Why was the town named Burshtyn? There are 6 versions, which explain the origin of the name, each of which has some arguments in favor and against.
According to the first version the name Burshtyn originated from legends. The first legend says that long ago there was a settlement. The people of this settlement had a miraculous amber necklace. It gave the people light and warmth, it cured the sick and supported needy people and it strengthened brave warriors in defense of the native land from attacking armies. No one could conquer them. But some local princes allowed themselves to be bribed with gold and silver. They tore away the miraculous necklace and threw it about the mountains because it burnt their hands. From that time forward, the lives of the people became difficult and unbearable. But the strong- willed people always sought the light.
Their glorious sons searched for the amber stones of the necklace. Long and difficult their roads were. Those roads were measured not only by kilometers but also by centuries. It became their dream of happiness and fate, joy and freedom. They managed to find those amber stones of the necklace. They turned this necklace into the light of their souls. So, many years later, this legend became reality.
The second legend says that once, during a hunting trip, a bad accident befell the prince and his people. An ox frightened the horse on which the young princess was riding. The horse ran into the forest. The princess was saved, but she lost the precious amber necklace. Her father announced that the man who found the necklace would marry his daughter. Many men tried to find it but their attempts were useless. From that time forward the area where that accident took place has been called Burshtyn.
According to the third version, the town got its name from the surname of a man, as many pre-carpathian towns did. One of the Polish historians has found facts that in 1655 the mayor of the town Pidhoroddia was Ivan Burshtyn. Other documents testify the fact that in 1648 the peasants called Ivan and Hryts’ Burshtyn lived in our area.
According to the fourth version a scientist O. Kupchinskiy , who is from Lviv suggests that our town belongs to the group of towns, the names of which are connected with the color of river water and soils in their area. Along the river Hnyla Lypa the soil is yellow and the water in the river is also yellowish, which is associated with the color of amber.
The fifth version is linguistic. Its author is a teacher from Burshtyn V. Matiiv. He supposes, that the town got its name from the name of a stone castle which is “burgstein” in German (“burg” — castle, “stein”- stone).
The sixth and final version is geological. According to it, the name Burshtyn originated from the folk name of amber, as the precious stones have been periodically found on the territory of the town. This version is considered to be the most truthful, as it has the greatest number of facts in its favor. In 1912 in the course book in geology, published in Lviv, they wrote that there had been deposits of amber near Lviv and Burshtyn in the past. This version seems to be the most likely, because when the town got its name amber was very popular. One more argument in favor of the geological version is that most towns that have their names connected with precious stones, were once centers of their extraction.
Little historical information about the history of Burshtyn was preserved and translated. Storytellers today do not seem interested in the history of the town. A common story is one told by the teacher Ferdinand Balitskiy. In princely times halfway between Halych and Chahrov there was a settlement called Ostrivci which in the first half of the XII century was known by the fact that one of Halich’s princes met there secretly with a beautiful woman Nastasia, a wealthy landowner’s daughter. Nastasia and the Prince truly loved each other.
The settlement Ostrivci was a portion of up the current city, (now flooded by a storage pool) and the field, where the park and the Palace of Culture “Prometheus” are located now. This settlement was located between Hnyla Lypa and by the stream “Tenitniska”. A village Ostrivtci began to grow and it’s newly - built part obtained the name Nove Selo. It was in XV century and already in XVI century it grew into a town and was renamed Burshtyn. The first written mention about it is dated 1554. The owner of Burshtyn was the Polish duke of columns Skarbek. The central part of Burshtyn was built in Italian style. In honor of the duke’s wive’s motherland - Italy. And thus, Burshtyn featured two-storied stone cottages in the center of the city. The palace and the park stayed until the first imperialistic war of 1914. Different shops were located here. A park was the main decoration of the city. Beautiful decorative trees from the south, which were 150-200 years old, grew there.
In the beginning of XVII century a large palace for Count Yablonovski was built in the centre of the park. In 1630 the owner of Burshtyn became the count Jablonovskiy. On the break of XIX-XX centuries the river Hnyla Lypa was adjusted and a few ponds with fish where made. In 1620 the famous hetman of Poland Mykola Pototskiy stayed in Burshtyn for 10 days. The documents in the library of museum of Ossolinski in Lviv testify to that fact. An important date for Burshtyn was a transition of Cossacks in 1649. Many local men joined the Cossack regiments. In 1675 Burshtyn was robbed and devastated by Polish troops in the Polish-Turkish war. After abolition of serfdom in 1848, Burshtyn was the district centre. Rohatyn was made a district centre, but most administrative establishments still remained in Burshtyn. In 1882, a private pharmacy and two medical centers were opened in the town.
In 1895 the people of the city organized a library. In 1902 people bought the beer factory from the duke Yablonovskiy. From building materials of this factory the house of “Education” was built. The reading hall of the house of education became the cultural centre of the city. After the census of 1914 the population of Burshtyn was 7000 people (60% of which were Ukrainians, 35% Jewish, 5% Polish).
Before the First World War Burshtyn had the appearance of an old nicely built town. One of the Polish tourist magazines, which published the articles about the history of eastern Halych cities, wrote that Burshtyn had the population of 7000 citizens and was one of the most fascinating cities of Halychyna. Before 1939 the area of Burshtyn was thickly built-up by detached two-storied houses. In the middle of the town there was not a town hall, but there were butcher shops built. Not far from the market there were quarters, with two-storied houses, where Jewish-artisans mainly lived. Most of them were tailors, boot makers and bakers. At the market there were 5 manufacturing shops, 4 shops with leather shoes, a clothes shop, 3-hour dressers, 4 pubs and a restaurant. Near the cemetery there was a factory which made steam-boilers. There was a large auction mill on what is today Franko Street. A mill had four floors and milled up to 6 tons of corn a day. Flour was exported. Except for a large mill there was a small water mill, which was emptied on the river of Mlinivtsi. It was destroyed in 1961 before the lake was made. The large mill, which milled grain especially for export, was destroyed by air by the Germans in 1944 before their departure.
There were big markets on Torhova square and on the square where the stadium of school number 1 was located until recently. Burshtyn was very nearly destroyed in the First World War. After the First World War Halychyna was occupied by Poland. In 1939-1941 during the rule of the soviet government, the wonderful palace of Jablonovsky was robbed. It was converted into storage for corn. The greatest harm for the history is the loss of the library and the chronicles of counts Jablonovski. In that library there were books, written on parchment. It was destroyed and burnt by the soviet power.
The second major damage was inflicted during the Fascist-German occupation in 1941-1944. German Gestapo killed part of the Jewish population and their beautiful houses were blasted. The center was in ruins. Large destruction of the city continued until 1955. The palace of the family of Jablonovskiy was completely destroyed. From 1939-1941 the town was a district center. In 1941-1944 during the German occupation it was subordinated to Rohatyn.
From 1944 to 1961 Burshtyn was the district centre again. In 1961 the part of the villages were joined to Rohatyn district, the other part and Burshtyn were joined to Halych district. From 1962 the history of Burshtyn as an industrial center begins. The Power station gave it a second life. A new city with multistoried buildings, spacious streets and public gardens appeared.