Lviv (Ukrainian: Львів L’viv, IPA: [lʲβ̞iu̯]( listen); Polish: Lwów; Russian: Львов, L'vov; German: Lemberg; Latin: Leopolis;see also other names) is a major city in western Ukraine.
It is regarded as one of the main cultural centres of Ukraine and historically also for Ukraine’s neighbour Poland. The historic centre of Lviv with its old buildings and cobblestone roads has survived the Second World War and the Soviet presence largely unscathed. The city has many industries and institutions of higher education such as the Lviv University and the Lviv Polytechnic. It has a philharmonic orchestra and The Lviv Theatre of Opera and Ballet. The historic city centre is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Lviv celebrated its 750th anniversary with a son et lumière in the city centre in September 2006.
Lviv was founded by King Daniil Halytskiy of the Ruthenian principality of Halych-Volhynia, and named in honour of his son, Lev. For many centuries it was fought over and incorporated into different countries and empires including the Crown of the Polish Kingdom and Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, Austro-Hungary, Western Ukrainian Republic, Second Polish Republic, and Ukrainian SSR The city was occupied by the Nazis from June 1941 to July 1944 when it was recaptured by the Soviet Red Army and returned to the Ukrainian SSR.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, it became part of the independent Ukraine, for which it currently serves as the administrative centre of Lviv Oblast, and designated as its own raion (district) within that oblast.
On June 12, 2009 the Ukrainian magazine Focus assessed Lviv as the best Ukrainian city to live in.
Lviv is located on the edge of the Roztochia Upland, approximately 70 km from the Polish border and 160 km (100 miles) from the eastern Carpathian Mountains. The average altitude of Lviv is 296 m above sea level. Its highest point is the Vysokyi Zamok (High Castle), 409 m above sea level. This castle has a commanding view of the historic city centre with its distinctive green-domed churches and intricate architecture.
The old walled city was at the foothills of the High Castle on the banks of the river Poltva. In the 13th century, the river was used to transport goods. In the early 20th century, the Poltva was covered over in areas where it flows through the city. The river flows directly beneath the central street of Lviv, Freedom Avenue (Prospect Svobody) and the renowned Lviv Opera House.
Lviv was founded by King Daniil Halytskiy of the Ruthenian principality of Halych-Volhynia, and named in honour of his son, Lev. When Danylo died Lev made Lviv the capital of Halych-Volhynia. The city is first mentioned in the Halych-Volhynian Chronicle, which dates from 1256. It was captured by Poland in 1340 and, in 1356, Casimir III of Poland brought in German burghers and granted the Magdeburg rights which implied that all city matters were to be resolved by a council, elected by the wealthy citizens. The city council seal of the 14th century stated: S(igillum): Civitatis Lembvrgensis. As part of Poland (and later the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth), Lviv became the capital of the Ruthenian Voivodeship.
As Lviv prospered, it became religiously and ethnically diverse. The 17th century brought invading armies of Swedes, Hungarians from Transylvania, Russians and Cossacks to its gates. However, Lviv was the only major city in Poland that was not captured by the invaders. In 1672 it was besieged by the Ottomans, who also failed to conquer it. Lviv was captured for the first time by a foreign army in 1704, when Swedish troops under King Charles XII entered the city after a siege.
In 1772, following the First Partition of Poland, the city known in German as Lemberg became the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria. It was briefly captured by the Russian army in September 1914 but retaken by Austria–Hungary in June the following year.
With the collapse of the Habsburg Monarchy at the end of World War I Lviv became an arena of conflict between the local Ukrainian and Polish-Jewish populations. During these fights an important role was taken by young Polish city defenders called Lwów Eaglets. Soon afterward, Lviv was attacked by the Red Army under the command of Aleksandr Yegorov and Stalin during Polish-Soviet War, but the city resisted. For the courage of its inhabitants Lviv was awarded the Virtuti Militari cross by Józef Piłsudski on 22 November 1920.
Between the World Wars, it was the third largest city in Poland (after Warsaw and Łódź) and the seat of the Lwów Voivodeship with a large Jewish population. Although eastern part of the Lwów Voivodeship had a majority Ukrainian population in most of the rural areas, the city itself did not. According to the 1931 Polish Government Census, Poles numbered 198,212 (63.5%) of the population, with Jews numbering 75,316 (24.1%) and Ukrainians numbering 35,137 (11.3%). Polish population of the city spoke its distinct dialect.
In the Soviet invasion of Poland (1939), the Soviet Union took Lviv (Lwów), which became the capital of the Lviv Oblast. In the initial stage of Operation Barbarossa (late June 1941), Lviv was taken by the Germans. This was a period of massacres in Galicia. The evacuating Soviets decided to kill most of the prison population. When the Wehrmacht forces arrived in the area, they discovered the evidence of the mass murders committed by the NKVD and NKGB, including the mass killing of Ukrainians, Jews and Poles.
On 30 June 1941, Yaroslav Stetsko declared in Lviv the Government of an independent Ukraine. This was done hastily without approval of the Germans, however Galicia was subsequently incorporated into the General Government as Distrikt Galizien. As Germany viewed Galicia as already aryanized and civilized, the non-Jewish Galicians escaped the full extent of German intentions in comparison to many other Ukrainians who lived further eastward. Despite the more lenient extent of German control over the majority of the Galician population, the Jewish Galicians were deported to concentration camps. The Soviets retook Lviv in the Lvov–Sandomierz Offensive of July, 1944.
Lviv and its population suffered greatly from the two world wars as the wars were fought across the local geography causing major collateral damage and disruption. Because of immigration, in part, it recovered somewhat faster between the wars than comparable cities.
In January 1945 the local NKVD arrested 772 Poles in Lviv (where, according to Soviet sources, on 1 October 1944, Poles made 66.7% of population), among them 14 professors, 6 doctors, 2 engineers, 3 artists, 5 catholic priests. The reaction to these arrests in the Polish community was extremely negative. The Polish underground press in Lviv characterized these acts as attempts to hasten the deportation of Poles from their city. Those arrested were released after they signed papers agreeing to emigrate to Poland. It is estimated that from 100,000 to 140,000 Poles were resettled in the Recovered Territories. Little remains of Polish culture in Lviv except for the Italian-influenced architecture. The Polish history of Lviv (Lwów) is still well remembered in Poland, and those Poles who stayed in Lviv, are gathered in their own organization, Association of Polish Culture of the Lviv Land.
Citizens of Lviv strongly supported Viktor Yushchenko during the 2004 Ukrainian presidential election and played a key role in the Orange Revolution. Hundred of thousands of people would gather in freezing temperature to demonstrate for the Orange camp. Acts of civil disobedience forced the head of the local police to resign and the local assembly issued a resolution refusing to accept the fraudulent first official results.
Lviv remains today one of the main centres of Ukrainian culture, and the origin of much of the nation's political class.
Lviv's historic centre has been on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage list since 1998. UNESCO gave the following reasons for its selection:
Criterion II: In its urban fabric and its architecture, Lviv is an outstanding example of the fusion of the architectural and artistic traditions of eastern Europe with those of Italy and Germany.
Criterion V: The political and commercial role of Lviv attracted to it a number of ethnic groups with different cultural and religious traditions, who established separate yet interdependent communities within the city, evidence for which is still discernible in the modern townscape.
Lviv's historic churches, buildings and relics date from the 13th century. In recent centuries, it was spared some of the invasions and wars that destroyed other Ukrainian cities. Its architecture reflects various European styles and periods. After the fires of 1527 and 1556 Lviv lost most of its gothic-style buildings, but it retains many buildings in renaissance, baroque, and classic styles. There are works by artists of the Vienna Secession, Art Nouveau, and Art Deco styles.
The buildings have many stone sculptures and carvings, particularly on large doors, hundreds of years old. The remains of old churches dot the central cityscape. Some three- to five-storey buildings have hidden inner courtyards and grottoes in various states of repair. Some cemeteries are of interest, for example the Lychakivskiy Cemetery, where the Polish elite were buried for centuries. Leaving the central area, the architectural style changes radically as Soviet-era high-rise blocks dominate. In the centre, the Soviet era is reflected mainly in a few modern-style national monuments and sculptures.
Monuments in Lviv
City sculptures commemorate many people and topics reflecting the rich history of Lviv. There are monuments to:
* The Good Soldier Švejk
* Adam Mickiewicz
* Ivan Pidkova
* Taras Shevchenko
* Ivan Trush
* Pope John Paul II
* Jan Kiliński
* Ivan Franko
* King Danylo
* Saint George
* Mykhailo Hrushevskyi
* Bartosz Głowacki
* Monument to the Virgin Mary
* Ivan Fedorov
* Solomiya Krushelnytska
During the interbellum period there were monuments commemorated to important figures of the history of Poland. Some of these were moved to the Polish Recovered Territories, like the monument of Aleksander Fredro which now is in Wroclaw, the monument of King Jan III Sobieski which after 1945 was moved to Gdansk, and the monument of Kornel Ujejski which now is in Szczecin.
* the Old Town
o Lviv Market Square
o Ploshcha Rynok Market Square; 18,300 square metres.
+ Black House
o Armenian Cathedral
o Orthodox Cathedral
o Korniakt Palace
o Latin Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
o St. George's Cathedral of the Greek-Catholic Church
o Dominican Church of Corpus Christi
o Chapel of Boim family
* Lviv High Castle hill overlooking the historical center
o Union of Lublin Mound
* Lychakivskiy Cemetery