We offer tours to Horodenka (Gorodenka, האראדענקע). You will visit Horodenka with the best local guide, explore its history and amazing sites.
Things to explore in Horodenka
Horodenka is a town in Ivano-Frankivsk region, located 210 km from Lviv. Mikołaj Bazyli Potocki, a Polish nobleman left the most remarkable trace here. He was the customer, sponsor and investor of buildings, which became the main cultural monuments of Horodenka. Their creators were architect Bernhard Meretyn and sculptor Johann Georg Pinsel.
The name “Horodenka” derives from the word “horod” – fence made of land and wood (see the image on the modern emblem of Horodenka).
The first written mention of the city dates back to 1195.
In 1668, king John II Casimir granted the city Magdeburg Law.
Thanks to the Magdeburg Law, Horodenka becomes a significant trading center. Soon a large Armenian community appeared in the city. At that time Armenian merchants controlled a significant part of the trade operations.
The Armenian church, built in 1706, reminds us of the once numerous and rich Armenian community. It is the oldest building in Horodenka. This beauty was destroyed by the Communists, turning the temple into a warehouse. The turbulent 20th century left its mark on the outer walls. There we can see the holes from bullets. Nowadays, no one uses Armenian church, it’s empty and needs restoration.
Mikołaj Bazyli Potocki an end to the Armenian monopoly in the economy of Horodenka. In 1743 he allowed the Jews to settle in the town and gave them significant privileges.The Jews immediately began to crowd out Armenian competitors.
In the same year, the Polish nobleman founded the monastery residence of the Congregation for the Clergy of Divine Providence.
He commissioned the construction of a complex of monastery buildings (cells, refectory, library) and the temple to the star tandem of architect Bernhard Meretyn and sculptor Johann Pinsel (which was their joint debut). The temple was dedicated to the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Church of Immaculate Conception in Horodenka) and consecrated on July 2, 1769 by bishop Stanisław Rajmund Jezierski. This wonderful church is one of the most beautiful temples built on the territory of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. Its bell towers instead of the usual crosses are crowned with “pyliava” – five-pointed cross, family coat of arms of Potocki.
After the war, the military unit was located in the monastic corps, and the temple was turned into a grain storage facility. The soldiers used the church’s wooden decoration exclusively as a fuel source. As the old-timers tell, the soldiers rolled over and laid on the wood everything they could. Sculptures placed just above escape such a fate. But then the monastery complex was given to the “bursa” – a vocational school for the preparation of machine operators for the surrounding collective farms.
The most valuable figures from the main altar, however, survived Stalin’s times. Even experienced atheistic bacchanalia of Khrushchev’s time. Recall that then, after the statements of Nikita Khrushchev (“the present generation will live under Communism”, and in the seventies on the TV “the last priest will be shown“), the mass closure and destruction of the surviving temples began.
Although Mikołaj Potocki was a Roman Catholic, he was very clear about the spiritual needs of Eastern rite Christians, which, moreover, constituted an absolute majority of his citizens. Near the church of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary stands another sacral building – the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Its construction is also attributed to the “duo” by Meretyn-Pinsel.
The churches funded by Potocki did not last long. In 1772, after the first partition of Poland, Horodenka (as all Galicia) was annexed by Habsburgs. Emperor Joseph II admired the ideas of the European Enlightenment and disliked clerics. In addition, monasteries have traditionally been centers of Polish resistance. In a while Vienna began to actively close the monasteries in the newly annexed territories. In the 1780s, both monasteries in Horodenka ceased to function.
According to local legends, Mikołaj Bazyli Potocki built the Assumption Church not occasionally, but as a sign of penance for the murder of beauty. Her name was Bondarivna – very beautiful lady from Chernyatin (the neighboring village of Horodenka), who refused the old rich in love.
In 1743, a Jewish community appeared in Horodenka. Local Israelis traded grain, forest, salt, handicrafts, brewery, kept the taverns, were tenants and estate managers. Already in 1765 in Horodenka and neighboring 14 villages lived about a thousand representatives of the Old Testament people. As of 1900, the Jewish community of the town consisted of 4,255 people (with a total population of 11,613 people).
Like in other towns in Galicia, the twentieth century was fatal for Jews. The first blood was shed in 1914-1915, during the Russian occupation. The Russians were quite anti-Semitic. Most Jewish houses were then plundered and burned. Russians hugged nine Jews as Austrian spies.
During the Second World War, Horodenka was originally in the zone of Hungarian occupation. Here Hitler’s allies staged a gigantic ghetto.
In September 1941, the town passed under German control. On December 5 in Horodenka, the Nazis shot more than 2,500 Jews. April 13, 1942 – about a hundred more. On September 10 of that year, most ghetto residents were killed, and the rest were sent to Bełżec death camp.
Nowadays, there are no Jews in Horodenka. Only an old cemetery with characteristic tombstones matsevot resembles a once-worthy community. Also, a Great Synagogue, built in 1743-1744 (right after receiving permission to settle in the city), has survived.
Before the Holocaust, in the town, in addition to the Great Synagogue, there were several smaller and half dozen prayer houses that belonged to various movements in Judaism (in particular, the Hasidim). The last ones appeared here in the 1760s. One of their leaders was the closest and most beloved student of the founder of Hasidism Baal Shem Tov – Rabbi Nahman from Horodenka (died in 1780).
Among the least known interesting spots of Horodenka (and until recently even the most secreted) is the former “center of space communications“. The main part of it was contained in a super-powerful multi-storied and branched bunker capable of withstanding even a close nuclear explosion. The above-mentioned bunker was built in the 1980’s
Book a tour to Horodenka
We can organize your trip to Horodenka as a separate tour or with visiting of other places: Chernivtsi, Kosiv, Kuty, Kolomyya, Vyzhnytsa, Carpathian mountains, Lviv etc.
How does it work
Our guide will meet you anywhere you want (airport, train station, hotel) and take you to Horodenka by comfortable car/minivan/bus. It is safe. You can stay in hotel in Horodenka, we’ll help you to find your relatives, graves, visit the local villages etc.
Other options for this tour are possible. We are very flexible.
To book a tour in Horodenka please contact us and make a request.