The memorial boulder «Wishes Stone»
The largest in the Old Park memorial boulder is situated not far from the entrance. Antoni Wilhelm Radziwiłł immortalized words of gratitude to his wife on it: «... In recognition of the lasting decoration work in the castle, this stone was mounted for Marie de Castellane, princess Radziwiłł, by her grateful husband prince Antoni Radziwiłł, XIV Ordynat Niasvizhsky in 1903. In the Soviet times this stone already ended up with the name the «wishes stone»: they say that if you touch it, leave in one of the cracks of the stone a coin or bank note and make a wish, it will become true for sure. This is why the memorial stone is so popular among tourists.
Not far from this place, near a sidewalk café, eye is caught by a similar, but significantly smaller stone with engraving in Polish: «The alley was planted by Marie de Castellane, princess Radziwiłł, using saplings, grown from the seeds which had been brought from the garden of the Radziwiłł princes’ palace in Berlin». This memorial sign was also mounted in 1903 by Antoni Wilhelm Radziwiłł in recognition of his wife efforts in the development of the park. Installation of such stones is a crucial component of development of the park lands, carried out by Radziwiłłs, which lasted till 1939.
The English Park
There was a race track on the other bank of the Castle pond at the end of the XIX century. In 1898 Radziwiłłs decided to enlarge the park ensemble, and laid out the English park to the south of the Marysin Park. The major part of the park was occupied by a lawn, and few trees in the central part were planted checkerboard. The borders of the park from three sides, except for the pond, were bushed by trees. Due to abundance of open spaces Marie Radziwiłł hoped to make the park appropriate for horse riding.
There is a picturesque road between the Marysin and English parks, leading to and from a dam to the exit from the park. Until today the entrance gate and gate-house remained practically unchanged.
In 1898 Marie Radziwiłł, having finished the arrangement of the Old Park, turned her eye to the other bank of the Wild pond. She decided to create there a new park that was called Marysin. The name of the park is related not only to the name of the founder, but also to a romantic legend.
The sister of one of the Radziwiłłs had a daughter named Maria, who spent her childhood in the estate of her parents near Klieck. The daughter of powerful magnates and peasant son Jan became friends and in their child years vowed to never part. However, Maria’s parents died early, and she was taken for upbringing to the Niasvizh castle. The owners of the castle decided to marry Maria with their sick brother, her cousin, and thus add Maria’s rich dowry to the wealth of the Niasvizh Radziwiłłs. Gardeners, experts in park architecture, worked in the castle. They looked for able young people who were sent abroad to study park architecture of European countries. Handsome Jan was among them. He spent four years abroad, read a lot and learned to play violin.
Jan and Maria met by chance again. Young people decided to get married without the permission of relatives. Their secret was revealed to the owners of the castle when Maria was to give birth to a baby and she decided to hide her feelings no more. The Niasvizhmasters declared Maria insane and enclosed her in one of the towers where Maria gave birth to a girl and called her Marysia. But when the mother was still sick, her little daughter was taken from her.
For several days the poor girl knew nothing about Jan and Marysia. But one night a room maid found way to the tower and said that Jan and little Maria were killed. Poor mother tore hair, she screamed so much from pain and despair that she lost strength and conscious soon. They reported at the court that she died of a psychic disease and buried her as soon as possible.
The life of lovers was broken. But memory about them lived among people. Marie de Castellane turned to this legend at the laying out of this park as well as the renovators at its reconstruction.
The main work on the development of the Marysin Park was carried out by the chief gardener of Niasvizh parks Andrei Pasteremchik. A lot of attention is given to the formation of picturesque landscape in the Marysin Park. There is a system of magnificent channels, artificial creek, and pond with an island. Maple and linden alleys are located at the heart of the Park which unite near the obelisk. There is a channel near the pond bank that goes several hundred meters underground and connects with the Round pond. The subterranean channel few times comes out to the surface and according to the modern concept, it is called «Underworld River Styx». Styx, according to the ancient Greek mythology, is a subterranean river which separated Hades, the afterworld, from the world of the living. The Niasvizh Styx and Round Pond are located below the level of the Wild Pond, therefore there is a system of small decorative waterfalls between them.
When laying out the Marysin Park, the stress was put on creating of unique lyric atmosphere. Island of Love was created as the memorial to the romantic legends in the middle of the pond. Later, during the reconstruction works in the park in the 1980s a sculpture, depicting two lovers, was mounted on the Island of Love as a peculiar illustration of one of the versions of the legends about princess Marysia. The ancient colonnade around the sculpture underlines aristocratic past of the parks.
In the middle of the Marysin Park from any of its alleys one can reach the central meadow. A quadrilateral obelisk is mounted there in commemoration of the laying out of park with lettering «Marysin 1898».
Once there was a small waterfall called «Tears of Maria», a creek with the same name and a large stone with a hole in the middle that was considered to be a «Ring of Maria». Not far from the Obelisk, on the other bank of the pond, there was a bronze sculptural group — fountain «Saint George Defeats the Dragon». Water was flowing from the wound of the defeated monster. Unfortunately, the fountain was not preserved. One can a see a white figure between the trees no far from the obelisk: it is the sculpture that depicts legendary princess Maria. Idle guests disturb her seldom: Marysin Park is the most quiet and romantic among all Niasvizh parks.
For a long time there were no structured park lands around the Niasvizh palace: in the majority of images of the XIX century the prince’s residence is surrounded only by a few trees. Since the days of Mikołaj Krzysztof «the Orphan» Radziwiłł, the area around the castle according to the laws of the art of war was cleared to improve visibility and capacity of fire. Only at the beginning of the XIX century, when the palace lost its defensive significance, it was possible to plant trees in the immediate vicinity of the fortifications. The park ensemble was founded in 1878 at the initiative of Marie de Castellane Radziwiłł. The first of the parks, laid around the palace, was named as Anthony’s in honor of prince Antoni Radziwiłł, who decided to return to Niasvizh residence after decades of absence of representatives of the prince’s family.
In the Anthony’s park the arrangement of trees was ordered on the former external lines of defense, planted exotic plants were planted there. The trees were planted even on the shafts of the castle; flowerbeds were planted there as well.
Unfortunately, a big part of the park has not been preserved till our days. Now where rare in our latitudes trees and shrubs werer previously grown, outbuildings, swimming pool and car park are situated. All of this was built after the war during the work of the sanatorium.
Located to the north of the Castle the foundations of the Old Park were laid in 1878. Here was swampy terrain, before Niasvizh had been reconstructed by Mikołaj Krzysztof «the Orphan» Radziwiłł. But after the dams were installed, the water table rose, and the wetlands were soon drained. For a long time, most of the territory was not used. Władysław Syrokomla, visiting Niasvizh in the 1830s, wrote about neglected areas adjacent to the Castle. It is known that the only individual tree in the park was a Canadian poplar, planted at the beginning of the XIXth century.
In 1878, the deliberate development of a park ensemble was started due to the efforts of Marie de Castellane Radziwiłł. Maria brought with her from France the fashion for a new type of parks that were based on the imitation of natural forest clearance. Most of the trees were planted in the Old Park in the late XIXth century. Seeds and seedlings were brought from the best forest areas of Belarus, as well as from Berlin. Since the foundation of the Park and up to 1912, its main gardener was Andrej Pastaremčyk. He was the person engaged into the fulfillment of the plans of Marie de Castellane for 34 years. Subsequently, the gardeners of Radziwiłł were father and son Stocki and Antoni Gliński. The latter had been devoted to the Park for years, and when the Park along with the Castle became a Soviet health resort, he remained to see about it.
Three meadows, Spartyunaja, Centralnaja and Vystavačnaja, formed the basis of the Park. There was a summer house at the Spartyunaja meadow till the end of the 1930s. There were also tennis courts. Till the end of 1920s there was a tradition to hold a trade fair close to Canadian poplar at the Vystavačnaja meadow. During the Second World War the Nazis chose the park for the execution of fifteen hundred Niasvizh Jews that were shot there on October 23, 1941. After the war, the Castle was turned into a health resort, the place was decorated with traditional Soviet park sculptures, and a number of old monuments were dismantled. In 1963, the park received the status of a natural monument of national importance. But it is only in the 1980s that full-scale restoration works began in thoroughly overgrown park with the intention to return it to its former beauty.
In 1913 a gardener from Great Britain started the development of a new park. The decision was taken to organize the territory to the north from the Old Park in a Japanese style. It was planned to create winding passes, garden of dwarf trees as well as artistic compositions, made of stones. However, the First World War broke out and the project was not implemented to the full extent.
Unattended dwarf trees soon grew to natural sizes, willow and linden and chestnut alleys remained only partially. Today the Japanese park is a picturesque meadow with few trees. Although its current appearance is quite different from the projects of the beginning of the XX century, it preserved its name, referring to the idea of an exclusive park. There is a pond in the northern part of the Park, overgrown with reeds and bushes that has a miniature island which can be reached via a small bridge.
There is a small quay near the pond, guarded by two stone lions. Starting from the Renaissance sculptures of lions are used as the decoration elements of palace entrances as well as park, palace and town fountains in European arts and architecture.