Lviv is the largest city in western Ukraine and the seventh-largest city in the country overall, with a population of around 728,350 as of 2016. Lviv is one of the main cultural centres of Ukraine.
The most popular tourist attractions include the Old Town, and the Market Square (Ukrainian: Ploshcha Rynok) which is an 18,300-square-metre (196,980-square-foot) square in the city centre where the City Hall is situated, as well as the Black House (Ukrainian: Chorna Kamyanytsia), Armenian Cathedral, the complex of the Dormition Church which is the main Orthodox church in the city; the St. Peter and Paul Church of the Jesuit Order (one of the largest churches in Lviv); along with the Korniakt Palace, now part of the Lviv History Museum; the Latin Cathedral of the Assumption of Mary; St. George's Cathedral of the Greek-Catholic Church; the Dominican Church of Corpus Christi; Chapel of the Boim family; the Lviv High Castle (Ukrainian: Vysokyi Zamok) on a hill overlooking the centre of the city; the Union of Lublin Mound; the Lychakivskiy Cemetery where the notable people were buried; and the Svobody Prospekt which is Lviv's central street. Other popular places include Lviv Theatre of Opera and Ballet, the Potocki Palace, and the Bernardine Church.
Named in honor of Leo, the eldest son of Daniel, King of Ruthenia, it was the capital of the Kingdom of Galicia–Volhynia (also called Kingdom of Rus') from 1272 to 1349, when it was conquered by King Casimir III the Great who then became known as the King of Poland and Rus'. From 1434, it was the regional capital of the Ruthenian Voivodeship in the Kingdom of Poland. In 1772, after the First Partition of Poland, the city became the capital of the Habsburg Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria. In 1918, for a short time, it was the capital of the West Ukrainian People's Republic. Between the wars, the city was known again as Lwów and was the centre of the Lwów Voivodeship in the Second Polish Republic.
After the German-Soviet invasion of Poland in 1939, Lviv became part of the Soviet Union (Joseph Stalin's "gift" to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic) and in 1944–46 there was a population exchange between Poland and Soviet Ukraine. In 1991, it became part of the independent nation of Ukraine. Administratively, Lviv serves as the administrative center of Lviv Oblast and has the status of city of oblast significance.
Lviv was the centre of the historical region of Galicia. The historical heart of the city, with its old buildings and cobblestone streets, survived Soviet and German occupations during World War II largely unscathed. The city has many industries and institutions of higher education such as Lviv University and Lviv Polytechnic. Lviv is also the home of many cultural institutions, including a philharmonic orchestra and the Lviv Theatre of Opera and Ballet. The historic city centre is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Lviv was invaded by the Tatars in 1261. Various sources relate the events which range from destruction of the castle through to a complete razing of the town. All the sources agree that it was on the orders of the Mongol general Burundai. The Shevchenko Scientific Society (Naukove tovarystvo im. Shevchenka) informs that the order to raze the city was reduced by Burundai. The Galician-Volhynian chronicle states that in 1261 "Said Buronda to Vasylko: 'Since you are at peace with me then raze all your castles'".Basil Dmytryshyn states that the order was implied to be the fortifications as a whole "If you wish to have peace with me, then destroy your towns". According to the Universal-Lexicon der Gegenwart und Vergangenheit the town's founder was ordered to destroy the town himself.
Archaeologists have demonstrated that the Lviv area was settled by the 5th century. The area between the Castle Hill and the river Poltva was continuously settled since the 9th century. In 1977 it was discovered that the Orthodox church of St. Nicholas had been built on a previously functioning cemetery. The city of Lviv was founded by King Daniel of Galicia (1201—1264) in the Principality of Halych of Kingdom of Rus` and named in honour of his son Lev.
Lviv is one of the most important cultural centres of Ukraine. The city is known as a centre of art, literature, music and theatre. Nowadays, the indisputable evidence of the city cultural richness is a big number of theatres, concert halls, creative unions, and also the high number of many artistic activities (more than 100 festivals annually, 60 museums, 10 theatres).
Lviv's historic centre has been on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage list since 1998. UNESCO gave the following reasons for its selection:
- - Criterion II: In its urban fabric and its architecture, Lviv is an outstanding example of the fusion of the architectural and artistic traditions of central and eastern Europe with those of Italy and Germany.
- - Criterion V: The political and commercial role of Lviv attracted to it a number of ethnic groups with different cultural and religious traditions, who established separate yet interdependent communities within the city, evidence for which is still discernible in the modern town's landscape.