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Nesvizh, Niasviž (Belarusian: Нясві́ж [nʲaˈsʲvʲiʐ]; Lithuanian: Nesvyžius; Polish: Nieśwież; Russian: Не́свиж; Yiddish: ניעסוויז; Latin: Nesvisium) is a city in Belarus. It is the administrative centre of the Nyasvizh District (rajon) of Minsk Region and site of Niasviž Castle, a World Heritage Site. Its 2009 population is 14,300.[1]

Нясвіж  (Belarusian)
Не́свиж  (Russian)
Flag of Nesvizh
Coat of arms of Nesvizh
Nesvizh is located in Belarus
Location of Nesvizh, shown within the Minsk Region
Coordinates: 53°13′N 26°40′E / 53.217°N 26.667°E / 53.217; 26.667
Minsk Region
  Nyasvizh District
First mentioned1223
Town rights1586
 • Total14,300 people
Time zoneUTC+3 (FET)
Postal code
222603, 222620
Area code(s)+375 1770


Historical affiliations of Nyasvizh
(including occupations during world wars)

  Grand Duchy of Lithuania 13th c.–1793
  Russian Empire 1793–1918
  Lithuanian Provisional Governing Commission 1812
  Ober Ost 1918 (occupation)
  Second Polish Republic,   Belarusian Democratic Republic,   Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic and   LitBel (later   Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic), contested during 1918–1920
  Second Polish Republic 1920–1939
  Soviet Union/  Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic 1939–1941 (occupation)
  Nazi Germany 1941–1944 (occupation)
  Soviet Union 1944–1991
  Belarus 1991–

Nesvizh was first documented in 1223. It was part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania until 1793, but the Grand Duchy was part of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth since 1569. In the 15th century, while still a minor town, it belonged to the Kiszka family and later to the Radziwiłł family, and remained the family's seat until 1813.

17th-century view of the town

In 1561 or 1562 Maciej Kawęczyński founded the print works of the Polish Brethren.[2] The first Belarusian language book printed in Latin script, a catechism by Symon Budny, was published in Nesvizh in 1562.[3] The Nieśwież Bible (Biblia nieświeska), one of the oldest Polish translations of the Bible, also by Budny, was completed there in 1571 and published in 1572.

Nesvizh Castle was erected in 1583, and between 1584 and 1598 the Benedictines and Jesuit religious orders founded monasteries and a college.[4] At the request of Mikołaj "the Orphan" Radziwiłł Nieśwież was granted Magdeburg town rights by King Stephen Báthory in 1586.[5] Two epidemics affected the city early in the 17th century which led to the establishment of a pharmacy in 1627.

During the Great Northern War of 1700–21, the city was significantly damaged by Swedish troops. It was rebuilt in the 1720s by Michał "Rybeńko" Radziwiłł. In the aftermath of the war, in 1740s and 1750s he founded a Pas slucki factory which was later moved to Sluck. He introduced a military school, several textile factories and restored the Corpus Christi Church and opened a print works. Michał's wife, Franciszka Urszula Radziwiłłowa, founded the Nieśwież Radziwiłł Theatre, including a choir and a ballet school.

19th-century view of the town

Between 1764 and 1768 the city was occupied by Russian troops, and in 1772, at the First Partition of Lithuania-Poland, the library, which comprised circa 10,000 volumes, along with paintings and other art objects, was seized and transferred to St. Petersburg. Some books from the library were passed to the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Nesvizh Castle in interwar Poland

After the Second partition of Lithuania-Poland in 1793, Nieśwież was annexed by Russia, and renamed Nesvizh. In 1906, the Polish Society "Oświata" ("Education") in Nesvizh was established, but its activities were hampered by the Russian administration, before banning it at the start of 1910.[5] In 1912 the Russian authorities also liquidated the Roman Catholic Charity Society in Nesvizh.

After the fall of tsarist Russia, fighting broke out for control over the city and surrounding region. During the Soviet occupation (Polish–Soviet War), the unsuccessful Nieśwież uprising by Polish residents took place during March 14–19, 1919.[5] However, Nieśwież was recaptured by Poles on April 19, 1919 and re-integrated with the reestablished Polish state. It was became a powiat in the Nowogródek Voivodeship until the Soviet invasion of Poland in September 1939.[5] During World War II, from 1939 to 1941 it was under Soviet occupation, from 1941 to 1944 under German occupation, and from 1944 to 1945 under Soviet occupation again, before it was once more taken from the territory of Poland and annexed by the Soviet Union, in accordance with the Potsdam Agreement.

The Jews of NesvizhEdit

The Jewish population in 1900 stood at 4,687, and approx. 4,500 on the eve of the German invasion, Operation Barbarossa.[6] With the occupation from June 27, 1941, a Judenrat was established. On October 30, 4,000 of the town's Jews were murdered and the rest confined to a ghetto. On July 20, 1942, the ghetto was surrounded by Belorussian police and the German commander announced that the ghetto's population would be liquidated with the exception of 30 essential skilled workers. The ghetto's underground organization, based on a Soviet-era Zionist group, called an uprising armed only with one machine gun, small arms but mostly knives. Most of the Jews were killed. A few escaped to nearby forests and joined partisan units, such as the Zhukov Jewish partisan unit.[7]

Main sightsEdit

International relationsEdit

Nyasvizh is twinned with:[8]

Notable residentsEdit


  1. ^ "Region information on the official website of the Nesvizh Regional Executive Committee (in Russian)". Retrieved 2009-10-02.
  2. ^ Józef Łukaszewicz, Dzieje kościołów wyznania helweckiego w Litwie, t. 2, Poznań 1822, p. 180-181
  3. ^ "Minsk celebrates 440th anniversary of first Belarusian book printed in Cyrillic alphabet". Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus. Retrieved 2009-06-16.[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ Г. П. Пашкоў, ed. (2006). "Нясвіж". Энцыклапедыя "Вялікае княства Літоўскае" (том 2). Мінск: Беларуская Энцыклапедыя. pp. 368–369.
  5. ^ a b c d Maciej Rysiewicz. "Powstanie w Nieświeżu – z cyklu "Droga do niepodległości"". Kurier Ostrowski (in Polish). Retrieved 9 October 2019.
  6. ^ "Jewish Gen Town Locator". Archived from the original on 2012-02-29. Retrieved 2010-07-01.
  7. ^ Shalom Cholawski, Nesvizh in the Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, vol. 3, pp.1043-1044
  8. ^ "Города-партнёры". nesvizh.gov.by (in Russian). Nyasvizh. Retrieved 2020-01-14.

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 53°13′N 26°40′E / 53.217°N 26.667°E / 53.217; 26.667