.
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eep in the western countryside, near the city of L’viv, Ukraine, Pidhirtsi Castle resides in its neglected state. This palace-like complex reels in those looking for the “Woman in White” or the lost grandeur of a once opulent estate. The castle experienced oscillating existences from a lavish royal residence to one attacked, looted, and burned. However, like the country of Ukraine, Pidhirtsi Castle has persisted and remains standing for present and future generations.

Pidhirtsi Castle garners the title as one of the most valuable palace-castle complexes in the eastern borderlands. Italian architect Andrea dell’Aqua, in cooperation with a French-Polish architect designed Pidhirtsi Castle in the 17th century for the Hetman of the Polish- Lithuanian Crown. Construction took place between 1635-1640. Polish royalty desired the castle for leisure rather than defensive purposes, and it appears more like a palace than a militarized fortress for this reason. Polish leaders used the residence into the 18th century for recreation and grand events.

Inside the Pidhirtsi Castle. Photo by Aleksandr Paramonov via Unsplash.

Valuable art filled the interiors of Pidhirtsi Castle during its years of prominence. The castle consisted of many large halls named in accordance to their color or collections held. The estate housed banquets and parties that lasted days and weeks during these prime years. However, very little of its original beauty remains today. The past owner, Roman Vladyslav Sanhushko, took many of the valuable artifacts of the castle abroad before the Red Army arrived in 1939. The damage in the subsequent decades reduced Pidhirtsi Castle to an abandoned and empty building, a place awaiting proper restoration and rejuvenation.

Multiple renovations of Pidhirtsi Castle occurred in the 18th and 19th centuries, but the 20th century brought the most significant damage to the complex. The Polish-Soviet War from 1919-1921 led to extensive vandalism of the structure. Following World War II and the annexation of this region from Poland to Ukraine, the fortification became a tuberculosis sanatorium. The castle experienced further destruction from a devastating fire in 1956. Since 1991, the Museum of Fine Arts in L’viv has overseen the castle and the few art pieces left within. The deterioration of Pidhirtsi Castle remains noticeable yet representative of this history.

Pidhirtsi Castle served many purposes throughout its lifetime. However, its reputation as a haunted castle often overshadows all other labels. Legends of a “Woman in White” proliferate, reeling in ghost-hunters and paranormal enthusiasts to its location. The stories follow a woman most commonly regarded as Maria Zhevuska, wife of Duke Zhevuski. The popular story asserts that Duke Zhevuski sealed Maria in a stone wall of the castle in anger at her supposed infidelity. Other narratives say it was because she could not produce an heir. The rumors claim that her ghost wanders the site because her husband forever bound her body to it.

Pidhirtsi Castle’s popularity grew with such legends and stories. In the past decades, paranormal documentary shows such as Ghost Hunters International sought it as a subject. The castle also frequently appears on lists of haunted estates and places. For example, Culture Trip ranks Pidhirtsi Castle as one of the most haunted places in Ukraine.

The castle still stands despite its troubled history. While its future remains uncertain, Pidhirtsi Castle perseveres, drawing in those searching for ghosts or mysterious palaces of Ukraine’s past.

About
Whitney DeVries
:
Whitney DeVries is a Diplomatic Courier correspondent currently pursuing a master’s degree in International Affairs and Global Enterprise at the University of Utah.
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.

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Ukraine’s Most Haunted Castle

The Pidhirtsi Castle in Western Ukraine. Photo by Whitney DeVries.

October 29, 2021

Once a lavish royal residence and home to treasured art and history, the Pidhirtsi Castle has been attacked, looted, and burned many times before reaching the title of the most haunted castle in Ukraine.

D

eep in the western countryside, near the city of L’viv, Ukraine, Pidhirtsi Castle resides in its neglected state. This palace-like complex reels in those looking for the “Woman in White” or the lost grandeur of a once opulent estate. The castle experienced oscillating existences from a lavish royal residence to one attacked, looted, and burned. However, like the country of Ukraine, Pidhirtsi Castle has persisted and remains standing for present and future generations.

Pidhirtsi Castle garners the title as one of the most valuable palace-castle complexes in the eastern borderlands. Italian architect Andrea dell’Aqua, in cooperation with a French-Polish architect designed Pidhirtsi Castle in the 17th century for the Hetman of the Polish- Lithuanian Crown. Construction took place between 1635-1640. Polish royalty desired the castle for leisure rather than defensive purposes, and it appears more like a palace than a militarized fortress for this reason. Polish leaders used the residence into the 18th century for recreation and grand events.

Inside the Pidhirtsi Castle. Photo by Aleksandr Paramonov via Unsplash.

Valuable art filled the interiors of Pidhirtsi Castle during its years of prominence. The castle consisted of many large halls named in accordance to their color or collections held. The estate housed banquets and parties that lasted days and weeks during these prime years. However, very little of its original beauty remains today. The past owner, Roman Vladyslav Sanhushko, took many of the valuable artifacts of the castle abroad before the Red Army arrived in 1939. The damage in the subsequent decades reduced Pidhirtsi Castle to an abandoned and empty building, a place awaiting proper restoration and rejuvenation.

Multiple renovations of Pidhirtsi Castle occurred in the 18th and 19th centuries, but the 20th century brought the most significant damage to the complex. The Polish-Soviet War from 1919-1921 led to extensive vandalism of the structure. Following World War II and the annexation of this region from Poland to Ukraine, the fortification became a tuberculosis sanatorium. The castle experienced further destruction from a devastating fire in 1956. Since 1991, the Museum of Fine Arts in L’viv has overseen the castle and the few art pieces left within. The deterioration of Pidhirtsi Castle remains noticeable yet representative of this history.

Pidhirtsi Castle served many purposes throughout its lifetime. However, its reputation as a haunted castle often overshadows all other labels. Legends of a “Woman in White” proliferate, reeling in ghost-hunters and paranormal enthusiasts to its location. The stories follow a woman most commonly regarded as Maria Zhevuska, wife of Duke Zhevuski. The popular story asserts that Duke Zhevuski sealed Maria in a stone wall of the castle in anger at her supposed infidelity. Other narratives say it was because she could not produce an heir. The rumors claim that her ghost wanders the site because her husband forever bound her body to it.

Pidhirtsi Castle’s popularity grew with such legends and stories. In the past decades, paranormal documentary shows such as Ghost Hunters International sought it as a subject. The castle also frequently appears on lists of haunted estates and places. For example, Culture Trip ranks Pidhirtsi Castle as one of the most haunted places in Ukraine.

The castle still stands despite its troubled history. While its future remains uncertain, Pidhirtsi Castle perseveres, drawing in those searching for ghosts or mysterious palaces of Ukraine’s past.

About
Whitney DeVries
:
Whitney DeVries is a Diplomatic Courier correspondent currently pursuing a master’s degree in International Affairs and Global Enterprise at the University of Utah.
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.