Zolkiew castle in the beginning of 20th century
Numerous Ukrainian towns and villages can boast of having the remnants of ancient fortifications, but only the small district centre of Zhovkva in the Lviv region has an absolute right to call its fortress "ideal". At this location, in the first half of the XVII century the only mint in the territory of Ukraine was in operation with the coins being minted from silver that belonged to the Hetman Zolkiewski’s widow.
|  Raised From the Ruins|
Old Slavic Vinnyky. Medieval Zolkiew. Soviet Nesteriv. With each change in history this town changed its name and appearance. However the centre is the same as in medieval times and is again called Zhovkva (Zolkiew in Polish).
In 1594 the great Hetman Stanislas Zolkiewski (1547–1620) transformed the village of Vynnyky into a town-fortress. And in 1603 after victory over Revel, Polish King Sigmund ІІІ gave the town the Magdeburg charter and named it “Zolkiew" (Zhovkva).
Influenced by Thomas More's “Utopia” many “ideal” towns were built in Europe at that time. Based on a project by Italian architect B. Morando, well-known Lviv craftsmen Paweł Szczęśliwy (Shchastlyvyy), Paweł Rzymianin and Ambroży Przychylny tried to build an "ideal" Zhovkva. The centre of their attention was the castle.
| The Castle of the Mighty Polish King|
At the beginning of the XVII century it had three storeyed corner towers, an entrance gateway in the north-eastern wall and fighting galleries with loopholes along the walled perimeter. The south-western wing was decorated with an open gallery and arcades and it served as a palace. Unfortunately luxurious halls, a treasury and an armoury can not be restored but the facade of the former outpost is again the town's showpiece due to restoration began in 2003.
Near the castle at the foot of the mountain a well-known “menagerie” is situated – a park where deer and chamoises graze on green meadows. Hunting has always been a favorite pastime for all the various castle owners – the Zolkiewskis, the Danylowyczis and their grandson, the Polish king, Jan ІІІ Sobesky. The latter, after having chosen Zhovkva castle as a residence, luxuriously decorated it and as the result the stronghold and the town lived on in the highest prosperity.
During 1604–1609 the Roman-Catholic church of St. Lavrentiy (Laurence) appeared there. It became a peculiar necropolis of the Sobesky and the Zolkiewski families.
There was a publishing-house in the town, five large cloisters and a Jewish religious centre and two synagogues were situated there. The Zhovkva painting and carving school became a baroque leader in the territory of western Ukraine.
During the Northern War in 1706–1707 Tsar Peter І placed his residence in the castle and right here a historic Zhovkivskyy plan that helped to win a victory over the Swedes was developed. Ukrainian hetman Ivan Mazepa also visited this place.
In 1741-1742 Italian architect Antonio Kastelli, commissioned by the new owner Mychal Radziwill, expanded the palace from the stronghold, decorating the portico and the staircase with the sculptures of Lithuanian and Polish crown hetmans. But shortly after that the castle was out of History's favor for nearly two centuries and it only once regained its glorious past. In 1809 there was a solemn ball in honor of Napoleon Bonaparte.
The next owner of the castle was the author Glodowski. In 1887 he sold one by one some of the walls, arcades, portico with the sculptures and one castle tower …to be used as building materials. And in 1915 a fire broke out.
Today Zhovkva is rising from the ruins. The state historical-architectural reserve is there (Lvivska st., 7, tel.: (3252) 22-549), and includes 55 architectural monuments, prominent monuments of the city's buildings, landscape architecture and also 15 historical monuments. And a glorious castle watches silently all these.
The best way to get to Zhovkva is through Lviv. From Lviv to Zhovkva (32 km) you can get by taxi or public transportation. A walk from Zhovkva station where you arrive, to the castle, takes no more than 10 minutes. The town is small enough and all its sightseings are located close to one another.
© Panorama Magazine