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Lviv celebrates its anniversary


The first written mention of Lviv in medieval chronicles dates to 1256, and that year has been taken as Lvivs foundation date. Annual celebrations are held in Lviv to mark so many years of Lvivs anniversary. Yevhen ADAMCHUK gives his account of the most recent celebrations.


If you ask a man in the streets in Lviv when the city was founded, you are likely to get, first, a mischievous smile in response, then, a meaningful well, you know, and only after that the person you asked this question will start explaining, somewhat evasively, that you see, there must have been a human settlement here back in the prehistoric times

Was the city really named to honor a son of the King Danylo Halytsky? Yes, there is enough evidence to support this circumstance with a good measure of probability. Can the first written mention of the city in the chronicles be regarded as the actual date of foundation? Difficult to say Such will be typical answer to your question. There is something enigmatic about the city itself and the people who live there.

This year when the celebrations to mark the citys 751st anniversary were held, the weather was rather cool for May; besides it was drizzling. But it did not spoil the festive mood of the dwellers and of the guests of the city.

Children took an active part in all kinds of contests  Best Photograph, Best Sculpture made of modeling clay; Best Picture on the Sidewalk. Cossacks and knights in full armor, who moved along the streets, were the center of attention. Music was played at many places, and it was also music of different styles and different orchestras  brass bands, jazz bands and pop and rock bands competed for attention (an international music festival, Flyuhery Lvova, was held within the framework of the celebrations). Catholic churches, oases of quiet mediation in the whirlwind of the celebrations, provided the highly spiritual organ music.

All of these things together created a very special atmosphere, in which there was no fuss around the pop stars, there was no official speeches  but there was food for the destitute who expressed their gratitude to the mayor himself, the organizer of soup kitchens.

When the mayor talked to the crowd that gathered to listen to him, he spoke not so much about the celebrations as about problems in Lviv that needed fixing  about bad roads, about poor water supply, about small pensions, and about monuments of the soviet times.

I call Lviv Babylon of Halychyna. There are so many cultures and people of various ethnic backgrounds that have contributed to the development and culture of Lviv  Italian architects provided a lot of designs for Lvivs architecture; Greek merchants provided the money to build it; Poles, Germans and Jews made their own contributions to this city which, in spite of all the influences, basically remained Ukrainian.

But in contrast to the historical Babylon, the city of Lviv lives on and flourishes, attracting tourists and inspiring poets and historians.

The Biblical Tower of Babel was ruined and confusion of languages ensued. No such thing has happened to Lviv  the other way round! Lviv became a melting pot in which various ethnics coexisted in a peaceful community, making their contributions to the citys culture. The city of Lviv is known for its tolerance  evidence of this tolerance are the names of streets such as Greek Street, or Armenian Street, churches and houses of worship of various Christian confessions or other religions. The people of Lviv are hospitable and friendly. In the past history of Lviv there was not a single case of a major ethnic or religious conflict. The feeling of unity has always been present in the city which was at the hub of many trade routes, from east to west, and from north to south. People of Lviv have always been open to the world; they traveled to distant lands, carrying with them stories of the city of Lviv.

Lviv has retained its very special atmosphere and spirit which continue to attract visitors and tourists. This atmosphere and this spirit are created by old churches and their cool, quiet interiors, by the screeching sounds of streetcars rounding the corners, the courtyards of the houses with old trees in them, by the winds blowing over the top of Hill Zamok towering over the city, by the smell of coffee emanating from Lvivs many coffee houses and cafes I find Lviv to be the most romantic city in Ukraine, a place which you cannot help falling in love with.


Photos by the author















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