Fiction and Fact Define Ghostly Sightings in Ukraine

Ghosts and graveyards, tales of ancient paranormal visitors and things that go bump in the night are the bread and butter of tourist destinations like England and Wales, but in Ukraine, the long-departed are more selective with their nocturnal visits. Olesko Castle, in particular, harbors a number of spiritual visitors.


Olesko Castle, purported to be founded in the 11th century during the time of the Crusades and built along the old trade routes between Hungary and Volyn, lays claim to a couple of ghosts. Attacked on multiple occasions by the warring Tatars, the castle was the birthplace of Jan III Sobieski, the future King of Poland. A romantic figure, Sobieski, was ever faithful to his wife, Maria-Marysenka, during a time when infidelity by a royal figure was not only expected but lauded. At times desperately jealous, Sobieski drove his wife away to the shores of France until he frantically sent letters beseeching her to return. After Sobieski, himself, died, his adored wife soon followed, passing into the after life in France, lonely and forgotten until the ghost of Maria-Marysenka returned.

Several months after Maria-Marysenka’s death, Capuchin friars were awoken by a loud knocking on the gates of the palace where they slept. The palace in close proximity to where Sobieski was buried, moaned in the night, but when the friars cast open the gates, only a coffin with Maria-Marysenka’s body met them at the door.

More ghostly stories tell other tales of Olesko Castle’s past. Young single girls visiting the castle may be met by the spirit of a nobleman who died by his own hand after his multiple marriage proposals were spurned by the object of his attention’s surly father. Piercing himself with a dagger in front of the cruel father, the nobleman was denied burial in a cemetery because of his act of suicide. Thrown into a nearby bog, the nobleman purports to reveal himself with centuries of sadness in his moaning voice.

The ghost of a monk is purported to roam the castle, too. The monk’s visits to women of pleasure landed him behind a wall in the castle, blocked up behind stone while he was still alive.

Ukraine may not be well recognized by its spirits, but more than masterpieces from Lviv art gallery, a huge collection of wooden sculptures from 14th and 19th centuries, and stone fountains may await travelers to Olesko Castle. Just be sure to say hello to anyone that may cross your path!