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Golden Galician province. Sokal: a quiet harbor on the Western Bug

Traveling around Galicia is also interesting because in every city and town you will definitely find something special, amazing, and out of the ordinary. Here you need to have a sharp eye and be on the lookout for something worthwhile.

The small and quiet town of Sokal, located in the north of the Lviv region near Volyn, delighted me with its watercolor spring colors, unhurried life, and interesting sights. After the crowded mining town of Chervonohrad, which is not far away, Sokal seemed to me a town where people come only on weekends. It was cozy, clean, and not crowded. A city of estates and gardens. You find yourself in the center of the city somehow unexpectedly, as if the village suddenly ended and a city sprouted up.

Sokal has several powerful architectural dominants. The first thing that catches your eye is the unfinished church steeple in the middle of the central square. It was built in the 30s of the last century, but the war prevented the completion of the building. Nowadays, it is being renovated, as evidenced by the construction waste in bags.

Not far away is a charming town hall building with a tower. It is as tiny as the city itself.

A little further in the City Park I found an impressive Renaissance synagogue. Or rather, its remains. The monument stands in the open air without a roof or windows. But even in this form, it impresses with its powerful walls, attic, window decorations… It has long been inhabited by desolation, garbage and sadness.

In the same park there is another gem – the ancient church of St. Nicholas, built in the first half of the XI century. Thick walls, buttresses, and a squat posture make the church look like a strong, stout warrior ready to attack.

It was in St. Nicholas Church that in 1594 a meeting of Orthodox Ukrainian priests took place, who consulted on unification with the Roman Catholic Church. It is a historic place. However, during the renovation, as often happens, the craftsmen overdid it with pink paint, which does not suit the ancient church…

From the high park cliff you can go down to the Western Bug. The place is very picturesque. If not for the garbage… The city itself is very tidy, but here, in the shade over the river, slobs have settled for some reason, throwing away their trash. With such a beautiful river by your side, you could somehow civilize the shore, make an embankment, a beach, a boat station… I’m dreaming! Sokal would really benefit from such a renovation. Maybe someday the townspeople will gather their strength and money. I sincerely wish them this, because no one will do it for them.

Another reason for sadness is the grandiose ensemble of the Bernardine Monastery across the Bug. The majestic baroque building has been a distinct dominant feature of Sokal for centuries. The monastery was once called the Ruska Czestochowa because it housed a miraculous image. But the Soviets turned the monastery into a harsh prison where they kept life prisoners. And in 2012 the monastery burned down. And now it stands in ruins in the open air. Another pearl of the Galician land turned into a ruin…

Leaving the city, I thought that Sokal deserved a better fate. It was cozy, green, with pretty villas and gardens – like a watercolor painting of cherry blossoms in rainy weather. The city is worth visiting. At least, I still want to.

Bohdan Voloshyn

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