Pidhirtsi Castle

Pidhirtsi Castle

Pidhirtsi Castle ( _uk. Підгорецький замок; _pl. Zamek w Podhorcach) is a castle located in the village of Pidhirtsi ("Podhorce") in Lviv Oblast (province) western Ukraine, located eighty kilometers east of Lviv. It was constructed by Wilhelm Beauplan between 1635-1640 by order of Polish Hetman Stanisław Koniecpolski, on the place of the older fortress.en icon [ Pidhirtsi Castle] ] The castle was then part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and it is regarded as the most valuable of palace-garden complexes in the eastern borderlands of the former Commonwealth.en icon [ Podhorce] ]


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. 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. [Originally, it had two storeys, the third one was added in the 18th century.]

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, the castle was richly furnished, with several halls and a library. 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 Toom", the "Mirror Room", "Yellow Toom", "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.en icon [] ]

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, Stanisław Koniecpolski died.


It has not been established who designed the complex, most probably, it was planned by an Italian engineer Andrea del Aqua en icon [] ] , who also designed the fortress in nearby Brody. Koniecpolski wrote in his memoirs that he wanted to own a place of relaxation, but the castle's location made it impossible. In 1648 it was attacked by the Ukrainian Cossacks during the Khmelnytskyi Uprising, but they did not manage to capture the complex. Three years later the Cossacks returned, but again failed. After this event, Koniecpolski's son Aleksander repaired the damages and strengthened the fortifications, which helped resist numerous Tatar invasions, taking place in the area in the late 17th century.

In 1682, Stanisław Koniecpolski, grandson of the original owner, decided to present the castle to Jakub Ludwik Sobieski, who gladly accepted icon [] ] Five years later, Sobieski, coming back from a trip to Kamieniec Podolski, hosted in the castle his parents, King Jan III Sobieski and his French wife Marie Casimire Louise. A description of the Podhorce complex made by one of Sobieski's courtiers, François d’Aleyrac, has been preserved: he wrote: "This castle is undoubtedly the most beautiful in Poland, and in other countries, it would also be regarded unique."pl icon [] ]

In 1725 Konstanty Sobieski sold the castle to the Great Crown Hetman Stanislaw Rzewuski. After Rzewuski's death, the complex was inherited by his son, Waclaw, who also was the owner of the nearby Olesko Castle. Wacław Rzewuski made Podhorce his permanent residence. He ordered that a third floor should be added as well as a church (1788); he opened a icon [] ]

Wacław Rzewuski was vividly interested in all things connected with king Jan III Sobieski. He purchased such items as Sobieski's sword, used in the Battle of Vienna, booty taken by the king after the battle as well as a marble table, on which, according to the legend, Sobieski was baptized .pl icon [] ] In 1767 Rzewuski went to Warsaw, to participate in the debates of the Sejm. Arrested by the Russians and sent to Kaluga, he never returned to Podhorce. His son Leon then sold the complex to prince Wladyslaw Sanguszko.en icon [] ] In the Partition of Poland, 1772, the castle became part of Austria.

In the 19th century, the complex belonged to the Rzewuski family, here they hosted emperor Franz Josef I, and here Euzebiusz Slowacki, the father of Juliusz Slowacki was icon [] ]

During World War I, the castle was captured by the Russians, who did not destroy it, but looted most of the precious items from it. In the summer of 1915 Pidhirsti became headquarters of the Fifth Austrian-Hungarian Corps. As it was located on the front line, threat of destruction by Russian artillery was real. Fortunately, General Aleksei Brusilov decided to spare the complex, however, it was ransacked again by the Russians. Russian soldiers destroyed its interior - walls, tiles and floors. In the Polish-Soviet War the castle was damaged again, and after the conflict, it became part of the Tarnopol Voivodeship (Second Polish Republic), belonging to prince Roman Sanguszko, who was the last Polish owner of the icon [] ]

In the Polish September Campaign of 1939, following Nazi and Soviet aggression on Poland, Sanguszko packed most of the valuables, took them to Romania, and later to São Paulo in Brazil, where he opened a foundation. After World War II, Soviet authorities opened in the complex a Tuberculosis sanitarium. In February 1956 the castle almost completely burned down; the fire lasted for three weeks, leaving behind only the walls and a $12 million in damages. [ [ Zhorili skarby (Burned treasures)] .uk icon Daily Lviv. 18 March 2005.] In 1997 it was purchased by the Lviv Gallery of Painting, which turned it into a museum.

The castle, in spite of damages inflicted during the Communist rule, always was an interesting and attractive objects. Several movies were made in Podhorce, including shots of Potoppl icon [] ] en icon [] ] .

When Ukraine regained its independence from the Soviet Union, the castle was planned to be revamped and made into a presidential residence, but later an it was placed under the jurisdiction of the Lviv Arts Gallery.Nataliya Kosmolinska. [ Castles and chateaux of Ukraine] "Welcome to Ukraine".] Currently, part of collection of the Rzewuski family is kept in the Lviv Historical Museum and Lviv Art Gallery.en icon [] ] Some artifacts are also kept in museums in Tarnów and Krakó icon [] ] . The Lviv Gallery of Arts is trying to restore the castle to its historical look, however lack of funds has delayed most restoration work, and progress is only being made slowly.


External reading

* F. K. Martynowski, Starozytna Polska, (Warsaw) 1885.
* "Slownik Geograficzny Krolestwa Polskiego i innych krajów slowianskich," vol. 8 (Filip Sulimierski, Bronislaw Chlebowski, Wladyslaaw Walewski, eds.), (Warsaw) 1887,
* A. Czolowski, B. "Janusz Przeszlosc i zabytki wojewodztwa tarnopolskiego", (Tarnopol) 1926.
* Roman Aftanazy. "Dzieje rezydencji na dawnych kresach Rzeczypospolitej — Wojewodztwo ruskie, Ziemia Halicka i Lwowska, Zak∏ad Narodowy" ( Ossolinskich-Wydawnictwo, Wrocław) 1995.

External links

* [ Podhorce Castle, painted by Jan Matejko]
* [ 1936 Polish newsreel, with unique footage of prewar Podhorce and Olesko]
* [ The report on international journalists' tour to Pidhirtsy Castle, Ukraine] en icon

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