Pidhirtsi Castle – The Abandoned 17th Century Castle of Ukraine

Pidhirtsi Castle (also Podgoretsky Castle or Castle Podhorce) is located about 50 miles east of Lviv on T1413, in Pidhirtsi, Lviv Oblast, Ukraine.

pidhirsti castle abandoned ruins

Construction for the Pidhirtsi Castle began in 1635 and completed in 1640 by Guillaume Le Vasseur de Beauplan. Built on the site of an older fortress by order of the Grand Crown Hetman Stanislaw Koniecpolski Polish from the Lithuanian Commonwealth. It was then regarded as the most valuable of palace-garden complexes and was part of the Kingdom of Poland and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, during this time.

Stanislaw Koniecpolski wrote that he wanted the castle as a place for relaxation but this would not be the case. In 1648 it was attacked during the Khmelyntskyi Uprising by Ukrainian Cossacks, but since it had been built with fortress characteristics it proved unobtainable. 3 Years later they attacked the castle again and failed. Aleksander son of Stanislaw Koniecpolski repaired these damages and strengthen the fortress and security which helped in upcoming skirmishes.

During the 1680’s, Aleksander’s son, gave the castle unto the surrounding estates of Jakud Ludwick Sobieski. By 1725 Jakub’s younger brother, Konstanty Sobieski, sold the castle to Great Crown Hetman Stanislaw Rzewuski. After his death it was inherited by his son, Waclaw Rzewuski, who added a third floor, a church, and he opened a theater. Later in 1767 Waclaw was arrested by the Russians, who damaged the grand interior, and he never returned to his beloved castle. It remained in the ownership of the Rzewuski family even after that, and after the Partition of Poland in 1772 the castle then resided in Austria. In 1869, the last male heir count Leon Rzewuski was childless, so he devised the castle to prince Wladyslaw Sanguszko.

Beginning sometime in 1914 during the World War the castle was captured by Russians, who looted and without consideration precious items from Pidhirtsi. In 1915 it became the headquarters of the Fifth Austrian-Hungarian Corps. Not long after this, the castle was ransacked by Russian soldiers who destroyed the interior walls, tiles, floors, and all. It was attacked again sometime during 1919-1921 during the Polish-Soviet War. The last Polish owner of Pidhirste was prince Roman Sanguszuko, in 1939, for fear of property loss from aggressive Nazi and Soviet forces, he packed most of the valuables and took the to Romania, then Brazil.

After World War II, the Soviets oped the sprawling castle into a Tuberculosis sanitarium. In February of 1956, the castle caught on fire and was almost completely destroyed. It burnt for 3 weeks leaving $2 million in damages and only leaving the walls.

Left in decay for sometime, when Ukraine regained its independence from the Soviet Union, it was planned for Pidhirtsi to be redone into a presidential residence. This never happened so finally, it was bought by the Lviv Gallery of Painting in 1997. They wish to turn it into a museum and give it its historical look. Though as of 2013, lack of funds have the restoration process going slow. Tourist are allowed to come onto the property but entry is forbidden.

The exterior was built with brick and stone. During the 17th century it was surrounded but vineyards and gardens, and had a grange, apiary, private zoo, a mill, and a trout pond. It was guarded by a moat with a drawbridge, fortified walls with bastions and iron cannons. At the entrance there is a marble plaque that reads in Latin: ‘A crown of military labours is victory, victory is triumph, triumph is rest’. The interior was initially richly furnished, with the western part of the castle being for guests and the eastern was private for the owners and servants. There was also a library, the Guardroom, knight’s room, and then suits with names like the Crimson Room, Chinese Room, Mirror Room, Green Room, and Yellow Room. The floors were made of marble tile and each room had a marble fireplace in it.

Some scenes for the movie Potop (1974) were shot at Pidhirtsi. In Polish it is referred to as zamek w Podhorcach and in Ukrainian it is known as ???????????? ?????. The father of the Polish Romantic Poet, Juliusz Slowacki, was born at Pidhirtsi.

castle abandoned ruins Ukraine

decay ukraine castle

You can find this magnificent place with these coordinates. 49.9431°N 24.9835°E.

aerial view of abandoned pidhirsti castle

Image 1 used under Creative Commons License Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 2.0 Generic. Image 1 by George Miroshnikov [Flickr / laggyluke].
Images 2, 3 and 4 used under Creative Commons License Attribution Non Commercial No Derivs. Images 2, 3 and 4 by Em and Ernie [Flickr / emandernie].

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