L'viv – the Ensemble of the Historic Centre (1998)

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Ukraine 2003. Lviv Region.

The city of L'viv, founded in the late Middle Ages, was a flourishing administrative, religious and commercial centre for several centuries. The medieval urban topography has been preserved virtually intact (in particular, there is evidence of the different ethnic communities who lived there), along with many fine Baroque and later buildings. 
  • Ukraine 2003. Lviv Region. Look at the map, and you will see Lviv's location in the eastern part of the country. 

The city of Lviv was known for 146 years as Lemberg under Austrian-Hungarial rule, and for another twenty years it was known by the Polish name of Lwow, and by the Russian name of Lvov, see below.  

  • Ukrainian: Львів, L’viv 
  • Polish: Lwów
  • Russian: Львов, Lvov
  • German: Lemberg
  • Yiddish: לעמבערג
  • Latin: Leopolis 

is a city in western Ukraine, the capital city of the Lviv Region, and one of the main cultural centers of Ukraine. It has about 1 million inhabitants, with an additional 200,000 commuting daily from the suburbs. The inhabitants of Lviv are commonly known as Leopolitans (deriving from the city's Latin name). 

Recent archaeological excavations show that the area of Lviv has been populated since at least the 5th century. At the dawn of history, the area became incorporated into the Empire of Great Moravia, then became an area of contention between two emerging states: Poland (during the reign of Mieszko I, ruler of the Poles) and the Kievan Rus. 

Mieszko is thought to have controlled the area from 960 to 980. According to Nestor's Chronicle, in 1981 this area was conquered by Volodymyr (Vladimir) the Great, ruler of Kievan Rus. 

  • Ukraine 2000. Souvenir sheet showing Vladimir the Great. 

However, the city itself was founded in the 13th century by King Danylo of the Ruthenian duchy of Halych-Volynia,  and named in honor of his son, Lev. 

Other sources mention that it was his son himself who founded the city. Thus the toponym might best be translated into English as Leo's lands or Leo's City (hence the Latin name Leopolis).

Ukraine 2000. Souvenir sheet showing Vladimir the Great.

USSR 1972.  The marketplace in Lviv.

L’viv is an outstanding example of the fusion of the architectural and artistic traditions of eastern Europe with those of Italy and Germany. 

The political and commercial role of L’viv 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. This Soviet stamp shows the marketplace in Lviv, surrounded by buildings in German Baroque architecture. 

  • USSR 1972. The marketplace in Lviv. If you search for this stamp in catalogues, it will be named Lvov (not Lviv), in the traditional Soviet spelling. 

During World War I (1914-18) bitter fighting took place in and around the city. In 1919 L'viv was annexed by Poland. It was seized by Soviet troops in 1939, during World War II, and later was occupied by the German army from 1941 to 1944. In 1945 L'viv was ceded by Poland to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and became part of Ukrainian SSR; the city was named Lvov during this period. When Ukraine became independent in 1991, the name L'viv was restored. 

Ukraine 2000. Church in Lviv City.

L’viv or Lviv, also Lvov, and sometimes Lemberg, is the capital of L'viv Oblast, Ukraine. Long a leading cultural center, L'viv is the site of L’viv State University (1784) and a number of theaters and museums. 

It is the seat of Roman Catholic, Ukrainian Orthodox, and Armenian Orthodox archbishops and has two churches dating from the 14th century. 

  • Ukraine 2000. Two Lviv-churches from the 14th century. 

    • Church in Lviv City. 

    • Village Velike, Lviv.

Ukraine 2000. Church in Village Velike, Lviv.

L'viv was founded about 1256 and soon became an important commercial center. Captured by the Poles in 1340, the city remained under Polish rule for most of the period until 1772, when it passed to Austria and became the capital of the province of Galicia. 
  • Ukraine 1997. Cathedral of Saint Jura in Lviv (18th century ).

Ukraine 1997. Cathedral of Saint Jura in Lviv.

The city is home to many industries, higher learning institutions such as University of Lviv, founded in 1661, Lviv Polytechnic, a philharmonic orchestra, and the Lviv Opera and Ballet Theatre. 

Poland 2000. King Stanislaw I Leszczynski of Poland, who gave name to Place Stanislas, Nancy, France.

There are many museums and art galleries in Lviv, most notable are the National Gallery, Museum of Religion (formerly Museum of Atheism) and National Museum (formerly Museum of Industry). The city will celebrate its 750th anniversary in May 2006.  Portions of the movie "Schindler's List" were shot in the Lviv historic city center, as it was less expensive to do so than in Krakow (Poland). 

Among famous Leopolitans are the philosopher Martin Buber, the painter Juliusz Kossak, and Stanislaw I Leszczynski (King of Poland) who gave name to a World Heritage Site in France.  

  • Poland 2000. King Stanislaw I Leszczynski of Poland, who gave name to Place Stanislas in Nancy. 

Sources and links:

Other World Heritage Sites in Ukraine (on this site). Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, section Ukraine for further information about the individual properties.  

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Revised 10 maj 2007  
Copyright © 1999 Heindorffhus 
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