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1256–1349 A city in a principality and a kingdom

The first written mention of Lviv dates back to 1256.At that time the city located to the west and the north from the hill Vysokyi Zamok (the High Castle) in the basin of Poltva River. The city had solid fortifications for its time. It situated on the cross of important trade routes which met on the square in the center of the city. This square is now known as Staryi Rynok (the Old Market) Square. The buildings and the street network were arranged into an irregular layout due to the topographic conditions.

After the death of the last hair of Halychkings and many political wars the city came under the rule of Polish kingdom.

1349 – 1349 – 1772: Lviv during the Renaissance and the Baroque age

From the year 1349 Lviv lives under the rule of the Polish kingdom. At that time the new city is being built southward from the original one. The new part comprises its own fortifications and has a rectangular grid layout of streets with a Rynok (Market) Square in the center. The north-south trade route goes through the city laying two main streets – Halytska and Krakivska.

Eventually Lviv became a regional center for trade and crafts. The city authority fostered economic activity in many ways. This welfare of the city was reflected in architecture and construction as well. New buildings were erected wherever possible and land prices within the city fortifications became extremely high.

During 15-17th centuries many monastic orders came to Lviv. Bernardine was one of catholic orders which were well represented. A number of fortified monasteries and churches have been constructed around the city. This created a system of objects that dominated the skyline around the inner city. The overall belt of fortified monasteries and churches around Lviv comprised about 46 structures.

19th century and the new age

In the end of 18th century, as a result of political crisis in the country, in 1772 Lviv turns under the rule of the Austrian Empire. The new political reality brings new radical changes for the city. The profound transformations of Lviv started, turning its image from medieval to the city of the “New Time”. This period can be divided into several stages:

Stage 1 (1770 – 1820s): the city sanitation. During that stage the city fortifications were turned down. That is the time when the green ring was founded.

Stage 2 (1820 – 1840s): the outer city development and the reconstruction of the central core. The city that was no longer limited by defensive walls, started to expand rapidly outside its former limits.

The new buildings have been erecting along the main access roads. Therefore the radial street order emerged. The direct streets were not possible to build due to dramatic topography of the surrounding landscape.

Stage 3 (1840 – 1890s): giving a representative image to a green ring and densification of the outskirts, establishing of the cities administrative boundaries and zoning.

The city population was increasing dramatically and Lviv became the third biggest city of Austro-Hungarian Empire. In the second half of 19th century the construction of train stations on the west and north-east fueled the city expansion even more. The remaining northern and south-western parts became gradually occupied by industrial uses.

In the early 20th century the city population doubles and comprises nearly 222,350 inhabitants.

Lviv in the 20th century

During the period between the World Wars, after the collapse of Austro-Hungarian Empire, Lviv becomes a part of a Polish state. This period is known for the city population decrease and the downshift of the city growth. On the contrary to these degradation processes, complex city development projects are being developed, which later became a base for further development plans.

Although the city relatively survived during the WWII, its political state as well as its demographic consistency was profoundly changed. In 1950s the new Soviet power intended to turn a city into industrial giant of its region. Thus the new vast industrial areas emerged on the north and west of Lviv. It caused a dramatic income of workers from rural areas across the region and the population increased once again. This rapid urbanization and industrialization caused the emergence of the new strictly residential neighborhoods on the north and south of the city. Therefore the city boundaries shifted outwards and the neighboring villages were consumed.

In the end of 20th century the city population constituted around 850,000 inhabitants.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990s, the city growth decreased dramatically.

In 2000s the need for reconstruction of the existing urban fabric in both the central core and the outskirts stood out of high importance. The need for bringing the city to meet the demands of today is recognized to be the top priority.