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13.03.09 Seven wonders of Schuchin

Mirsky castle, the palace of the Radzivills, and the White Tower are the pearls of architectural heritage of Belarus and are very famous. Alongside with this, there are monuments in the country, which are also significant, but remain in the shadow, and, perhaps, they are not studied completely.

One of them is Malomozheykovskaya church-fortress of the Holy birth of the Virgin in the village of Murovanka of Schuchin district of Grodno region. The masterpiece of defensive architecture with almost half a thousand years’ biography! Recently it has become known that this church claims for inclusion into the UNESCO’s List of world cultural heritage. It was confirmed in the administration of culture of Grodno regional executive committee: the file is being already collected.

The distance from Schuchin to Murovanka is 25 kilometers. Powerful towers are seen at the beginning of the village. The church seems to be compact inside, though it impresses with its amplitude. The thing is that the width of these walls amounts to two meters! The eyepits of gun ports look in all directions. There was a time when people didn’t only pray here, but also fought. Archers and shooters moved by secret paths and spiral stairs. These walls trembled during the Russian-Polish war in 1656. In 1706 the church-fortress stroke with its grandeur a Swedish king Karl XII, who went to Poltava, and he ordered to his troops to… shoot it from guns. Afterwards the church was desolated for almost 100 years, until the emperor Alexander I inspected it personally and gave an order to restore it. The next trial for the temple became the XXth century.

A temple abbot, the Father Sviatoslav heard about UNESCO’s plans.
“The meaning of the church for the world history and culture can be estimated only after its detailed study,” he thinks. “There are many discoveries ahead. Almost everything is of interest: plaster layers, secret paths in the walls, which were walled-up in the XIXth century. A cultural earth layer will show the traces of medieval battles. Research would help to specify the date of the temple foundation. Half a century ago in the basement a gravestone was found with the death date of the priest Avraamiy — 1469, though it is officially considered that the church was built in 1524…” 

Local regional ethnographers say that according to one of the old legends golden treasure of the church founder Shimko Matskevich is stored in the basements. They were ineffectively searched by different people, including Kazimir Kostrovitsky, the church guardian in the
ŐVIIIth century. Blinded by the lust of fortune, he suspected his friend, the priest Petr Afanasievich, in conversion of the gold, under the harrow forced the priest and his family to death… The treasure today is simply a legend. Those who visited Murovanka at least once, understand: the real treasure is the church, any gold fades on its background. 

“Malomozheykovskaya church is worth to become the part of the world heritage officially,” Ivan Gvozdovsky says, the head of department of physical culture, sport and tourism of Schuchin district executive committee. “After realization of scientific research it is planned to be restored.”

Besides, seven tourist march routes of architectural and natural sights were worked out in the district. There is the own “golden ring” and the own seven wonders. With what else is Schuchin area ready to surprise us? With one of these wonders, a corkwood plantation (Amur corktree), founded half a century ago. It is situated within the distance of 10 kilometers from the city. The trees with light-brown knobby leaves. They usually grow in the southern latitude — Spain, Portugal, Tunisia, and here it managed to adapt for our climate somehow. 

A boulder in the village of Bolshie Pugachi is one more depositary of legends. This is the third biggest stone in Belarus, it weighs more than 130 tons. 12 pairs of people can simultaneously dance on it — they say, that it was possible to observe this scene during festivals. 

The village of Starye Vasilishki is famous with its neogothic Petropavlovsky cathedral and its glass paintings, which fill all window openings of the temple. In this village Czeslaw Neman was born, the most famous Polish singer and composer. A native house of the idol of the whole generation is empty now, but soon its restoration will begin. Polish tourist companies are interested in the project. In Starye Vasilishki it is planned to organize international music festivals. 

One more very important object awaits its restoration — the palace of the Scipiony (the XVIIIth century) in Schuchin. People say that this monument of architecture resembles the palace of Small Trianon in Versailles — the residence of French kings. Restoration of such a monument will take more than one or two months. Not builders shall execute it, but profesional restorators, there are many of them in Belarus today. However, the works began will surely be finished. Who knows, perhaps, UNESCO’s List of the world heritage will be filled with one more masterpiece of Belarusian architecture…

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