Places of Halych
Surprising, undiscovered and unspoiled Halych
On the right bank of the Dniester River, if traveling from Rohatyn, is located a contemporary district center of Ivano-Frankivsk region — Halych. However, the town is only a nominal successor of the former capital of the powerful Galician principality. The old Halych is situated 7 kilometers from here, in the place of the village of Krylos. It is necessary to begin getting acquainted with the ancient princely capital from here.
Kryloska mountain is protected by the river and forests on three sides. That is why the ancient Galician princes chose it as the capital, and the southern open area was surrounded by three rows of defense shafts. All the upland occupied about 50 hectares. It included the Golden Stack-yard — the place of meetings, princely courts and knight duels, bishop’s residence and the city authorities place. In the lowland area occupying over 200 hectares, in the vicinity — boyar gardens and villages. The area of the mighty Prykarpattia capital was larger than that of the cities of the ancient world — Babylon, Rome and Constantinople. Halych, whose population was less than a tenth of the inhabitants of those cities, in its territory was one of the largest megapolises of the world. The greatest flourishing of Halychyna and the whole Galician principality is associated with the rule of Yaroslav Osmomysl (1153-1187). The Galician principality extended to the Black Sea, it was in possession of Bessarabia, a part of the modern Romania, many Danube cities. It is only due to archaeological excavations that we know how beautiful the architecture of Halych was. Mongolian invasion wiped out about thirty monuments of monumental architecture. Now almost nothing has been left from the princely stronghold on the mountain in Krylos. Only the stone foundations of the once great Assumption Cathedral, built by Yaroslav Osmomysl, have been preserved.
The cathedral basement was excavated in 1936 by an archaeological expedition led by Y. Pasternak. In the vestibule of the cathedral, archaeologists discovered a stone sarcophagus with the remains of a highly honored person. They may have been those of Yaroslav Osmomysl. The sarcophagus is now housed in Ivano-Frankivsk regional museum. As a chronicler wrote, in October 1187 Yaroslav, being terminally ill, ordered his servants to give alms to the poor of the capital for three days praying for his sins to be forgiven.
Near the foundation, there is an architectural monument of the XVIth cent., the active church of Virgin Mary. What is the most interesting is that the blocks it is composed of first constituted another church — the Assumption Cathedral, in the middle of the XIIth cent., and destroyed by the Mongols. In 1586 its material was used for the construction of the same named church. This can be verified if one discerns the inscriptions of princely times on the walls, inverted in the process of laving. Among the most important monuments of the princely city is the tomb of Halych. Now it looks like a small mound, and was once a high hill, which dominated the capital city as if protecting it. The grave was mentioned by a Galician chronicler of the XIIIth cent. The origin of the burial name as its location remains secret. At 2m. depth, a pagan burial of a noble warrior in the boat was discovered. Iron battle axes, spear tip, arrowhead, dagger, gilded material and gold shield cover were also found here. Researchers believe that this is the tomb of a prince or a chieftain — the city’s founder.
The Church of St. Panteleimon, which is located in the village of Shevchenkove (former village of Stanislav), northwest of Halych, belongs to a few surviving monuments of the princely and royal capital. The Church of St. Panteleimon was built in 1194 by the prince Roman Mstyslavovych. The building planning is perfect. The window in the central apse is located so that on the day of Saint Panteleimon here comes the first ray of the rising sun. The stone «archive» of the temple is also unique. It contains nearly 700 murals, which show the rich 800-year history of Halych. For long centuries the building underwent multiple destructions and reconstruction works. Since the second quarter of the XV c. the building was used as a Roman Catholic church of St. Stanislaw. Therefore, the sanctuary retains traces of various architectural styles. In fact, only a part of the western portal, which is a unique example of Galician building school, has remained intact. However, careful restorers have almost restored the original look of the church. In 1991 the church was given its original name — that of St. Panteleimon. Further we move to the present Halych, where at the entrance to the town one can immediately notice a castle on a high mountain. The castle hill in Halych is a kind of symbol and the town card. This stronghold is first mentioned in chronicles as far back as 1114. In 1658 Galician mayor Andriy Potocki built a stone castle designed by the Italian engineer Francois Korasini instead of a wooden one.
In Halych it is worth seeing the church of Nativity (XIV-XV c.), the foundations of which are set deep in the ground at 6.5 m depth. The temple acquired its contemporary appearance in 1904-1906 after the restoration by A. Lewinski.
The visitors of Halych also have an opportunity to visit Ukraine’s only museum of Karaim culture. Karaim community of Halych is a unique ethnic and cultural community of Turkic origin with religious affiliation close to Judaism who lived here 700 years ago and left behind rich legacy. Today in Halych no Karaims have remained and apart from the museum, an old cemetery in Krylos, where about two hundred grave stones have been preserved, rekindles memories about them. The oldest of them date back to the middle of the XVII c.
Halych on the map. Green Ukraine