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Berestechko

The Holy Trinity Catholic Church
The Holy Trinity Catholic Church
Berestechko is a small town (1,800 inhabitants), Horokhiv region, on the left bank of Styr River. Its old history was intertwined with former nearby center of Peremyszl Duchy. Mongols destroyed the latter in 1241; then emerged Berestechko named after surrounding elm woods. In 1445 it was recorded as an independent settlement. In 1544 it was taken as a dowry by Kyivan voivode F. Pronsky, which in three years obtained the Magdeburg Rights for the town from Sigismund August II. The new status helped to develop and expand the town, which in the 16th c. was more populated than now. The oldest monument in the city is the stone column in the form of Arian burial vault on the grave of Lutsk headman Duke O. Pronsky in 1631 He and the new owner of Berestechko Count A. Lieszczinski were Calvinists which had their unofficial Volyn center in Olyka. Its undeserved fame is due to the battle of troops of B. Khmelnytsky and Crimean Khan Islam-Girei III with the armies of Polish King Jan Kazimierz III in 1651. The main scene of actions was on the opposite bank of Styr in the village of Pliasheva, where there is now the historical and cultural preserve "Kozak Burial Mounds". In 1939 during division of Volyn into oblasts, this village was attached to the Rivne Oblast. It sometimes confuses the issue of the key battle of Liberation War of Ukrainian people of 1648-1654, which has been named the Battle of Berestechko. The defeat of Kozak army became the crucial event of war, which resulted in the Treaty of Pereyaslav in 1654 and end of political career of B. Khmelnytsky. In 1658 the Tatars came back to this area and ruined Berestechko, which had revived by the time. It was then that the burial mound emerged in the western suburb, where, the legend maintains, five hundred girls killed by invaders were buried. A bit later the monument was erected on the mound: the chapel of St. Thekla. The architectural dominant of downtown Berestechko is the majestic Holy Trinity Late-Baroque Catholic Church (1765), which before 1832 belonged to the Trinitarians. For many years the church with broken windows and nearby campanile frightens and attracts curious people. In soviet time not far from the Catholic church with a ten-year interval they erected provincial monuments to B. Khmelnytsky (1954) and T. Shevchenko (1964).
At the beginning of the independence of Ukraine, on the opposite side of the square they started building the grandiose orthodox temple, which was intended to overshadow the Catholic Church. It stands unfinished, and divine service is conducted in the classical St. George church (1871) with the defensive bell tower. This compact and comfortable building for public worship better suits unfrequented Berestechko, than enormous building of kostel tumbling down and unfinished cathedral.


 
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