Thinking of any park by the castle, first of all, the stereotype views of parks a la Versailles come to mind.  For those unaware of the historical intricacies of the garden arts the story about the park around the Svirzh Castle may seem unbelievable. However, the park was here not only long ago, its features may be seen even today. Eventually, the very feeling of harmony, when you walk around the castle, testifies this.

The park in Svirzh appeared thanks to Ignacy Cetner, whose family possessed Svirzh Cluster for about two hundred years. Sometimes, the biographical records of this Polish nobleman state that he was a botanist.  This evokes a smile, since the arrangement of parks was just his hobby, strengthened by the financial capability. Ignacy, apart from his duties as the landlord of the mentioned cluster of villages, possessed Krakivets, for some time – Pidkamin, Bakonchytsi in Przemysl suburbs, estate in Lviv. But apart from this, he occupied a substantial state position of the Belz Military Governor for about 25 years. However, it were the parks in which he undoubtedly had the passion. 

The Lviv historians surely know the district which preserved its historical name “Cetnerivka” till this day. This territory comes from upper the boarder of Lychakivska Street, down along Cheremshyny Street and earlier occupied half of Pohulianka Street. Here Ignacy built a small palace by the lake and laid the park on the former sandy suburbs of Lviv. This place was famous for the wind rose which created real dunes. Today, this process would be called the re-cultivation. To conduct these works he invited Pièrre Denis Guibaut, French by the origin, a professional Lviv architect. By the way, he owned the estate near Snopky region. There he laid the limes alley in 1812 in honor of Napoleon (he marched on Moscow through Halychyna, Polish people liked him very much). The alley exists till this day and is called Lypova Aleya (the Limes Alley). In XIX century the part of park in Cetnerivka became the property of Lviv University. Those who visit the University Botanic Garden may enjoy the Cetner’s heritage. A small park of Cetner was later enlarged by Earl Liubomirski, today it is the great municipal park in Przemyśl. In Krakivets Cetner possessed a real palace also surrounded by the park. And, if we take into account that the architect, who built the church funded by the local landlord Ignacy, was also Guibaut, it may be assumed that he could also be connected to the park arrangement.

As to the idea of the park arrangement in Svirzh, here it would be impossible to do without the specialist in engineering works.

The castle, which at those times served as a fortress for about 300 years, was surrounded by the steep slopes with the ditch and lifting bridge, as it had to. 

However, Pièrre Denis Guibaut was familiar with the fortifications reconstruction. In Lviv he supervised the works of the defensive walls liquidation, after Austrians started ruling the city. Maybe, Cetner and Pièrre Denis Guibaut had something more in common. They both were Masons. But who wasn’t Mason at those times? By the way, Cetners respected the competent and qualified architects. The first of the Svirzh owners, Oleksandr, invited the best one of those who built the fortifications – the author of the project of the Royal Armory Museum in Lviv, Pavlo Hrodzytsky. This time the task was exactly opposite: The fortress was transformed into the palace. And the park was a necessary element here. But, despite the presence of Frenchman, the park was arranged in the English style. The choice of the park style testifies to the perfect taste and undoubted ability to see and feel the beauty of the nature. And this is the nature which has the upper hand here. The hilly landscape with the views of forest, wild stones, which crop up in some places, and, for sure, the river Svirzh creating a picturesque pond with the smooth surface reflecting the castle. All attributes of the landscape park which looks like the forest, with the difference reflected in a good care, which means, that in the English garden the least aesthetic elements of the nature are rejected, and there is certain order.

We are lucky to have a document which is immensely valuable from informative point of view. It is called “The description of castle and outdoor buildings of Svirzh City” and is dated 1829. It was compiled almost three decades after the death of Ignacy Cetner, while the park still existed, most likely it was not in the condition it was during the life of its creator. So, according to the description it occupied almost 10 hectares (17 morgs and 1455 sazhens). The author states that “…the park is arranged with a good taste and has a convenient location, is a decoration of the Svirzh City and even increases the value of these estates.” And the terraces from the southeast side of the castle were built to serve as the improvements.

One more evidence: Antoni Lange’s Lithography.

This is the perspective from which the mentioned terraces may be seen, the alleys, plantings, the tower-pavilion (once the watch tower since XV century, later served as a chapel for a long time).

By the way, the presence of “remnants” of the ancient buildings was desirable for the English style. In our case the collection of artistic works was gathered in pavilion. Rightwards from the alley to the bridge three greenhouses were constructed. One of them was designed for the date palms and the other for growing of peaches. The greenhouses had the special heating system. Besides, the summer house – a small mansion and house for canaries were constructed on the territory. The man-made plantations complemented the surrounding views: the rocky mountain with the sculpture of St. Jan from Duklia, the mill on the pond. Below the bridge, there is a natural niche wrapped by the wild grapes, which is also a characteristic feature of the style.

A fragment of the cadastral map of Svirzh, 1845

After multiple changes of owners in XIX century, early XX century, and especially after the World War I which was destructive for the castle, there started a new period of the castle and the territory reconstruction. 

And again, a Frenchman appears in our history but this time as an owner – Robert Lamezan de Salins. To this day the memories of his daughter Irena survived, for whom the tennis courts were constructed in the park, near the entrance onto the castle territory. Her father loved horses, since her early years he taught her to ride. The park alleys were suitable for this. There are interesting testimonies from Svirzh people how it all happened. Irena herself mentioned that quite frequently together with the village girls she worked on the flower beds and even in the garden. Her father believed that she had to learn everything in order to be able to help herself in any life situation.

The greenhouses in the park were not reconstructed but the elements of the park furniture made of stone appeared which continued the aesthetic line of the park in English style.

Besides, at that time, the main citadel of the castle, judging by the published photos, was planted to the maximum extent, and the internal walls of the castles were tightly wrapped with the grapes and ivy, which created romantic atmosphere, very close to the wild nature.

Today many people ask if any trees survived to this day. Most of plantations around the park are 100-130 years old larch-trees, pine trees, chestnut trees, firs. However, we managed to find the witnesses of the ancient XVIII century park. Along the lane going downwards from the church, in due time, the oak alley was planted near the park boundary. 

You will be able to see several 300-year old trees, if you come to Svirzh. The landscapes which inspired the creation of this oasis are waiting for you.

Park. Photo by V. Olhomyak, 1968 (Cabinet of Arts of Lviv National Scientific Library of Ukraine named after Vasyl Stefanyk)

Svirzh Castle

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