Lviv tourism historical excursion

Ancient Lviv, unlike any other city in the world, has diverse architectural surroundings formed by distinctive stylistic trends of European art of the 13th-20th centuries, interwoven with a variety of national cultural traditions. This unique architectural and landscape ensemble of Lviv captivates visitors with the beauty of its ancient relics, touched by the wisdom of past ages but still breathing vibrancy into the present. Lviv is a city of world significance with regard to its culture, providing an inexhaustible source of aesthetic impressions. Lviv is situated at the crossroads of ancient East-West and North-South trading routes. Hence throughout its history interests of numerous neighboring and remote tribes, dynasties, and states have been focused here. Originally the territory of contemporary Western Ukraine belonged to Kyiv-Rus Principality, inhabited by Eastern Slavonic tribes. In 1240 Kyiv, the capital of Kyiv-Rus, was destroyed by Mongol-Tatars. Since Kyiv lost its power and Kyiv-Rus was split into separate principalities. Volyn prince Roman (Mstyslavovych) united 2 of them into one mighty – the Halychyna (Galicia)-Volyn principality. Its cities and towns had extensive trade relations with Lithuania, Hungary and Poland, selling bread, salt, furs, cattle, and importing arms, wine, and silk. At the beginning of the 13th century, prince Danylo Halytskyi succeeded his father to the Halychyna-Volyn throne. At the time when Mongol-Tatar hordes presented a serious threat to Rus (ancient Ukrainian) lands, he strived to strengthen his state by building a European coalition mighty enough to withstand the invasion. At the beginning of the 40s, khan Batyi destroyed many Rus settlements, ruined Poland and Hungary, but avoided the well-fortified fortresses built by Danylo Halytskyi. One of the fortresses, named after his son Lev, gave rise to our city. It was first recorded in 1256, when a huge fire seized the town of Kholm. The flames of the fire were so high, wrote the chronicles, that they could be seen from Lviv. Based on this record, 1256 is considered the official foundation date of the city. In 1287 Lviv became the capital of the Halychyna-Volyn Principality.

In 1340, when the last of the Halychyna Princes - Yuriy the Second - died of poisoning, the Polish king Kazimierz III attacked and robbed parts of the principality. Forced to leave due to fierce resistance by local citizens, he managed to capture a large part of modern Ukraine including Lviv only in 1387. For several centuries Lviv remained under the Polish rule. During the first partition of Poland in 1772, it was annexed to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The city grew rapidly beyond its ancient fortification walls, and became the capital of the Halychyna-Lodomeriya province, the largest province of the Habsburg monarchy. After the split of Austro-Hungarian Empire at the end of World War I, the Ukrainian National Council (Rada) seized power and on November 01st, 1918 proclaimed the Western Ukrainian Republic. The Polish government, seeking to restore its country’s 1772 boundaries, set up a plan to annex the majority of Ukrainian lands and a new Polish-Ukrainian war began in 1918. It lasted less than a year and ended with the partition of Ukraine along the Zbrutch river (confirmed by the Riga Treaty signed in 1921). Lviv and Western Ukraine remained under Polish rule till 1939. In September 1939, soon after the beginning of World War II, when part of Poland was occupied by German troops, the Soviet Army crossed the Zbrutch River and in five days reached Lviv. The Soviet power in Ukraine restored the country to its former boundaries. As a result, the territories of Western Ukraine were reunited with the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. In 1991 Ukraine declared its independence. Lviv is a large Ukrainian city and the most important political and cultural centre of the western territory of the state. At the same time, Lviv has a vital role to play in intercommunications with the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, by virtue of its geographical position and historical tradition. It is interesting to know that Lviv is located in the very heart of continental Europe, at an almost equal distance from eastern and western boundaries of the continent. Its territory covers 150 square kilometers (or 58 square miles). The distance to the capital city of Kyiv is 537 km (or 336 miles); [distance to the Polish border - 81 km (or 50.5 miles), Carpathian mountains – 110 km (or 68.5 miles)]. The territory of the city is crossed by the main European watershed, which separates the rivers of the Black and Baltic Sea basins. The climate is moderate continental with no bitter frosts in the winter or intense heat in the summer. The average January temperature is – 4 degrees Celsius (or 26 degrees Farenheight), and the average temperature in July is about 18 Celsius (or 65 degrees Farenheight). The population of the city exceeds 800 thousand people, about 80 percent of whom are Ukrainians. The remaining includes Russians, Poles, Jews, Armenians and others, all in all, above 80 different ethnic groups. Every the fifth one is a student or a pupil. Historically, the city has been established at the border of two great cultures: Greek Byzantine in the east and Roman in the west, which has determined its religious, cultural and architectural diversity. In 1975, a Historic and architectural preserve was established on the territory of the medieval part of the city, and in 1998 Lviv was included in UNESCO’s list of world heritage sites.