CYCLE ARTICLES OF UKRAINE
"THE CITY HALL IN LVIV"
There is a rather interesting architectural monument in the heart of Lviv, from the top of which you can admire wonderful view to the central part of this beautiful city. This is the City Hall, which is the dominant of Rynok square. The City Hall of Lviv has its long history, inseparably connected with the history of Western Ukraine. Built as early as in XIV c., again and again it appeared under pressure of countries attempting to grab Lviv in their possession. The City Hall has been renovated, reconstructed and even rebuilt from the very foundation.
The first wooden City Hall was constructed in XIV c. Unfortunately, it had a chance to decorate the city only till 1381. That was the year, when flame completely destroyed the Building of Magistrate. It was soon restored, as early as in 1404, when a new tower clock was installed.
At the beginning of XVII century the City Hall building underwent new changes that modified its appearance dramatically. In far year 1619 a new tower of the City Hall was constructed.
The old tower was partially demolished, and a new, octagon one was built on its place. This tower had four clock-faces. The tower was surrounded with a balcony, attended by a guard all the time. A lion-shaped metal free-floating vane decorated the top of this tower that was covered with gilding and represented the city symbol. The symbol of Poland – an eagle – was fixed above the weathervane along with a metal globe.
The Council Hall was adorned with portraits of famous military leaders and kings. Along with this hall, there was a treasury used for storing all main and valuable Lviv documents. Two lions are safeguarding the City Hall entrance. They are holding shields with the city emblem. There was a prison located in the cellars of the City Hall.
Architectural ensemble of the City Hall was continuously altered. Some extensions were added to its socle, but later on it was decided to dismantle them. However, constructors were so enthusiastic that in the process damaged the socle itself. Despite absolutely obvious emergency condition of the tower, a special committee claimed it to be quite available for operation. An interesting fact is that the tower fell exactly at the moment when such act was signed. The committee hardly had time to save their lives. It happened on the 14th of July 1826. Unfortunately, eight people died in this accident. Nowadays, the act is stored in Lviv Central Historical archive.
In 1835 the City Hall was renovated again. Reconstruction was made in Viennese Classical style. This variant of the building was already the fourth and that was the one we can see nowadays. While reconstruction works in 1848 the building was covered with a new flare of fire which destroyed the tower dome. 1851 is the year of its last renovation. Next year the tower was decorated with a new clock, manufactured in Vienna, on the factory of V.Style.
Another outstanding event took place in 1883. The first telephone in Lviv was installed. It connected the City Tower with the Emergency Response and some other city institutions.
Translated from German the word “city hall” («das Rathaus») means “Council house”. That’s why it has always played an important role in the city life. Even today, Lviv city Council is located in the City Hall. Entrance to the City Hall is free of charge, you need to pay only for visiting the sightseeing platform. In order to rise to the platform, enjoy marvelous view of the city center, make a wish, and dream a bit…, you have to cross the “power corridors”. On each door you will find a plate stating departments, committees, boards, names of deputies… An interesting thing is that there is no security guard around. What a bright example of democracy!
Author Marina Melnichenko