Monday, June 18, 2012

Travel Finds... Belarus, Castles and Ceramic Tiles

Summer is my favorite time for European travels.  I am from Eastern Europe, and always enjoy going back to visit my family and still exploring the country I came from.  Belarus is not big European destination yet, but I believe it would be real treat for the history lovers to explore Belarus complicated past that shaped Belarus castles and knighthood. 

Belarus lands lie on the crossroads of Europe. The strive of Vikings and later Scandinavians, the attacks of Tartars from South, The Teutonic and later German invasions from West, the continuous onslaught of Muscovy and later Russian Empire from East - all these factors have shaped a system of fortifications across Belarus lands.   Initially a number of smaller principalities it was later united by invited Lithuanian duke into a Slavic Principality with center in Navahrudak, that later grew into an enormous mufti-cultural state - The Grand Duke of Lithuania - which spanned from Baltic to Black Sea. While some of this expansion was voluntary other growth was done through military invasions and battles. And so Belarus military knowledge was acquired through constant clashes with and assimilation of these very different cultures.  During Soviet Era not much was done to preserve Belarus castles, but lately Belarus government invested into restoration projects.  Here are some pics from my last trip.

Mir Castle

 Amazing original ceramic tiles from the Mir Castle.  Belarus kept its tradition of ceramic tiles manufacturing that goes deep into the history.  Modern Belarus tiles are very beautiful and is still under the radar of European consumers.  Significantly lower cost of these tiles does not mean lesser quality or beauty when compared to the best known Italian ceramic tiles.

 Neswish Castle

Happy Monday!
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