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Przemyśl or Casimir Castle
By Pogranicze Media
Published: 20.01.2011

   The evidence for the existence of ecclesiastic structures in Przemyśl in the early Middle Ages are the remains of church architecture discovered on the Castle Hill: a Romanesque rotunda and a monasteries (9th century) as well as a three-naves basilica (10th century), mistakenly referred to  as a Russian church. The hypothesis that both of the buildings on the Castle Hill are of Byzantine origin finds little corroboration, as their wall structure is pre-Romanesque or Romanesque, not Byzantine. The measurements of the rotunda and monasteries have shown that the dimensions of the buildings are a multiple of the Benedictine Roman foot. The space between the two buildings contained traces of a necropolis and numerous tools. A glass plate, which has been found there, bears a 13th century inscription in Latin, which shows that the buildings were used from the 9th to the 13th century first by Benedictines and then by Cistercians. The fact that no weapons or luxury items have been found there contradicts the assumption that the place functioned as a duke’s residence (palladium); most probably, it was a monastic complex (monasteries). Arguably, the place could have been the residence of the missionary bishop, appointed in the 9th century. The excavations on the lower terrace have revealed the foundations of a three-naves Romanesque basilica with three apses, the remains of four  pillars and fragments of a mosaic floor made of flat stones and surrounded by the pieces of the cemetery wall. This space was used as a cemetery, half of the graves containing characteristic Oakwood coffins with no fittings inside. Archaeological research in the precincts of the Benedictine monastery at Tyniec has given similar results. No traces have been found of any precious objects, decorative architecture or weapons, except for arrow-heads; on the other hand, what prevailed were tools, mostly metallurgic ones. One of the graves in Przemyśl contained a coin showing Emperor Otto III: this suggests that the findings date from the 10th or 11th century. Since it is assumed that the Lubusz see was originally located in Russ, a possibility arises that Duke Mieszko I could have established its seat in Przemyśl and could have had a cathedral built here, one in the basilica shape, which was a common fashion in those days. After this land had been incorporated into Russ (981-985), the bishop’s seat was moved to Włodzimierz Wołyński, and then, in the 12th century, to Lubusz. In the years 981-985 Vladimir the Great  besieged and captured the Przemyśl stronghold. This is confirmed by Nestor’s chronicle: ”In 981 Vladimir marched against the Lyakhs [the Russ name for the Poles] and seized their strongholds: Przemyśl, Czerwień  and others”. Some historians trace the beginnings of the Przemyśl Roman Catholic metropolis to the person of St Bruno Querfurt, who, having arranged a missionary expedition to Poland in 1002, was given by Pope Sylvester II a pallium, which symbolized his metropolitan dignity. In 1004 St Bruno was consecrated as missionary archbishop and later engaged in missionary work in Hungary, Russ, Sweden, Poland and among the Pieczyngowie (Pechenegs). In the light of St Bruno's lattes to the German king, Henry II (1008), his meeting with Vladimir the Great before his missionary expedition to the country of the Pieczyngowie could have taken place in Przemyśl. The remains of the stronghold gate and of the longitudinal earth banks, which have been preserved (now in front of the Roman Catholic Seminary’s reading-room), date from that time. During his last missionary expedition to Prussia, St Bruno and his eighteen companions were killed. Having reincorporated Przemyśl into Poland, in 1018 King Boleslaw's the Great had a  Romanesque rotunda-martyr ion built now under the chancel of the Roman Catholic cathedral and most probably had the bodies of St Bruno of Querfurt and his companions buried there. This could be confirmed by a tomb cover discovered in the 19th century which bears the image of a human figure wearing a kalpak as well as by the 17th century correspondence between a bishop of Przemyśl and the Jesuit General, in which the former mentions that the cathedral’s vaults have housed the remains of martyrs for 700 years. The documentary of the Przemyśl cathedral does not comprise any other records of any other martyrs that could have been buried here. In 1961 in the vaults of the cathedral, within the walls of the former Romanesque rotunda, 19 graves were discovered from which 17 skulls were taken out and sent for anthropological examination, while the remaining two graves, one of which was located in a catacomb niche of the rotunda, were left intact. The examination confirmed the possibility that the excavated bones might come from the 11th century. This led to the presumption that the graves  might contain the mortal remains of St Bruno Boniface, whose burial place had not been known, and his 18 companions. After St Bruno’s death, missionary activity was continued by other Roman Catholic missionary archbishops, Ingelbert and Grzegorz, archbishop Stefan (†1028), Aron (who consecrated Osmund, bishop of Sweden, in 1050) and Bogumił (†1092).  In 1031 Przemyśl was again incorporated into Russ; the oldest records connected with the Jewish settlement here also date from that year. In 1069 the stronghold was regained by the Polish king Boleslaus the Generous and functioned as his place of residence for several years. From 1086 to ca 1270, the Przemyśl stronghold was the seat of an independent duchy ruled by Polish princes (Kazimierz Sprawiedliwy, Leszek Biały) as well as by Russ and Hungarian rulers. Piotr Włast, a voivode of Przemyśl and Mateusz, Cracow’s bishop, in their letter of 1143 to St Bernard notify him that there has been a change in the local religious practices: from the Roman Catholic to the Eastern rite. The first archbishop of the Eastern rite known by the name was Antoni, arrived in  Przemyśl from Nowogród Wielki (Novgorod) in 1218), while the last was Piotr (1245). In 1344 Przemyśl was re-annexed to Poland, which resulted in the local Roman Catholic bishops being appointed in 1352; Iwan and Mikołaj were directly subordinated to the Apostolic See and were named bishops of Ruthenia. Pope Gregory XI’s Bull restored the metropolis, which had existed here before, and designated Halicz as its new seat, with the sees of Przemyśl, Włodzimierz and Chełm being subordinated to it. In 1412 the metropolitan seat was transferred to Lwów (Lvov); from then on, Przemyśl functioned as the place of simultaneous residence of two or three bishops of different rites.

   In 1389 the town received a new Magdeburg-law foundation charter. A stone castle was raised, the town received a tall defense wall with towers; new churches, monasteries and the town hall were built. The old monuments of architecture dating from that time include: fragments of  the stone castle and of the defense walls (in Basztowa street), the15th century cathedral, the market square surrounded by the 16th century tenement houses, fortified monasteries of the Reformate and Carmelite brothers (17th century), Benedictine Sisters’ Convent (18th century), the Franciscan monastery (18th century) and the Jesuit College from the 17th century. At that time the Przemyśl castle functioned as a residence of the local district officers: voivodes, castellans and starosts. The starosts included one woman (Nawojka Koniecpolska, 15th century) and two elective kings to-be: Michał Korybut Wiśniowiecki and Stanisłąw August Poniatowski

   In 1772 the town was incorporated into the Austrian Empire. This was followed by the dismantling of the defence walls, of the town hall and of part of the castle; some of the monasteries were dissolved. In 1880 the Austrians built their fortress here: they surrounded the town with two rings of forts and in 1889 they located here the headquarters of  Army Corps no.10 . At that time first industrial plants, such as steam mills and oil refineries, were built; in 1860 the town became accessible from the railway line. At that time new prominent buildings were erected in Przemyśl, which bears witness to the development of cultural life here. The late 19th century buildings still to be seen here include: the House of the “Sokół” Gymnastic Society (currently, Regional Cultural Centre), the House of the “Gwiazda” Craftsmen’s Society (now, Railway men's Cultural Centre), while the early 20th century buildings are: Workers’ House, Peasants’ House (Ukrainian) and Catholic House. After the partitioning of Poland, Przemyśl engaged in the struggle for independence. In 1832 the Przemyśl Scientific Society, “Senat”, initiated Polish independence movements under the Austrian rule. In 1906 Józef Piłsudski moved the armed resistance units from the Russian-ruled to the Austrian-administered part of Poland. This resulted in the development of such organizations as Oddziały  Ćwiczebne (Exercise Units), Polskie Drużyny Strzeleckie (Polish Rifle Squads), Drużyny Bartoszowe (Bartoszowe Squads) and Drużyny Skautowe (Scout Squads). In 1912 Piłsudski arrived in Przemyśl again, his visit culminating in the consolidation of resistance organizations and in the formation of Zjednoczone Obozy Niepodległościowe (United Independence Parties), Zgromadzenie Polskiej Młodzieży Niepodległościowe (Polish Independence Youth Assembly) and Skautowy Komitet Jedności (Scouting United Committee). Immediately before World War I, Przemyśl covered the area of 16,5 km² and its population totaled 54 078, these including: 25 306 Roman Catholics (46,8%), 16 062  Jews (29,7%), 12 018  Greek Catholics (22,2%).

Fort I „Salis-Soglio” in Siedliska
- was built between 1882 and 1886. It is an unusual example of an artillery fort, which, despite having been blown up on 22 March 1915 is one of the best-preserved and most attractive features of the outer ring of the Fortress of Przemyśl.
   In the area of the fort the following items have survived: a brick entrance gate, barracks in the gorge part with casemates, ammunition stores and lift shafts, artillery emplacements and shelters for the crew on the rampart. The fort is situated only several dozen meters from the Ukrainian border. On its other side there are still six auxiliary forts of the described complex.
   When visiting Fort I „Salis-Soglio” it is also worth seeing the nearby (on the way to Medyka) armored fort XV „Borek” from 1897-1900. Both forts (like all the main forts of the outer ring of the Fortress) are part of the black tourist route and the fortress cycle route.

Tourism... photo...


Bohdan Zhukiewicz

Roztoczański National Park in Zwierzyniec