole crew died, and only prince was saved by the mermaid. The savior fell in love with Radziwiłł, and the fruit of their love, if to believe prince, was a lot of herring. Having told this story at one more feast, Karol Stanisław loved to flabbergast his guests, thoroughly looking upon the served fish: perhaps, it was his little son?

The First Poplar and Sundial

In the beginning of the XIX century in the northern direction off the castle, where marsh bushwood neighbored fields under cultivation, the Canadian poplar was planted. Today nobody remembers in tribute to which event this large and exotic for the territory of Belarus tree was planted. However, around it in 1878 at the initiative of Marie de Castellane Radziwiłł a park was laid out, which currently is known as the Old. The poplar became one of the key sites of the park. In remembrance of the fact that at the moment of the laying out of the park there had been only the poplar, Marie de Castellane mounted a stone. Till the beginning of the 1930s fairs had been organized on the lawn near the poplar. With the course of time the park was falling into decay, and for a long period remained practically unattended. In the spring of 2005 a blast of wind brought it down, and four years later a memorial composition was installed at the place where the poplar had grown before.

A Sundial is situated on a nearby meadow. Sundials used to be a frequent decoration of European parks. Moreover, they had an important function of showing the precise time. A copy of the sundial was installed on the Vystavačnaja meadow in 1993. However, today the sundial shows time, different from the Grinvich time by 2 hours. When in 2011 the transition to summer time in Belarus was cancelled, in the summer they are slow for one hour, in the winter – for two.

Gun dog

The sculpture of a dog in the Old Park was mounted in 1896, but has not remained till present days. It was destroyed in the Soviet period, perhaps, because of valuable bronze, which was its material of casting. The monument was restored in 1993 by the sculptor Valerian Januškievič. The pedestal bears the original date in order to underline the continuance of these sculptures.

The legend says that during hunting the bear, wounded by a prince, almost retaliated upon his offender vigorously, when suddenly the favourite dog flew to prince’s help, and distracted the attention of the infuriated beast at the expense of his own life. The grateful prince ordered to immortalize his savior in bronze. The dog is presented in front of us on a wreath of oak leaves, which was awarded for special heroic deeds in the ancient times, and a medallion with the Radziwiłł coat of arms on his neck.

Boy and the guardian angel

The sculpture of a boy with a reed pipe, behind whose back flies a figure of guardian angel, inspired by the prevalent in Belarusian legends image of a young musician as well as by a literature character from the "Symon-muzyka", one of the most well-known works of the popular Belarusian poet Jakub Kolas. The poem tells the story of a poor gifted musician, who searches for his place in the life under hard circumstances. This image is the symbol of the difficult destiny of an artist in a pragmatic world, as well as the way of the Belarusian nation towards its recognition and prosperity. An attentive reader of the poem will notice that some scenes take place in the Niasvizh castle and park. It is not surprising: Jakub Kolas himself was born nearby – in Stoŭbcy district, and several years lived in Niasvizh during his studies in a pedagogical seminary.

Black Lady

One of the most beautiful and mystic legends of Niasvizh is the legend about the Black Lady. It is based on real events. Barbara Radziwiłł lost her father early, and, soon, her husband. But her solitude did not last for a long time: the beauty of Barbara fascinated king’s son Sigismund Augustus himself. His mother Bona Sforza was totally against the development of relationship between the lovers. She hated to death "parvenus" Radziwiłłs and looked for a girl from a monarch dynasty to be married with her son. The relatives of Barbara also had their own ambitions. Brothers of Barbara suddenly turned up in the room where the lovers met and demanded that Sigismund married Barbara. She became his wife and after that in December 1550 Barbara was crowned. However, after six months she died. People said that King’s mother had not forgiven good-daughter and poisoned her.

This love story became the basis of the legend about the Black Lady of Niasvizh . After the death of the wife the King suffered so much that decided to seek assistance among alchemists, having ordered them to raise her soul. The alchemists, Twardowski and Mniszek, agreed to help but knowing King’s passion prohibited him even to come close to the shadow of the beloved. But when the ghost turned up, the King, violating his vow, run to it and tried to hug. There was an explosion and the smell of rotting flesh filled the room. Now the soul of Barbara could not find the way to the afterworld, and she had to remain on the earth forever. She stayed in the castle of Niasvizh . Since those times she turns up before people in a black dress in sign of mourning her ruined love, screams, cries, and snivels. Those who lived in the castle thought that she warns the owners about any danger: war, disease, death.