Novogrudok, one of the oldest towns in Belarus
Novogrudok (Navahrudak), is situated in a picturesque hilly area, often called the “Belarusian Switzerland”, 160 kilometres west of Minsk. It is now a relatively small town in terms of regional centres, but it has not lost its importance as a centre of Belarus’ historical and cultural heritage.
First mentioned in chronicles in 1044, the town soon became an important political and trade centre. The history of Novogrudok is directly linked to the history of Belarusian statehood, and it is believed that Novogrudok was the capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Duke Mindaugas made Novogrudok his residence. In 1507 the dynastic marriage between the Duke Jogaila (Władysław II Jagiełło) and the Polish Princess Jadwiga made Novogrudok a part of the newly created state of Rzeczpospolita (the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania). Novogrudok retained its special status, ceding primacy to Vilnius: meetings of the sejm and meetings of the king with foreign diplomats were held in the city.
The ruins of an ancient castle in Novogrudok, once the residence of Lithuanian grand dukes, have long become the city’s brand name. Only the ruins of two towers of the “Mindaugas Castle”, as it is often called, have survived. Wars and destruction have prevented it from surviving in its original form. The castle’s high ramparts offer a remarkable view over the city, so it’s not hard to imagine how imposing it must have been.
Nowadays knights’ tournaments are traditionally held near the fortress walls. Travelers can watch horse tournaments, archery competitions and knightly duels, as well as try on the armor of ancient warriors or the outfits of beautiful ladies.
A trip to the first capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania will stay in the memory of a tourist who chose the vacation in Belarus for a long time. The city where history comes to life will not leave anyone indifferent.
We invite you to visit Novogrudok and its attractions during one of our tours.