Ukraine: Olesko Castle
The Olesko Castle (Ukrainian: Олеський замок) is currently located within the borders of the present-day Busk Raion in Ukraine. The first historical records of the castle are in a document dated 1390, when Pope Boniface IX gave Halych, a Catholic bishop, this castle as a gift. It is located about seventy-five kilometers from Lviv, the largest city in western Ukraine. The Olesko Castle, oval in shape, stands on top of a small hill, about fifty meters in height. A moat and a wall surrounds it, which serves as a defence for the castle. The castle is also surrounded by a dense swamp. The land that the castle sat on changed ownership many times. It was originally on the border of land of Volhynia and land of Lviv. The castle was, at different times, owned by Poland, Lithuania, and Hungary. It became a political landmark in the 14th century when movable borders between the three aforementioned countries ran through its territory. Battles for ownership of the castle were constant. A deep well in the basement of the castle was used as an escape route for besieged prisoners. In the 15th century, the castle was changed from being a defense point, to simply a getaway for aristocracy. The castle is perhaps most famous for being the birthplace of the Polish king Jan III Sobieski, the hero of the Battle of Vienna. He often lived there, and collected many of the artworks currently displayed in the present-day museum. Another Polish king, King Michał Korybut Wiśniowiecki, was also born here. The castle was restored in the late 16th to the early 17th Centuries. Paintings and mosaics were brought in to decorate the different rooms of the castle. The castle was remodeled in the Italian Renaissance style, which was popular at that time. In 1838, an earthquake rocked the castle, partly destroying some areas. In 1882, the castle, regarded as a Polish national monument was bought by the Committee of Preservation of the Olesko Castle, which led to a restoration in 1892. Both World War I and World War II affected the castle negatively, undoing previous restoration work. In 1956, the castle was struck by lightning. The castle was restored again, beginning in 1961 and lasting until 1985. Today, it is a museum, displaying the collections of antique furnishings and art dating from the 16th-17th Centuries. It also features sculptures, paintings, still lives, applied arts, tapestries, period weapons, and objects used in everyday life at the time. Its collection is regarded as one of the richest treasury of Polish art outside borders of Poland. The castle is a part of the "Golden Horseshoe", a ring of three castles nearby each other: the Olesko, the Pidhirtsi, and the Zolochiv Castles.