Olesko castle was built sometime during the 13th – 14th centuries. The history of this castle is filled with many events. At one time sieges continued under the walls of the castle and at another, the castle suffered from fires and earthquake. This castle was fought for by the Polish Kingdom and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Although every time something bad happened to this place, the castle was rebuilt again and again.
One of the bad times for Olesko castle was during the Tatar raids. The castle became a hiding place for residents of neighboring villages. And as you know the Tatars were vicious and demolished everything on their way, burning cities and villages to nothing. They also tried to destroy the castles, but the walls of Olesko castle kept Tatars away. For a long time after such raids, this area was desolate and only after 1519 life here gradually stabilized.
Here in Olesko castle the famous Polish King Jan 3 Sobieski was born. The legend goes that on the night of his birth there was a big thunderstorm and the marble table (where the baby was laying) was struck by lightning and split in half. People believed it was a sign that the baby would have a special fate.
In 1707 the castle was transformed, and Russian troops were stationed here for 5 years. After that, the castle was owned by several people who restored it and turned it into a magnificent 18th century palace. However, in the early 19th century the castle began to collapse. In 1806 a fire occurred in the castle, and after 20 years the castle suffered most seriously from the earthquake. During the earthquake a wall broke in one of the rooms and gold was strewn from the opening. People decided that there might be other treasures in the castle and started searching. During that time they dismantled walls, removed floors, destroyed fireplaces and found nothing. At the end of the 19th century, Olesko Castle became a ruin.
In 1882, the castle became state property, the cracked building was strengthened by the supports, the roof and several rooms were restored and in 16 years it was open as a school.
During World War II, prisoners of war were held in the castle and later deployed. The castle was abandoned again and in 1951 a fire destroyed it and only bare walls remained.
Since 1958, construction work and the restoration of the castle began. The works lasted a long time, the government couldn’t decide what to do with the castle, but in the end handed it to the Lviv Gallery for a museum. In 1989 a museum was opened here under the direction of Boris Voznytskyi.
Today, the castle attracts many tourists from Ukraine and Poland. Unfortunately, tourists from other countries don’t really know about this place and it is rare to see anyone from other parts of world.
The castle stands on a hill and offers a beautiful view. It seems that Olesko Castle has always stood in this form: powerful, beautiful, proud and that there was no fire, no earthquake, no human destruction. A beautiful, restored courtyard decorated with flowers, a 42-meter well that runs through dungeons, as if it had never been pillaged. Castle rooms decorated with paintings, old furniture and mirrors do not indicate the destructive power of the human hand or nature that tried to ruin the castle for years. And only the great crack in the wall in the basement reminds us of the difficult history of this place and of the human greed for gold.
Going down to the park, you will see a small river over which a bridge was built. Several old sculptures located in the park will be of interest to the lovers of antiquity.
Of course, the park is no longer as beautiful as the old writers described it, a river that flows through the park is already overgrown with grass and it looks more like a swamp, but it also impresses and gives a wider understanding of how this place looked like during its heyday.
Olesko Castle is about an hours drive from Lviv city center. You can take a taxi which is the most convenient, but most expensive. You can take public transportation which is cheap but hard to figure out if you don’t speak Ukrainian. Or in my opinion, the best option is to do a day excursion from one of the tour companies located in the center of Lviv. The tour will take you to all three castles on the golden horseshoe and the price is 350 UAH (~$14).