Belarus and Lithuania are neighboring countries joined by united medieval history. Since its inception in the 13th century, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania expanded to Slavic lands absorbing entire modern-day Belarus and ruling it until the Grand Duchy's demise in 1795.
Lithuanian nobility families (with powers higher than those of the King) had manors and palaces both in modern-day Lithuania and Belarus. Belarus also had a fair share of castles that defended the Grand Duchy from Teutonic, Mongol, Rusian and Swedish invasions. The majority of such magnificent buildings are located near the Lithuania's capital city Vilnius. Vilnius is located merely 30 km from Lithuanian-Belarusian boundary meaning that much of Grand Duchy heritage is left "on the other side". Some of these 14th-18th-century buildings are completely rebuilt while others remain as romantic ruins.
Most famous among them are the Mir (Myras) castle and Nesvizh (Nesvyžius) Palace, both rebuilt and recognized as World Heritage by UNESCO.
Ruzhany (Ružanai) Palace and Lida (Lyda) Castle are undergoing renovations. Atmospheric ruins at Golshiany (Alšėnai) still evoke memories of distant past while Kreva (Krėva) and Navahrudak (Naugardukas) defensive castles are ruined more. In Hrodna (Gardinas) two castles have been repurposed by Soviets and even used as workshops.
A multitude of old small Catholic and Orthodox churches and monasteries of the region also dates to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania era. They are Gothic or Baroque (the local form of Baroque is known as Vilnius Baroque and even the Cathedral of Belarusian capital Minsk is an example of this style). Orthodox churches here are similar in style to Catholic ones without the iconic domes.
Prior to the 19th century the areas where most Lithuanian castles and palaces stand had a Lithuanian-speaking peasant majority. However, this did not survive the onslaughts of Russian Imperial and Soviet russification. Currently, only some villages remain Lithuanian. The linguistic switch did not erode some other distinctive cultural traits: the borderland remains Catholic-majority (other Belarusians are largely Orthodox).