Have you ever been to Lviv? Perhaps that trip is among the brightest in your life. Haven’t you ever been to Lviv? You certainly should see this city which could save its ancient guise, spirit and soul during seven centuries.
The city (another spelling: L’vov, Lwow, Lemberg) celebrated its 750-th Anniversary in 2006. Cities are like people. Someone lives all his life in the same place, does his routine job, brings up his children. Another one is explorer and loves adventures. There are a lot of actions around him to take part, new faces to see, new sites to learn about.
It seams that for the very its foundation in the mid-13th century by Prince Danilo Romanovich of Galicia Lvov became an arena where major political and economical changes took place all the time. Convenient location on the trade routes between east and west and passes across the Carpathians have given it both quick prosperity and turbulent history.
Founded in 1256 it became the capital of Halych-Volhynia – a state which succeeded Kievan Rus in the late 12th century and existed till the middle of the 14th century. The prospered city was captured many times:
Poland control was established from 1349 till 1370. During the rain of king Cazimir III city was granted the Magdeburg rights. All city issues were ruled by the elected city council.
From 1370 till 1387 the city was ruled by Hungary.
From 1387 till 1772 Lviv belonged to Poland.
In 1772 after the Partition of Poland, the city became the capital of the Austrian Kingdom of Galicia. At that time it was known as Lemberg.
In 1914 during World War I, the city was captured by the Russian army.
In 1915 Lwow became one of the major cities of Austria-Hungary Empire. After its collapse in 1918 it was re taken by the Polish troops and became the third largest city after Warsaw and Lodz.
Together with western Ukraine the city was joined to USSR (Ukrainian Socialist Republic) in 1939 and after World War II annexed by the Soviet Union.
Today the city of Lvov with a population of over 800,000 is a soul and heart of the Western Ukraine.
You can see that during more than seven centuries it was exposed to major convulsions. Its spirit, look, architecture, culture, composition of population and kinds of their activity have been influenced not only by the run of centuries, but all those endless historical changes which took place there.
Let’s look at some statistics which reflects these changes.
Population: 13th century – 3,000, 15th – 8,000, 16th – 18,000, 1880 – 109,746, 1939 – 318,099, 1941 – 299,000, 1992 – 807,300, 2000 – 810,000.
Year/Ukrainian/ Poles/ Jews/ Others
1869 – 14.2% /53.2%/ 30.2% /2.4%
1890 – 17.2%/52.6%/28.1%/2.1%
1910 – 19.2%/51.2%/27.8%/1.8%
1941 – 22.0%/50.3%/25.4%/2.3%
1942 – 23.1%/48.6%/25.6%/2.7%
2001 – 88.1%/0.9%/0.3%/10.7%
Religions: 35% – Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, 11.5% – Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, 9% – Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Kiev Patriarchate, 6% — Roman Catholic Church.
City’s architectural styles: Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Classic styles, Vienna Secession, Art Nouveau, and Art Deco.
Today, Lvov is one of the main centers of Ukrainian culture. By the number of architectural, historical monuments and their unique beauty it takes the first place in Ukraine. Perhaps Lviv has the best-developed in Ukraine tourist infrastructure. Its central historical part is included into the “List of World Cultural and Natural Heritage of UNESCO”.
If you love just walk around, visit coffee shops, watch people, find “gems” in every street, park, building or small yard, Lviv is your city. Relaxing atmosphere, friendly and polite people – it is all about Lvov.
I wouldn’t like to make it sounds as a “tourist paradise”. As every town in Ukraine Lviv has its own problems. You will forget about them after you spend a few hours exploring Lviv’s wooded old town, its numerous churches, unique monuments in the streets and parks, examining details of its buildings, sitting in the cafe with a cup of famous Lviv’s coffee.
Try to feel the spirit of this ancient and unique “City of Lions” watching a slide show. I want to send an especial thank you to Alexander Tolchinskiy and the team of photo masters who presented their works on his site. They made it possible for us to touch the beauty of their native city, which they admire so much.