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An enjoyable day trip from Lviv is a visit to the historical town of Zhovkva, about 32 km north..The town’s heyday was during the late 17th century when it became an influential cultural and educational centre, as well as the home to a thriving colony of artists and craftspeople whose work had great influence in Western Ukraine.

Old Slavic Vinnyky. Medieval Zolkiew. Soviet Nesteriv. With each change in history this town changed its name and appearance. However the centre is the same as in medieval times and is again called Zhovkva (Zolkiew in Polish).
In 1594 the great Hetman Stanislas Zolkiewski (1547–1620) transformed the village of Vynnyky into a town-fortress. And in 1603 after victory over Revel, Polish King Sigmund gave the town the Magdeburg charter and named it “Zolkiew" (Zhovkva).

Influenced by Thomas More's “Utopia,” many “ideal” towns were built in Europe at that time. Based on a project by Italian architect B. Morando, well-known Lviv craftsmen Paweł Szczęśliwy (Shchastlyvyy), Paweł Rzymianin and Ambroży Przychylny tried to build an "ideal" Zhovkva. The centre of their attention was the castle.

At the beginning of the XVII century it had three storeyed corner towers, an entrance gateway in the north-eastern wall and fighting galleries with loopholes along the walled perimeter. The south-western wing was decorated with an open gallery and arcades and it served as a palace. Unfortunately the luxurious halls, a treasury and an armoury can not be restored but the facade of the former outpost is again the town's showpiece due to restoration begun in 2003.

Near the castle at the foot of the mountain a well-known “menagerie” is situated – a park where deer and chamoises graze on green meadows. Hunting has always been a favorite pastime for all the various castle owners – the Zolkiewskis, the Danylowyczis and their grandson, the Polish king, Jan Sobesky. The latter, after having chosen Zhovkva castle as a residence, luxuriously decorated it and as the result the stronghold and the town lived in the highest prosperity.

Plosha Vicheva

The town revolves around the sprawling, central plosha Vicheva, its southern and eastern sides lined with unkempt 17th to 18th –century buildings.Before you reach the square from the bus station, on your right is the abandoned but impressive walled Church of St Joseph, a 1653-55 former Dominican Church. The south side of the square is taken up by the simplistic Renaissance palace, originally built as a defensive castle in 1594 and rebuilt 100 years later as a palace. To the left are some walls leading to the small 17th- century Zvirynetska Gate, through which Khmelnytsky and his Cosacks supposedly marched when liberating the town from the Poles in 1648. Beyond the gate is the pleasant Vidpochinky park that circles behind the palace and along a narrow branch of the Svyna River.To the right of the palace is the old town hall with a clock tower and memorial mound in front, commemorating WW II victims.Further to the right is another gateway – across the street from the octagonal bell tower of the impressive and large 1606-23 Roman Catholic Church that dominates the western side of the square.Built under the Poles, the locked interior houses some beautiful sculpture and paintings.Behind and to the north lies the Holy Trinity Church of the Basilian monastery , built in 1612 and distinguished by its unique Bysantine-looking dome rising above a cluster of semicircular apses.The southern Renaissance synagogue is a small outdoor marketplace.

Getting there

The best way to get to Zhovkva is through Lviv. From Lviv to Zhovkva (32 km) you can get there by taxi or public transportation. A walk from Zhovkva station where you arrive, to the castle, takes no more than 10 minutes. The town is small enough and all its sightseings are located close to one another.


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