The castle in Zolochiv (5 Ternopilska St.) originates from an old Rus’fortress, which had existed in this place before and was burnt down by the Tatars. The city and the castle are situated at the intersection of an important trade route. First written reference to Zolochiv dates from 1442. In 1523 the city obtained Magdeburg Law. At that time it had a large Armenian community. In 1532 the owner of the city, Stanislaw Seninski sold the city to Poznah nobleman Andriy Gurkov. After him the city and fortress passed on to Jakob Sobieski. The latter began to actively improve the defensive system of the castle, for¬tifying it with four bulwarks. Every defensive wall was more than a hundred meters long and eleven meters high. The ditch surround¬ing the castle was not filled with water, but it was rather deep, and piles were driven into its bottom. Ramparts before the walls were made in such a way that in case of an enemy attack, cannon-balls hit the earth embankments, leaving the walls undamaged. In the 19 th century the bulwarks already looked like decorative struc¬tures. On each of the towers there were stone plates with the coat of arms of Janin, Godzava, Ravich and Gerburt, and with the letters J.S.K.K.S.K (Jakob Sobieski, Krajczy Koronny, Starosta Krasnostaw-ski). Formerly the gates had a clock and a drawbridge. Under the main gates started a secret underground passage, which made it possible to leave the castle imperceptibly during a siege. In the yard the Renaissance premises of the royal palace
and the so-called Chinese palace have survived from olden times. In 1672 the Turkish troops seized the castle and ruined it. When it returned to Polish state, captive Turks restored the castle. After the death of Jan III, Prince Jakiv sometimes put up at Zolochiv castle. After Jakiv the castle together with other manors passed on to the Radzivills family, with time falling into decay. In 1802 the landlords Komarnytsky bought Zolochiv and converted the structures into living quarters. In 1840 they sold the fortress to Austrian government, which used it as military barracks. From 1872 the castle was used as a prison. The darkest times came in 1939, when Soviet power organized in the palace NKVD torture chamber. Before June 1941 “Soviets” had time to torture to death hundreds of local residents.
The castle’s acquisition is the recently renovated “Chinese palace.” Its construction was linked with the fashion predominating among the local gentry. Today some exhibits from the oriental collection of Lviv Art Gallery are put on display there.
Formerly the way between Zolochiv and Pidhirtsi was full of mystery and almost impassable. The reason for this can be easily noticed near the village of Sasiv. The huge antennas of space navigation, which formerly composed a single network of the defensive system of the USSR, and which is not functioning today, still produce a tremendous impression.
Near the entrance to Pidhirtsi castle stands the Roman-Catholic Church of St. Josef (1752-1763), and nearby there are two columns topped with the figures of Saint Josef and the Virgin. Behind the gates there is a monument to Soviet soldiers who fell in battles in these localities during World War II. Pidhirtsi castle was first mentioned in 1445. Its defensive systems were built in 1635-1640 (engineer G. Boplan). Stanislaw Konetspolski who bought the
two-storied palace. In 1682 Stanislaw Konetspolski the junior registered half of his manors together Pidhirtsi for the king’s son Jakob Sobieski; later they passed on to Konstantin Sobieski, the younger son of Jan III. In 1720 the magnates Rzewuski purchased the palace, turning it into a place of entertainment and bombastic banquets. It was filled with a great number of various works of art, books, arms, and pieces of furniture. A fragment of the table upon which Jan III had been born was transferred to the palace. Crimson-colored, golden, green, mirror and Chinese rooms, a library and archives were arramged in the palace. A tavern for guests was built nearby the castle. With time the palace began to decay, many valuable works of art disappeared. The last owner of Pidhirtsi, Roman
Sanhushko, had time to evacuate the most valuable works of art Brazil. With the arrival of Soviet power the rest of the property was plundered. In 1956 a conflagration practically annihilated the castle, leaving only the walls. In the 1960s the structure was partially restored. Later the regional sanatorium for consumptives was opened in this building. Today the structure, which once was called “Galician Versailles,” is gradually returning to life.
Situated on a hill in the south-eastern corner of Buzka plain, near the hilly terrain Voroniaky, Olesko castle (34 Zamkova St. ) is the oldest surviving castle in Galicia. The history of the castle is closely linked with the historical background of the struggle between Lithuania, Poland and Hungary. In this connection Olesko castle is often called a key to Galiciaand Volhynia. It is believed that the foundation of the castle dates from the 13 th century, when the Tatar hordes ruined the Rus’settlement of Plisnesko. Part of the population, which survived, moved to Olesko and began to build a new fortress.
In 1340-1366 the settlement belonged to the Galicia-Volhynian Prince Dmytro-Liubart Hedeminovych. In 1366 it became the property of Oleksandr Koriatovych. In 1605 the castle and neighborhood passed on to magnate Ivan Danylovych, husband of Sofia Zolkiewska. It is considered that at that time an event took place in the castle, which later grew into a romantic legend. The nobleman Adam Zolkiewski was eager to marry I. Danylovych’s daughter. The father of the young girl said categorically no, and the nobleman, in a state of despair, committed suicide. By 1636 the Danylovyches had died out, and the estates, through kindred relations, passed into the possession of Jacob Sobieski, father of the future king Jan Ill. The next castle legend is linked with the latter. The boy was born in the castle in 1629. During delivery the Tatars encircled the fortress, and, in addition, a heavy thunderstorm broke out. When the midwife took the newborn child from the marble table, a deafening thunderclap resounded and the table cracked. Right away a prophecy sounded to the effect that the newborn baby would bean extraordinary man…
Jan III became one of the most glorious kings the warriors. Ten years later another king, Mikhail Koribut Vishnievecki, was born in the same castle. During the reign of Jan III Sobieski the castle acquired the status of a royal residence. The king’s wife Maria-Kazimira de Arkuyon, known also as Marysenka, gave special consideration to its equipment. In 1725 another Sobieski, Konstantin, sold Olesko to the Zhevuskies. This family had an original vision of the prospects of development of the castle, just as of their life in general. Particularly eccentric was S.Zhevuski who engaged in search of mythical treasures and “philosophers’ stone” rather than in management of his estates. So by 1820 the castle was neglected, being persecuted not only by people, but by elemental disasters as well. In 1838, because of an earthquake, the walls cracked so much that in separate places man could easily get in. In 1951 a thunderbolt burnt the castle down. It was only in 1975 that it was restored and opened for the second time.
Near the castle there is the monastery of the Capuchin order (1739). The Zhevutskies were the founders of the Church of SS. Joseph and Antonina. Capuchins represent an original monastic order. There is a joke according to which many residents of the world know them through the monk Marko d’Aviano. They say he was the first to prepare coffee using a special recipe, and the color of coffee resembled that of Capuchin’s soutane. Hence the name of coffee capuchino. In Olesko there was a widespread “cult of skeleton.” The body of a dead monk was placed in one of the five pavilions in the territory of the monastery and it was buried no sooner than the body completely decomposed and only bones remained. Capuchins were renowned pharmaceutical chemists. One of them, Jan Kasper, drowned himself in a well on the holiday of St. Anthony, by which he spoiled the holiday for all. They say his apparition has been wandering round the castle since then. In Austro-Hungarian times the monastery was liquidated.