The Volyn Barbicans project is being implemented within the partnership programme Culture. Tourism. Regions of the Ukrainian Cultural Foundation.
When planning the tourist route, the project used the existing gates and barbicans in the territory of Greater Volyn that comprises Volyn, Rivne, partly Lviv, Khmelnytskyi, Ternopil, and Zhytomyr Oblasts. In Lviv, Zhytomyr and Ternopil regions that geographically belong to Volyn, there are no barbicans that have survived to thе present day. That is why the project deals with the gate towers in Lutsk (Castle Gate), Olyka (Lutsk Gate of Olyka), Dubno (Lutsk Gate of Dubno), Ostroh (Lutsk and Tatar gates of Ostroh), the village of Mezhyrich (Zaslav Gate), Starokostiantyniv (Castle Gate) and the virtually recreated Ostroh Gate of the city of Rivne, which in ancient times was represented on the coat of arms of the city.
Ukraine has always been in the European context. Thanks to the use of the achievements of European architects on the territory of Ukraine, a European type of castles and dungeons appeared there in the Middle Ages. Later, castles and towns were surrounded by walls, and the entrances were reinforced with such defensive structures as gates with towers above them and gate extensions called barbicans.
A barbican is an entrance gate to a town or castle with a defensive gateway in the form of a round or square tower or a wall with a gate. To get to the town, one had to pass through two gates of the lower part of the barbican, the outer and the inner. Although the name of the project is Volyn Barbican, the term “barbican” itself is somewhat unregulated.
Defensive structures that covered the approaches to the gate could have different shapes. As semicircular buildings were prevalent in many countries, traditionally, they were defined as “barbican”. However, in Italy, for example, such a term was not known at all - there, all the buildings with gates were called “rivellini”, that is, ravelins, only the triangular outer structures of the bastion era. But initially, the ravelins were barbicans. They probably had this name because they forced the attackers to go around the obstacle and twist their way, not directly attacking the main gate. In Italy, quadrangular ravelins (actually, barbicans) are very common.
Some architecture historians tend to believe that it would be more logical to call the barbicans of Ostroh and Dubno the towers. They were built by those already familiar with some features of the bastion fortification because the barbican basically means a free-standing defensive structure made outside the walls. Therefore, the principality of Ostroh developed its own original type of fortifications that cannot be attributed to any of the above options. Here the same building combined the town gate and outpost fortifications. In the case of Ostroh and Dubno, they are still a single tower projecting outward, and they also have a peculiar feature, the presence of side protrusions in the front part. They are very similar to the orillons of early bastions. These protrusions were made to protect the flanks. In towers, their usage was infrequent. This is primarily a bastion feature.
Since the term “ravelin” in Ukraine has not become widespread (mainly, this kind of building is called vezha or bashta (meaning tower)), or barbakan (i.e. barbican), and the terms vezha or bashta did not reflect what we wanted to point to, so for the needs of the project, it was decided to use the term barbican.
Ostroh Gate has not survived to the present. Today, the location of the gate has been determined by overlapping old maps on modern maps. Since the 18th century, the coat of arms of Rivne has contained the image of the Ostroh Gate. Relying on our knowledge of other barbicans, we were able to recreate the gate of Rivne in a virtual space. Now a tourist may use an application installed on his smartphone, and with its help, see what it looked like during its operation at the place of the actual position of the attraction.
It is unknown when the Ostroh Gate of Rivne was built. The inventories of the city of the 18th century mention it as a masonry structure. Probably, its construction was attended by Prince Olexandr Ostrozkyi, who chose the city of Rivne to be one of his residences and, most likely, won the Magdeburg Law for it. Of course, the gate had existed before, but it was wooden, like the city itself, as well as the castle of princes of Ostroh.
When Oleksandr obtained Rivne from his father Vasyl-Kostiantin Ostrozskyi, he needed to strengthen the city from attacks and add status to his residence. Two stone towers were built here, Ostroh and Klevan towers (also known as Dubno and Lutsk towers). The northern tower remained wooden.
Having come under the control of the Russian Empire, local administrations of Rivne produced the city’s coat of arms in the form of three combined gates, the main of which was Ostroh Gate. It is possible that the city had a similar emblem during its stay within the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. Still, we have not found such an image (it is known that the city used to have the family symbols of the princes of Ostroh and Zamość in its coat of arms). On the coat of arms of the 18th century, we see the Ostroh Gate in the centre of the composition. It is rectangular, has an arched passage with rusticated walls. From above, you can see a window, on the sides of which there are two arrowslits. The tower ends with a cornice and merlons, over which a roof, possibly covered with tiles, can be seen. The tower itself was dismantled in the middle of the 19th century when the highway connecting Kyiv and Brest was built across the city.
We can see the dimensions and parameters of the Ostroh Gate in the plan created at the end of the 18th century by Jakub Bourguignon, the architect of the Lubomyrski princes. Another plan of the city of Rivne, which depicts the gate, was drawn by Russian officials in the mid-nineteenth century before Kyiv - Brest highway was to appear in the city. The proportions and dimensions of the gate are the same, though it can be seen that in the 18th century, the tower stood directly above the canal, while 50 years later, the tower was already at 5-7 meters from the water.
At the moment, this is all the information about the Ostroh Gate that is available today. In the restoration process of the Ostroh Gate of Rivne, we used all the information set out above and focused on the appearance of the surviving gates built by the princes of Ostroh.
The closest to the architecture of the Ostroh Gate of Rivne were the towers built in the village of Mezhyrich and the city of Starokostiantyniv. Both have a square shape. Zaslav gate in the village of Mezhyrich, like the one situated in Rivne, was built into the earthen rampart (in Starokostiantyniv, there was a wall attached to the tower). The appearance of these gates was used in the process of restoration of the Ostroh gate. The façade is based on the gate from Mezhyrich, and the vault, on the gate from Starokostiantyniv. And for the restoration of the inner gateway, we used the gate of the Mezhyrich monastery, which has remained authentic since the 16th century. The tile sample was taken from the tower of the Klevan castle that used to belong to Czartoryski princes. A drawbridge was a characteristic feature of all defensive towers in front of which there was a pond.
Lutsk Gate in Ostroh was built to protect the town on the approaches from Lutsk. It played the role of the central link in the defence system of the town. Lutsk gate consists of two equally high parts. The room of the central part, oval in plain view, protrudes out of the town’s defensive wall and is combined with a rectangular causeway. The arrowslits around the perimeter of the building were located so that there was not a single zone that would be hidden from the defenders’ fire. At the beginning of the 17th century, an attic with arrowslits was added; its design is attributed to the Italian architect Giacomo Madlaina. On the inside of the tower, there remain holes for the supporting beams of wooden combat galleries. The masonry of sandstone was fixed with lime mortar and reinforced with timber ties. In the first layer, there was an end-to-end arched passage. The entrance was framed with a portal made of hewn stone. In the lower part of the tower, there was another basement, from which it was possible to fire through the arrowslits at the attackers who would come down to the moat. Unfortunately, in the twentieth century, this room was filled with concrete.
In addition to its utilitarian function, the Lutsk Gate was to demonstrate the respectable status of the capital of the Ostroh principality, which was achieved at the beginning of the 17th century using an architectural technique of combining a refined attic with the severe strength of masonry walls. This successfully used technique became the most noticeable feature of the urban matrix of Ostroh during the Renaissance.
On November 10, 1985, the Ostroh Museum of Books and Printing was opened in the Lutsk Gate. The museum’s exposition is located on three floors (about 400 m2). It tells about the history of books, the emergence of printing, and the activities of Ivan Fedorovych. Among the rare exhibits, there are the oldest printed book of Decretals of Pope Gregory IX (Paris, 1511), the Glagolitic edition of the Breviary of Croatia (Venice in 1561), the Ostroh Bible by Ivan Fedorovych (1581). The museum’s exposition is based on the book collection of the Museum of Local Lore founded back in 1909-1912 by The Ostrozki Princes Brotherhood.
The Tatar Gate of Ostroh was named after the neighbourhood of the town inhabited mainly by the Tatars. It protected the entrance from the side of the road to Zviahel (now Novohrad-Volynskyi), so it is sometimes called Zviahel Gate. According to a legend, during the battle at Vyshnevets, Prince Konstiantyn Ivanovych Ostrozkyi captured many Tatars with their families and settled them outside the town of Ostroh, and even built there a mosque for them.
The shape of the tower is a combination of an ellipse with a rectangle (the area of the ellipse exceeds the size of the rectangular part). The tower protruded entirely out of the stone defensive wall directly connected to its side facing the town. Such a solution made it possible to maximize the area of flank fire shelling from arrowslits.
The masonry of sandstone fixed with lime mortar was reinforced with timber ties. It is a three-tier building; in the first tier, there was an end-to-end arched passage. The third tier is an attic with arrowslits in the shape of an inverted keyhole; inside, the tower had wooden roundabout galleries on each tier.
The monument is a unique type of fortified gateway, which combines the entrance gate and the defensive tower functions. It combined the functions of a counterwork and a gateway. Initially, it had two tiers; later, an attic with an arrowslit was added, which enriched the building with features of civil architecture. The attic construction was supervised by Giacomo Madlaina, the court architect of the princes Ostrozki and Zaslavski.
Today the tower looks low, sunk into the ground. It is true because over the centuries, next to the tower built in the lowland, life went on, and gradually the ground level rose. It became more complicated even after the main road to Zviahel bypassed the tower. At least a meter of ground needs to be removed to see the whole tower, as it was in the days of the princes Ostrozkyi. It is worth noting that in the 16th century, there was still a moat in front of the tower.
In the middle of the 19th century, the northern wall of the gate collapsed, and there was no decision to rebuild it. It was only in 2019 that the collapsed wall was recreated with a metal mesh thanks to granted funds from the Cultural Barbican Project. Due to this, tourists can see the lost parts of the gateway.
Zaslav Gate (Town Gate) of the town of Mezhyrich used to be a defensive gate tower. It was first mentioned in 1596 and served as the southern entrance to the town, being a part of the urban fortifications of Mezhyrich. The description of the town dating back to 1708 contains a description of the Zaslav Gate. Together with the rampart, seven towers, and the Ostroh Gate, it formed the ring of defensive fortifications of the former town. Zaslav Bridge led to the gateway.
Built of sandstone, it had a rectangular-plan shape. In the first tier, there was an end-to-end arched passage. It has partly survived at the level of the first tier. It has arrowslits in the form of an inverted keyhole. The corners of the portal are framed with rusticated walls in the Renaissance style.
According to the architectural and archaeological research conducted in 1980 by A. Novakivskyi and L. Dmytrovych, the architects of the Ukrproektrestavratsia Institute (judging from the identity of building material, masonry system, arrowslits used during the redevelopment of the Trinity Monastery in the village of Mezhyrich), the monument can be attributed to the period of Renaissance. During the search, it was ascertained that the tower was two-tiered, with a drawbridge leading to it across the moat. The entrance was at the height of 2.5 m from today’s ground level. With the loss of its defensive significance, the masonry was dismantled, the moat was backfilled.
The thickness of stone walls fixed with lime mortar varies from 2.3 m to 2.46 m; the height of ruins was from 3.35 m to 5.9 m. The walls of the building have survived all around the perimeter. In the middle, in the southeast corner, there are traces of a stove and a chimney.
Next to the gate, there is the Janusz Oven of the 17th century. This is all that remains of the wooden palace of Prince Janusz Ostrozkyi. It was built in the first half of the 17th century, but in 1648 it was burned down by Bohdan Khmelnytskyi’s Cossacks.
Yet, in the village of Mezhyrich, there is a defensive monastery where Prince Konstiantyn Ivanovych Ostrozkyi built the church after the victory in the battle of Orsha in 1514. The monastery itself was built by his grandson Janusz Ostrozkyi, who had already become a Catholic. Now the monastery belongs to the Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate.
The entire castle complex of Starokostiantyniv was built in the 1590s. During the castle’s construction, special attention was paid to the essential component of any defence system, the entrance gate. Due to the durable material (limestone), the only castle gate of the fortifications has survived to the present. The Inventories mention rather scanty information about it: “A masonry gateway, in which the gate is wooden, double, on iron pins, with an iron brace, a block with a key... At the gate, the room is made of bricks; there are doors with hinges, a green tiled stove, a masonry fireplace, two windows with glasses, and windowpanes with iron hinges.”
From the survey materials conducted in 1930, we learn that the second tier of the gate was relatively well preserved; the building had a hipped tin roof. “Above the entrance, there is a two-storey tower..., on the upper floor on the front side there are two square windows, on the inside, three identical windows, in the wall to the right of the entrance there are two, and in the wall on the left, there is one. There are triple pilasters of the Tuscan order on the front wall between the windows and next to them.
The information about the castle gateway in Starokostiantyniv was complemented by a survey conducted in the late 1960s. It is square (10.8x10.7 m), two-tiered initially; the lower tier and the lower part of the walls of the upper tier were preserved entirely; there was no roof on the building.
The passage to the castle courtyard was covered with a cylindrical stone vault with spandrels. The guardroom near the side façade of the entrance gate, mentioned in both cited inventories, is now half-destroyed. The pedestrian gate was located on this room’s front wall, and one could only get to the passage leading to the castle courtyard by passing the guards. A 16 cm deep rectangular niche on the front surface of the gate façade, in which a semicircular arch of the passage is inscribed, indicates that in ancient times in front of the entrance gate of the castle, there was a bridge with a lift span leading to the gate over the moat. On the front surface of the masonry above the stone arch of the driveway, brick-lined openings are clearly visible, through which the chains passed, employing a system of pulleys raised and lowered this span. The location of two round holes in a wooden beam laid horizontally in the masonry from inside over the stone arch of the passage indicates that the lifting device was on the second tier of the entrance gate.
The castle’s gate in Starokostiantyniv did not have additional protective elements (portcullises, machicolation over the passage, arrowslits). The portal, formed by stone pilasters of the Tuscan order with developed bases framing the arch of the passage, adds solemnity to the main façade of the entrance gate. It also significantly deprives the gate of the severity inherent in the defensive structures of the previous period.
The absence of today’s typical front attic, characteristic of all buildings of the principality of Ostrozkyi, only proves that it was present there in the 17th century, but for various reasons was dismantled later, and the tower was covered with a hipped roof.
Lutsk Gate of the city of Dubno, the 17th century, is located on the ancient road from Dubno to Lutsk and was the central link in the system of urban fortifications. The building was connected with an earthen rampart that protected the town from the most vulnerable western side. The shape of the tower is a combination of a small oval with a long rectangle. The abutting end of the rectangular part faced the town; many of the side walls were hidden behind the earthworks of the rampart. The oval part protruded beyond the earthen rampart, increasing the field of the flank fire from the tower. A bridge over a moat filled with water led to the gate. The tower was built in 1623 under the supervision of the Italian architect Giacomo Madlaina on the site of an old wooden one.
«Stało się pewne postanowienie z iedney strony miedzy mną Alexandrem z Ostroga Zasławskym* w[oiewodą]** b[racławskim]***, a z drugiey мiedzy panem Jakubem Medleni. Iżiamam dodaćka mienia y wapnaco potrzeba, także y cegły, dotego tatarów do roboty, a pienie dzymam daćpanu Jakubowi narzemieśnika y nawszytką robotę z[łotych] trzytysiace polskich. A pan Jakub powiniem zmurować basztę z brąmą z przyjazdu od Lucka, ktorama bydźsama w sobie wewnątrz szeroka łokci trzynaście, a wzdłuż dwadzieścia y ieden, mur w fundamentach bydź hruby pułpićtałokcia i ma mi wystawić wshystkim, na kratę do zapuszczania masażu robić. Ja Zaś Teraz zaraz powinnam mu dać z[łotych] tysiąc, a drug ąratę na ś[więty] Jan przyszły z[łotych] tysiąc, a trzeci tysiąc po tym zaś. I natosmy miedzy sięda lite intercyzę. Dat[um] w Dubnie d[ie] 24 april[i]s 1623. Pan Jakub Medlenі ręką swą m[anu] p[ropriae]»
Under the tower, there was a basement; in the first tier, there was an end-to-end arched passage. The lower two tiers were made of sandstone, the upper tier, completed in the 18th century, of brick. The thickness of the walls is reduced at every upper level. The masonry formed ledges inside, which served as the basis to bear structures of wooden roundabout galleries located near the arrowslits of the second and later, of the third tier. The tower’s masonry around the perimeter is reinforced with 17-19 sm diameter wooden ties on several levels. The flooring on wooden rafters is flat.
In 1785 a passage was built, and the third tier was added during the repair work. During the completion of the attic, the merlons over the second tier were destroyed.
During the Soviet Union time, the restoration of the gate was carried out, but its quality was far from the best. A hypothetically recreated attic was built above the third tier, though initially, it was above the second tier. Above the gate’s arch, there used to be a memorial plaque of the 18th century with the inscription “This gate was restored in 1785”. After the Soviet restoration (1967), a new note was made, directly over the authentic one: “Restored in honour of the 50th anniversary of the Great October Revolution.”
Lutsk Gate is a rare species of small barbican that combines the city gate and the defence tower functions. This kind is not found anywhere else in Ukraine, except for Volyn. The monument is a unique work of defensive architecture of the 17th century.
The gate was actually built in Zalisoche, the ancient suburb of Olyka.
It is a fragment of the urban fortifications, including earthen ramparts and three gates - Metelen, Zavorot (Dubno), Zalisoche (Lutsk).
All of them are reproduced in a drawing of the late 18th century. Only the Lutsk Gate has survived (on the Lutsk highway).
By the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century, the urban fortifications were in satisfactory condition. This is how in 1840, they were described by I. Krashevsky, and in 1904 their remnants were seen by V. Antonovych. Later, in 1920, M. Orlovych could observe two more city gates. Active dismantling of urban fortifications in the 19th century resulted in the fact that at the beginning of the following century, there remained only Zalisoche gate, better known today as “Lutsk Gate”.
Lutsk Gate was built in the 1630th (although there are other versions of the date of construction). Given the architectural decoration of the gate with baroque flavour (in particular, the presence of two niches for sculptures on the northern façade), it becomes evident that it was built not only as a defensive structure but primarily had a symbolic function of the main entrance to prince’s residence.
The ramparts and bastions, once adjoining the fortress tower, were finally lowered in the 19th century. Today on the outskirts of the town, one can see the remnants of the only fragment of the rampart.
It is a two-storey brick building, rectangular in shape, with an arched passage. The second tier is partially preserved; there is a Renaissance attic; the rhythm of the blind arcade is based on the alternation of semicircular and keel-shaped arches. The planes of niches are decorated with an ornament formed by coloured end grains of bricklaying. A characteristic feature of the monument is arrowslits in the form of inverted keyholes.
On the first tier, there used to be mechanisms of the drawbridge. Holes from the chains can be seen at the top of the eastern wall. Eastern and western facades are decorated with a diamond-shaped ornament made of over-burnt brick. On the second tier of the east façade, you can still see the remnants of the heraldic eagle, a coat of arms of Radziwills, made of alabaster. In general, the construction of the defensive tower was not plastered, except for the niches and the distributing cornice.
The entrance tower of Lutsk Castle is a five-tier parallelepiped building. The height is 28 m, the size of the base is 11.9 × 12.05 m. In the southern part, there is a spiral staircase connected to the prince’s palace. The wall of the Okolnyi (Surrounding) Castle starts from the corner of the tower. At the bottom, the tower is supported by mighty butteresses, erected at the beginning of the 19th century, slightly narrowing towards the top. Between them, there is the arch entrance to the castle. Above the entrance, two portals with an arched finishing are situated. These are the former entrances to the castle, once they were closed with a drawbridge. The second tier of the tower has semi-cylindrical vaults, the third and fourth – cross vaults. Only they clash with the generally symmetrical structure of the main facade of the tower. Square merlons located above the intermediate cornice protrude from the middle part of the facade. The upper cornice has an arched motif and encircles the perimeter of the tower. Below it, there are two holes. The attic has powerful merlons of Renaissance shape. The structure of the rear façade of the tower that faces the castle courtyard is more straightforward. The central aisle has a Gothic finishing. The middle tiers of the tower, except for the upper one, have one window each, framed with Renaissance platbands of white stone.
In 1331, Lubart, the son of Gediminas, the Grand Duke of Lithuania, married Agrippina, the daughter of the Grand Duke of the Galicia-Vilyn principality Andrii II Yuriiovych, and settled down in Lutsk. In 1340 he became the Grand Duke. Somewhere at that time, large-scale works for the reconstruction of wooden fortifications began. That is how the first tier of the gate tower, the prince’s palace, and the western wall were built. They made up the first construction period, the chronological framework of which approximately comprises the period between 1352 and 1366.
In 1366 due to the loss of the capital city of Volodymyr, Lubart moved the capital to Lutsk and thus finally established himself here. At once, further large-scale works on the reconstruction of fortifications began. One more tier was added to the entrance tower, and a pavilion roof was erected over it. More than half of the northern wall was replaced with brick walls. The same applies to the eastern wall. The foundation of Styr Tower was laid. At outer corners, it had buttresses similar to those of the Entrance Tower. All these changes constitute the second construction period that ended in 1385 with the death of Lubart.
After the death of Lubart, Fedir Liubartovych, his son, became the Grand Duke, and in 1387 Prince Vitovt settled in Lutsk. Since 1392 the Lutsk principality passed to him, and at the same time, he became the Grand Duke of Lithuania. The time of Vitovt’s reign coincides with the third construction period, which included several stages. In general, its consequence was that the entire Upper Castle was already built of brick: the northern and the eastern wall were completed, and the Vladycha (Archbishop’s) Tower was erected at their junction. The three towers were covered with shingles. The Vladycha Tower, unlike the others, was built individually. Also, the prince’s palace was in the castle. As seen from the documents, in the middle of the sixteenth century, the construction of a new palace began on the site of the old one using Italian architectural elements. The palace was attached to the entrance tower.
Yet in 1667, another tier with merlons was added to the Entrance Tower; the walls between the Entrance and Vladycha towers were restored, in the western half of the northern wall, a chain of alternating slotted and arched arrowslits of the short range was added above the chain of long-range arched arrowslits.
From the time of its construction, the castle was the residence of the Grand Duke. After the Union of Lublin, it became the residence of the royal power, where the political, administrative, judicial, defence, and religious functions of the centre of Volyn Voivodeship were concentrated.
In the 18th century, the castle underwent specific changes and lost its defensive function. After the fire of 1781, the city fell into disrepair, and the castle required restoration, so Mayor Jusef Clements Chortoryiskyi began the reconstruction. The entrance tower of the Upper Castle changed its face a bit. The entrance located high above the square was bricked up. Instead, a part of the rampart was removed, and a single large entrance to the castle was made in the tower’s base. That is, the entrance was significantly lowered. A new brick bridge with a vaulted arcade was built. The tower itself was reinforced with mighty buttresses so that the old buttresses were partially included within the new ones. An office building was constructed partly on the site of the prince’s palace, where archival court books were transferred from the chair of John the Theologian as it had burned down. These events and works formed the sixth construction period that shaped the appearance of the Upper Castle as it has survived to this day.
With Lutsk coming under the jurisdiction of the Russian Empire, the castle was used mainly for archives, housing, and fire service. After the fire of 1845, the charred walls of the castle were plundered to be used as a building material. In 1863 the “supreme order” was issued to dismantle the tower and the castle walls to be used as a building material. The Entrance Tower was sold at the auction for 373 rubles; the dismantling of the once majestic fortress of Lutsk began. However, this proved to be not an easy task. After all, even after so many centuries, the hardness of the structure was relatively high. The disassembling of the castle was progressing very slowly. Only a part of the wall near the Entrance Tower was destroyed, and the tower itself could not be dismantled even partially. The castle was saved thanks to its strength. The following year, the Kyiv Technical Committee concluded that the walls were not in a state of disrepair. Moreover, they should be preserved as historical monuments.
In 1887-1890, 623 rubles were allocated for restoration work in the castle, the breaches in the walls were bricked up. However, the attic on the tower had been dismantled because it was in critical condition.
In 1921 conservation works began in the castle; they were carried out by the Lublin conservation circuit under the charge of the architect Yu. Sennytskyi. The entrance tower was strengthened, reinforced concrete floors of the lower tiers of the building were made. Already in the Soviet period, in the 1960s and 1970s, large-scale works under M. Govdenko’s projects were carried out by O.M. Godovaniuk. The towers were fortified, the interiors were reconstructed, the wall between the Entrance Tower and the office building, the floors between tiers and the attics of the towers and wooden galleries on the walls were restored, all lost elements of the fortifications were replaced with new ones.
Король Данило Галицький «...спалив давній Возвяголь», князь Костянтин Іванович Острозький через 250 років відродив давній Звягель як місто на сучасному місці, сьогодні це Новоград-Волинський.
Фактично це стало головною подією у житті міста XV ст. після отримання К.І.Острозьким 28 червня 1499 р. маєтка — «имение…именем Звягел(ь) зо всими его приселк(ам)и в повете Киевском што держали первей всего князь Василей, и князь Андрей Семеновичи Звягольские зо всима людьми, к тому имению здавна прислужаючих, и з их службами“. Цей маєток, після вимирання по чоловічій лінії князів Звягельських, знаходився у державній власності.
У віленському привілею було зазначено, що та шляхта, якій маєтності не були надані (чи підтверджені) великокнязівськими привілеями, а надані князями Звягельськими — мали поступити на службу до К.І.Острозького чи забиратися геть, навіть без компенсації. Ображена звягольська шляхта одразу ж звернулася зі скаргою до нового великого князя, але Сигізмунд Старий лише підтвердив своє надання і зобовязав служити Великому гетьманові литовськлому князю Острозькому.
Всього за три місяця по поверненню князя з полону, 26 грудня 1507 р. у Мельнику він здобув великокнязівський привілей. У ньому не тільки були підтверджені всі права К.І.Острозького на «імение Звяголь», але «з особливої ласки дозволяємо йому у Звягoлі замок справити і місто садити і торг во всяку неділю мати і ярмарок кожен год на свято св. Дмитра». Саме цим привілеєм офіційно було «зареєстровано» народження Звягеля як міста (на сучасному місці, бо колишнє місто знаходилося трохи в іншій локації) і почалась його розбудова К.І.Острозьким
Привілеєм від 16 листопада 1509 р. Звягель і округа були “навічно” звільнені від “воловщини” (назва на Волині загальнодержавного основного грошового щорічного податку – від одиниці оподаткування: ділянка землі, зорана плугом, запряженим волами).
У 1510 р. 50-річний К.І.Острозький нарешті стає батьком – у нього народився син Ілля. У червні 1511 р. “схизматик” Острозький стає Віленським каштеляном. Відразу, незважаючи на заборону будівництва нових православних церков у самій Литві, – Костянтин Ванович отримує привілей на відродження у Вільне (Вільнюсі) церкви Пресвятої Богородиці, яка побудована в готичному стилі на давньоруському фундаменті. Через місяць він отримує ще один привілей, у якому знов були підтверджені усі його права на всі його маєтки, у т. ч. і на “замок Звягель”.
Замок у місті в ті роки вже активно будувався, адже татари не давали часу зволікати. Більшість українських замків тих часів будувались дерев’яними за традиційним давньоруським фортифікаційним типом — для захисту від татар цього було досить! Звягельський замок почав будувався мурованим. Але Костянтин Острозький встиг закласти мурованим лише фундамент, все інше ще лишалося дерев’яним. Муровані стіни, башти — то вже справа його сина Василя-Костянтина
Перемога під Оршою дозволила К.І.Острозькому знову, отримати від великого князя чергові привілеї на будівництво у ВільнІ (Вільнюсі) двох церков: Троїцької (взамін старої дерев’яної) і Микольської (побудована у готичному стилі, так як і замкова Микольська церква у Звягелі – на фундаменті давньоруського типу).
Остріг — старовинне місто з насиченою історією та унікальними пам’ятками архітектури. Знахідки, виявлені при археологічних дослідженнях, засвідчують, що територія теперішнього міста була заселена ще в 4–3 тисячолітті до н.е., потужним воно було і в давньослов’янський час. Острог вперше згадується 1100 році. Вже у XIV – XVII ст. він був столицею князівства Острозького, яке являло собою державне утворення з обмеженим суверенітетом.
Місто майже три століття було резиденцією князівського роду Острозьких, що дав Україні видатних полководців, меценатів та визначних національних провідників. Навіть після згасання прямих нащадків роду князів Острозьких, родинний герб продовжував виконувати роль герба князівства як певної територіальної одиниці. Так, згідно із заповітом Януша Костянтиновича Острозького, що не мав прямого спадкоємця, Острозька ординація мала перейти до молодшої гілки роду, князів Заславських, а у разі вгасання і цього роду – до рицарів Мальтійського ордену, але разом з тим в ужитку мав залишатися герб князів Острозьких, що продовжував репрезентувати територію ординації (князівства). Згодом ми бачимо герб Острозьких на печатках Любомирських, до яких 1673 р. перейшло володіння Острозькою ординацією, відповідно вони іменували себе «князі на Острогу та Заславі».
Столицею князівства було місто Острог, яке з 70-х рр. ХVI ст. стало найбільшим центром освіти і культури всієї України. У місті потужно розвивалося музичне мистецтво (острозький наспів), були потужними цехи золотарів, зброярів, гончарів і т.д. Приблизно в 1576 р. стараннями князя Василя-Костянтина була заснована перша у східній Європі вища школа, названа сучасниками Академією. Унікальність та оригінальність цього вищого закладу освіти виявилися й у тому, що тут уперше поєдналися два типи культур: візантійська і західноєвропейська. З Острозькою академією пов'язується Ренесанс українського народу.
На південно-східній околиці історичної частини Острога знаходиться старовинна Замкова гора. Перші дерев’яні укріплення — давньоруське городище ХІ–ХІІ ст., — що знаходились на цьому місці, були знищені татарськими ордами у 1241 р. У середині XIV століття князь Данило Острозький відновлює зруйновані споруди та будує кам’яну Вежу Муровану, що розташована у південно-східній частині Замкового двору на пагорбі. Уперше вона згадується у 1386 р.
Вежа Мурована — унікальна оборонна споруда середньовічної Волині. Вона належить до типу житлових оборонних башт. Місцями її стіни сягають завтовшки 2,6 м. Колись у нижньому (підвальному) ярусі зберігалися запаси пороху, необхідного для тривалого захисту фортеці, та провіанту; також тут був глибокий колодязь. Підвальний та середній поверхи складаються з чотирьох приміщень, на верхньому були житлові кімнати. На жаль, вежа дійшла до нашого часу вже перебудованою, без верхніх поверхів. У 1797 р. верхній ярус споруди розібрали, аби згодом відбудувати у зміненому та спрощеному вигляді. У 1913–1915 рр. вежу відреставрували для потреб музею силами Братства ім. князів Острозьких.
Нова (Кругла) вежа розміщена у південно-західній частині подвір’я. Свою назву отримала від того, що на час побудови (кінець XVI ст.) вона була найновішою спорудою на Замковій горі. Вежа підсилювала ріг оборонних мурів і була стратегічно вдало розміщена в системі оборони замку. Споруду завершує стрічка навісних бійниць із глухою аркадою, прикрашеною фігурними зубцями. Її захисники могли обстрілювати ворога одночасно майже із сорока бійниць, причому зона обстрілу дорівнювала 270 градусам.
У північній частині Замкової гори стоїть Богоявленський собор. Коли з’явився храм, точно невідомо. За легендою, розпочав будівництво у XV князь Василій Красний, а закінчив його син Костянтин Іванович. Дату 1521 р., вибиту на північній стіні, одні дослідники пов’язують з часом його побудови, інші з пристосуванням храму для оборони: тоді його північна стіна, потовщена та обладнана чотирма бійницями для гармат, стала частиною замкового муру. Після переходу останньої представниці роду князів Острозьких у католицизм, храм був закритий (1636 р.). Церква більше 200 років стояла пусткою і за цей час перетворилася на руїну. Її відновили у 1887–1891 рр. На старих фундаментах звели храм, що повторював давню споруду. Північна, найміцніша стіна старої будівлі була включена до споруди нового храму. Але при відбудові були зроблені й певні зміни і на сьогодні храм практично став пам’яткої архітектури ХІХ ст. з елементами XVІ ст.
У місті також збереглися зведені у XVІ ст. Луцька і Татарська надбрамні вежі. Внаслідок того, що башти виконували одні і ті ж самі функції — оборонної башти і міської брами — вони дуже подібні. Татарська збереглася гірше, втрачена значна частина округлої частини будівлі. Вона була названа відповідно до району міста, заселеного переважно татарами. Захищала в’їзд з боку шляху на Звягель (зараз м. Новоград-Волинський). Пам’ятка є унікальним типом укріплених міських воріт, що поєднував функції в’їзної брами та оборонної вежі.
Луцька вежа захищала місто з боку Луцька. Як і Татарська, вона була водночас оборонною спорудою та воротами. Первинно була двоярусною, згодом їй надбудували аттик з бійницями, що надало споруді характер цивільної архітектури. 10 грудня 1985 року в ній відкрився Музей книги та друкарства.