Castles of Lviv region

Castles of Lviv region are one of the major tourist attractions around the city. Their beautiful architecture, mystical history and scenic landscape have always attracted people. In order to popularize the castle legacy of Galicia the route "Golden Horseshoe of Lviv region" was established. It is convenient because all castles are located near the highways and you can examine all of them throughout the day.

Today many travel companies offer tours "Golden Horseshoe of Lviv region."

Olesko Castle

Olesko Castle

The Olesko Castle is located within the borders of the present-day Busk Raion in Ukraine. The first historical records of the castle are in a document dated 1390, when Pope Boniface IX gave Halych, a Catholic bishop, this castle as a gift. It is located about seventy-five kilometers from Lviv.

The Olesko Castle, oval in shape, stands on top of a small hill, about fifty meters in height. A moat and a wall surrounds it, which serves as a defence for the castle. The castle is also surrounded by a dense swamp. The land that the castle sat on changed ownership many times. It was originally on the border of land of Volhynia and land of Lviv.

The castle was, at different times, owned by Poland, Lithuania, and Hungary. It became a political landmark in the 14th century when movable borders between the three aforementioned countries ran through its territory. Battles for ownership of the castle were constant. A deep well in the basement of the castle was used as an escape route for besieged prisoners.

In the 15th century, the castle was changed from being a defense point, to simply a getaway for aristocracy. The castle is perhaps most famous for being the birthplace of the Polish king Jan III Sobieski, the hero of the Battle of Vienna. He often lived there, and collected many of the artworks displayed in the present-day museum. Another Polish king, King Michał Korybut Wiśniowiecki, was also born here.

The castle was restored in the late 16th to the early 17th centuries. Paintings and mosaics were brought in to decorate the different rooms of the castle. The castle was remodeled in the Italian Renaissance style, which was popular at that time.

In 1838, an earthquake rocked the castle, partly destroying some areas. In 1882, the castle, regarded as a Polish national monument was bought by the Committee of Preservation of the Olesko Castle, which led to a restoration in 1892. Both World War I and World War II affected the castle negatively, undoing previous restoration work. In 1956, the castle was struck by lightning.

The castle was restored again, beginning in 1961 and lasting until 1985. Today, it is a museum, displaying the collections of antique furnishings and art dating from the 16th-17th centuries. It also features sculptures, paintings, still lives, applied arts, tapestries, period weapons, and objects used in everyday life at the time. Its collection is regarded as one of the richest treasury of Polish art outside borders of Poland.

The castle is a part of the "Golden Horseshoe", a ring of three castles nearby each other: the Olesko, the Pidhirtsi, and the Zolochiv Castles.

Olesko, map

Pidhoretsky castle

Pidhoretsky castle

Pidhoretsky Castle is a residential castle-fortress located in the village of Pidhirtsi, located eighty kilometers east of Lviv. It was constructed by Guillaume Le Vasseur de Beauplan between 1635–1640 by order of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth's Grand Crown Hetman Stanisław Koniecpolski, on the place of the older fortress. The castle was then part of the Kingdom of Poland and it is regarded as the most valuable of palace-garden complexes in the eastern borderlands (Kresy Wschodnie) of the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

The structure, built with brick and stone, was designed in the characteristic palazzo in fortezza style. It is located on the northern side of the Woroniaki hills, standing at 399 meters above sea level, overlooking the Styr River valley, in a prominent location where it can be seen from great distances. The palace itself is built into the slope of the hill. In the 17th century, it was surrounded by vineyards and Italian-style paterre gardens, its wine celebrated by the poetry of Jakub Sobieski and Andrzej Morsztyn. Guarded by a moat and drawbridge, fortified walls with bastions and a set of iron cannons (some of which have been preserved to this day). The castle takes the form of an open square nearly 100 meters on a side, with three floors.

Its western part served as an official residency for guests; the eastern range was private, reserved for the owner and servants. Above the entrance gate, a marble plaque to this day bears a Latin inscription: "A crown of military labours is victory, victory is a triumph, triumph is rest." There also was a grange, a private zoo, vineyards, an apiary, a trout pond and a mill.

In its heyday under Jakub Ludwik Sobieski, the castle was richly furnished, with several halls and a library, and with gardens and parks around it. Next to the entrance was the Guardroom, then there was the knights’ room, filled with hussar equipment and numerous kinds of weaponry. There followed the suite of the Crimson Room, a Chinese Room, the Mirror Room, Yellow Room, Green Room (in which 106 paintings of the 18th century painter Szymon Czechowicz were kept) and a chapel. These rooms collected the names from the color of a trim or from what was kept in them.

Walls of all rooms were covered with paintings, portraits (around 200 of them), wallpapers; floors were made of marble tiles. Each room also had a marble fireplace. Among the stylish furnishings, there were numerous examples from the booty taken by Stanisław Koniecpolski during wars with the Turks and Tatars, mostly Persian rugs and Turkish tents. In the library, there was an archive of the Koniecpolski and Rzewuski family. King Wladyslaw IV Vasa and his French wife Ludwika Maria Gonzaga, were impressed by the complex, when they visited it in early 1646. Soon after their visit, Nowadays there is a museum where restoration work carried on.

pidhirci, map

Zolochiv Castle

Zolochiv Castle

Zolochiv Castle was a residence of the Sobieski noble family on a hill at the confluence of two small rivers in the south-eastern part of Zolochiv, Galicia(now part of Ukraine's Lviv Oblast).

The rectangular fort was built in 1634-36 by Jakub Sobieski using the labor of enslaved Crimean Tatars. The Sobieski castle comprised solid walls in a then current Dutch style, with four pentagonal towers at each corner, and the so-called "grand palace". The Chinese Palace, a diminutive mauve-coloredrotunda flanked by one-storey wings, was added later in the century as Jan III's gift to his French-born wife, Marysieńka.

In 1672, the castle was taken after a 6-days siege by the Turks under Kapudan Pasa. Three years later, it survived a new siege by the Ottoman army. AfterJakub Ludwik Sobieski's death in 1737, the castle passed to the Radziwillprincely family and then (in 1801) to Count Łukasz Komarnicki whose heirs sold it to the Austrian crown in 1834.

In the 19th century, the castle was adapted for use as a hospital and barracks. It was turned into a prison in 1872 and continued in use after the September Campaign. There's a chapel commemorating the victims of the NKVD on the grounds of the castle.

Since 1985 the complex has been supervised by the Lviv Art Gallery and under restoration. Recently it began to open its grounds for visitors. Exhibits include more than 25 European coats of arms, dinosaur bone chandeliers, and a replica of a typical royal crown from the 13th century, that could be similar to that of Daniel of Galicia.

zolochiv, map

Svirzh Castle

Svirzh Castle

Svirz Castle is a fortified aristocratic residence in Svirzh, Ukraine. It was originally built by the Świrzski noble family in the 15th century. Inside the castle is a small church dating from 1546.

The stronghold was completely rebuilt in the 17th century at the behest of its new owner, Count Aleksander Cetner. It is believed that General Paweł Grodzicki was responsible for the modernisation of the castle's fortifications.

Though surrounded on all sides by moats, lakes, and marshes, the fort was taken by the rebellious Cossacks on several occasions. In 1648, the Turks set it on fire; they were less successful during the Lviv raid of 1672.

The castle stood in ruins for many years. It was restored in 1907, only to be devastated by fire in 1914. Rebuilding and restoration have occurred on several occasions since.

swirzh, map

Stare Selo Castle

Stare Selo Castle

Stare Selo Castle is a castle in Stare Selo village. This castle, or fortress, was built by Princes Ostrogski family.

Its original timber fortifications, first mentioned in 1448, were destroyed by the invading Turks in the late 15th century. A more secure stone fort, intended to defend the Bârlad Road from Lviv to Romania, was built in Stare Selo in the 1580s. Those walls were breached and rendered useless by Khmelnytsky's Cossacks during the Siege of Lviv in 1648.

The existing fortress, almost triangular in shape, with 15-metre high walls and a ceremonial gate on the south side, was commissioned by Prince Władysław Dominik Zasławski, one of the last members of the Ostrogski family. The citadel was erected in 1649-54 and formerly contained the palatial residence of Prince Zaslawski, one of the richest landowners of Eastern Europe and brother-in-law of King John III Sobieski.

After Prince Zaslawski died in Stare Selo in 1656, the fortress gradually fell into disrepair, although it successfully withstood a siege by the Turks in 1674.

Stare Selo, map