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Lviv History, Ukraine

Lviv history is interesting to say the least. The city that celebrated its 750th anniversary in 2006 has been part of different realms and has seen different governance in the entire course of its history. Like other Ukrainian cities, Lviv history is preceded by pre-history, dating back to 5th century AD – a fact established by archeological excavations carried out in the region.

Lviv has not only been a historic center, but also a cultural hub and has unique honors to its credit – of late the city has been named Ukraine’s best city (ahead of the capital city Kiev and other major cities like Dnepropetrovsk and Kharkov) to live in while the historic city center has been an UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1998.

Lviv History – 13th Century to 19th Century

Formally established in the 13th century (the city has been mentioned for the first time in the Halych-Volhynian Chronicle in 1256) by King Daniel of Galicia and named after his son, Lev, Lviv was initially part of the duchy of Halych-Volhynia of Red Ruthenia. When Lev ascended the throne, he made Lviv the capital of his kingdom (1272) and this proved a turning point for the city as it has been seeing all-round progress since then.

Year 1340 brought a new twist in the form of Lithunian rule, a rule that lasted for a brief period of nine years. In 1349, the city of Lviv along with the rest of Red Ruthenia was annexed by the King of Poland, Casimir III; this marked the beginning of the Polish Rule, which lasted for more than two centuries until 1569.

Following the formation of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1569, Lviv was made the capital of the Ruthenian Voivodeship. The rule of the Commonwealth continued until 1772; in fact, Lviv saw the longest rule of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth as its strong fortifications made it invincible for long.

Lviv was incorporated into the Austrian Habsburg Empire after the First Partition of Poland in 1772 and it continued to be the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria until 1918. This certainly was an interesting phase in Lviv history for the city was referred to by its German-name Lemberg during this period.

Lviv History – 20th Century

The first important 20th century Lviv history episode was certainly the WWI and the war saw the city being captured by Russia in 1914. The Russian rule was short-lived and lasted less than a year. Following the disintegration of the Habsburg Empire at the end of WWI in 1918, Lviv became a part of the Second Polish Republic (1918-1939). Lviv continued to prosper under the Second Polish Republic and was ranked among the top three Polish cities in spite of the incessant conflicts it had to face in the forms of Polish-Ukrainian conflict, Polish-Soviet conflict and other squabbles.

The outbreak of the Second World War saw Lviv being invaded by the Red Army and integrated into the Ukranian SSR, as the capital of Lviv Oblast. The Soviet occupation, however, lasted for only two years. When the German Nazi forces attacked USSR in 1941, Lviv was occupied by the Germans. The German-rule lasted till 1944 and these proved real trying times for the Lviv-populace, especially for the Jews, who were either put to death or sent to concentration camps.

The end of WWII saw Lviv being reclaimed by Soviet Red Army and the city once again became a part of the Ukrainian SSR. The Soviet rule of Lviv continued till the 1991 August Coup (or the 1991 Soviet coup d'état attempt) destabilized USSR. When Ukraine declared its independence on August 24, 1991, following the collapse of the coup and disintegration of USSR, Lviv became an administrative and cultural hub of the newly formed state. Present-day Lviv not only takes pride in its past, it is as much a city of the present-times and holds many promises for the future.

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