<p>Berezhany belongs to the provincial cities of Ukraine, which even in a state of drowsy calm produce an unusual impression. The suburbs Mistechko, Adamivka and Pidzamche are adjacent to the city’s historical center located in a picturesque valley.
Berezhany was first mentioned in 1375, when this old-Rus settlement became the property of the nobleman Vasyl Teptekhovych. In 1530 the town was granted Magdeburg rights. However, the locality reached its fullest flower with the arrival of the magnates Seniavskies (1530-1726). In the course of centuries Berezhany remained an important center of the Ukrainian, Polish and Jewish communities. In the 17 th century the Armenian community joined them. During World War I and World War II the town had its share of suffering. Military developments damaged structures, many inhabitants died. The national make-up changed. Soviet power deployed in the town a military garrison, which was not the best neighborhood for cultural relics. Now Berezhany is reappearing. In 2001 it was given the status of a historical and architectural reserve.
You cannot but give way to despair while looking at the remains of the grand Renaissance Seniavskies’ castle, built in 1534-1554. On demand of Mykola Seniavski the project was executed by the French architect G.-L. de Boplan, using the latest Dutch technology. Situated on the island formed by the Zolota Lypa River, the fortress was considered impregnable until 1648, when the Cossacks, with the assistance of the local Ukrainians, took it. The Swedes did the same in 1655. However, in 1675 the castle withstood a Turkish onslaught. In 1726 Adam-Mykola Seniavski died, and the castle became for a brief time the property of a monastic order whose members engaged in spiritual self-perfection. In 1784 the Austrians liquidated the monastery. In 1816, when the state sold the castle to the Potocki family, the premises were already not suitable for dwelling, and part of the walls had been demolished. During the ensuing years the fortress was converted into barracks, a brewery, warehouses, and, finally, into ruins. In 1698 the Polish King August II, in 1702 the leader of the anti-Austrian rising in Hungary, Prince Ferenc Rakoczi, and in 1707 Czar Peter I paid visits to Berezhany. The remains of the Trinity Roman-Catholic Church, which served as a burial-vault (1554), have been preserved in the castle’s courtyard. Fortunately, most of the relics and the remains of the tombstones of Mykola, Oleksandr, Prokop and Anna (sculp. G.Gorst, G. de Gutte, J. Pinzel) were transferred to Krakow and Olesk at the proper time. The Berezhany castle, as any other castle worthy of notice, has its own legend. According to it some money raised for the restoration of Rzeczpospolita had been concealed under the church.
Walking from the castle, along I. Franko str., you will get to Rynok (Market) Square where Berezhany Town Hall (1 Rynok Sq.) is located. Built in 1803 in classical style in place of a burnt-down structure, this rectangular, two-storied building with a tower and a clock had shops on the ground floor, and a Gymnasium on the first. Among the Gymansium’s graduates were the poet Markian Shashkevych, the historians Omelian Ohonovsky and Volodymyr Barvinsky, writer Bohdan Lepky. The clock was installed on the tower in 1930.Today it is occupied by Berezhany Museum of Local Lore, Book Museum, B.Lepky Memorial Museum , Museum of the Persecuted Church.
In 1768 the noblewoman I. Liubomyrska completed the building of the stone Church of the Holy Trinity in place of a wooden one (1626).The work had been started by Prince A.Chartoryisky. The temple is famous for the relics of John the Baptist. Part of his hand is kept in a little gilded chest. In 1673 the ruler of Volosk presented them to the chapel of Berezhany castle, and A. Chartoryisky handed the relics over to the community in 1715. After the Second World War it was considered that the relics had disappeared without leaving a trace. In was only in 2000 that they were found. The temple contains the wonder-working icon of the Roman God’s Mother, which was brought from Rome in the late 18 th century by Oleksandr Seniavski.
Rich in monuments is Armenian Street, which is located close by. It is worth visiting the little Armenian Church. In spite of neglect and destruction it is possible to discern on its facade the remains of frescos executed by the Polish Marshal E.Ridz Smigly. The temple was built in 1764 with the assistance of D. Horbach. In the 17 th century the Armenian community actively used the city’s advantageous geographic location for trade, however, with time they assimilated.
Once the Roman Catholic Church of the Nativity of the Virgin was part of a single defensive system together with the local castle. It was built in 1600-1626 by H.Seniavski, and was destroyed by the Turks in 1675. Under the supervision of Lviv archbishop Serakovski it was restored. In 1741 a bell tower was built, and the church was enclosed with a defensive wall with loopholes. At the beginning of its existence it contained a portrait gallery of the Seniavski family. At the entrance, on the facade, there has been preserved a portal with a carved coat of arms. After the torments of the latter half of the 20 th century, today the temple functions again as the Roman-Catholic Church of SS. Peter and Paul.
Beside the church there are the ruins of the great synagogue (1718) and theological school. Together with the Jewish cemetery located in the suburbs of Okopysko it is all that remains from the past of the local Jewish community. The history of the community dates from 1527. At that time several families lived in the city. On the eve of the Second World War it numbered several thousand. The German Nazis almost completely annihilated the Jews of Berezhany.
The Bernardine Monastery (52 Shevchenko St.) functioned from 1630 to 1683 and was located near the Roman-Catholic Church of St. Nicholas on the hill Storozhysko dominating the city. The construction was started by Ursula, and completed by Mykola Seniavski. The structure was built in honor of the victory over the Turks in the battle of Vienna. Rumors spread that there was an underground passage between the castle and the monastery. At the time of a danger inhabitants hid behind the monastery walls. At the beginning of World War II the Nazis organized here a “Volksdeusch” school, and from 1945 it has been used as a prison for juvenile offenders.