Ukraine’s castles are majestic buildings once home to significant historical figures, and are important sites for the country’s cultural heritage. A new social project, 12 Guards, looks to restore them, providing an opportunity not only to save history, but to promote domestic tourism
The creator of 12 Guards is Ukrainian traveller Lala Tarapakina. Her goal is to promote the care of abandoned structures, even those on the brink of ruin. And with nearly 5000 castles and forts in Ukraine, she has her work cut out.
Though most of these historic structures are officially state-owned, state policy is not conducive to the restoration of such precious monuments, so a team of enthusiasts has decided to take matters into their own hands and break the cycle of people’s indifference. The team has chosen 12 castles from different parts of Ukraine, each structure unique and rich with cultural significance. These castles used to be the shields of our lands, and now they’ve fallen into despair (and disrepair).
Who are the guards?
The team is formed of ordinary people – volunteers, concerned about the future of the castles and eager to take care of the past. Although their impact is currently not enough to restore the castles properly, they continue working tirelessly, trying to get more people involved. On a material level, 12 Guards provide direct assistance to castles and palaces, carrying out simple work that can significantly slow down the process of ruin, such as cleaning, window repairs, and roof refurbishment. They’re also gathering archival materials, plus recordings, stories, and photos.
One more way to fight indifference is to popularise the idea of renting a castle. “We plan to find and show examples of successful collaborations that function as businesses,” says one volunteer. “We’re holding a nationwide competition for young people to come up with the best idea for a concession project; we’re doing everything to popularise this phenomenon, and to convey to people that Ukrainian castles and palaces don’t have to merely survive – they can become successful.”
Picking up rubbish, replacing broken glass – it’s easy. By making steps like these, 12 Guards hopes to set some new trends. Anyone can support this multi-faceted project by donating money or buying souvenirs. The charity fund also acts as a ‘guard’ as all donations are made transparently.
Koropetsky Palace, Mikulinets Castle, Khust Castle, St. Miklos Castle, Sangushkiv Palace, The Castle of Ostrozhyk, Huval’s Palace, The House of Dakhovsky, Sharevsky Castle, Svirzhski Castle, Pomorian Castle, Palace of the Jewish Lenckorons – they all need your assistance. As the project’s founders say, “you can’t change the past, but you can help save the best of it…”
What can be done to save the castles?
– Provide real assistance to each castle: reconstruct them brick by brick
– Develop a comfortable environment for tourists
– Shoot a movie about each castle. The Guards’ stories will be shared with the world
– Create a travel guide
– Raise awareness about the project – anyone can become a guard!
To find out more, visit 12vartovykh.com