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The history and culture museum-reserve "Zaslaŭje"

”Val” and former calvinist Cathedral

The history of citadel "Val", also known as Zaslaŭje castle, begins at the late 11th – early 12th  centuries. The ring fortress, built by Uladzimier Sviataslavavič, was gradually abandoned, and a more advanced, massively fortified Zaslaŭje citadel appeared in trading quarter on the right river embankment. Originally, the citadel was protected by 3-3.5 meter-high sand ramparts. Their inside walls were fortified with clay, stones, and occasional wooden enforcements. The castle ground had a trapezoid shape. The remains of the 12th -13th century wooden constructions were found during excavations. After the fire in 1127, following the Kieŭ’s Prince Mścislaŭ invasion, citadel was promptly rebuilt. The new fortifications featured wooden walls with embrasures for archers.

Second half of the 16th  and the 17th  century brought forth major changes in military weaponry, siege and defense tactics. The most significant reconstruction of "Val" – erection of bastion castle -   was initiated and carried out by the town’s owner Jan Janavič Hliabovič in late 16th  century. The castle area was enlarged up to 1.5 hectars; wall height reached 8-9.5 meters, or, to be more exact, 15 meters, if measuring from the ditch bottom. The fortification sides were 188, 166, 90, and 60 meters long and were reinforced with four ogival bastions. Two more semicircular bastions – northern and southern – guarded the entrances.  The main gates were made on two levels and were 2.4 meters wide. Dam on Svislač and Čarnica rivers provided ditches and lowlands with artificial waters. Thus, the castle was transformed into an island-type fortress. Unfortunately, only the building of the protestant church – the Calvinist Cathedral -  survived among all previous constructions erected within Zaslaŭje castle by the Jan Hliabovič in late 16th century. Today, it is the Russian Orthodox Church of Savior’s Transfiguration.

Stern church in Gothic-Renaissance style consists of a rectangular single-nave catholicon, bridged with cross ceilings and 35 meter height six-section tower. The facades of the building and towers contained windows with semi-circular and segmental arches, combined with support devices, used in defense. The Cathedral functioned as a Calvinist church for a short period of time. Mikalaj, the son of Jan Hliabovič, after accepting Catholicism gave the building to the Catholic Church. In 1632, Mikalaj died, and the new owners of Zaslaŭje – Kazimir and Kryscina Sapiehas – donated the western part of the castle to the Dominican order. The cathedral was consecrated in the name of Saint Michael the Archangel in the same year. In 1839, the area entered Minsk region Orthodox eparchy and the building become an orthodox church.   From 1990s until today, the cathedral functions under the name The Church of Savior’s Transfiguration.