Lviv’s Armenian Section
Armenians are the oldest people that settled in Ukraine. Their large colonies existed in Lviv, Kyiv, Kamyanets-Podilsky and Crimea. Good merchants and craftsmen as they were, the Armenians formed an influential community. The professions of interpreters and goldsmiths remained in their hands for centuries. Lviv community had their own school, printing-house, old people’s home. From its midst came out the burgomaster Bartholomew Zimorovich, the historian Sadok Baronch, the researcher of mineral resources Theodor Torosevich, and many others.
The construction of the Armenian Church began in 1363. First Maecenases were Akob of Kafa, and Fanos of Gaisarants. It is assumed that the architect Dorkhi (Doring) took as an example the cathedral in the old Armenian capital city of Ani. The structure was rebuilt several times, but the greatest changes were made in 1723, when it was ornamented with elements of late baroque. Inside the cathedral there are impressive mosaics executed by the well-known artist Yu. Megoffer (1912).The most remarkable
of them are the composition “Trinity,” which is located under the temple’s cupola, and original modernistic paintings (1925-1929) on the walls made by the artist Jan Rozen to order of the bishop Yu. Teodorovich. On the walls of the altar part of the cathedral one can see characteristic stone crosses (14 th-15 th cent). During the restoration of 1925 elements of frescoes were discovered, which are the oldest in Lviv. In the altar section there is the fresco “The Last Supper” in which the figure of Judas is represented in the form of a shadow. The courtyard before the cathedral is covered with tomb stones that remained after the cemetery was liquidated. The walls both inside and outside are adorned with numerous epitaphs. Not far away from the Armenian cathedral there is the Transfiguration Church (26 Krakow St.) built in 1848 in place of the Trinitarian monastery. This monastic order engaged in redeeming captive Christians from Turkish bondage. After its liquidation the premises were given to the university and library. During the revolutionary events of 1848 they all burned down. Sparing no effort the local community resumed book collection activities. The remains of the premises were handed over to the Ukrainian community, and in 1875 the construction of a new temple began, which lasted till 1898 (arch. S.Havryshkevych).The church was consecrated in 1906.
The Many-Sided World Of The Heart Of The City
Moving northward to the end of Armenian Street, before the art center “Dzyga” (Peg-top), we turn to the right and get to a square in front of the Dominican Church (1 Muzeina Sq.) – one of the most remarkable ‘ structures of late baroque in Lviv. From the 15 th century to 1745 the temple was Gothic. In 1792-1798, after fire, the builder M. Urbanyk worked on its restoration after the design of the architect Jan de Vitte. Inside the temple is adorned with sculptures by S. Fesinger, and the altar made by M. Poleiovsky. Special note should be made of the epitaph of the countess Yu. Dunin-Borkovska (B. Torwaldsen, 1816); inside the church, at the entrance, there are monuments to the Galician governor F. Gauger (sculptor A. Schimser) and the artist A. Grotger (s culptor V. Gadomskyi, 1880).
Walking a little to the east we get to a small square with a monument to the printer I. Fedorov, and the royal arsenal (1639-1646, arch. P.Grodzitskvi. 13 Pidvalna St.) founded by order of the king Wladislaw IV taking into account the strategic location and great importance of Lviv. The city was always under the king’s special care and had two arsenals at the same time – the city arsenal and the royal one. Everyone who was granted Lviv citizenship had to present some arms for the defense of the city. Kings, in their turn, supported Lviv’s defensive capacity with their own money. The courtyard of the royal arsenal was equipped in an original manner, and was a deadly trap for any enemy who managed to get behind the city walls. The arsenal fell into disrepute when its commandant Wojcech Radwanski organized attacks against the residents of the city and its environs.
Between Lviv s eastern defensive walls and Rynok Square there is the Ruthenian section. The architectural ensemble of Assumption Church is the center of it. For a long time it was wooden, then a stone structure; it was rebuilt several times. A close of the 16th century there began the construction of a church, which has been preserved to our time (arch. P. Rymlianyn, A. Prykhilnyi). In the remains of the crypts are buried high ecclesiastics of the Stavropihiysk brotherhood, and relatives of Moldavian rulers. To the left of the altar there are the relics of St. Mercury. Modern iconostasis and altar were executed in 1773 by M.Filevich and F.OIendskyi. With the assistance of T.Shevchenko Scientific Society in Lviv, and “People’s Trade”organization P. Kholodnyi made beautiful stained-glass windows (late 1920s). The Korniakt tower (arch. P. Barbon, 1572-1578) adjoining the church is the highest structure of old town. In 1672, during a storm, a cannon-ball hit its roof, which burned down. In 1695 the tower was restored by P.Weber.The annex added turned out disharmonious with the rest of the ensemble. The Chapel of Three Holy Hierarchs (arch. A, Pidlisnyi), the third part of the complex, was built in 1578-1590. In 1671, after fire, it was restored on money of the Greek merchant A. Balaban. The artist O.Lianytskyi made an iconostasis for it in 1697. It is yet another finest architectural example of the Renaissance period in Lviv.
Not far away, in Ruska Street, there is building No.20 executed in secession style with some elements of Ukrainian folk ornament and characteristic ceramic inserts (arch. I.Levynskyi, O. Lopushanskyi, T.Obminskyi). It was built to order of the insurance company “Dniester”in 1905. Memorial plaques on its facade remind one of the fact that the activity of many prominent figures, and the outstanding film director and actor Les’ Kurbas in particular, was linked with this place.
On the hill over present-day Vynnychenko St. No.22, there is the former Carmelite’s Church. Now it is the Church and Monastery of St. Michael. The sanctuary was founded in 1634 (arch. Ya. Pokorovych). In 1731-1732 it was decorated by the artists K.Pedretti and B.Mzurkevich. History makes Carmelites responsible for the fact that through the gate in the wall near the royal arsenal, which they had “coaxed out” of the city council, the troops of Karl XII burst into Lviv.
During World War II the Nazis annihilated almost all Jewish sanctuaries of Lviv. The “Zolota Roza” (Golden rose) Synagogue (Staroyevreyska St.. arch. P Schaslyvyi) was considered the best of them. According to one of the versions its name originated from the mosaic rosette on the floor. In 1580 the merchant Isaak Nakhmanovich purchased a plot and intended to build a house and synagogue. The latter was first called “Golden Gate.” However, Jesuit monks found a document saying that in the past this plot belonged to a padre. So the building was confiscated. A popular (though not very truthful) Kyiv legend states that the monks failed to get to the synagogue because they had to go first through I. Nakhmanovich house and courtyard. And private property was considered a sacred thing… Nakhmanovich’s daughter-in-law, Roza by name, was sent to the king for a talk. She returned with a document saying that the synagogue was returned to the Jews. In 1604 the temple became the main Judaic synagogue. The most important documents of the community were kept there. During World War II it was destroyed by the Nazis.
Walking along Starjyevreyska Street you will get to the intersection with Halytska Street, and turning to the right you will find yourself before the Boims’ chapel (1609-1615, arch. A. Bemer). Together with other chapels, which have not survived, it was part of the cemetery near Latin Cathderal. Its founder, Yuriy Boim, settled in Lviv at the close of the 16 th century. According to his testament three generations of his family were buried here. The facade and interior were decorated by G.Scholzand E. Pfister. On the outside, apart from the facade with the scenes of the Passion, worthy of note the figure of Sorrowful Christ on the dome. The altar section, besides the remains of polychromy and scenes from the Old Testament and the New Testament, contains the
picture of the Last Supper, in which the devil is shown grinning from under the chair of Judas who had already received his thirty coins for the betrayal of Jesus. Noteworthy is the family epitaph on the southern wall of the chapel. The sculptural composition “Mourning” in the center was made of rare “honey” alabaster.The chapel has its own secret. On the right side of the altar there is a door wherefrom begins an underground passage leading to the family’s house in the neighboring street.
The construction of the stone Latin Cathedral began in 1360 from the foundation of the king Kazimierz the Great. The project was realized by such masters as P. Nichko, M.Ganseke, G. Blecher, P. Poleiovskyi, and others. Apart from sacral meaning the temple is important for the Polish community in political aspect, for it is connected with many important events of the past. Thus, in 1656 the king Jan Kazimierz, before the altar, placed Rzeczpospolita under the protection of the virgin Mary, and promised to make easier the life of the peasants who faithfully defended the country against enemy attacks. The stained-glass windows produce a vivid impression (authors J. Megoffer, T. Arsenovich).The temple’s decor incorporates several styles, namely Gothic, baroque, and mannerism.
Annexes, particularly the chapel of the Kampians family, make up or organic unity with the cathedral. In 1619-1629 and in 1660, by request of this well-known family, the chapel was decorated by the masters G.Chorst and J. Pfister. On the walls of the temple’s facade, from the side of Halytska Street, among other memorial signs, one can see a cannon ball as a memory of the Turkish and Cossack storm of 1672. On the other wall of the cathedral, from the side of Kafedralna Square, there is a plaque stating that the Pope John Paul II visited Lviv in 2001.
A Trip Outside The Old Walls
It is better to start excursion from visiting the former Bernardine monastery (3 a Soborna Sq.), which is distinguished for its beautiful facade and interior decorations. First reference to a sanctuary in this place dates back to 1460. In 1600-1630 in place of a wooden church the construction of a stone architectural ensemble was started. In different times it was built by the monk Bernard Avelid, P. Rymlianyn, A. Prykhilnyi, A. Bemer, and others. Despite the fact that the Roman Catholic Church and the monastery were situated beyond the bounds of the walls, they made up an important link in Lviv’s defensive system. Inside the temple it is worth seeing seventeen wooden altars (authors T.Gudder and K. Kutschenreiter) and the original paintings by Benedikt Mazurkevich. Before World War II here were kept the relics of St. Jan of Duklia who, according to a legend, appeared before Bohdan Khmelnystky and tried to dissuade him from the storm of Lviv.
On passing the monument to the king Danylo of Galicia (sculpt. V. Yarych, arch. Ya. Churylyk, 2001) we get to A.Mickiewicz Square before the building of “George” Hotel. The construction of this building was completed in 1793. The name originates from the name of its owner, George Goffman. Its present-day appearance formed only in 1900-1901 (arch. G.Gelmerand F.Felner). The extremely integral architectural ensemble of the building is supplemented with the allegories of Asia, Europe, America and Africa in the corners of the facade (arch. A.Popel). Famous persons such as H.Balzac, F.Liszt, M.Ravel, J.-P. Sartre, Iranian shah, and the novelist A.Tolstoy put up at the hotel, and spoke favorably of its service.
Monument t Adam Mickiewicz was erected in the square of the poet’s name in 1904 (sculpt. A. Popel).The composition “Inspiration” represents in an allegorical form A. Mickiewicz’s meeting with a winged genius who hands a lyre over to him. The monument was a witness of numerous political and patriotic manifestations of Lviv public. Right away after its inauguration it was criticized and given humorous nicknames. There is a memory that if a student wanted to pass his finals successfully, he had to sit for some time under the angel. The monument to Taras Shevchenko (sculpt.V. and A.Sukhorskies) is an important part of the city’s political life. It was in its place that first meetings and heated debates of many thousands were conducted. Beside the bronze figure of T. Shevchenko towers the sculpture the “Wave of National Revival” on both sides of which there are the most important figures of Ukrainian history. In the past, almost in the same place, stood a monument to the Polish king Jan III Sobieski, which after the war was transferred to Gdansk.
Buildings of the former collegium and the Roman Catholic Church of SS. Peter and Paul of Jesuit’s order (1610-1630. arch. S.Lamhius, D. Briano, 12Teatralna Sq.) were perhaps a first example of baroque architecture in Lviv. Once upon a time this Church was the highest structure of the city. However, because of a threatening situation, its tower was dismantled in part, and the broach spire was removed. Nevertheless its dimensions could not but impress one even after that. Despite the fact that today the temple is closed, its future has been determined. After the library funds that are presently kept here are moved to another place, it will become Lviv’s garrison temple.
S. Krushelnytska Opera-House (Svoboda Sq.) is an architectural pearl not only of Lvjv, but also of the whole of Ukraine. The city’s authorities and residents”, needing a theater, announced a competition for the best project, which was won by the architect Z.Gorgolevsky. After receiving a loan of 1 million crowns the construction started in 1897 over the bank of Poltva River. The facade of the building was decorated with the figure of Genius with a golden olive-branch, allegorical sculptures and compositions, statues of the Muses (arch. A. Popel, Yu. Markovsky, T.Vyshniovetsky, Yu. Beltovsky).The interior was ornamented even more sumptuously. On the second floor there is a “Mirror Hall.” Here the portrayals of the Seasons of the Year and the allegories of Europe, Asia, Africa and America (author M.Gerasimovich) are organically added with the female sculptural allegories of Love, Envy, Arrogance and Motherhood (author S. Dembinsky). In 2000 the sculpture of S. Krushelnytska, the Ukrainian prima donna after whose name the Opera-House was named, was put up in the hall. The amphitheater alone can seat 1000. In the center, above the stage, there is a sculptural composition of Genius and angel with the coat of arms of Lviv, and the allegorical representation of Glory. On the right of the Opera-House there is the building of M.Zankovetska National Drama Theater, which from the very outset of its foundation was called “Galician La Scala”(1460 seats). In 1837-1842 by request of the well-known adventurer, count S.Skarbek, the architects A. Pihl and J.Zalzman constructed a multifunctional building, the greater part of it being occupied by the theater. To strengthen the foundations of the building, which stands on swampy soil, 16,000 oak piles were hammered into the ground. One of the first plays staged at the theater was O. Fredro’s “Maidens’Vows.” With time, after long pains, O. Fredro did manage to win over S.Skarbek’s beauty-wife, the actress Sofia Yablonovska.
After crossing Horodotska Street and going upstairs to Maria Snizhna Church we get to the oldest section of Lviv, which was formed during the rule of the king Danylo and his descendents. There are many streets here with nice names which have not been changed for centuries. Benedictine Convent (2 Vichev Sq.) was founded in 1593. In 1597 the architect P.Rimlianin started rebuilding of the original structure. The wall near the convent evinces its defensive character. And it is no wonder, for the convent was situated in the outskirts of town and in case of an attack had to defend itself on its own. The tower of the convent is adorned with a beautiful attic, and its walls are supported by buttresses. The main building (1611-1687) of the convent is decorated with the figures of
saints. Benedictine nuns were known in Lviv as good governesses. After World War II the school for girls, which they took care of, was liquidated. However, recently a high school has resumed its activity.
The history of the Church of St. Onophrios and Basilian Monastery (36 B. Khmelnytsky St.) has been mysterious so far. It is assumed that a wooden temple existed in this place as far back as the 14 th century. About 1550, on money of Constantine Ostrozky, appeared a stone church. In course of centuries it was rebuilt more than once; the greatest changes were made during the reconstruction of 1680. In the interior there has been preserved the iconostasis of the early 20 th century; most of its icons were made by the artist Ivan Sosenko. From the 17 th century the monastery had a lodgment for Orthodox pilgrims who came to the Stavropihiyske brotherhood. Also here there is a cemetery, where many prominent figures of the brotherhood were buried, among them the printer Ivan Fedorov. From 1616a printing-house worked at the monastery, and there was even a beggar’s “trade union” the main task of which was raising money to maintain the shelter.
Those who want to be absorbed in the “Viennese world” of Lviv should return to Svoboda Street and go to its intersection with T. Shevchenko Street, which many Lviv residents prefer to call Academic St. even today. Among other buildings noteworthy is the stone building of V. Zalevsky (10 T.Shevchenko Ave.), which has two towers and a big shop-window. Built in 1894 (arch. J.SchuIz, sculpt. A.Gerasimovich), until 1940 the building served as living quarters of the famous sugar manufacturer (his produce was supplied to Paris and Vienna). In 1928 the architect K. Piotrovich designed the art-deco interior of the ground floor and the shop-window.
The building of Lviv commodity and stock exchange (17/19T.Shevchenko Ave., arch. A.Zakharievich) was the main office for conducting the famous “Eastern auctions,” which gathered in Lviv the economic beau monde of the whole Europe. The main task of the auctions was to move ahead Polish commodities to the markets of Asia and Near East. Inside there is a well-adorned assembly hall, which formerly fulfilled the function of the exchange proper. Now it is the Office of Public Prosecutor. Shkotska stone building (27T.Shevcehnko Ave.) sprang up under the influence of the late English modernist style (arch. Z. Bronkhvich-Levinsky, 1909).The coffee-house in the parterre was a favorite place for meetings of representatives of the famous mathematical school of functional analysis, professors S.Banakh and M. Zarytsky, According to Lviv fable, during their meetings the mathematicians wrote equations for one another. Solving (or not solving) entailed a “mug of beer” (or a glass of wine) or some other reward.The problem was that during these meetings, which sometimes lasted for 17 hours, the equations were written on the table-cloths, which annoyed the waiters very much. At last a special writing-book was acquired for the scientists, which went down in history as “Shkotska book.The last equation from this book was solved only in the 1970 s.
Moving to the west we get to 15 N.Copernicus St., where the palace of Potockies is situated, a wonderful Lviv residence (arch. L.Dovern, Yu.Tsybulsky). Most likely only this noble family, which was called “kinglets of Rus'” because of its many members and wealth, could afford such a sumptuous palace. At the beginning of the 20 th century, during an air show over the city, a war-plane crashed down on the palace, causing it considerable damage. In Soviet times it was turned into a Wedding palace, but its ruination continued. Only recently has the structure renewed its former grandeur.
The building of I. Franko National University (1 University St., arch. Yu.Gohbera) was raised from 1877 through 1881 as premises for Galician parliament (Seym). The building is an example of the architectural vogue prevailing in the latter half of the 19 th century. Overhead on the attic there is an allegoric composition “The Custodial spirit of Galicia (sculpt.T.Righer). Galicia itself stands in between the Vistula and Dniester rivers. Below are the figures personifying Love, Justice, Truth and Belief. Before the entrance there are compositions “Education” (on the left), and “Labor” (on the right). The spirit of education and science appeared in this building in 1919.The university named after the king Jan Kazimierz was famous for its school of mathematics, philological and historical ones. Present-day university continues and multiplies the glorious traditions of the past. Scientists’ club (6 Lvstopad chvn St.) was built in 1897 as a Noblemen’s casino. Its project was worked out by the F. Felner and G.Gelmerfirm in Vienna. A well thought-out approach and a nice courtyard urge the desire to see the spacious halls of the building, which is proud of its wooden stairs, the most magnificent in Lviv. The entrance hall is lit at the cost of the glass cupola. On its facade four atlantes stand motionless in an expressive pose, supporting the balconies.