You are here

Lviv : A Journey Through The Centuries

Ancient Lviv was one of the biggest and most important towns of the principality of Galicia and Volyn. Today Lviv is an important political, economic and cultural center of Western Ukraine.
In the 1830s the Austrian geographer and statistician W. Blumenbach wrote: " Lviv's population grew more than twofold, totaling 75,000; and the city's beauty was enhanced. The number of buildings, built in a new style, mostly beautiful, is 2,612; of which 425 are civic, mainly churches and cathedrals. There are 77 named streets, with 11,718 families living there. The streets are maintained out of the Magistrate's profits; all of them are covered with cobblestones and are lit; apart from a few which are lit by the moon. Good water systems provide the city with water, and the romantic outskirts serve as a place to rest".

The "burgher house" type of building prevailed within the city's boundaries: a typical house of the Galician middle class was a two- or three-storied rectangular building, often with an inner courtyard. The logical system of room arrangements can be traced on the facades: in the horizontal division, in the rhythm of windows, and in the accents of the main entrances. Balconies carry consoles shaped as a lion's head or acanthus leaves. Smooth surfaces are covered with sculptural relief portraying traditional mythological characters or, more often, with the traditional emblems of the Gulician merchants: Mercury, dolphins, and cornucopias as a way of wishing success to the owner-trader; in the niches are patron saints. Peace and welfare were symbolized by such popular motifs as doves, flowers, and sometimes seasons of the year: spring is ploughing; summer is harvesting; autumn is bleaching linen; winter is the time for weddings. Parts of such buildings have been preserved until the present day, continuing to amaze us with the simplicity and skill of their planning.

In Lviv with its numerous institutions, besides craftsmen (about 60% of the city population), many officials, students, merchants and representatives of so-called free occupations also lived: doctors, barristers, painters, architects and plasterers. Families of priests constituted a special section where national traditions were preserved.

It was common to come across people from all over the world in the streets of our city; and everybody, whatever language he spoke, could find his own language there. Lviv's special aura was an inspiration; for many-outstanding artists, actors, singers and men of letters the city was a muse.

Architectural masterpieces were created by Paul of Rome, Gartman Witwer, Petro Viytovych and others. Theworldwasfascinatedby thepaintings of Ivan Trush, Arthur Grottger, Osyp Kurylas, Olena Kulchytska, Antin Manastyrskyj and by the unique singing of Solomija Krushelnytska, Oleksander Myshuga and Modest Mentsynskyj; the unforgettable Maria Zankovetska made audiences hurst into applause. The fame of musicians like Mykola Kolessa, Stanislav Ludkevych and Vasyl Barvinskyj spread far and wide. Markyjan Shashkevych, Ivan Vahylevych, Jakiv Holovatskyj, Aleksander Fredro, Ivan Franko and Vasyl Stefanyk created literary masterpieces.
The flame oj enlightenment was carried by the fraternities of churches and monasteries (in particular, Stavropigia fraternity); by the Taras Shevchenko Society, by scientists Mychajlo Hrushevskyj, Ivan Krypjakevych, Vasyl Shchurat, Ilarion Sventsitskyj and by Metropolitan Andrej Sheptytskyj.

The historical figures of Danylo Halytskyj, Ivan Pidkova, Maksym Kryvonis and Bohdan Kchmelnytskyj are all connected with Lviv. The memory of Yevhen Konovalets, Stepan Handera and Roman Shukhevych will remain with the people of Lviv forever.

AII the above-mentioned names have been preserved in the names of the streets of Lviv, and are recorded in the imperishable chronicles of Ukraine, which can be read while walking through the streets of Lviv.

English
Articles: 
History