Ternopil Castle

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Ternopil Castle
Ternopil', Ternopil' Oblast'
Photo of Ternopil' Castle.
Landmark of Ukrainian National Historical Heritage
Coordinates 49°33′11″N 25°35′17″E / 49.553°N 25.588°E / 49.553; 25.588
Site information
Owner Ukrainian State
Condition continuous renovations
Site history
Built 1548
Demolished 1575, 1589, 1672
Events Tatar invasions, Russian Revolution, World War II

The Ternopil Castle (Ukrainian: Тернопільський замок, Polish: Zamek w Tarnopolu) is a stronghold which gave birth to the city of Ternopil. It was built in the 16th century to protect southern border of the Kingdom of Poland and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

The castle originated as the residence of a Polish nobleman Jan Amor Tarnowski in 1540. Construction works (1540-1548) on the marshy bank of the Seret River were authorized by King Sigismund the Old. The castle (round which the modern town has developed) was encircled by a wooden fence and a deep moat. The latter was connected in 1548 to the castle pond (see Ternopil Pond).



King Sigismund granted land ownership and rights erecting the castle to dubded Polish Crown Hetman, Jan Tarnowski. Concurrently in the valley of Seret river a levee and dam with a bridge crossing were constructed, resulting in the stream pooling, thus filling a new lake. Out from the north the castle and the city was protected by river Rudka harboring a boggy holm, while on the southern side would be Bavorovsky pond vanished in a later time. Narrow dry strip of land factually being a moat banked by a mound with inside masonry reinforcement oak stockade would set the castle ground apart. Rectangular-shaped towers housing embrasures stood tall on the outer fringes. The entrance was permitted from the east via stone gatehouse secured with a chain hoist drawbridge.

Principal castle building represented by residential palace due to natural fortress placing possessed varied floor levels: besides three main floors visible from the city outskirts, two underground levels being revealed out of a lake steep bank altogether with the two rows of embrasures.

First record in Ternopil' annals entered on April 15, 1540 was related to the king's assent given to Kraków nobleman, Jan Tarnowski regarding constructing castle over Seret river. This fortification had to seal nomad advancement through wide plains from Terebovlya (then known as Trembowla) to Busk, where there was none of any significant fastness. In the same time natural environment terrain would permit security provisions for a given locale.

Castle construction lasted for 8 years and completed in 1548. Perquisites of 1566 mention Ternopil' fortress and its founder. Due to significant losses sustained on construction project, city was relieved of much of the taxation burden. Consequently castle was reinforced and upgraded by Tarnowski's son, Krzysztof. Sizable expense was credited towards enlargement and improvement by Tomasz Zamoyski, who received the city as his wife's dowry, daughter of renowned Ruthenian maecenas and statesman, Konstanty Ostrogski.

In the early 17th century, Ternopil, known then as Tarnopol, passed through inheritance in the female line to Tomasz Zamoyski who commissioned extensive renovations. It was besieged by the Turks in 1544, 1575, 1589 and 1672. The Ottoman army under Şişman İbrahim Paşa reduced the castle to ruins in 1675. Count Korytowski revived it in the 1840s as his summer residence; he also had its towers, walls and other fortifications dismantled.

16th century map of Ternopil Castle location

Tatar invasion[edit]

In the course of its history Ternopil' Castle was a subject of frequent attacks and destruction.

No sooner development projects began, as Tatars attempted inroads on the city. Owing to the town home guard spearheaded by Bernard Pretwicz, Jan Gerburt, and Prokyp Sieniawski, the horde was held back till knights forces arrived out from the vicinity of Sandomierz. The castle sustained significant damage in 1575, 1589, and 1672. In 1675 Şişman İbrahim Paşa broke a camp next to Ternopil and besieged the city.

As Tatars and Turks committed assaults, town dwellers sought refuge in the castle cellars accommodated to withstand prolonged confrontation. Network of underground passageways connected bulwark with Nadstavna, Serrednya to Monastirska churches, Dominikan, and Jesuit cathedral, synagogues. Underground networks event possible from under the lake to Zagrebelia.

In 1621 Tomasz Zamoyski, the castle owner, completed restoration and entertained prince Władysław IV Vasa. Knowledge about the castle, town, and the vicinity became available from the journal of German explorer and traveler, Ulrich von Werdum, who used to traverse Ternopil' country side between July 1671 and January 1672. In 1675 Turks burned the outpost, destroyed fortifications, blew up both towers that have never been rebuild anew. The castle was reconstructed at the end of the 17th century and the beginning of the 18th.

19th century[edit]

19th century Ternopil Castle outlook

In 1810 Russians accommodated the castle to a "dance casino", where Mayor Tails would arrange societarian receptions. At the beginning of the 19th century, Count Korytowski rebuilt the structure into a palace having demolished defense bulwarks, towers, and gates while raising masonry walls instead. On the southern perimeter three story New Castle was constructed, new Gate House erected incorporating narrow wicket-gate and two masonry pylons. In 1843 last owner of Ternopil' City, Turkul, sold the castle to town community that in turn committed transfer to Austrian army having utilized it for barracks.

20th century[edit]

Russian army retreating from the city on July 21, 1917 burned the Old castle. On April 15, 1931 building restored anew, then religious blessing ceremony was held. It was occupied by Officer Cadet Reserve school and Science Committee of Baborovski that secured valuable collection of manuscripts and documents. During the Second World War fort-post was last defense foothold of German army destroyed by the Red Army. Ruins of a new castle were cleaned out and on its place hotel "Ternopil'" built.


The old castle was rebuilt in 1956 and then utilized for sporting events compound of regional sports establishment. In 1969 Greco-Roman School of wrestling had its base there. From original castle only ground work retained in the form of foundation with its walls thickness of 2, 5-4, and 5 meters. All the structures as a consequence of many reconstructions exhibit completely transformed architectural view and interior.


  • Памятники градостроительства и архитектуры Украинской ССР, 4 volumes, Kiev: Будивэльнык, 1983–86, the article on Тернопольский замок (online)

Coordinates: 49°33′11″N 25°35′17″E / 49.553°N 25.588°E / 49.553; 25.588