L'viv –The Ensemble Of The Historic Centre
Cultural Ukraine Europe And North America Halychyna, L’viv Oblast'

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, still to be seen in the modern townscape. In its urban fabric and its architecture, 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 settlement on the banks of the Poltava River below Zamovka hill began in the mid-5th century AD, at the crossing point of important trade routes linking the Baltic, central Europe, the Mediterranean, and Asia. It gradually developed by the 13th century into an organized and well fortified town known as L'viv. It was the main town of the lands of the Eastern Slavs on the Bug, Sian, and Dnister, when it became a vassal state of the Kingdom of Kiev. King Roman Mstyoslavovych united Halychyna and Volyn' in a single state.

L'viv had become the capital of the joint kingdom in 1272 and remained so until that disappeared in 1340, when it was annexed to Poland by Casimir III the Great. It was made the seat of a Roman Catholic archbishopric in 1412. The Ukrainian, Armenian, and Jewish communities were self-governing, unlike the Catholic (German, Polish, Italian and Hungarian) groups. There was intense rivalry between them, which resulted in the creation of many architectural and artistic masterpieces.

It was badly hit by the Ottoman siege in 1672 and sacked by Charles XII of Sweden in 1704. With the First Partition of Poland in 1772, L'viv became the capital of the new Austrian province. Under Austrian rule, the fortifications were dismantled and many religious foundations were closed down, their buildings being used for secular purposes;there was also considerable reconstruction of medieval buildings. The revolutionary year of 1848 saw serious damage in the centre of the city as a result of military action. In 1918 L'viv became part of the new Republic of Poland, but it returned to Ukraine after the Second World War.

The heart of the city is the High Castle and the area around it, which developed in the later Middle Ages. Only the castle mound still survives, with five churches. The Seredmistia (Middle Town) preserves intact its original layout, an exceptional example of town planning in Eastern Europe at that time. Among the notable features are:

The Rynok Square with a tower at its centre and around it fine houses in Renaissance, Baroque, and Empire style, many of them retaining their original medieval layout. There is a fountain with figures from classical mythology at each corner of the square, dating from 1793;

The Uspenska (Assumption Church) complex, exceptional in that it combines Renaissance building in stone with the local tradition of tripartite wooden places of worship, consisting of narthex, nave, and chancel;

The Armenian Church complex - the church itself (1363), the bell tower (1571), the column of St Christopher (1726), Armenian Benedictine convent, and Armenian archbishops' palace (17th-18th centuries);

The Latin Metropolitan Cathedral in Gothic style, with some Baroque features;

The fortified complex of the Bernardine Monastery, which combines Italian and German Renaissance elements with Mannerist details;

The Jesuit Church (1610-30) and its college, and the Dominican Church, one of the most grandiose Baroque buildings in L'viv, with monastery complex and bell tower;

Parts of the 14th-century defensive walls, with the City and Royal Arsenals and Gunpowder Tower.

The Ensemble of the Church of St Yuri the Dragon Fighter lies outside the medieval city on a hillside terrace. The existing church was built from stone and brick, combining Italian Baroque with the traditional Ukrainian spatial layout. It is richly decorated with monumental sculpture and carvings.