The history of Pohonych settlement dates back to ancient times. The town of Sambir was first located here, 20 km to the North following the course of the River Dnister. In 1241 Tatar troops set Sambir on fire and a portion of its residents moved to well-fortified Pohonych. At that time two towns with the name of Sambir appeared - New Sambir and Old Sambir. Day by day New Sambir was changed to just Sambir.
There are a few legends about the town’s name. One legend relates that it comes from “samibory”, a phrase that means forests of that time in the vicinity of Dnipro. Another story people believe is that the town’s name derives from a local fish sambirka”, “samboryna”, “sambir”. It is also possible that the name derives from an old Slavic word “sobor” or “sombor” that means “meeting”.
In 1390 the Polish king Jogaila gave the Sambir region as a present to his friend Spytkova from Melshtyn, who was an elder of Krakow. At once the city received Magdeburg rights. With the king’s consent Spytko began to build a market in the city.
The elder Kshyshtof (Krzysztof)Odrovonzh-Shydlovskyimost contributed to Sambir’s fortifications. The stone walls around the city were built during 1530-1564. By the end of the 18th century they had begun to collapse and, under the order of the Austrian government, they were dismantled.
In 1390 under Magdeburg rights the first wooden City Hall was built. The School of Culture is now located on this site. No one can find any description of the original building which was destroyed by fire in 1498. But in the centre of Rynok (market) Square the new beautiful City Hall appeared due to the persistence and hard work of Sambir’s residents.
In addition to the prison and torture hall in the basement of City Hall there was also an executioner’s room. The person in question was an executioner, pharmacist and doctor at the same time. In 1760 on the south side of the tower the God’s Mother icon was installed. In 1877 it was changed to a copper one that could be seen there until Soviet times. In 1997 a plaster figure of Virgin Mary appeared in its place. It is the City Hall today.
The city’s most important administrative centre was the Prince’s castle, located on present-day Zamkova Square. The wooden castle was burned during the Tatar invasion in 1498 and was not restored. Instead, a new stone castle “naBlikhu” was built in the middle of the 16th century, which today serves as the local hospital
In the city there were four monasteries with a defensive function – Dominican, Bernardine, Bridgettine and Jesuit monasteries. There is an unconfirmed mention of a functioning Basilican monastery at St. Pylyp church. Only the Jesuit monastery preserved its beauty without change.
The first monastery of Dominican monks was built in 1406. Yelyzaveta, who was the widow of Spytko from Melshtyn, granted the necessary funds for its construction. In 1788 the Austrian authorities closed the monastery and used it as a barracks. Today it is the Medical school.
The Bernardine monastery was established in 1471. After it was destroyed by Tatars in 1498, the Bernardines made great efforts to rebuild it as a defensive stronghold with large stone walls. Unfortunately these buildings are not preserved. In 1786 the Austrian government abolished the monastery replacing it with a district court and prison. Today the social and humanity studies faculty of Drohobych Pedagogical University operates here.
Jesuits came to Sambir in 1698 by the initiative of Bratslavvoievode Martyn Khomontovskyi. In 1709 they began to build the castle of St. Virgin Mary Assumption. However, in 1773 Pope Clement dismissed the Jesuit order and all the property was confiscated by the Austrian authorities. After getting new Bernardire priests, the castle has been called St. Stanislav castle since 1847. In 1935 the organ (made by the Czech-Austrian company«GebruderRieger») was installed.
During the Second World War the castle was heavily damaged. Prior to 1980 it was used for food storage. Seven years after its long renovation period the first organ concert took place. Experts say that the Organ Hall in Sambir has unique acoustic features: the reverberation time in some places reaches 6,5 seconds.
In 1621 the Polish magnate Mykolai Danylovych from Zhurov founded the Convent of Bridgettine sisters. The monastery complex had a horseshoe shape while the plan of the castle resembled a Latin cross. During Austrian rule the monastery was closed (1782) and its premises used for military storage. In 1940 the museum “Boikivshchyna” stood here but since 1946 it has been used as a sewing factory.
Until the end of the 16th century the people of Sambir didn’t have their own church. In 1554 the queen Bona gave permission to build a church, the wooden Nativity Blessed Virgin Mary Church. In 1738 this was replaced by a new stone church. On September 15, 1727 Olena Dobrianska informed the church that the Virgin Mary icon that she possessed was crying and she gave the icon to the church. Here you can also see the relics of St. Valentine.
The highest, the greatest and the oldest city building stands in the centre of Sambir. It is St. John Baptist Church – an architectural monument of the 16th century that is of national importance. On the church’s façade there is written “1530”. This year is considered to be the year when construction started. In 1370 there stood here a wooden church with a Polish parish school and hospital. The exposition of “Boikivshchyna museum” is presented here. The church belongs to the Roman-Catholic community in Sambir.
Sambir is the hometown of many famous figures of science and art. For example, Hryhorii Sambirchyk was a talented scientist and poet in the Middle Ages; one of the Lviv gymnasium’s founders; the professor in Krakiv University. A well-known Ukrainian artist of the 16th century, Fedusko, was born here as was the famous Ukrainian writer Andrii Chaikovskyi.
The Ukrainian film and theater director Les Kurbasis also comes from Sambir. His house has been used as an art-memorial museum since 1993. In 2010 with exposition renewal it was renamed the Artistic Museum. The founder of Ukrainian professional theatre Yulian and his wife Teofilia Bachynski spent their last years in Sambir. Ivan Franko was also a regular guest in the city.
Materials from official Sambir City Hall web-site
Local train “Lviv-Sianky” from Local Train Station,
112 Horodotska St.
Buses depart from Bus Station No. 8, 1 Dvirsteva Sq.
Tourist-info centre in Sambir, 4 Ruska St.
Tuesday-Saturday: 10 – 18, Sunday: 10 – 15
Day off: Monday
Break: 14 - 15
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