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Lviv ( L’viv, ; ; ; ; ; see also other names) is a major city in western Ukrainemarker.

The city is regarded as one of the main cultural centres of today's Ukraine and historically also for Ukraine’s neighbour, Polandmarker. 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 Balletmarker. The historic city centremarker 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 in 1256 in Red Ruthenia by King Danylo Halytskyi of the Ruthenian principality of Halych-Volhynia, and named in honour of his son, Lev. Together with the rest of Red Ruthenia, Lviv was captured by Kingdom of Poland in 1349 during the reign of Polish king Casimir III the Great. Lviv belonged to the Kingdom of Poland 1349-1569, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth 1569-1772, the Austrian Empiremarker 1772-1918, the Second Polish Republicmarker 1918-1939. With the outbreak of WWII the city of Lviv with adjacent land were annexed and incorporated into the Ukrainian SSR 1939-1941. Between July 1941- July 1944 Lviv was under German occupation and was located in the General Government. In July 1944 it was captured by the Soviet Red Army and the Polish Home Army. According to the agreements of the Yalta Conferencemarker Lviv was integrated into the Ukrainian SSR again.

After the collapse of the Soviet Unionmarker in 1991, the city remained a part of the now independent Ukraine, for which it currently serves as the administrative centre of Lviv Oblastmarker, 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 Polishmarker border and 160 km (100 miles) from the eastern Carpathian Mountainsmarker. The average altitude of Lviv is 296 m above sea level. Its highest point is the Vysokyi Zamok (High Castlemarker), 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 Housemarker.


Lviv's climate is moderate continental. The average temperatures are −4°C (27°F) in January and +20°C (65 °F) in June. Average annual rainfall is 660 mm (26 inches) with the maximum being in summer. Cloud coverage averages 66 days per year.


Market square of Lviv.

Early History

Acording to the legend, Lviv was founded by King Daniel of Galicia, in the Ruthenian principality of Halych-Volhynia, and named in honour of his son, Lev. When Daniel died Lev made Lviv the capital of Galicia-Volhynia. The city is first mentioned in the Halych-Volhynian Chronicle, which dates from 1256.

Capital of Halych-Volyn Prinicpality

By 1272 Lviv had become the capital of the Halych-Volyn Principality.It was captured by the Lithuania in 1340 and ruled by Voievoda Dmitri Detko, the favourite of the Lithanian prince Lubart until 1349.

Within Kingdom of Poland 1349-1772

In 1356, Casimir III of Poland brought in German burghers and within 7 years 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.

Fedorovych's autograph from July 23, 1583
In 1572 the first publisher of books in Ukraine, Ivan Fedorovych, a graduate of the University of Krakow settled in Lviv after a brief period wher he was chased out of Moscow. The city becomes a significant centre for the Eastern orthodoxy with the establishment of an orthodox brotherhood and a Greek-Slavonic school and a printery that published the first full versions of the Bible in Church-slavonic in 1580.

As Lviv prospered, it became religiously and ethnically diverse. The 17th century brought invading armies of Swedesmarker, Hungariansmarker 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.

Within Habsburg Empire 1772-1918

In 1772, following the First Partition of Poland the region was annexed by Austria. Being known in German as Lemberg, the city became the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria.

In 1773 the first newspaper in Lviv "Gazette de Leopoli" began to be published. In 1784 a German language University was opened which was closed in 1805. In 1817 the University was re-opened.

In the 19th century the Austrian administration attempted to Germanise the city. Many cultural organizations which did not have a pro-German orientation were closed. After the revolution of 1848, the language of instruction at the University shifted from German to also include Ukrainian and Polish.

In 1853 it was the first European city to have street lights due to innovations discovered by Lviv inhabitants Ignacy Łukasiewicz and Jan Zeh. In that year kerosene lamps were introduced as street lights which in 1858 were updated to gas, and in 1900 to electricity.

In the early stage of First World War Lviv was briefly captured by the Russian army in September 1914 but retaken by Austria–Hungary in June the following year.

Polish-Ukrainian War

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 populations, as both nations perceived Lviv as integral part of their new states, forming that time in the former Austrian territories. On the night of October 31-1 November 1918 the Western Ukrainian National Republicmarker was proclaimed with Lviv as its capital. 2,300 Ukrainian soldiers from Sichovi Striltsi (Sich riflemen) units, previously a legion in the Austrian Army, took control over Lviv. City's Polish majority discarded the Ukrainian rule and begun to fight off the Ukrainian troops. During this combat an important role was taken by young Polish city defenders called Lwów Eaglets. The Ukrainian forces withdrew behind Lviv's confines by November 21, 1918, laying siege to the city immediately after the withdrawal. The Sich riflemen reformed into the Ukrainian Galician Army (UHA).

The Polish forces with the aid from central Poland, including general Haller's Blue Army equipped by the French, relieved the besieged city finally in May 1919, forcing the UHA to the east. Despite the Entente's mediation attempts to cease hostilities and reach a compromise between belligerents, the Polish–Ukrainian War continued till July 1919, when the last UHA forces withdrew east of the river Zbruchmarker.

In April 1920 Polish government signed an agreement with Symon Petlura where for military support against the Bolsheviks, the Ukrainian People's Republicmarker renounced its claims to the territories of Eastern Galicia.

Polish sovereignty over Lviv was internationally recognized when the Council of Ambassadors ultimately approved it in March 1923.

Within Second Polish Republic 1918-1939

In August 1920 Lviv was attacked by the Red Army under the command of Aleksandr Yegorov and Stalin during Polish-Soviet War, but the city resisted again. For the courage of its inhabitants Lviv was awarded the Virtuti Militari cross by Józef Piłsudski on 22 November 1920.

In the interbellum period Lviv held the rank of Poland'smarker third most populous city (after Warsawmarker and Łódźmarker) and became the seat of the Lwów Voivodeship. It was then, after capital Warsaw, the second most important cultural and academic centre of Poland (in academical year 1937/38 there were 9,1 thousand students, attending 5 higher education facilities including widely renown university and institute of technology).

In 1928 Professor Rudolf Weigl of the Lviv University discovered the vaccine against typhus.

Main language of Communication

for the population of Lviv

according to the census of 1931
Polish 198.212 (63,5 %)
Yiddish 75.316 (24,1 %)
Ukrainian 24.245 (7,8 %)
Ruthenian 10.892 (3,5 %)
Other 3.566 (1,1 %)
Total 312.231

Although eastern part of the Lwów Voivodeship had a relative Ukrainian majority in most of the rural areas, the city itself did not. Prewar Lviv had also a large Jewish population. 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%). The Polish population of the city spoke its distinct dialect.

WWII and Soviet occupation 1939-1941

Following the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939. Subsequently the Soviets invaded on September 17. The Soviet Union annexed eastern part of prewar Polandmarker including the city of Lviv which capitulated to the Red Army on September 22, 1939.

Lviv became the capital of the newly formed Lviv Oblastmarker. Immediately Soviets started to repress local Poles and Ukrainians, deporting many of the citizens.

Nazi occupation 1941-1944

On July 22, 1941 the Germans attacked the USSR.In the initial stage of Operation Barbarossa (late June 1941), Lviv was taken by the Germans. The evacuating Soviets killed most of the prison population. Wehrmacht forces arriving in the city discovered evidence of the mass murders committed by the NKVD and NKGB and later by Ukrainian Nationalists. This included the mass killing of Poles, Ukrainians and Jews. The Germans during the occupation of the city committed numerous other atrocities.

On 30 June 1941, Yaroslav Stetsko proclaimed in Lviv the Government of an independent Ukraine. This was done without pre-approval from the Germans and within 3 days the organizers were arrested. Eastern Galicia was subsequently incorporated into the General Government as Distrikt Galizien.

Germany viewed Galicia, former Austrian crown land, as already aryanized and civilized, and as a result the Ukrainian Galicians escaped the full extent of German intentions in comparison to Ukrainians who lived in Eastern and Central Ukraine. German policy towards Polish population was more harsh and comparable to the situation in the rest of the General Government. According to the Third Reich's racial policies Galician Jews became the main target of German repressions. Almost all of the Jewish Galicians were deported to concentration camps or killed. In 1941 there were approximately 200,000 Jews in Lviv. By the end of the war the Jewish population was virtually wiped out with only 200 - 300 Jews left alive.

Soviet re-occupation 1944-1945

The Soviet 3rd Tank Army entered Lviv again after the Lvov–Sandomierz Offensive of July 22-24, 1944.After the city was taken by Soviet forces with the help of Armia Krajowa, the local commanders of the Polish AK were invited to a meeting with the commanders of the Red Army, where they were arrested by the NKVD.

In January 1945 the local NKVD arrested many Poles in Lviv (where, according to Soviet sources, on 1 October 1944 Poles still made a clear majority - 66.7% of population) to encourage their emigration from their city. Those arrested were released after they signed papers agreeing to emigrate to Poland, which postwar borders were shifted westwards leaving the city in the Soviet Unionmarker. 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 is still well remembered in Poland, and those Poles who stayed in Lviv, have formed their own organization, the Association of Polish Culture of the Lviv Land.

Lviv and its population suffered greatly during the two world wars as many of the offensives were fought across the local geography causing significant collateral damage and disruption.

On August 16, 1945 a border agreement between Soviet puppet-government of Poland and the government of the USSR was signed in Moscowmarker, in which now-communist Poland formally ceded its prewar eastern part to the Soviet Union, agreeing to the Polish-Soviet border drawn according to the so called Curzon Line. Consequently, the agreement had been ratified by February 5th, 1946. Thus since February 1946 Lviv legally became a part of the Soviet Union.

Soviet Union 1946-1991

National makeup of Lviv

according to the census of 1989
Ukrainians 622.800 (79,1 %)
Russians 126.418 (16,1 %)
Jews 12.837 (1,6 %)
Poles 9.697 (1,2 %)
Belorusyns 5.800 (0,7 %)
Armenians 1.000 (0,1 %)
Total 778.557
Numbers do not include regions

and surrounding towns

Expulsion of the Polish population, together with migration from Ukrainian-speaking rural areas around the city, as well as from other parts of the Soviet Union, altered the traditional ethnic composition of the city, which became mostly Ukrainian.

In the 1950s and 1960s, the city significantly expanded both in population and size, mostly due to the city's rapidly growing industry.In the period of liberalization of the Soviet system in the 1980s the city became the centre of political movement advocating Ukrainian independence from the USSR.

Independent Ukraine

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.


In 2001 Lviv had 725,000 inhabitants, of whom 88 percent were Ukrainians, 9 percent Russians and 1 percent Poles. A further 200,000 people commuted daily from suburbs.

Ethnic makeup

population of Lviv (2001)
Ukrainian 88,1 %
Russian 8,9 %
Poles 0,9 %
Belorusyn 0,4 %
Jews 0,3 %
Armenian 0,1 %

In 2007 the population of Lviv was 735 thousand inhabitants.

In 2001 the population was 758 thousand and in 1989 815 thousand.

  • By gender:

51,5 % — women

48,5 % — men

  • By place of birth:
56 % — born in Lviv

19 % — born in Lviv oblastmarker

11 % — born in Ukrainemarker, but in the East

7 % — born in the former republics of the USSRmarker (Russiamarker — 4 %)

4 % — born in Polandmarker

3 % — born in Western Ukrainemarker, but not in Lviv oblastmarker

  • Religious adherence:

45 % — Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church

31 % — Ukrainian Orthodox Church - Kiev Patriarchate

5 % — Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church

3 % — Ukrainian Orthodox Church

3 % — Other faiths


Polish choir of the Lviv Roman Catholic Cathedral
Many Poles moved to Lviv after the city was conquered by King Casimir in 1349. It became a major Polish cultural centre, and this continued after the partitions of Poland. During the events of 1918-1920 Polish patriotism in Lviv was at its height with the formation of the Polish Eaglets.

Lviv was depolonised mainly through Soviet-arranged population exchange from 1944-47.
Those that remained found themselves in uncomfortable surroundings, having lost their state status and becoming an ethnic minority, which in 1959 only made up 4% of the population after Ukrainians, Russians and Jews. The city was abandoned by government, cultural, academic, technical intelligentsia, military and highly qualified workers. As a result, the Poles that remained tended to be those of the lower classes and had lower education than those of the other ethnicities in the city. Many families were mixed. As a result, 45 years after the end of WWII, in 1989, for 1000 female Poles there were 600 male Poles and the Polish population underwent significant assimilation; in 1989  40 % considered Ukrainian as their mother tongue, 15 % — Russian. During Soviet times 2 Polish schools continued to function № 10 (with 8 grades) and № 24 (with 10 grades), and two Roman Catholic Cathedrals continued to function.

In the 1980s the process of uniting groups into ethnic associations was allowed. In 1988 a Polish language newspaper was allowed («Gazeta Lwowska»).. The Polish population continues to use the Lviv dialect of the Polish language known as gwara lwowska).


The first known Jewish settlers in Lviv date back to 1256 and became an important part of this city cultural life, making significant contributions in science and culture. Apart from the Rabbinate Jews there were many Karaim Jews who had settle in the city after coming from the East and from Byzantium. After Casimir III conquered Lviv in 1349 the Jewish citizens received many privileges equal to that of other citizens of Polandmarker. Lviv had two separate Jewish quarters, one within the city walls and one outside on the outskirts of the city. Each had their separate synagogues, although they both shared a cemetery which was also used by the Karaim community.

Before the Holocaust about one third of the city's population was made up of Jews (more than 100,000 on the eve of WWII). Up until the 1970s the city had over 30,000 Jews. Currently the Jewish population has shrunk considerably as a result of emigration, and to a lesser degree assimilation, and is estimated at 2000. A number of organizations continue to be active.


Lviv city hall.

Administrative division

Lviv is divided into six raions (districts), each with its own administrative bodies:

  • Halych (Галицький район)
  • Zaliznytsia (Залізничний район)
  • Lychakiv (Личаківський район)
  • Sykhiv (Сихівський район)
  • Franko (Франківський район)
  • Shevchenko (Шевченківський район)

Notable suburbs include:

  • Vynnykymarker (місто Винники)
  • Briukhovychi (селище Брюховичі)
  • Rudne (селище Рудне)



The public bus network is represented by mini-buses. They are called marshrutki, and they go all over the city. Marshrutki have no fixed stops or timetable but are cheap, fast, and mostly reliable. This kind of transport is so popular and convenient that mini-buses are often overcrowded during rush hours. The marshrutki also run on suburban lines to most suburbs and nearby towns, e.g. to Shehyni at the Polish border. The price of a ride in a marshrutka within the city is 1.75 UAH (September 2009) regardless of the distance traveled.


The first tramway lines were opened on 5 May 1880. The electric tram was opened on 31 May 1894. The last horse-powered line was transferred to electric traction in 1908. In 1922 the tramways were switched to driving on the right-hand side. After World War II and the annexation of the city by the Soviet Union, several lines were closed but most of infrastructure was preserved. The tracks are narrow-gauge, unusual for the Soviet Union, but explained by the fact that the system was built while the city was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and needs to run on narrow medieval streets in the centre of town.

The Lviv tramway now runs about 220 cars on 75 km of track. Previously in bad shape, many tracks were reconstructed in 2006, and even more are to be reconstructed in the subsequent years.


After the war and expulsion of most of the population, the city grew rapidly, due to evacuees returning from Russia and the Soviet Government's vigorous development of heavy industry. This included transfer of entire factories from the Urals and other distant places to the newly "liberated" (acquired) territories of the USSR, including Lviv.

The city centre tramway lines were replaced with trolleybuses on 27 November 1952. Later, new lines were opened to the blocks of flats at the city outskirts. The network now runs 200 trolleybuses, mostly of the 1980s 14Tr type. In 2006-2008 10 modern low-floor trolleybuses built by the Lviv Bus Factory were purchased.


Modern Lviv remains a hub on which nine railways converge, providing local and international services. Lviv railway is one of the oldest in Ukraine. The first train arrived to Lviv on November 4, 1861. The building of the main Lviv Railway Stationmarker, designed by Władysław Sadłowski, was built in 1904 and was considered one of the best in Europe from both the architectural and the technical aspects.

In the interbellum period, Lviv (known then as Lwów), was one of the most important hubs of the Polish State Railways. The junction of Lwów consisted in mid-1939 of four stations — Lwów Main (Lwów Główny), Lwów Kleparów, Lwów Łyczaków, and Lwów Podzamcze. In August 1939, right before World War Two, 73 trains departed daily from the Main Station, including 56 local and 17 fast trains. Lwów was directly connected with all major centers of the Second Polish Republicmarker, as well as such cities, as Berlinmarker, Bucharestmarker, and Budapestmarker.

Currently, several trains cross the nearby Polish-Ukrainian border (mostly via Przemyślmarker in Poland). There are good connections to Slovakiamarker (Košicemarker) and Hungarymarker (Budapestmarker). Many routes have overnight trains with sleeping compartments.Lviv railway is often called a main gateway from Ukraine to Europe, although buses are often a cheaper and more convenient way of entering the "Schengen" countries.


Beginnings of aviation in Lviv reach back to 1884, when the Aeronautic Society was opened there. The Society issued its own magazine, Astronauta, and soon ceased to exist. In 1909, on the initiative of Edmund Libanski, the Awiata Society was founded. Among its members there was a group of professors and students of the Lviv Polytechnic (pol. Politechnika Lwowska), including Stefan Drzewiecki and Zygmunt Sochacki. Awiata was the oldest Polish organization of this kind, and it concentrated its activities mainly on exhibitions, such as the First Aviation Exhibition, which took place in 1910, and which featured models of aircraft built by Lviv students.

In 1913-1914 brothers Tadeusz and Władysław Floriańscy built a two-seated airplane. When World War One broke out, Austrian authorities confiscated it, but did not manage to evacuate the plane, and it was seized by the Russians, who used the plane for intelligence purposes. The Floriański brothers plane was the first Polish-made aircraft. On November 5, 1918, a crew consisting of Stefan Bastyr and Janusz de Beaurain carried out the first ever flight under Polish flag, taking off from Lviv's Lewandówka airport. In the interbellum period, Lviv was a major center of gliding, with a famous Gliding School in Bezmiechowa, opened in 1932. In the same year, the Institute of Gliding Technology was opened in Lviv, and it was the second such institute in the world. In 1938, the First Polish Aircraft Exhibition took place in the city.

Interbellum Lviv also was a major center of the Polish Air Force, with the Sixth Air Regiment located there. The Regiment was based at the airport in Lviv's suburb of Skniłów (Sknyliv), opened in 1924. The Sknyliv Airport, now known as Lviv International Airportmarker (LWO) is 6 km from the city centre.


Lviv's historic centremarker has been on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization marker World Heritage list since 1998. UNESCO gave the following reasons for its selection:


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 Secessionmarker, 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 Cemeterymarker, 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:

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 Wroclawmarker, the monument of King Jan III Sobieski which after 1945 was moved to Gdanskmarker, and the monument of Kornel Ujejski which now is in Szczecinmarker.


Every day the book market takes places around the monument to Ivan Fеdorovych. He was a typographer in the 16th century who fled Moscow and found a new home in Lviv. New ideas came to Lviv during the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In the 19th century, many publishing houses, newspapers and magazines were established. Among these was the Ossolineum, one of the most important Polish scientific libraries. Most of Polish-language books and publications of the Ossolineum library are still kept in a local Jesuit church. In 1997 Polish government asked the Ukrainian government to hand over these documents, and in 2003 the Ukrainian side allowed the Poles access to the publications. In 2006, an office of the Ossolineum (which now is located in Wroclawmarker) was opened in Lviv, and began a process of scanning all documents.

Literature written in Lviv contributed to Austrian, Ukrainian, Yiddish and Polish literature. Translation work took place between these cultures.


From its establishment Lviv was a city of religious variety and conflicts between different faiths. At one point over 60 churches existed in the city. The largest Christian churches have existed in the city since the 13th century. The three major Christian groups (the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Lviv, the German-speaking and Polish Catholics, and the Armenian Church) have each had a diocesan seat in Lviv since the 16th century. The Golden Rose Synagogue was built here in 1582 and in the 1700s the Orthodox community took their allegiance to the Pope in Rome and became the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. This bond was forcibly dissolved in 1946 by the Soviet authorities, while the Roman Catholic community was forced out by the expulsion of the Polish population. Since 1989 religious life in Lviv has experienced a revival.

Lviv is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Lviv, the centre of the Roman Catholic Church in Ukraine and (until 21 August 2005) was the centre of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. About 35 per cent of religious buildings belong to the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, 11.5 per cent to the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, 9 per cent to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church - Kiev Patriarchate and 6 per cent to the Roman Catholic Church.

Until 2005 Lviv was the only city with two Catholic Cardinals: Lubomyr Husar (Byzantine Rite) and Marian Jaworski (Latin Rite).

In June 2001 Pope John Paul II visited the Latin Cathedralmarker, St. George's Cathedralmarker, and the Armenian Cathedralmarker.

Lviv historically had a large and active Jewish community, as witnessed today by its synagogues. Until 1941 at least 45 synagogues and prayer houses existed. Even in the 16th century, two separate communities existed. One lived in today's old town, the other one in the Krakowskie Przedmieście. In the 19th century a more differentiated community started to spread out. Liberal Jews sought more cultural assimilation and spoke German and Polish. On the other hand, Orthodox and Hasidic Jews tried to retain the old traditions. Between 1941 and 1944 the Germans in effect completely destroyed the centuries-old Jewish tradition of Lviv. Most synagogues were destroyed and the Jewish population forced into a ghetto from which they were later transported into concentration camps where they were murdered.

Under the Soviet Union synagogues remained closed and were used as storage facilities or movie houses. Only since the fall of the Iron Curtain has the remainder of the Jewish community experienced a faint revival.


The "Group Artes" was a young movement founded in 1929. Many of the artists studied in Paris and had traveled throughout Europe. They worked and experimented in different areas of modern art: Futurism, Cubism, New Objectivity and Surrealism. Cooperation took place between avant-garde musicians and authors. Altogether thirteen exhibitions by Artes took place in Warsaw, Kraków, Łódz and Lviv. The German occupation put an end to this group. Otto Hahn was executed in 1942 in Lviv, Aleksander Riemer was murdered in 1943 in Auschwitz. Henryk Streng and Margit Reich-Sielska were able to escape the Shoah. Most of the surviving members of Artes lived in Poland after 1945. Only Margit Reich-Sielska (1900–1980) and Roman Sielski (1903–1990) stayed in Soviet Lviv.

The city was for years one of the most important cultural centers of Poland, with such writers as Aleksander Fredro, Leopold Staff, Maria Konopnicka, Jan Kasprowicz living in Lviv. It also is home to one of the largest museums in Ukraine, The National Museum of Lviv.

Theatre and opera

In 1842 the Skarbek Theatre was opened, making it the third largest theatre in Central Europe. In 1903 the sumptuous Lviv National Opera opera house (at that time called the City-Theatre) was opened, emulating the Vienna State Operamarker house. The house initially offered a changing repertoire such as classical dramas in German and Polish language, opera, operetta, comedy, and theatre. The opera house is named after the diva Salomea Krushelnytska, who worked here.

Museums and art galleries

The first museum of Lviv was the Lubomirscy Museum, opened in 1827. It displayed a wide collection of art and historical objects, connected with history of Poland. In 1857 the Baworowski Library was founded, whose most precious books are now kept in Krakow.The most notable of the museums and art galleries are the National Gallery, the Museum of Religion (formerly the Museum of Atheism) and the National Museum (formerly the Museum of Industry).


Lviv has an active musical and cultural life. Apart from the Lviv Opera it has symphony orchestras, chamber orchestras, and the Trembita Chorus. Lviv has one of the most prominent music Academy and music colleges in Ukraine, and also has a factory for the manufacture of stringed musical instruments.

Lviv has been the home of numerous composers such as Mozart's son Franz Xaver Wolfgang Mozart, Stanislav Liudkevych, Mykola Kolessa.

Lviv is the hometown of the Eurovision Song Contest 2004 winner Ruslana, who has since become well known in Europe and the rest of the world.

Music and radio have a strong tradition and deep roots in Lviv. The classical pianist Mieczysław Horszowski (1892–1993) was born here. The opera diva Salomea Kruszelnicka in the 1920s to 1930s called Lviv her home. Adam Han Gorski (1940- ), an internationally renowned concert violinist, was born here. "Polish Radio Lwów" was a Polish radio station that went on-air on 15 January 1930. The programme proved very popular in Poland. Classical music and entertainment was aired, as well as lectures, readings, youth-programmes, news and liturgical services on Sunday.

Popular throughout Poland was the Comic Lwów Wave, a cabaret-revue with musical pieces. Jewish artists contributed a great part to this artistic activity. Composers such as Henryk Wars and songwriter Emanuel Szlechter, the actor Mieczysław Monderer and Adolf Fleischer ("Aprikosenkranz und Untenbaum") were working in Lviv. The most famous stars of the shows were Henryk Vogelfänger and Kazimierz Wajda, who together appeared as the comic duo "Szczepko and Tońko", who were similar to Laurel and Hardy.

After World War II, many of the Jewish artists and entertainers were either killed or fled; the Polish artists had to leave for the new Poland that had the Oder-Neisse Line and the Curzon Line as its frontiers as a result of the Yalta Conference.

Universities and academia

Lviv University is one of the oldest in Central Europe. Its was founded as a Jesuit school in 1608. Its prestige greatly increased through the work of philosopher Kazimierz Twardowski (1866–1938), one of the founders of the Lwów-Warsaw School of Logic. This school of thought set benchmarks for academic research and education in Poland. In 1901 the city was the seat of the Lwów Scientific Society, among whose members were major scientific figures. Very well-known were the mathematicians Stefan Banach, Juliusz Schauder and Stanisław Ulam, founders of the Lwów School of Mathematics, who turned Lviv in the 1930s into the "World Centre of Functional Analysis". Although the scientists faced many obstacles at the universities, their share in Lviv academia was very substantial.

In 1852 in Dublanymarker (eight kilometers from the outskirts of Lviv), the Agricultural Academy was opened, and it was one of the first Polish agricultural colleges. The Academy was in 1919 merged with the Lviv Polytechnic. Another important college of the interbellum period was the Academy of Foreign Trade in Lwów.


Lviv is the home of the Scottish Cafémarker, where, in the 1930s and the early 1940s, Polish mathematicians from the Lwów School of Mathematics met and spent their afternoons discussing mathematical problems. Stanisław Ulam (later, a participant in the Manhattan Project and the proposer of the Teller-Ulam design of thermonuclear weapons), Stefan Banach (one of the founders of functional analysis), Hugo Steinhaus, Karol Borsuk, Kazimierz Kuratowski, Mark Kac, and many other famous mathematicians would gather there. The café is now called the Desertniy Bar, and is located at 27, Taras Shevchenko Prospekt (prewar polish street name ulica Akademicka).

Prints and media

Lviv is home to one of the oldest Polish-language newspapers, Gazeta Lwowska, which was first published in 1811, and still exists in a biweekly form (Lviv is the center of promotion of the Latynka.)

Among other Polish-language publications, there were such titles, as

Starting in the 1900s a new movement started under with young authors from Eastern Europe. Young Jewish authors in particular were searching for a new identity through modern, Yiddish literature. In Lviv, a small neo-romantic group of authors formed around the lyricist Schmuel Jankev Imber. Small print offices produced collections of modern poems and short stories. Through emigration a large network was established.

A second, smaller group tried in the 1930s to create a connection between avantgarde art and Yiddish culture. Members of this group were Debora Vogel, Rachel Auerbach and Rachel Korn. The Shoah destroyed this movement violently. Debora Vogel was, amongst many other Yiddish authors, murdered by the Germans in the 1940s.

Films and books featuring Lviv

  • Portions of Schindler's List were shot in the city centre, as this was less expensive than in Krakówmarker.
  • Some of the Austrian road-movie Blue Moon was shot in Lviv.
  • Parts of the movie and novel Everything Is Illuminated take place in Lviv.
  • Brian R. Banks' Muse & Messiah: The Life, Imagination & Legacy of Bruno Schulz (1892–1942) has several pages which discuss the history and cultural-social life of the Lviv region. The book includes a CD-ROM with many old and new photographs and the first English map of nearby Drohobychmarker.
  • The book "The Girl in the Green Sweater: A Life in Holocaust's Shadow" by Krystyna Chiger takes place in Lviv.
  • Large parts of 1997 film The Truce, depicting Primo Levi's war experiences were shot in Lviv.


Lviv was an important centre for sport in Central Europe and it is regarded as the cradle of Polish football. The first known official goal in a football match in Poland was scored there on 14 July 1894 during the Lwów-Kraków game. The goal was scored by Włodzimierz Chomicki, who represented the team of Lviv. In 1904 Kazimierz Hemerling from Lwów published the first translation into Polish of the rules of football; another native of Lviv, Stanisław Polakiewicz, became the first officially recognised Polish referee in 1911, the year in which the first Polish Football Federation was founded in Lviv.

The first Polish professional football club, Czarni Lwów, opened in 1903 and the first stadium, which belonged to Pogoń, in 1913. Another club, Pogoń Lwów, was four times football champion of Poland (1922, 1923, 1925 and 1926). In the late 1920s, as many as four teams from the city played in the Polish Football League (Pogoń, Czarni, Hasmonea and Lechia). Hasmonea was the first Jewish football club in Poland. Several notable figures of Polish football came from this city, including Kazimierz Górski, Ryszard Koncewicz, Michał Matyas and Wacław Kuchar.

Lwów is also the Polish cradle of other sports. In January 1905 the first Polish ice-hockey match took place there; two years later the first ski-jumping competition was organized in nearby Sławskomarker, and in the same year the first Polish basketball games were organized in Lviv's gymnasiums. Several years earlier, in the autumn of 1887, in a gymnasium by Lychakiv Street (pol. ulica Łyczakowska), the first Polish track and field competition took place, with such sports as long jump and high jump. Lviv's athlete Władysław Ponurski represented Austria in the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholmmarker. In addition, on 9 July 1922 the first official rugby game in Poland took place at the stadium of Pogoń Lwów, in which the rugby team of Orzeł Biały Lwów divided itself into two teams - "The Reds" and "The Blacks". The referee of this game was a Frenchman by the name of Robineau.

Lviv now has several major professional football clubs and some smaller clubs. FC Karpaty Lviv, founded in 1963, plays in the first division of the Ukrainian Premier League. Sometimes, the youth of Lviv assemble on the central street (Freedom Avenue) to watch and cheer an outdoor broadcast of a game.

Lviv is building a new separate stadium from its now already established Ukraina Stadiummarker to host three group matches during EURO 2012.

Lviv chess school is world-known. In this city used to live such famous grandmasters as Vassily Ivanchuk, Leonid Stein, Alexander Beliavsky, Andrei Volokitin and many others.

Famous cultural figures of Lviv

Twin towns — sister cities

City State Year
Winnipegmarker Canadamarker 1973
Freiburg im Breisgaumarker Germanymarker 1989
Rzeszówmarker Polandmarker 1992
Rochdalemarker United Kingdommarker 1992
Budapestmarker Hungarymarker 1993
Rishon LeZionmarker Israelmarker 1993
Przemyślmarker Poland 1995
Krakówmarker Poland 1995
Groznymarker Russia 1998
Novi Sadmarker Serbiamarker 1999
Samarkandmarker Uzbekistanmarker 2000
Kutaisimarker Georgiamarker 2002
Wrocławmarker Poland 2003
Łódźmarker Poland 2003
Banja Lukamarker Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker 2004
Lublinmarker Poland 2004
Saint Petersburgmarker Russiamarker 2006


Lviv is one of the largest cities in Ukraine and is growing rapidly.According to the Ministry of Economy of Ukraine, the average salary in the Lviv Oblastmarker is a little less than the average for Ukraine, which in December 2007 was about 1616 UAH.In 2006, Ukraine's economic freedom was rated at 3.24, where a rating 1.0 is "freer" than a rating 5.0. According to the World Bank classification, Lviv is a lower middle-income city.There are many restaurants and shops as well as street vendors of food, books, clothes, traditional cultural items and tourist gifts.Banking and money trading are an important part of the economy of Lviv, with many banks and exchange offices throughout the city.


Lviv is an important education centre of Ukraine. It is home to three major universities and a number of smaller schools of higher education. There are eight institutes of the National Academy of Science of Ukraine, more than forty research institutes, three academies and eleven state-owned colleges.

A considerable scientific potential is concentrated in the city: by the number of doctors of sciences, candidates of sciences, scientific organizations Lviv is the fourth city in Ukraine. Lviv is known for ancient academic traditions, founded by the Assumption Brotherhood School and the Jesuit Collegium. Over 100 thousand students study annually study in more than 20 higher educational establishments.


  • Ivan Franko National University of Lviv (Львівський національний університет імені Івана Франка)
  • Lviv Polytechnic (Національний університет "Львівська політехніка")
  • Danylo Halytsky Lviv National Medical University (Львiвський Національний Медичний Унiверситет iм. Данила Галицького)
  • Lviv S.Z.Gzhytsky national university of veterinary medicine and biotechnologies (Львівський національний університет ветеринарної медицини та біотехнологій імені С.З.Гжицького)
  • National Forestry Engineering University of Ukraine (Український національний лісотехнічний університет)
  • Ukrainian Catholic University (Український Католицький Університет)
  • National Agrarian University of Lviv (Львівський національний аграрний університет)
  • Lviv State University of Physical Training (Львівський державний університет фізичної культури)

Tourist attractions

See also


  1. Lviv Travel Guide
  2. Lviv is the best city for living in Ukraine - rating, UNIAN (June 12, 2009)
  3. B.V. Melnyk, Vulytsiamy starovynnoho Lvova, Vyd-vo "Svit" (Old Lviv Streets), 2001, ISBN 966-603-048-9
  4. Timothy Snyder, The Reconstruction of Nations: Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, Belarus, 1569-1999, Yale University Press, 2003, p.158
  5. Norman Davies, White Eagle, Red Star. Polish-Soviet War
  6. Mały Rocznik Statystyczny 1939 (Polish statistical yearbook of 1939), GUS, Warsaw, 1939
  7. Lviv massacre
  8. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
  9. the holocaust research project
  10. The architecture of Poland: An historical survey by Zbigniew Dmochowski
  11. [1] full text of the agreement (in Polish)
  12. Ethnic groups in Lviv, 2001 Ukrainian Census
  13. According to the census of 2001 —
  14. The Poles in Lviv continue to be proud of their identity.
  15. Urzędowy Rozkład Jazdy i Lotów PKP, Lato 1939 (Polish State Railroads Timetable, Summer 1939
  16. Zdzislaw Sikorski, Lotniczy Lwow
  17. See also: Lviv International Airport official website
  18. L'viv – the Ensemble of the Historic Centre, UNESCO — World Heritage. URL Accessed: 30 October 2006
  19. Ukrainian Center for Holocaust Studies | Lviv
  20. Stanislaw M. Ulam, Adventures of a Mathematician, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1976. ISBN 0-684-15064-6
  21. "The Scottish Café in Lvov", at the MacTutor History of Mathematics archive.
  22. Slowo Polskie - a daily with 100-year tradition
  23. "Lviv – the chess capital of Ukraine".

External links

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