CYCLE ARTICLES ABOUT VOLYN
If you look through the pages of history, you will surely notice that importance and popularity of cities vary as time flows. New cities appear on the map, some cities on the contrary – disappear. A small town of Olyka, Kyvertsiv district, Volyn region, has a similar history. Nowadays, it is a small Volyn town that is not even a district center, however there were times when it used to be equal to Lutsk, both in the population and administrative and economic importance.
The first record of Olyka city dates back to the times of Halych-Volyn Principality in the Ipatiy Cronicles. Olyka’s prosperity was at times when this city belonged to powerful and old family of Lithuanian Princes Radziwills.
Main sightseeing attraction popular till nowadays is an ancient castle, called Olytsky Castle or Radziwill Castle.
The Radziwills possessed a lot of Lituanian lands, as well as a part of modern Belorussia. In 1547, Emperor Karl V gave Olyka to the Radziwills. The city belonged to them till 1939. That was the Radziwill family who introduced the Magdeburg Law in Olyka. After that the city became their entailed property that can be inherited only by the first-born male.
In year 1558 Prince Yan Radziwill the Black erected a huge castle here that performed defensive functions. About 200 big cannons ensured high defensive capacity of Olytsky Castle. That’s why the castle walls stood a number of sieges for more than four centuries of their existence. Olytsky Castle is considered to be one of the first and the biggest bastilles in Ukraine, having a territory of 2.7 ha at that time. The number of rooms in the castle equals the number of days in a year being 365.
On the order of Prince Albrecht Stanislaw Radziwill, this fortress was reconstructed and improved. All the buildings of this defensive complex were organized in a square yard, which enforces the fortress protection. One- and two-storey buildings started to appear in the castle yard. One of them located in the northwestern part of the yard was the palace. Along with reconstruction of the whole castle, Holy Trinity Church was erected in peculiar for that time baroque style. Façade of the church was decorated with four sculptures of Saints – Pavel, Petro, Wojciech and Stanislaw. Only several wooden sculptures of disciples survived till nowadays. Unfortunately, Holy Trinity Church has experienced a lot of robbers’ violations and natural destructions. For the moment being, this monastery is in need of capital reconstruction.
Apart from this sacred place, there is another monastery in Olyka, which is St. Peter and Paul Cathedral. It is located behind the bell tower of Trinity Church. St. Peter and Paul Cathedral is one of the oldest stone churches in Volyn region, constructed circa 1460, far long before Princes Radziwills appeared here.
During the times of Soviet Union, a psychiatric hospital #2 was located on the territory of Radziwill Castle. The hospital still exists.
Everyone wishing to visit the majestic Radziwill castle in Olyka has a chance to do it. Guests are always welcomed here. The only part of the castle closed for visitors nowadays are chamber of the Princes and their servants.