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Lviv history

First settlements on the territory of Lviv region were found in Zolochiv district, and they are about 20,000 years old.

In the 10th century the territory of Lviv region, as a part of Halychyna, belonged to the Kyivan Rus. At that time it was one of the most important countries in Europe and the Middle East, which competed with Byzantium. Halychyna was a highly developed economic and cultural region. Most inhabitants were Ukrainians.

In 1240, the Kyivan Rus, weakened by internal strife of princes, could not withhold the Tatar invasion and stopped existing as a state. At that moment, Danylo Halytskyi (in 1240-1250 - a prince, later - the king of the Halych-Volyn Principality) founded the town of Lviv, named in honor of his son Lev. The first record of the city dates back to 1256. Lviv was founded as a strong point to protect trade ways. But, later it turned into a big centre of trade and commerce. A favorable geographical position of the city on the crossroad of important trading ways from Western Europe to Asia and from Scandinavia to Byzantium caused a rapid growth of trade and handicrafts. Germans, Armenians, Greeks, Serbs, Jews, Hungarians, Italians, Tatars started to inhabit Lviv.

In 1349, the territory of Lviv region was conquered by the Polish King Kazimir III. In 1356, Lviv received the Magdeburg Right, according to which the city submitted only to the King and obtained big trade privileges. In 1370-1387, Halychyna was a part of Hungary, then of the Polish-Lithuanian State. Reasonable Lithuanian administrative policy positively influenced the economy of the region. After disintegration of the Polish-Lithuanian Union (1569), Lviv region fell under the ultimate protectorate of Poland, which followed an undisguised anti-Ukrainian policy. The foreign occupation slowed down the economical growth of the region, but Halychyna remained the most developed region in Poland for a long time. In 1596, the Beresteisk Union was signed and the Greek-Catholic faith started expanding in Halychyna. The local Church fell under the Vatican administration. However, a lot of parishes and religion communities opposed Vatican for centuries and adhered to the Orthodox faith.

Since 1574, when Ivan Fedoriv published his first printed book "The Apostle", publishing started to develop in the Eastern Europe. Literature, architecture and icon painting were developing in Halychyna as well. An important contribution to the literature was made by monk and philosopher Ivan Vyshynskyi, native of Lviv region.

In 1648, during the liberation war of the Ukrainians against Poland, the Cossack army headed by the Hetman of Ukraine Bohdan Khmelnytskyi encircled Lviv. The local authorities paid him a big ransom to avoid the assault. Due to this, as well as to the Hetman's intelligence (he had been educated in Lviv), the city was not destroyed.

Lviv region reached economic prosperity in the first quarter of the 17th century, but the numerous wars and the destructive policy of Polish kings exhausted Halychyna. After Swedish troops defeated Lviv (1704), it fell into the economic decay. In 1772, after the partiton of Poland, the region became a part of Austria-Hungary Empire. Step by step, Lviv renewed its importance as a big merchant and industrial centre - new roads were constructed, handicrafts and trade continued to grow. Architecture, literature, music and art were also developing. They absorbed peculiar features of numerous nations of the region.

In the 1800s young seminarians founded the circle "Ruska Triytsia" headed by M.Shashkevych and in 1837 they published the first Ukrainian edition - literary almanac "Rusalka Dnistrova". In 1844, the Technical Academy (later on renamed into "Lviv Polytechnics") was established. In 1848, the revolutionary events in Europe influenced political and cultural activity of the Ukrainians. The same year, in May, the first Ukrainian political organization - "Holovna Ruska Rada" - was established and the first Ukrainian newspaper "Zorya Galytska" was published. The end of the 19th century was characterized by a considerable cultural and industrial growth. In 1861, the railway Lviv-Przemysl was built. Later Lviv was connected by railway communication with Vienna, Balkan countries, Hungary and Russia. Lviv became the main transport junction of the Western Ukraine. In 1880, the Conservatoire was opened. In 1882, the first telephone started to operate in Lviv. In 1894, the first electric tram appeared in the streets of the city (earlier than in Paris, Vienna, or London).

At the beginning of the 20th century, enterprises of consumer goods and food industries, factories of building materials prevailed in the Lviv economy. However, the financial capital was concentrated mainly in hands of the Poles, the Austrians and the Jews. There were only few Ukrainian businessmen in the region. At that time, Ukrainians formed the majority of the population of Lviv region and were mostly engaged in agricultural production and processing. In 1920-1930, new industries started to develop in the region: tool-making and machine building, printing, woodworking and oil refinery. In 1914-1918, Halychyna, as a part of Austria-Hungary, participated in World War I. In November 1918, the Western-Ukrainian People's Republic was proclaimed, but the leading European countries had no intention to accept the right of the Ukrainian nation to have its independent state. In 1919, due to the support of France, Poland again occupied Western Ukraine. The national and cultural pressure of the Polish government resulted in resistance of the Ukrainian population in order to protect its cultural, educational and economic institutions. At that time, the Ukrainian cooperation system in agriculture and credit institutions started to grow intensively. Agricultural products of Lviv region competed successfully with the best European products. Profitable unions and cooperatives deducted big funds for the development of national culture, science and religion. Institutions of the Church, branches of Enlightenment" Society and the Shevchenko Scientific Association made an important contribution to science, education and culture. In the 30s, the Ukrainians of Halychyna opposed effectively to the Polish economic and cultural supremacy. Effective principles of agricultural farming and cooperation, worked out in Halychyna, were applied by Ukrainian emigrants in Western Europe and North America, what caused further prosperity of many countries.

World-wide known scientists and artists lived and worked in the region, such as: Ivan Franko, Solomia Krushelnytska, Oleksa Novakivskyi, Mykhailo Hrushevskyi, Maria Konopnicka, Alexandr Fredro, Jan Matejko, Bruno Schultz, Sacher-Masoch and others.

In 1939, after the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact was signed, Western Ukraine was annexed by the Soviet Union. The Soviet Department of the Interior (NKVD) began to annihilate and deport Ukrainians, local Jews and Poles. From June 1941 till July 1944, Lviv region was occupied by Fascist Germany. During occupation the resistance movement arised in Western Ukraine. In 1942, separate military units formed the regular Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA). Restoration of independent Ukraine and fight against both Fascist Germany and the Soviet Union was the main aim of the UPA. In Halychyna, the military opposition of the UPA against the Soviet occupation regime continued till the mid-50s. After Soviet power was renewed in the region, repressions against the Ukrainians recommenced on a larger scale than before the war. In 1946, the Soviet Government forbade the Greek-Catholic Church, deported the priests to concentration camps, destroyed the churches and spread the Russian Orthodox Church instead. In 1947-1953, after the confiscation of private property and land, collective farms (kolkhozes) were organized in the region. The Soviet regime destroyed completely the system of cooperative agricultural production, the most effective in Europe at that time. More attention was paid to the industrial development of the region, especially to military oriented enterprises. Lviv became an important industrial centre of Ukraine.

...Courtesy of LvivRAED