Belarus: Lida – Lida Castle
The spectacular medieval castle in Lida is little known outside Belarus but is one of the oldest fortifications in Eastern Europe. The castle was built by the Gediminas, the duke of the Grand Duchy if Lithuania to defend against the attacks of Teutonic knights from the north, the castle was built in 1324-26. Thick walls surround the central courtyard and two towers stand on opposite ends, while a lake and a river serve as as a natural protections. Battles rages at the castle throughout history: Teutonic Knights took it twice and both time were pushed back, Moscow failed to take it in 15th century, while Crimean tatars ravaged it in 16th. Russia and Sweden clashed here in a back and forth action in the 17th century, and in the 18th Russia suppressed a Polish uprising here. WWI and WWII did further damage, and finally during the Soviet Union days the castle grounds became partly storage and partly traveling circus. It was fully restored (perhaps a bit too fully) since Belarus independence and is a historic museum now.