The neglected fortified Ukrainian castle from 17th century

Pidhirtsi Castle was constructed by the Italian architect Andrea dell’Aqua between 1635 and 1640 for the Hetman (Cossack chief) of the Polish crown. Built for leisure rather than for defensive purposes, the castle—which remained in the hands of Polish military leaders into the eighteenth century—is a clear departure from previous castle constructions in the region. It is more of a country house or palace, with a landscaped French- and English-style park and two churches.

Old Pidhirtsi Castle, village Podgortsy, Lviv region, Ukraine

The proprietors of the complex also amassed a major collection of painting, sculpture, armor, and crafts, in a private collection now managed by the Museum of Fine Arts in L’viv, which has overseen the site since 1991. The site is designated part of the national cultural heritage of the Ukraine. The complex underwent a number of renovations in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and suffered damage during the twentieth.

During the Polish-Soviet War (1919-1921) the castle was seriously vandalized, and after World War II it was converted into a sanatorium for tuberculosis patients. At that time various unsympathetic renovations were initiated, especially adaptations for drainage, water, and electrical systems. In 1956, a fire started by a lightning storm caused major damage, and during the Soviet regime the castle was at various times either abandoned or misused.

All of these factors have resulted in the deterioration of the east and west galleries of the palace, infiltration of water into the foundations of the courtyard and the park, and the impending collapse of many walls. The Museum of Fine Arts is willing to return the Hetman’s collection to Pidhirtsi if the means and technical expertise necessary to restore the castle can be found. 

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