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Castles in the Roztochia...
By Pogranicze Galicja
Published: 05.06.2010


 (...)   Zhovkva as a town does not have a long history. Initially, in this place there was a village Vynnyky, which in 1556 belonged to Stanisław Żółkiewski, the Ruthenian voivode, the first senator in the family. His son, also Stanisław, was the one who made a great career. He owed it to close relations with Jan Zamoyski and to his own prominent military skills. Żółkiewski took part in all military campaigns during the times of Batory, he also contributed to placing Sigismund III on the throne. As a result, the new king soon gave him a field truncheon, and then a Castellany of Kiev.
   In 1597, Stanisław Żółkiewski decided to strengthen his position and the position of his family by founding a town - a family seat. He chose Vynnyky, and he called the new town Zhovkva in remembrance of an old family seat in Lublin Voivodeship. Undoubtedly, the hetman followed the example of Jan Zamoyski, the founder of Zamość. However, Zhovkva is less Renaissance and less Italian than Zamość, but due to this fact it is as if more native, more rooted in the local tradition and local relations.
   Stanisław Żółkiewski’s castle, built on a traditional square design with a courtyard in the middle, included into a system of city walls, is a  “head” of a town-planning arrangement. A track from Rava-Ruska to
Lvov enclosed in two main gates - the Glinska Gate and the Lvov Gate - runs through the middle of the town. The whole is surrounded by a moat supplied by a river with a charming name - the Svyna River (Pol. Rzeka Świnia - The Pig River). Fragments of walls and the Glinska and the Zwierzyniecka Gates remained of the former fortifications of Zhovkva. Next to a market-place, which was considered to be the most beautiful provincial market-place in the South-East Poland, in front of the castle, there is a town hall, a parish church and a collegiate church in which the interior of presbytery was decorated with giant paintings from the 17th century presenting victorious Żółkiewski’s and Sobieski’s battles of Klushino, Khotyn, Vienna, Párkány. Just beside, but outside the market-place, there is a Greek-Catholic church, and next to the city walls, to the North, there is a synagogue. In this way, Stanisław Żółkiewski, a zealous Catholic, took care of the religious needs of all important groups of the inhabitants.
   There are records about a marvelous interior design of the castle in the times of Żólkiewski, about a beautiful garden adjacent to the castle, and about a broad bestiary. Unfortunately, not much remained of the splendor. Today, the parish church under the invocation of St Wawrzyniec and St Stanisław is a main memorial of the Hetman.
   The year 1620 brought an extinction of a male line of the Żółkiewski family. During the unfortunate retreat after the battle of Cecora, the old Hetman was killed, and his son Jan died because of the suffered injuries. Both of them were buried in the parish church, which became the family mausoleum, and according to the Hetman’s will, the church was also something more - it was a memoir of the glory of the Polish army.
   After the extinction of the Żółkiewski family, Zhovkva went into the hands of the Daniłowicz family, and then into the hands of the Sobieski  family. The times of the Sobieski family were a period of the biggest prosperity of the town. The castle was systematically beautified, the fortifications were enlarged, and people took care of the development of trade and craft. In 1653, Teofila Sobieska, the mother of the future king, started a big sacred foundation - a church and a monastery of Dominicans, to commemorate her older son Marek, who died near Bator. A large church was raised very fast - consecration took place already in 1655. A present three-wing building was raised no sooner than in the 18th century. The Dominicans’ church became a place of the eternal rest of Marek Sobieski and his loving mother, who died in 1661. The barbarism of the post-war years brought almost the complete destruction of their tombstones.
   In 1661, John Sobieski became the only owner of the Zhovkva and the master of the whole fortune of the Żółkiewski family, the Daniłowicz family and the Sobieski family. A model of his great grandfather undoubtedly prevailed in his life. Great War successes already in the age of 39 brought him the title of Grand Hetman. Six years later, in 1674, hetman John Sobieski became the King.
   Zhovkva became one of the capitals of Rzeczpospolita. The king often invited legates there. A ceremony of handing him insignia of the French Order of the Holy Spirit, and - already after the Victory of Vienna - a ceremony of handing him a consecrated Pope’s sword and a hat, accompanied by a display of Viennese trophies, took place there. A whole town of captured Turkish tents placed in a park behind the castle was the main attraction.

   During the times of John III, a new town hall and a grand synagogue were raised. A special attention in the king’s  actions was paid to the parish church in Zhovkva. Sobieski systematically created there his memoir of war fame, with full awareness developing the motives marked by his great grandfather. Therefore, tombstones of the king’s father, Jakub and of Stanisław Daniłowicz, made by
Andreas Schlüter, were placed next to the entrance to the presbytery. On a wall of a choir, in front of the painting presenting the battle of Klushino, an equally big painting presenting the battle of Khotyn in the creation of which Andrzej Stech, a painter from Gdańsk, took part was hung. After the battle of Vienna in 1683, two more paintings were added and placed in a transept. The paintings by Martino Altomonte present victories in Vienna and in Párkány. Unfortunately, this unique museum of war fame did not survive in its former state. In the post-war period, precious works by Schlüter were barbarously destroyed, and a careful conservation carried out recently by the Polish specialist helped to remove only a small part of the results of this destruction. Paintings presenting the battles were taken over by the Lvov Art Gallery. Three of them, already after the conservation, are available in the Gallery’s branch in Olesko.
   After the death of John III Sobieski, Zhovkva belonged respectively to his sons - Konstanty and Jakub, and next, in 1740, it went into the hands of the Radziwiłł family. In 1787, the Zhovkva goods were in debt and became sold. The castle held the Austrian offices, and from the beginning of the 20th century, also a secondary school. The building was burnt during World War I. In the interwar period the castle was renewed but a disastrous use during the last fifty years caused that it became a ruin.


   By the end of the 16 century, Ruthenian voivode Jan Daniłowicz, enlarged the castle and changed it into a Renaissance mansion, in which a  former spatial layout was preserved. In 1629, the future king of Poland, John III Sobieski - the grandson of Jan Daniłowicz - was born there. Because parents of John III inherited the whole of the great goods belonging to Daniłowicz, during the distribution, the castle in Olesko was given to the Koniecpolski family. For tens of years, the castle was abandoned and neglected. In this time, the owners chose Zhovkva to be their new residence. Only a year before the Victory in Vienna, John III together with Marysieńka renewed the castle. In order to buy it with the whole Olesko from Stanisław Koniecpolski, the castellan of Bratslav, Sobieski spent over 400 thousand Polish zlotys.
   After the king’s death, his sons agreed for Marysieńka to be the owner of the castle. In the 18th century, Olesko went into the hands of the Rzewuski family and was connected with the  goods in Pidhirtsi. In 1882, the castle, as a national souvenir, was bought by the Olesko Castle Care Committee. The renovation works after the damages caused during World War I were carried out in the interwar period. During World War II, and after its ending, when the area started to belong to
USSR, the castle almost went into ruin. It was rebuilt in 1961-65 and now it constitutes the branch of the known Lvov Art Gallery. Hundreds of rare paintings and pieces of sculpture among which there are icons, portraits, mythological and generic scenes, still life, big battle paintings (e.g. The Battle of Vienna by Martino Altomonte from 1692), furniture, tapestry, sculptures of the Lvov School
are gathered in the castle. The place is one of the best collections of Polish art outside the present borders of Rzeczpospolita. At the feet of the castle, there is an interesting garden with stone sculptures of lions, a pond and an interesting view at the castle itself.
    Not far from the castle, there is a church and a monastery of the Capuchins founded by the Rzewuski family in 1739. Marcin Dobrawski was the builder of the castle. He used a typical design of a foundation of Capuchins. After World War II, when the monks were expelled, the monastery had been devastated for several years. In the 70s, the whole complex was renovated. A conference room was organized in the church, and in the monastery there are stock rooms with works of art from churches and private collections from the area of the whole present
Western Ukraine
. Many a time, they were saved from destruction at the last moment. The building is not open for the sightseers.


   The castle built in 1634-1636 by voivode Jakub Sobieski has a shape of the 17th century fortress with stone fortifications. The interior of the fortress consists among others of a gate building, lengthened mansion of the  Sobieski family and a so called “Chinese pavilion”. The big residence of the Sobieski family is an embodiment of an ideal of a defensive building whose owner was a knight - a defender of the motherland. Members of the Sobieski family were considered to be the soldiers of this kind and in practice they realized specified architectural principles. The whole is situated on the South-East end of the town, on a plateau, located on the edge of the Woroniaki range. The castle built on a quadrangle is in the corners surrounded by pentagonal ramparts. The ramparts piled up from soil, and from the outside strengthened by stone are an example of fortifications which for the first time had been used in Wiśnicz near Krakow. A main defensive line was surrounded by a deep trench, and in the shafts from the inner side there were casemates. Coat of arms of the Sobieski family preserved till today on the watchtowers.
   Unfortunately, in 1672, the castle fell - the Turks conquered it. Two years later, around Zolochiv, King John III Sobieski appointed a place of the concentration of an army before a march on the Turks.
    In 1675, hetman Stanisław Jabłonowski stopped there a huge group of the Tatars, and in 1690, the Tatars threatened that they would attack the king who was staying in Zolochiv.
   A granddaughter of the king, Maria Karolina de Bouillon, sold her goods with Zolochiv to Prince Michał Kazimierz Radziwiłł called “Rybeńko”. After them, there was also the Sapieha family, and from the beginning of the 19th century - the Komarnicki family.
   The fall of Zolochiv took place at the turn of the 18 and the 19 centuries, when in 1797 a huge fire of the town broke out.
   Since 1834, the castle served as casern, and since 1873, after it was bought by the Austrians, it became a prison. During World War II, it was the place where NKVD and Gestapo tortured people.
   Nowadays, the castle belongs to the
Lvov Art Gallery and conservatory works are being conducted there with the help of the Polish instituti.


   European watershed runs there, part of the villages belongs to the basin of the Vistula River
, and the second part belongs to the Dniepr River.
    In 1633, Stanisław Koniecpolski, Pobóg coat of arms, a Grand Crown Hetman and the castellan of
, an heir of Brody, bought Pidhirtsi. In 1635-40, a residence was built “for pleasures of a tasty rest after military toils”.
   In 1682, younger Stanisław Koniecpolski bequeathed the goods in Brody with Pidhirtsi to Prince Jakub Sobieski, but ultimately they went into the hands of Konstanty Sobieski - the younger son of John III. In 1720, the palace and the goods were bought by the Rzewuski family (Wacław). He had in Pidhirtsi his court theatre, in which he showed his own plays.

   Other famous members of the Rzewuski family: Seweryn - an inhabitant of Targowica and Wacław - emir Tadý, an insurgent of the November uprising, the protagonist of works by Słowacki (Duma o Wacławie Rzewuckim) and by Mickiewicz (Frays). Euzebiusz Słowacki, father of Juliusz, was born in Pidhirtsi.
   A wedding of Prince Karol Radziwiłł took place in Pidhirtsi, and the Rzewuski family invited czar Franciszek I there.
    In 1787, Seweryn Rzewuski, who for 201 000 zlotys bought Pidhirtsi, Chwatów, Hutyszcze and Zahorce became the owner of the village. He was a greedy man and he organized an alchemical laboratory in the castle, in which he tried to change different metals in gold. Since then, the castle started to decline and many precious pieces of art disappears without a trace.
   Julian Ursyn Niemcewicz saw the castle in 1820 - there were still many precious paintings there, but walls of the rooms were moist and a lot of the paintings grew yellow.
   In the times of partitions, the castle suffered because of the Muscovite  army which for several years had been quartering there. During the Austrian partition, a big part of the equipment, including a copper metal sheet from the roof, was sold by auction. Leon Rzewuski and the next owner, Prince Eustachy Sanguszko, broke the period of the castle’s decay. Until 1914, the palace functioned as a private - but generally available - museum. During World War I, part of the collection was evacuated to the goods of the Sanguszko family in Slavuta, and even to
Nizhny Novgorod, and the second part to Gumniska near Tarnów. In the 30s, the collection from Pidhirtsi was being assembled again. Roman Sanguszko, the proprietor of a famous stable, was the last owner. Prince Roman Sanguszko, remembering about the experiences from World War I, in 1939 evacuated the most precious elements of the collection from Pidhirtsi and Gumniska. A convoy with trucks belonging to the brewery from Gumniska in the last moment managed to get to Romania
   Due to an exceptional coincidence, the big part of the collection survived,  it exists - even though it is not gathered in one place, and stored partly in
District Museum in Tarnów, and partly in the Lvov Art Gallery (85%) (Lvov and the castle in Olesko - jointly 194 paintings). Some of the paintings from this gallery are in the museums of Lvov (Lviv Museum of Religion, Lvov Historical Museum) or in the Polish museums (National Museum in Cracow and in Warsaw), some of them are a private property. The archive of Rzewuski and Sanguszko families is stored in Wawel in Krakow
   During World War II, portals, chimneys, paneling, upholstery, furnaces and floors were destroyed.
   In the times of USSR
, a hospital of tuberculosis was organized in the castle. After a fire in 1956, ceilings of the 1st and 2nd floor collapsed.
   The Soviet authority passed sentence on the castle; beautiful sculptures which decorate the Summer Orchard now were taken to
   Many times, movies including Deluge (in the movie, the castle’s interior was
Kiejdany of the Radziwill family) were shot in the castle. In 1997, the palace was taken over by the Lvov Art Gallery and small restoration works began. A demolition of partition walls which deformed the interior took place, and in this way a former structure of the building was uncovered.


   At that time, almost every castle was designed by Italian architects. The castle in Brody was not an exception. Its main architect was Beauplan, and its builder - an Italian, Andrea dell’ Aqua.
    During Bohdan Khmelnytsky uprising in 1648, the castle resisted an attack of the rebelled Cossacks and the Tatars and was not conquered.
   After the Koniecpolski family, Jakub Sobieski became a new owner of the castle, and it took place in 1682. After 22 years of the Sobieski family’s residing in the castle, it went into the hands of Józef Potocki.
   The first partition of
Poland caused that the town became reined by the Austrians. At that time, count Wincenty Potocki was the owner of the castle. In 1809, the Austrian authorities ordered to demolish the castle. The castle tower was blown up, the moat was filled up, and the defensive shafts were destroyed. Only the castle casemates and the ruined palace preserved.

Worked out by Bohdan Zhukiewicz
translated by Joanna Hardukiewicz

photos Mieczysław Kowal, Janusz Kurasz, Jurek Jaremczuk, (bo, zakapior)

... photo...

Pochajiv - photo Sasza

The Palanok Castle or Mukachevo - photo Grisza