Officially the history of Ternopil started in 1540, when King Sigizmund I the Old issued a charter for the Krakow castellan Jan Tarnowski to the effect that a fortress was to be built in Ternopil’s territory. Ternopil, as compared with other regional centers of Western Ukraine, has the least number of architectural monuments of the past. The disastrous times of the 20 th century and World Wars became a real misfortune for the city. On July 21, 1917, the retreating Russian troops set fire to the city. During the Second World War the front-line passed through the city several times. The ruination and depopulation were so great that the question arose as to whether to transfer the regional center to Chortkov. The city’s national make-up considerably changed as well. The Nazis annihilated the local Jews, and the Soviets evicted the Poles. Nevertheless, it is worth making a brief stay in Ternopil to be absorbed in the atmosphere of this pleasant city.
From the railway station, which is located almost in the center of the city, you should go in the western direction towards Theater Square with the dominating building of Drama Theater (1957, architects I. Mykhailenko, V. Novikov, D.Chernov). Maidan Volia (Liberty Square) is situated not far away. Once great fairs were held in this place; they traded in horses. Today the Dominican Church (14 Sahaidachnv St.) dominates the square. The late Baroque temple (1749-1779, architect A. Moschynsky) was named after St. Vincent Ferrarsky. Its authentic interior decorations have not been preserved. Today it is the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary (Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church). In the center of the square there is a monument to King Danylo Halytsky (sculptor B. Rudyi, architect 0. Mischuk).Today some of Ternopil’s inhabitants still remember that in place of this monument there were the monuments to St. Vincent (1827), General Joseph Pilsudski (1935, sculptor A. Holovinsky), and to V. Lenin (1967, sculptor O. Roberman).
Thanks to the railway Ternopil is an important junction on the way from Russia to Western Europe. The first train came to its platform in 1870. In 1903-1906 the building of the railway station was constructed after the project of the Vienna Technical Bureau in “Vienna succession” style. In the postwar period its refined forms were replaced by “Soviet baroque.”
Walking to the west along Zamkova St. we come to Ternopil Pond. This reservoir appeared as a result of mounting a dam on the Seret River. The castle of Jan Tarnowski (12 Zamkova St.) is situated on the lakeside, near “Ternopil”‘ Hotel. The plan of the castle has been altered more than once. Today there are no signs of the former defensive walls and drawbridge. In 1675 the castle was destroyed by the Turkish army. In the early 19 th century the nobleman F. Koritowski converted it into a luxurious residence, adding a three-storied “New Castle” on the southern side. From 1809 to 1815 Ternopil belonged to the Russian Empire. At that time there was a “dancing casino” in the city. In 1869 the city had no hotels, and the writer Panteleimon Kulish spent the night there, leaving interesting recollections for posterity.
The castle has three stories on the side of land, and five stories, on the side of the pond. During the Second World War the structure was in part destroyed. Today it is a popular place for recreation with well-equipped wharfs where you can hire a boat.
Over the dam, to the south of the castle, in place of an old wooden church, there has been standing the stone Church of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (1570) (1 Ruska St.) built by order of King Danylo of Galicia. Old residents call it “Church over the Pond.” In 1627 a three-tier belfry was built on demand of Tomasz Zamoiski, which is evinced by a memorable plaque.
If you return to the city’s center along Ruska St.,you will see the Church of the Nativity (1602) (22 Ruska St.) at the intersection with Liberty Square. It is one of the best creations of the Podolian architectural school. In the 19 th century and in 1925 it was rebuilt. Before the 16 th century beside the church there was the Kamyanetska Gate, which served as a landmark for the merchants approaching the city.
From there, turning to the left under the arch, we get to Valova Street. It is well known for its quiet coffeehouses and small shops; the local artists will offer you their works. To get more detailed information you should address the Ternopil Museum of Local Lore: 3 Ploscha Mvstetstv.