Zbarazh – Magnificent Fortresses and Churches

Zbarazh city is situated in the Ternopil Oblast in the west of Ukraine where it acts as the administrative center to the Zbarazky district. Interestingly, the city lies in the historic region of Galicia. At present the city is home to over 13,000 people.

Evidence of this beautiful city’s formation can be seen in the Ruthenian fortress dating back to 1211. During the end of the 14th century, Zbarazh became the seat to the Gediminid Princes Zbarazski. By the early 17th century, however, not much was left of the castle. Nevertheless, a major operation was undertaken in designing a new fortress for Prince Jeremi Wisniowiecki. The look was likened to that of the post-Palladian style used by Dutch architect van Peyen in the construction of Scamozzi in 1626 to 1631. Today, all that is left is ruins, which still exist in the modern Zbarazh after a great attempt to rebuild the structure took place in the 18th century.

Of great interest in the city of Zbarazh is that of several churches, specifically the Saviour Church built in the 1600, as well as the Bernardine monastery constructed in 1627. As with various other towns and cities in Ukraine, the Jewish influence was great, with an astounding growth in population. Two of most famous Jewish influences were that of singer Velvel Zbarjer and Rabbi Zev Wolf. To add to the city’s fame is its use as a setting for the novel ‘With Fire and Sword’ by author Henryk Sienkiewicz in 1884.

One of the most interesting battles to take place here was that of the ‘Siege of Zbarazh’ or the Khmelnytsky Uprising during 1648 to 1654. The rebellion went under the command of Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky, the Crimean Tatars, Zaporozhian Cossacks and the local Ruthenian peasantry, against the Polish-Lithuanain Commonwealth. It took several battles to finally eradicate the Polish szlachta, Jewish arendators and the Roman Catholic priest who had previously had full control of the area. Their aim – to establish a new state that would be primarily dominated by the Cossack-Ruthenian’s known as the East Slavic. In the end it succeeded in the Commonwealth influence over much of the Cossack lands, thus exchanging territories from the Polish regime to that of the Russian influence.

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