Pidhaytsi – One of the Oldest Settlements Still in Existance
It is through the preserved historical records dating all the way back to 1463 that many consider Pidhaytsi as one of the oldest settlements still in existence in present day Ukraine. During the same time, the 1400s, regional governor Potocki had full control of the town, basing his governance on the Ruthenian and Polish law. However, in modern times, the city has been absorbed by some of the most important and influential centers in Eastern Galicia.
By 1539 Pidhaytsi was granted the Magdeburg Law, one of the most important Germanic medieval laws to be instituted in the urbanization of a particular region. It is interesting to note, that due to the many past invasions by the Tatar within the area as well as its unstable position along Poland’s predominant route to the south, many of the cities surrounding the area were greatly influenced. The result: a series of defensive fortifications and rows containing water, this all in hope of warding off any future attacks. This great fear became ‘key’ to the design and construction of many of the churches, synagogues and monuments built in an impressive defensive style. One of the most renowned battles to take place here was that of the ‘Battle of Podhajce’ in 1698.
Presently Pidhaytsi boasts a population estimated to be over 3 300 people. This small city is located within the Ternopil Oblast to the west of Ukraine. It is here that it acts as the administrative center for the Pidhaietsky Raion, just 25 kilometers south of the city of Berezhany. Although, it must be noted that Pidhaietsky has only recently formed part of the Pidhaietsky Raion since its independence from the Berezhanskyi Raion under the Soviet rule from 1945 to 1991.
Like many cities in modern Ukraine the past of Pidhaytsi was significantly influenced by the Jewish community. This can be greatly seen through its distinct architecture, specifically what is left of the Pidhaytsi Synagogue. It was here at the end of the 16th century and early 17th century that it was established. Presently it is regarded as one of the oldest buildings in the city to date even though not much more than ruins are left to stand. Much of the destruction was caused due to it being reformed into a marketplace by the Communists at that time.