The next point of our itinerary is Volodymyr-Voiynsky (population 40 thousand; 12 km. away from the Ukrainian-Polish crossing Ustiluq), a picturesque town located on the way to the Shatsk National Reserve. First written reference to Volodymyr dates back to 988, when Kyivan Prince Volodymyr the Great presented it to his son Vsevolod. In the course of its history Volodymyr was an important center of Volhynian and Galician-Volhynian principalities. Due to its location on the crossroads of Rus-Poland-Lithuania it became a strong fortress and an important commercial center. The remains of the ramparts can be seen in the center of town near the bus station. A park has been laid out nearby, and from the earthen walls there is a wonderful view of the town. Unfortunately, the town concealed one of its secrets for a long time. In the 1990 s there were discovered there numerous burial places of the victims of communist terror.
In 992 an Episcopal cathedra was founded in the city. Prince Roman Mstislavich of Volodymyr united Galician and Volhynian lands in 1199. His children, King Danylo of Galicia, and Prince Vasylko created a powerful state, which successfully defended itself against the Mongol-Tatars and western neighbors. In 1349 the city was seized by Polish king Casimir the Great. In 1431 Volodymyr was granted the status of a city. In 1793, after the Second Partition of Poland, the city found itself under the rule of the Russian empire. It was at that time that the word “Volynsky”was added to its name. The city became part of Soviet Ukraine in 1939.
The Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary (1160.27 Soborna St.) is the most noteworthy among other historical relics. It was supposedly founded by Prince Mstislav Iziaslavich, and it is the oldest relic of Volhynia. The founder Prince Vasylko Romanovych, his wife Olena, and his son Volodymyr Vasylkovych were buried in the Assumption Cathedral. It was the main temple of Volhynia in the 14 th and 15 th centuries. In 1491, during a Tatar attack, it was damaged, but in 1494 it was restored. The construction of an Episcopal “small castle” started at the same time nearby the cathedral. From 1596 the cathedral belonged to the Uniate Church. In 1782, by order of bishop Simeon Slavsky, secret stairs to the Episcopal cathedra were built within a bearing structure; as a result part of the vaults tumbled down. In 1900 reconstruction of the temple was completed and it was consecrated anew. Present-day interior decoration was executed in the 20 th century.
The “Small Castle” near the sanctuary was built at the close of the 15 th century and reconstructed in the 17 th. From the southern side it was terminated with a high defensive tower, which at the close of the 19 th century was turned into a bell tower.
The history of the Church of St. Basil (15 th cent., 15 Vasylkivska St.) is linked with a beautiful legend. According to it Prince Volodymyr, returning from a campaign against the tribe of white Croats, stayed in Volodymyr and, as a token of gratitude to God, ordered that each of his bodyguards should bring a brick. Thus a temple was built within one day, and consecrated in honor of St. Basil. In the past there was a plaque on the northern wall with a date: “The year 670,” which corresponds to 1194. During World War I the plaque disappeared. In the 16 th century the church belonged to the families of Sanhyshkos and Radziwills and was on the decline. In 1740, during restoration, a stone bell tower was built on to the western side. Orthodox brotherhood St. Nicholas Church (Mvkolaivska St.) has a long history. In 1780 a chapel of St. Josaphat Kuntsevych was built in Volodymyr-Volynsky on money of the Uniate bishop Porfiriy Skarbky Vazhynsky. The chapel was raised in place of the house of J. Kuntsevych’s parents. In 1800 it was handed over to the Orthodox Church and consecrated in honor of St. Nicholas. In 1910 the church was used as a cemetery chapel; from 1914 to 1939 it was a parochial church. Architecturally it is a single-nave church typical of Ukrainian and Polish architecture of the 17 th — 18 th centuries.