Historic Olyka Castle
Located in the historic region of Volhynia in Western Ukraine, the Olyka Castle served as the principal seat of the princely family Radziwill from the mid 1500s to the late 1700s, standing today as a monument to the style of architecture of the time and the influential family that once inhabited it. The area that was once known as Volhynia no longer exists in its original form, and today is made up of Ukraine’s Volyn and Rivne oblasts, as well as parts of the Ternopil and Zhytomyr Oblasts. It is in this region that some of the oldest Slavic settlements in Europe are found.
Olyka Castle was commissioned by Mikolaj Krzysztof Radziwill and presented to his youngest son Stanislaw, who completed the castle over a period of some decades. From an architectural point of view, Olyka Castle was considered to be the prototype of many similar structures – that of a square fort with corner bastions – found throughout Eastern Europe in later years.
The location of the castle, close to the border of Ukraine and Poland, meant that it was often under siege in various battles for territory between 1591 and 1648. Later, during the French invasion of Russia, also referred to as the Patriotic War of 1812, the castle was used as a Russian military hospital, remaining as such until 1837. It appears that after the hospital left Olyka Castle, the structure remained unoccupied for some time before work began to restore it to its original glory. WWI interrupted the restoration work temporarily, but it was eventually completed in the years following the war.
Today visitors to Olyka Castle will find four residential buildings of unequal height around a central courtyard and encircled by a moat. Unfortunately the original castle towers have deteriorated, but the original network of bastions remains intact. The three floors of the main palace offer insight into the excellent restorative work carried out on the castle in the past. The castle complex includes the Collegiate Church of the Holy Trinity, a superb example of elaborate baroque-style architecture, as well as a clock tower and a 17th century gateway.