Several weeks ago, we received generous offers from Viktor and Walter for a ride to visit Olesko Castle, a gorgeous landmark in the "Golden Horseshoe" of castles around L'viv. The castle functioned from the 14th-19th centuries and was restored in the 20th century. Since the weather is turning from fall toward winter, and the castle is a fair distance away, this weekend was likely our last chance.
Walter picked us up for the trip and we headed out to Olesko. We traveled across the byways of rural Ukraine (largely due to construction closing the main road) and meandered through rutted, pot-hole-filled roads along with many 18-wheelers hauling supplies across the borders with Poland and Slovakia. On the left you can see Lea, Carter, and Walter with an autumn landscape at Olesko.
Olesko Castle was quite magnificent. While it had some of the hallmarks of a defensive fortress (narrow slits for archers, for example), it also felt like a large estate or mansion. Most of the interior rooms were set up like a museum, displaying icons and other religious artifacts from the monastery below, as well as furniture and objects from the castle itself. The castle's history reflected the changing fortunes of Western Ukraine; it was held by the Poles and Lithuanians, sacked several times by the Tatars, and occupied by the Nazis who turned the monastery into an internment camp for Jews. Finally, it was reconstructed in Soviet times. We strolled through the gardens outside the castle, and happened upon lion statues that Carter wanted to ride (see below). After our visit to the castle, we returned to L'viv, cold and hungry, for a spectacular meal prepared by Walter's wife: borshch, beet and cabbage salad, mushrooms in sour cream, beef Stroganoff, and potato latkes. It was a wonderful ending to a lovely Sunday drive.