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Castle

Svirzh village that was once the town is located along the road that gets through Gologirskyi range, where the steep hills alternate with broad valleys. The river Svirzh, which flows through the village, gave the name to the area and named its first landowners. According to some assumptions, by the word “Svirzh” the Slavs meant the sound of a flute or a pipe — apparently, such association arose from the sounds of still full-flowing and fast river of those days.

Photo by Roman Shyshak

Photo by Roman Shyshak

In 1427 Svirzh was first mentioned in the documents as a settlement. In the middle of the XV century Ivan Hlib Diadkovych, the Rusky boyar, moved his court from Romaniv village here. And his great-grandsons Andriy and Martyn, having firmly settled down in Svirzh, signed documents already as Svirzki. Nowadays the watchtower with Gothic framing of shutters reminds us of this period.

Later the Cetners family had been owing the castle for almost two centuries. The castle suffered from constant attacks. Therefore, until the end of the XVII century, battle ready weapons watched from all loopholes. However, in the description of the property of the castle dated 1674, in addition to a long list of weapons and carts that were equipped for the needs of troops, we can already see a few horse carriages, large coaches and painted sleds. A respite between wars set for a different way of life. Slowly began the transformation and the fortress turned into a palace.

In the XVIII century Ignatius Cetner, the Belz voivode, having inherited all of the Svirzh Cluster (24 villages) and having ownership in Lviv (the famous “Cetnerivka”) and palace in Krakivtsi, could afford himself ambitious projects. The following description of the castle of the early XIX century draws in our imagination a beautiful castle in Svirzh, surrounded by a garden in the English style: with greenhouses for palm trees and a house for canaries, terraces and gazebos. The author of the description noted that the magnificent park with exotic trees had been significantly increasing the value of the castle.

Фото — Роман Шишак

Photo by Roman Shyshak

The following important for the castle owner was Robert Lamesan de Salins. He came from a family of French aristocrats, who were escaping from the revolution and emigrated to Austria. He was a regular serviceman (rose to the rank of General), cavalryman and military attache. In 1903 Robert married Irena from the Wolianskyis family and settled down in Svirzh. Perhaps the family memories of abandoned estates in France awakened the desire of the new owner to restore the Svirzh castle and the former beauty of the castle park. However, the World War I interfered with Robert’s plans: on September 2, 1914 Russian troops occupied Galicia, set fire to the castle. With an enthusiasm worthy of astonishment, Lamasan started over, sparing neither strength nor finances. Today the Latin inscription above the main gate reminds of the last renovation of the castle completed in 1917. Robert had not only raised the estate from the ruins, but also arranged life for his family according to all the luxury features of that time: tennis courts appeared in the park in front of the castle, there were fifty horses in the stables of estate and two cars in the garage. There still exists a story among the inhabitants of Svirzh that Lamesan de Salins in order to satisfy his gastronomic tastes ordered to grow near the castle escargots brought from France.

August 1939 paved the way for surreal scenario in the life of Svirzh. In the local church, founded in the XV century by the Svirzkyis family, where the owners of the castle are buried in the crypt, there was arranged a warehouse of pesticides.  In the castle — school for tractor drivers. However, after the difficult post-war years, the Soviet leadership of the region launched a program of registration of national heritage monuments. And that is how the castle Svirzh received its security certificate with the number 481. The decision was made on the restoration and adaptation of the castle for the Art center of the Association of architects. Plans as to transformation of the monument looked ambitious, but they were not destined to be implemented. In 1992 there were engineering networks commissioned, as well as, partially, premises of the newly created Art center. But recording remained on paper though: the availability of the castle as of 1993 – 72%…

Photo by Roman Shyshak

Castles, like people, each has its own destiny. Svirzh Castle has a happy one. Despite all the historical cataclysms, there were always those who wanted to become good owners for it. And although according to Slavs the first meaning of the word “master” is a title of the ruler, subsequently it has lost its class color. The master is the one who not only takes but also gives. One who loves and sacrifies. One who, like a spreading oak, feels his roots in this land…

Svirzh Castle

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