Zolochevsky castle Lviv region, detailed description

Zolochevsky castle

The Zolochevsky castle is a unique monument of history and defense architecture of the XVII century, located in Ukraine, on the outskirts of the city of Zolochev. For centuries the castle has been a fortress, a royal residence, a lord’s manor, a prison and a school. Now Zolochevsky castle is a museum and a department of Lviv Art Gallery. The castle is visited by many tourists and is a part of a tourist route “Golden Horseshoe of Lviv Region”.

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Zolochevsky castle was built at the expense of Jakub Sobiesky (father of the Rzeczpospolita King Yan III Sobiesky) in 1634 as a defensive fortress designed by an unknown Italian architect on the site of the old wooden castle, which was surrounded by powerful earth ramparts, lined with stone, with bastions at the corners and moats with water. In the courtyard of the castle there are two palaces. The larger of the two is called the Grand Palace, and opposite the entrance tower is the Chinese Palace. The castle is also interesting because it was the first sewage system, which has survived to this day.

What to see

The castle is a neo-Dutch type of fortifications and belongs to the “palazzo in fortezzo” type of monuments, which combines the functions of defense and housing.

The fortifications of Zolochevsky castle include the ramparts, bastions, gate tower, bridge and ravelin. The ramparts, bastions, and partially the overgate have been preserved since the foundation of the castle, while the ravelin and the bridge have been reconstructed.

To enter the territory of Zolochevsky castle, you should first of all pass the entrance gate. In Zolochev, they are equipped with a drawbridge and decorated with the only clock in town (at the time of its creation). Under the main gate, there used to be a secret underground passage that allowed you to leave the fortress unnoticed.

The chateau courtyard has only survived to this day: the Chinese Palace, the Great Residence Palace and the Gate Tower, which was significantly rebuilt in the late 19th century.

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The entrance tower, the Chinese palace, and the Great residential palace create a Renaissance ensemble.

Great residential palace

The Great residential palace of Zolochevsky castle is a two-storey building of 72 × 22 m with basements. In the process of restoration, the layout of rooms was recreated, six toilets of the early 18th century were found, as well as a secret passage and pipes. Furnaces, fireplaces, floors are lost. Of the portals of the inner doors has been preserved one entirely on the first floor and two half-destroyed on the second floor.

In August 2009 the Great Palace of the Zolochevsky castle was opened for viewing. On the first floor of the Grand palace on the exhibition halls you can see the history of the castle, the prison period, the period of restoration, the region of Zolochev. Also there is a palace chapel of the Annunciation, an exhibition hall, halls of the XVII and XVIII centuries, and a royal treasury with a reconstruction of the crown of Daniel of Galicia. On the second floor of the palace there is a department “Interiors of the period of historicism”.

In the Grand Palace there are more than 550 exhibits, including 122 pieces of painting, 123 pieces of furniture, weapons, porcelain, sculpture, carpets, things found during the restoration works, hunting trophies, etc.

Among the picturesque works are portraits of XVII-XIX centuries, copies of paintings by famous European artists: A. Dürer “Madonna and Child”, P. Rubens “Holy Supper”, “Judgment of Solomon”, Rembrandt “Exile of Agari”, “Scholar”, “Portrait of Man”, A. van Dyck “Portrait of a Young Man” (“Portrait of Ruprecht with Palatinate”) and many others.

Chinese Palace

Chinese palace in Zolochevsky castle was built at the end of XVII century. The palace has a form of a two-story pointed rotunda with one-story side extensions. Originally it was a gallery-rotunda with eight columns on the main facade and a balcony around it. In the XVIII century the side extensions were added and the building was called the Chinese palace. The reliefs above the doors and windows of the second floor of the rotunda have been preserved.

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In restored Chinese palace Zolochevsky castle May 21, 2004 opened the Museum of Oriental cultures.

In the central two-story part of the Chinese palace – the rotunda – the interior and the “tea room” are arranged. In five exhibition halls are presented about 250 works of painting, drawings, sculpture, objects of arts and crafts, as well as archaeological artifacts representing the art of Egypt, Sumer, China, Japan, India, Indonesia, Turkey and Persia. Among the exhibits there is a falcon mummy, fragments of Egyptian sarcophagi, Japanese graphics of the second half of the XVIII century, lacquer products of China, Eastern textiles of the XVII-XVIII centuries, a painting “Jerusalem” by Ivan Malinovsky, an artist from Lvov of the late XVII century.

Around the Chinese palace was laid oriental park with a pavilion.

The whole territory around the palaces is surrounded by a garden, designed in the style of late Renaissance, laid out by Yan III. The garden in the Zolochevsky castle – is a green symmetry of neatly trimmed thuas, sandy paths, shaped bushes, fountains and sculptures of angels. All this creates a wonderful feeling of coziness and even royal calm among fortification walls of the castle.


In 2007 one of the fortifications of the castle, the Ravelin, was renewed. Now it houses a restaurant, a souvenir store, and a bathroom.

The Memorial Chapel at the entrance to the castle

A Memorial Chapel to victims martyred in the castle was opened in July 1995 during the reconstruction of Zolochevsky castle. The chapel-monument was created by architect Vasily Kamenshchik, sculptor Feodosia Brizh and artists Yevgeny and Yarema Beznisko.

Mysterious stones

One of the most interesting exhibits at the Zolochevsky castle are the stones with encrypted inscriptions, dating back to the late XIV – early XV centuries. The stones were brought in 2000 from the outskirts of Zolochev – the village Novoselki.

One of the stones is covered with a pattern in the form of intertwined wreaths of thorns and flowers, as a symbol of the eternal co-existing sides of life and death.

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On the second stone is a mysterious text carved in Gothic letters, which so far no one has managed to read. However, these symbols have their own legend. It is said that the beautiful signs were carved on the stone by the Knights Templar, who used to run a castle nearby. According to one hypothesis, the inscriptions on the stones are part of a cipher showing where the treasures of the Knights Templar are hidden.


More than 20 million UAH for the restoration of Zolochevsky castle was donated by Petro Pisarchuk. For these funds restored the Chinese and Royal Palaces, laid water and heating systems, restored the facade of the Great Palace, built a tunnel at the entrance gate, a ravelin, a lifting bridge. Near the castle was opened a monument of sacred art “The Source”, which became a symbolic entry sign.

How to get there

The Zolochevsky castle is located in Lviv region, Zolochevsky street, 3. It is open for visitors from Tuesday to Sunday from 10.00 to 17.00.

Zolochevsky castle

The Zolochevsky castle in Lviv region (Ukraine), at different times in history was a royal residence, prison and educational institution, now museum.

The interesting expositions about the past of these lands and architectural beauty invariably attract many visitors.

History of Zolochevsky castle

Along with other castles of Western Ukraine, Zolochevsky castle belongs to the Golden Horseshoe Route. The castle is located in the small town Zolochev, situated 70 km from Lviv. The castle itself at first sight may seem plain, and the decoration and appearance after restoration seem too modest. But during a tour or a walk around the fortress such a feeling vanishes without a trace – a powerful outpost on the outskirts of Lviv.

The first wooden fortifications on the site appeared in the late 12th century, but were destroyed by the Tatar-Mongols. Later the mention of Zolochevsky settlement dates back to the 15th century – Polish King Vladislav III Varnenchik gave these lands to Yan Seninsky. Already at the beginning of the 16th century, thanks to its important location, Zolochev had a system of local self-government, regulated by the provisions of Magdeburg Law. During the reign of Andrei Gurkha, economic ties and influence in various spheres expanded, and associations of craftsmen became widespread.

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The castle complex belongs to architectural monuments of the 17th century. The town was situated on the crossing of trade routes. The defenders of the castle held the defense during the attacks of Tatars and Turks.

Medieval fortifications, built on the site of the castle, after major battles repeatedly rebuilt.

The Sobieski family that had owned this land for several generations erected stone walls and other fortifications to hold the defense. Talented architects worked on the project of the castle. They combined the splendor of Renaissance buildings with Gothic elements and added Classicist elements to the overall composition.

Jan Sobieski, the future king of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, in the second half of the 17th century, managed to withstand an attack of the Tatar warriors commanded by Anji-Girei. This battle went down in history, and the impregnable fortress did not let the enemies to Lviv. After the coronation of Jan III the castle became his residence, and a palace was built on the territory. It was heated with stoves and fireplaces and was equipped with a sewage system.

The late Renaissance garden became a real ornament of the local lands. The monarch’s wife of French descent, Maria d’Arcouni, loved to spend her time here. The nobility at court disliked the foreign mistress, believing that she influenced the king in his decision making.

At the beginning of the 18th century the Zolochevsky castle ceased to belong to the noble family, and then repeatedly changed its owners. Many of them did not work to maintain the fortress of its defensive power, so it gradually fell into disrepair.

During the reign of the Hungarians, the fortress was turned into a court and prison. World War II also left its mark – the Germans established a military base here. By the time the Soviets came to power, they continued to place prisoners here.

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In the middle of the 20th century the students of vocational schools were trained here. In the 80s the fortress was given to the Lviv Art Gallery, which started restoration works.

The castle complex is located on the Kupina hill. It is made in a square shape and was enclosed with stone fortifications. If the enemy managed to break through the first line of defense, a wide earthen wall was used to stop them until the reinforcements arrived. One of the advantages for defenders of the fortress was the towers and a deep moat with a drawbridge, which is nowadays reconstructed.

The placement of buildings inside the fortifications followed the traditions of Dutch craftsmen, and the luxurious park was designed in the French style.

The gatehouse has two floors, the first of which has the main gate. A lifting bridge adjoins them. The castle itself, located in the western part of the complex, is in Renaissance style and also has 2 tiers.

From the interiors of the royal residence of the Sobieski couple have survived cross vaults, other details have been mostly recreated by modern craftsmen. It will be also interesting to see elements of the stove and fireplace heating system of those times.

The most valuable in architectural terms is the Chinese palace, built by the King of Poland for his wife. The two-storey rotunda-shaped building has a roof with a high spire. On the lower tier is a colonnade, and the windows are decorated with bas-reliefs. On a cozy balcony of the gem of Zolochevsky castle complex, you could admire the beauty of nature.

Nowadays visitors can not only appreciate this historic monument, but also get acquainted with the rich collection of art and culture of Eastern countries thanks to Lviv National Gallery.

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