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Castles in the region of Volyn end Podolia...
By Pogranicze Galicja
Published: 05.05.2010


   Vyshnivets became famous during the reign of Duke Michał Serwacy Wiśniowiecki (1680-1745), Grand Hetman of Lithuania, the richest  magnate in Rzeczpospolita. During his times, a complete rebuilding of the old caste took place (1720). Its architectonic image resembles the most wonderful castles of France or Danish mansions (
Kronborg Castle
). Vyshnivets was among the biggest manors in Kresy, such as: Nesvizh, Pidhirtsi, Tulchin.
   Until 1744, the town was a part of the property of the Wiśniowiecki family, and after the death of Grand Hetman of Lithuania, Michał Serwacy Wiśniowiecki, it went into the hands of the Mniszech family, and then, in the half of the 19th century - into the hands of the Plater family.
   A period of the castle’s development fell during the times of Michal Jerzy Mniszech (1748-1806). He was the favorite of king Stanislaw August, he gathered in Vyshnivets a huge library with a collection of rare prints, masterpieces of world sculpture art, a vast collection of old furniture, carriages, masonry heaters, the most of which is currently found in Wawel.

     The castle, enlarged and beautified during the times of Michał Jerzy Mniszech, looked very impressive. It was raised high above the steep bank of the Horyn River
, flowing down the valley full of town’s households. Two-storey main body, decorated with a portico with eight Tuscan columns, dominated the whole neighborhood.
   From the beginning of its existence until the last partition, Vyshnivets was the part of
Poland and the part of the region of Podolia. Since 1795, until the Peace of Riga
   Despite the numerous military actions led on that territory during the last 300 years, numerous monuments preserved in  Vyshnivets, such as the castle of the Wiśniowiecki family from the 18th century (in the 19th century, it was reconstructed by the Mniszech family, and in the second half of the 20th century, it was rebuilt) together with a park, an Orthodox church of the Ascension from the 16th century, and an Orthodox church of the Archangel Michael from the 17th century (rebuilt twice – in the 18th and 19th centuries). All visitors talked about a marvelous architecture and rich furnishing of the palace’s interiors.The most tragic event took place in Vyshnivets in 1944.
   The Polish population of the town and the Carmelites, who sought a shelter in a historic monastery (founded by Jerema Michał Wiśniowiecki in 1655) were bestially murdered and burnt by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army. A church and a mausoleum of the Wiśniowiecki family burnt then.


- is today a small town, with 14 thousand inhabitants. It is situated several meters to the North-East from Ternopil, by the
Gniezna River flowing into the Seret River.
    The castle was surrounded by shafts with slopes from the exterior and, from the interior of the fortress, there were casemates. A residual building was in the middle of the fortification, and one could get inside the fortress through a gate building.

   In 1648, Bohdan Khmelnytsky conquered the castle without a fight, but a year after a famous defense of Zbarazh under the command of Jeremi Wiśniowiecki stopped the Tatars’ and the Cossacks’ armies plundering the country. A next invasion of the Tatars in 1675 and an unsuccessful defense leads to conquering and destroying the castle.
   Entering this town picturesquely situated in a greatly corrugated terrain, it is hard to believe that it was Zbarazh that was situated next to Ternopil and not the other way round. A short walk in this charming town enables us to discover that with respect to the number of monuments Zbarazh definitely surpasses the capital of the oblast. The whole town is an architectural-historical sanctuary. It has its management, its administration and slowly, after the years of oblivion, destruction, and devastation, it starts to come back to the former splendor…
    Zbarazh, as Zygmunt Gloger wrote in
Historical Geography of the Lands of Old Poland, is “the Polish Thermopylae”, inscribed into a literary legend by Henryk Sienkiewicz in With Fire and Sword. It was here, that under the command of Jeremi Wiśniowiecki the Polish troops crossed the way of the Cossack/Tatar wards with Bohdan Khmelnytsky and khan Islam Giray marching to ravage Rzeczpospolita. It was supposed to be a walk for them, a special foretold visit in the castle of Zbarazh. However, fortifications prepared by the duke’s soldiers and their will of fight turned out to be impossible to break. Khmelnytsku did not make a feast for his atamans in the castle of Vyshnivets, and the Tatars’ khan did not get on a horse using a bent neck of Jarema as a footstool.

   During a siege which lasted for two mounts, regiments under the command of duke Wiśniowiecki repulsed 20 assaults and 75 times attacked the enemy. During the siege, soldiers under the command of Wiśniowiecki, four times dug shafts, ditches and redoubts, adapting the fortifications to their  decreasing strength. The Cossacks, even though they were good soldiers, forming a great infantry, did not cope with them. There is no wonder that Henryk Sienkiewicz, when writing in order to invigorate hearts, presented Zbarazh and its defenders as a model in a defense of the highest national values and, above all, of the motherland’s independence.
   Dymitr Wiśniowiecki rebuilt the destroyed fortress, and after his death the castle was managed by the Potocki family.
   Again, in 1707, the castle was conquered and plundered, this time by the Russian army, and the year 1734 again brought plunder of the castle by the Russians. In spite of the fact that the castle was renovated each time, being uninhabited it slowly deteriorated.
    At the beginning of the 19th century, Tadeusz Niementowski bought the castle from the Potocki family and he remained its owner till World War I. During the War, the Russian army which stayed nearby demolished a part of the castle walls, blew up the casemates and destroyed the palace.
The next owners of the building, The Union of Reserve Officers, renovated the castle and the gate building.
   After World War II, the castle was neglected and only after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the reconstruction and renovation of the castle took place.


   Teodor Buczacki, a famous member of the family, the castellan of Kamianets, was a zealous supporter of King Vladislaus Jagiełło and he supported him in a fight with the king’s brother
Švitrigaila. In 1436, in the presence of many lords, he gave the village Niezbrody together with apiaries, ponds and a mill to Mary Magdalene church in Yazlovets. In 1467, this conferment for the church in Yazlovets was confirmed by Teodor’s sons, Jan and  Michał, who even enlarged the churches founds. The period of the family’s greatness had passed away and the Buczacki family was slowly declining. In 1469, Mużyło Buczacki, the voivode of the region of Podolia, died. After him, Michał Buczacki was another famous member of the family. In 1474, with the Polish nobility he helped the Walachian hospodar Stefan, with whom he defeated the Turks and the Tatars, who entered the Wallachia. In 1485, the Buczacki family was once again appreciated by the king - Jakub Buczacki, the castellan of Galicia, was appointed the voivode of the Podolia Region. It was the final period of the family’s greatness, which ended in 1541, when Jakub Buczacki, the only clergyman in the family, the bishop of Płock, died.

   Next, the castle was owned by the Tworowski family, the Golski family, and at the end the Potocki family. In the 17 century, they enlarged and strengthened the castle. Two bastions were added then, the Eastern and the Western ones. Walls were 4 to 7 m thick and, despite the numerous sieges, the castle managed to defend itself from conquering. During the Turkish, the Tatars’ and the Cossacks’ invasions, it was also a safe shelter for the local population.
In this period, the entry to the castle led through the gate tower and was at the height of the first floor. A driveway to the gate led through a ramp and through the drawbridge which was placed above a moat. A residential building was situated in the Eastern part of the building, and from the courtyard it was decorated with arcades.

   In 1672, the castle was besieged by the Turks under the command of sultan Mohamed IV, and Teresa Potocka commanded the defense. Not able to conquer it, the Turks ceased to besiege the fortress. In the same year, a treaty with the Turks, called the Treaty of Buchach, which gave the Turks the authority in the region of Podolia together with all the castles in Khotyn and in Kamianets - Podilskyi, was signed in the castle. 
   The Tursk, using the inner problems of
Poland, attacked and occupied the region of Podolia and the region of Bratslav.  The present king of Poland, Michał Korybut Wiśniowiecki, not being able to assemble an army which could oppose the Turks, and because he got afraid with the Turks’ power, gave them the region of Podolia, the region of Bratslav and the Southern part of the region of Kiev and agreed to pay a tribute of 22 000 thalers per annum in exchange for the peace. The payment was to make Poland equal with the Turkish vassals, such as Crimea or Wallachia. Seym did not ratify the treaty. Poland never paid this tribute.
   In 1676, the castle in Buchach was demolished by the Turks under the command of Ibrahim Szejtan.

   Rebuilt again by Jan Potocki, it did not have the great meaning in the defensive system of Rzeczpospolita anymore. After the partitions of
Poland, it went into ruin. In the 19 century, it was gradually deconstructed, and the building material was used in other constructions. Fragments of the walls from the South, the part of the walls from the residential building and from the Eastern bastion preserved till today. The decaying foundations are the rest, and the whole place is overgrown with grass.


   Jerzy Jazłowiecki began his career of a knight under the command and under the eye of Mikołaj Kamienicki, the Grand Crown Hetman. A defeat of the Tatars’ unit with over  1000 members in 1528 under the Kamianets-Podilskyi only with a small group of soldiers (100 men) is one of the famous deeds and fights of Jerzy Jazlowiecki. In 1529, he defeated a number of Tatars’ wards under Ochakiv. Together with Jan Tarnowski he took part in the battles (with Vlachs who entered Pokuttya) of Gwoździec and Obertyn (1531). In the times of Sigismund Augustus, Jerzy Jazłowiecki enjoyed the trust of the king, who gave him the districts of: Lubaczów, Sniatyn and Chervonohrad. In 1569, he became the voivode of the region of Podolia, and in the following years he suppressed the riots in
; in this excursion, his son Mikołaj accompanied him. At the instigation of his wife, from the Tarło family, he became a Calvinist.
   On a high hill, the ruins of the castle are visible.

   It was a fortress protecting Rzeczpospolita against the invasions of the Tatars and against the Turks from the east. In 1648, the castle resisted the Cossacks, but in 1676, it was occupied by the Turks and for eight years it had been the outmost rampart of the
Ottoman Empire
. It was recaptured by king John III, but it lost its meaning.
   After all, a very famous and populous town was formerly situated there. A Frenchman Daleros, whose memories were included in The Yazlovets Diaries, published by priest  Sadok Barącz in
Lvov in 1862, wrote: “In a broad valley, on a slope of the high hill, there is a town called Yazlovets in the shape of an amphitheatre, from the top of the hill to the banks of the shallow, but quite broad stream. Broad streets run between double rows of brick tenements decorated with stuccos and inscriptions. In the places situated higher, there were brick Catholic and Orthodox churches, which was the reason why the town’s alluring appearance was visible even from the distance”. Yazlovets was then a multinational and a multireligious town: two Latin Rite churches - the parish one and the Dominican one, two Armenian churches, a Dominican monastery, an Armenian monastery, two Orthodox churches and a synagogue. According to one of the legends, admittedly not confirmed in documents, in Yazlovets there was a residence of the Armenian bishop. The Armenians, who came from Crimea
, for a long period of time had dealt with trade and craft, and the Armenian commune was very rich and very influential. Out of the traces which remained after the Armenians one may nowadays see the Armenian Theotokos church transformed into Greek-Catholic Orthodox Church, gravestones and rebuilt tenements.
   In 1863, its owner, Krzysztof Błażowski, gratuitously gave the castle to the
Congregation of the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. After renovation of the rooms, Sisters founded there their monastery and a school for girls.


   The first mentions about the fortress of Terebovl come from 1097. When the land was occupied by Casimir the Great, around 1360 a brick castle which survived until the 16  century was raised there. In 1534, Jan Tęczyński, the castellan of Cracow, on the basis of the old building raised a new castle whose considerable part was made in wood. At the beginning of the 17 century, the building started to fall into ruin and Aleksander Bałaban, the starost of Terebovl, began to build another castle from freestone. The construction finished in 1631. The fortress played an important function in fights which took place in the region of Podolia and Galicia, it survived numerous, long sieges in 1650-1652. One of the episodes from the Polish history, which later became a legend, took place in the fortress. In 1674, within the framework of preparations for another war with the Turks, who in this time took military action against Russia, during the seym it was agreed that a crew ought to be sent to Terebovl. Jan Samuel Chrzanowski became the commandant of the fortress. Next year, the Turkish-Tatar army started to plunder the region of Podolia, and on 20 September 1675, they came to Terebovl counting on an easy success. It turned out differently. Chrzanowski, displaying great courage, did not allow them to conquer the fortress. The fact that the crew managed to remain at their post was to a great extent a contribution of the commandant’s wife, who cheered them to fight and who even is said to have taken part in the attacks on the enemy. Desperation was awarded and the Turks, because Sobieski was coming with succor, at night withdrew from Terebovl. Heroic defenders were awarded for their courage. Very soon, the defense against the Turks was added a legend, in which Chrzanowska, who became a symbol of the true Polish woman patriot, played the main role. In the following years, her attitude contributed to the creation of various patriotic literary works.
Aleksander Mishuk
translated by Joanna Hardukiewicz
Photos Aleksander Mishuk, Mieczysław Kowal, Janusz Kurasz, Jurek Jaremczuk, (zakapior)

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Pochajiv - photo Sasza

The Palanok Castle or Mukachevo - photo Grisza