• In the news

  • Mushrooms kill 7
    News24, South Africa -
    ... The poisonings took place in regions across the country, but most often in the heavily-forested Vinitsia, Khmelnitsky, and Lviv regions. ...
  • Media bias roils election
    Washington Times, DC -
    ... Police recently ruled arson was involved after one of the offices of Postup, an independent newspaper in the western city of Lviv, was set on fire. ...
  • 50 Years Later, Ukraine Still Lacks a Free Press
    Radio Free Europe, Czech Republic -
    To add glitter to this, I want to acknowledge that fact that Ivan Franko University in Lviv offers a course on the history of Radio Liberty. ...
  • Thousands Commemorate Journalist Gongadze's Death
    Radio Free Europe, Czech Republic -
    ... In the western city of Lviv, some 200 mourners lit candles to honour the memory of 24 journalists killed in Ukraine since 1991. ...
  • Champions League matches in Group B
    Reuters, UK -
    ... Ukrainian champions Dynamo Kiev beat first division side Karpaty Lviv 1-0 in the cup on Saturday to extend their winning streak to five matches since Josef ...
Lviv (Ukrainian Львів, Russian Львов, Polish Lwów, German Lemberg) is a city in western Ukraine with 830,000 inhabitants (an additional 200,000 commute daily from suburbs). It is the capital city of the L'viv region and is a main cultural centre of Ukraine.

The city is home to many industries, higher learning institutons (University of Lviv, Lviv Polytechnic), a philharmonic orchestra, and the L'viv Opera and Ballet Theatre. The historical city centre is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

(read more)
Motto: Semper fidelis
Municipal government City council (Львівська міська рада)
Mayor City chairman Lyudomyr Bunyak
Area 171,01 km²
 - total 2000
 - density

city rights
13th century
Area code + 0322
Twin towns Freiburg, Whitstable, Corning, NY
Municipal Website

1 Geography

2 History

3 Contemporary L'viv

4 Government

5 Population

6 Transport

7 Sport

8 Culture

9 Education

10 Business

11 Industry

12 Tourist attractions

13 Films and books featuring L'viv

14 See also:

15 External links

Table of contents



L'viv is located on the verge of the Roztocze Upland, approximately 70 kilometres from the border with Poland. Average altitude is 289 metres above the sea level although there are many hills located within the confines of the city. Highest point is the Vysoky Zamok hill (409 metres above the sea level).

The historical city was located at the Peltew River, but in 19th century it was turned into the main city sewer (currently under the Prospekt Shevchenka street).

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L'viv's climate is moderate continental. The average temperatures are 4 C (26.6 F) in January and +18 C (64.9 F) in June. Annual rainfall is approximately 66 centimetres (26 inches), with notable water deficite in the summer months. Average of 66 cloudy days per year.


Old Town MarketEnlarge

Old Town Market

Early history

Recent archaeological excavations show that the area of L'viv has been populated at least since 5th century. At the dawn of the 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 Polanes) and the Kievan Rus'. Mieszko is thought to have controlled the area from 960 to 980. According to Nestor's chronicle, in 981 this area was conquered by Volodymyr the Great, ruler of Kievan Rus'.

However, the city itself was founded in the 13th century by Prince 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 Latin name Leopolis).

Ossolineum InstituteEnlarge

Ossolineum Institute

The first mention of L'viv in early chronicles is from 1256. It soon displaced the town of Halych as the capital of the duchy. In 1323, the Romanovich dynasty (local branch of the Rurik Dynasty) died out. The city was inherited by the heir of the Romanovitch dynasty (on his mother's side) - Boleslaus of Masovia (also from the Piast dynasty on his father's side). He took the name of Yuriy and converted to Eastern Orthodoxy, but failed to gain the support of the local nobles and was soon who poisoned.

City development

After his death in 1340, the rights to L'viv were claimed by his cousin Casimir III of Poland, who successfully invaded the duchy and occupied L'viv by 1349. In 1356 he granted the city with Magdeburg rights which implied that all city issues were to be solved by a city council, elected by the wealthy citizens. This started a period of fast development: among other facilities the Latin Cathedral was built. Also, new self-government attracted a big Armenian community that built its' Armenian Cathedral in 1363.

In 1386, this area was directly included into the Polish Crown by Jadwiga of Poland. The city later served as the coronation site of some of the Kings of Poland.

Museum of Industry (now National Gallery)Enlarge

Museum of Industry (now National Gallery)

Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth

As a part of Poland (and later Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth) Lwów became the capital of the Ruthenian Voivodship, which included five regions: Lwów, Chełm (Ukrainian Kholm), Sanok, town of Halych and Przemyśl (Ukrainian Peremyshl). City was granted with the law of transit and started to gain significant profit from the goods transported between the Black Sea and the Baltic. In the following centuries, the city's population grew rapidly and soon Lwów became a multi-ethnic and muli-religious city and an important centre of culture, science and trade.

The city's fortifications were strengthened and Lwów became one of the most important fortresses guarding the Commonwealth from the south-east.

Three archbishoprics were once located in the city: Roman Catholic, Greek Catholic and Armenian Catholic. The city was also settled by numerous populations from other foreign lands, including Germans, Jews, Italians, Englishmen, Scotsmen and many others. Since the 16th century, the religious mosaic of the city also included strong Protestant communities.

Lwow University of Technology (now Lviv Polytechnic National UniversityEnlarge

Lwow University of Technology (now Lviv Polytechnic National University

By the first half of the 17th century, the city had approximately 25-30 thousand inhabitants. About 30 craft organizations were active by that time, involving well over a hundred different specialities.

Decline of the Commonwealth

In 17th century Lwów was sieged several times yet to no effect. Constant struggle against the invading armies gave it the motto Semper fidelis. In 1649, the city was besieged by the Ruthenian/Ukrainian Cossacks under Bohdan Chmielnicki, who seized and destroyed the local castle. However, the Cossacks did not retain the city and withdrew after receiving a ransom. In 1655 the Swedish armies invaded Poland and soon took most of it and laid siege to Lwów, yet were forced to retreat before taking the city. The following year saw Lwów invaded by the armies of the Transylvanian Duke George I Rákóczy, but the city was not captured. In 1672 Lwów was again besieged by the Turkish army of Mehmed IV, however the Treaty of Buczacz ended the war before the city was taken. In 1675 the city was attacked by the Ottomans and the Tatars, but king John III Sobieski defeated them on August 24 in what is called the Battle of Lwow.

In 1704, during the Great Northern War, the city was captured and pillaged for the first time in its history - by the armies of Charles XII of Sweden.


In 1772, following the First Partition of Poland, Lemberg became the capital of the Austrian province, the so-called Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria. The official language was changed to German and most of the postst in city's administration were taken by Germans and Czechs, yet the city remained an important centre of both Polish and Ukrainian cultures.

Initially the Austrian rule was somehow liberal. In 1784, the Emperor Joseph II reopened the University. Lectures were held in Latin, German, Polish and (from 1786) in Ukrainian. Wojciech Bogusławski opened the first public theatre in 1794 and in 1817 the Ossolineum scientifical institute was founded. Early in the 19th century, the city became the new seat of the primate of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, the Archbishop of Kyiv, Halych and Rus', the Metropolite of L'viv.

However, in the beginning of the 19th century the Austrian authorities started a Germanization campaign. The University was closed in 1805 and re-opened in 1817 as a purely German academy, without much influence over the city's life. Most of other social and cultural organizations were banned as well.

The harsh laws imposed by the Habsburg dynasty led to an outbreak of public dissent in 1848. A petition was sent to the Emperor asking him to re-introduce local self-government, education in Polish and Ukrainian and granting Polish with a status of official language.

Galician Parliament (now University of Lviv)Enlarge

Galician Parliament (now University of Lviv)

Most of these pleas were accepted twenty years later: in 1861 a Galician parliament (Sejm Krajowy) was opened and in 1867 Galicia was granted vast autonomy, both cultural and economical. The University was allowed to start lectures in Polish. The province of Galicia became the only part of the former Polish state with some cultural and political freedom, and Lemberg then served as a major Polish political and cultural centre. Similarly, the city also served as an important centre of the Ukrainian patriotic movement and culture. Other parts of Ukraine were at that time occupied by Russia, and all publications in Ukrainian were strictly prohibited there.

The city was also granted with a right to delegate MPs to the parliament in Vienna, which made many prominent cultural and political leaders move to the city, which served as a meeting place of Ukrainian, Polish, Jewish and German cultures.

20th century

Polish 1931 census
City of Lwów - population

Total 312,231

  • Poles 198,212 (63.5%)
  • Jews 75,316 (24.1%)
  • Ukrainians 35,137 (11.3%)
During the World War I the city was captured by the Russian army in September 1914, but was retaken the following year (in June) by Austria-Hungary. With the collapse of the Habsburg Empire at the end of World War I, the local Ukrainian population proclaimed L'viv as the capital of the Western Ukrainian Republic on the November 1st, 1918.

Polish-Ukrainian fights

The withdrawing Austro-Hungarian and German armies agreed to hand over the city to Ukrainian authorities. However, the same day the Polish population of Lwów started an armed uprising and soon took control over most of the city centre; unable to break into the central areas, Ukrainian forces besieged the city. After the Inter-Allied Commission in Paris agreed to leave the city under Polish administration until its' future is resolved by a post-war treaty or a referendum, the regular Polish forces reached the city on November 19. However, the heavy fights in the city's vicinity, with several minor cease-fire periods, did not end until July 1919. Both Polish and Ukrainian victims of this fratricidal conflict are buried at the Lychakivskiy Cemetery. Ashes of one of the unknown soldiers killed in the fights are buried in the Unknown Soldier Monument in Warsaw.

Art Nouveau architectureEnlarge

Art Nouveau architecture

In the following months, other territories of Galicia controlled by the government of the Western Ukrainian Republic were captured, and Polish rule resumed. Following the agreement with Semen Petlura, the government of the Ukrainian Peoples' Republic recognized the Polish rights to Lwów and agreed for a border at the Zbruch river in exchange for military help against the bolsheviks.

Polish-Soviet War

During the Polish-Soviet War of 1920 the city was attacked by the forces of Aleksandr Yegorov. Since mid-June 1920 the 1 Cavalry Army of Semyon Budyonny was trying to reach the city from the north and east. At the same time Lwów was preparing the defence. The inhabitants raised and fully equipped three regiments of infantry and two regiments of cavalry as well as constructed defensive lines. The city was defended by an equivalent of three Polish divisions aided by one Ukrainian infantry division. Finally after almost a month of heavy fighting on August 16 the Reds crossed the Bug river and, reinforced by additional 8 divisions of the so called Red Cossacks, started an assault on the city. The fighting occurred with heavy cassualties on both sides, but after three days the assault was halted and the Red Army retreated. For the heroic defence the city was awarded with the Virtuti Militari medal.


Following the Peace of Riga the city remained in Poland as the capital of the Lvov Voivodship. The city became one of the most important centres of science and culture of Poland.

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World War II

until the invasion, in the course of World War II, first by Soviet (1939) then by Nazi (1941) forces.

  • 1939 siege
  • 1st Soviet occupation
  • German rule
  • 2nd Soviet occupation
  • Depatriation, casualties, losses, stuff
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Soviet Lvov

The city, and the surrounding area, were then incorporated into the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic after World War II. Most of the remaining Polish population was expelled or left the city in fear of Soviet repression. The city became a major centre of Ukrainian national resistance to Russification. Large demonstrations then presaged the advent of Ukrainian independence in the 1990s.

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Independent Ukraine

Today L'viv is still considered to be one of the main centres of Ukrainian culture and much of the political class in Kyiv originates from L'viv.

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Historical population

Famous Leopolitans

a list of people born or working in L'viv/Lvov/Lwów

Contemporary L'viv


Administrative division

L'viv is divided in XXX distinct entities with their own administrative bodies

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Notable suburbs are:


Municipal government





L'viv has an international airport. Lviv Airport Website

Public Transportation


As in most Ukrainian cities, the public bus network is not well-developed and the number of lines is limited.

A cheap alternative to the public transport are the "marshroutki", which are small private-run buses cruising around the city and the suburbs. Marshroutki do not have any fixed bus-stops nor timetables, yet their services are relatively cheap, fast and efficient. The marshroutki also run the sub-urban lines to most towns of the region including the line to Shehyni (Шегині) at the Polish border.


The first tramway lines were opened on May 5, 1880. On May 31, 1894 the last horse-powered line has been electrified. In 1922 the tramways were switched to right-hand-side system. After the World War II and the annexation of the city by the Soviet Union several lines were closed for service, yet most of the tramway infrastructure was preserved. However, many of the tram stops were cancelled and currently an average distance between them exceeds 2 kilometres.

Currently the Lviv tramway operator runs approximately 220 cars on 75 kilometres of tracks. Most of the tracks are in a very bad shape and so are the streetcars themselves. Most of the cars are of KT4 type, produced by the czechoslovak Tatra-Works. Newer T4+T4 are operating only on line 2. Pre-war Gotha cars (built after 1910 are used for maintenance and utility purposes.


After the war and the expulsion of the majority of the city's inhabitants, the city started to grow rapidly. The cancelled tramway lines in the city centre were replaced with trolleybusses on November 27, 1952. In the later period new lines were opened for communication with the blocks-of-flats areas at the city outskirts. Currently the trolleybus network runs some 200 cars, mostly of the 1960s 14Tr type.


Modern L'viv retains its nodal position, with nine railways converging on the city. There are many destinations, both whithin Ukraine and international. Most cities in the Ukraine can be reached from the main train station. Due to the proximity of the Polish-Ukrainian border there are several trains going to Poland (mostly via Przemyśl and Rava Ruska) for example the luxurious Kiev-Kraków link.

For more details see: Lviv Railway Station Website


Historically L'viv was one of the most important centres of sports in Central Europe. The first proffesional football club, Czarni Lwów, was opened in 1903, and the first stadium was opened in 1913. Currently L'viv is home to several major proffesional football clubs and a number of smaller clubs. Currently the only one playing in the first division (Vysha Liha) is the FK Karpaty L'viv (founded in 1963).

Like most of Ukrainian sport clubs, those based in L'viv have also branches that sepcialize in other disciplines. The following lists the major sport clubs and the discipline the club is famous for:

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Grand Theatre (now L'viv Opera and Ballet Theatre)Enlarge

Grand Theatre (now L'viv Opera and Ballet Theatre)

Museums and art galleries

There are many museums and art galleries in L'viv, most notable are the National Gallery, Museum of Religion (formerly Museum of Atheism) and National Museum (formerly Museum of Industry).


L'viv is one of the most important education centres of the Ukraine. It is home to three major universities and a number of smaller schools of higher education. There are 8 institutes of the National Science Academy of Ukraine, more than 40 research institutes, 3 academies and 11 state-owned colleges.

The most important are:

  • University of Lviv (Львівський національний університет імені Івана Франка)
  • Lviv Polytechnic (Національний університет "Львівська політехніка")
for links to their sites see: List of universities in the Ukraine



Tourist attractions

  • the Old Town
    • Rynok square (Old Town Market; 185,000 square metres)
      • Black House
    • Armenian Cathedral
    • Greek Cathedral
    • Latin Cathedral
    • St. Yur church
    • Dominican abbey
    • Boim Chapel
  • Vysoky Zamok hill overlooking the historical centre
  • Lychakivskiy Cemetery

Films and books featuring L'viv

See also:

External links

In English

In Ukrainian

In Polish