Pidhirtsi Castle is one of my favorite castles in Ukraine. Unfortunately, this castle has not been restored and in a pretty bad shape. The Lviv Museum is trying to find money for the restoration of this palace (it requires 20 – 25 million euros), but unfortunately, so far there has been no success in collecting this amount. Although the Lviv Museum has antique objects and furniture that can fill the castle, currently all the rooms are empty and await restoration, which may never happen.
This castle, like Olesko, has a long history, which is not always happy. The fortification of the castle was designed by renowned architect Guillaume Levasser de Boplan, and Andréf del Aqua who created a two-storey palace with three-storey pavilions on the sides and a baroque tower.
Construction had been underway for 5 years. Office space and a defense-adapted terrace had been built. From east, west and south the palace was surrounded by a deep moat, and on the north side it had a beautiful terrace with sculptures.
The terraced park was a highlight of the castle, in Italian style with alleys and fountains. There were sculptures and stone arbors for relaxation, flower beds in the form of ornamental patterns, and paths lined with tiles. The park had three terraces, the last one containing a greenhouse with exotic trees. The main gate was decorated by two columns with a marble plaque in Latin “Wreath of labor – victory, victory – triumph, triumph – rest”.
The facade of the castle resembles those of castles in France. The interiors of the castle impressed with their luxury. There were themed halls such as: Golden Hall, Green, Chinese, Knight, Mirror and Mosaic. There were many paintings by the Polish artist Chekhovich. Paintings on historical themes by Jacob de Baan, as well as 72 portraits of prominent spiritual and political figures were also inside.
In 1688 the castle suffered from the attack of the Tatars. It was only in 1728 that Vaclav Zhevsky began a large-scale reconstruction of Pidhirtsi castle. Additional rooms were built, and the castle turned palace became a three-story building. For guests there was built a guesthouse “Hetman’s Check” and a tavern. (In the first half of the 19th century the famous French writer Honore de Balzac stopped here).
In 1752 the construction of the tomb of the Zhevsky family began (located across the main street from the castle). The tomb is shaped as a baroque rotunda with a diameter of 12 meters. The facade is decorated with large columns in two rows of eight columns on each side of the entrance. On each side of the small alley that leads to the tomb, there are sculptures dating from the 18th century.
Nowadays the tomb has been turned to the church of the Exaltation and St. Joseph. It may not be possible to enter the main room, but through the glass doors you will be able to see the interior. The church, as well as the castle, is in poor condition.
During the First World War, the castle was twice under siege by the Russian army, but still preserved from complete destruction.
By 1939 a private museum was opened in the castle. At the beginning of the Second World War, Prince Roman Sangushko took out almost all the values from the castle, part of which ended up in São Paulo (Brazil). During the war, the German military was stationed in the castle and the palace was badly damaged and robbed several times.
In 1947 a serious fire occurred. So the castle/palace was reconstructed and transformed into a hospital for tuberculosis patients. The large, once luxurious halls were divided into small rooms for the sick. Subsequently, the partitions were demolished, but to this day there are still traces of the thin walls on the ceiling.
In 1997, at the request of Boris Voznytsky, Pidhirtsi castle became part of the Lviv Museum. Now, only a few halls are open for visitors, one of them leads to a beautiful balcony with a beautiful view.
There are several wooden counters on the way to Pidhirtsi castle where you can buy coffee, ice cream or cold soda and of course, souvenirs.
Although Pidhirtsi castle is not restored and seems abandoned, it is breathtaking. Powerful defensive walls, a beautiful palace and incredible stucco on the walls all indicate that this place once impressed with wealth, taste and was the highlight of the area.
Pidhirtsi 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).