Mushaka-Dibrovna Street green space (in the former Sofiivka Region)
Historic Sofiivka is a neighborhood in southeast Lviv located between Striyskyi Park and Zalizna Voda Park. At the center of the region is little St. Sofia Church, built near the end of the 16th century by the owner of what was at the time a local suburban-Lviv residence (known as a “vulka” in that period) and businesswoman, Sofia Hanlowa. Sofiivka’s popularity as a garden-park and recreation area is traced to the start of the 19th century. The builder Underka put a restaurant and orchard here in 1839. With time the development of city garden parks would become associated with the ongoing construction of villas and cottages in the town.
The name Sofiivka is attached to the section of land located in what was once a settlement on Lviv’s southern outskirts known as Galicia. At the close of the 16th century, a small church – St. Sophia’s, now a Greek Catholic congregation – was built here. The church was donated by a merchant who would become a local resident (a “vulka”) of the area, Sofia Hanlowa, (also, Hanel).
The Galicia suburb of medieval and early-modern Lviv had been periodically visited by military conflicts and, as a result, the farms and settlements of the Sofiivka region were more than once burned to the ground along with their fields and orchards. This situation repeated itself until the late 18th century when things stabilized under Austrian rule.
Ivan Krypiakevych writes: “at the start of the 19th century Jan Łukiewicz, secretary of the appellate court, owned Sofiivka. He put in a large vegetable garden on his holdings and, in keeping with the custom of the time, set up a large cooperative. Prior to his death in 1817, he bequeathed his property to a foundation for the maintenance of poor women. A street in the region was named after him” (Krypiakevych, 1991, p113). Łukiewicz Street is now known as Dibrovna Street.
According to Franciszek Jaworski’s retelling, in 1839 a local builder named Underka established a public garden and restaurant in Sofiivka. He writes: “in 1841 the first villas started to go up here, built by Jan Salzmann - the head of the city construction department and the builder of the Skarbek Theater” (Jaworski, 1911, 346).
The 1890s brought the next stage in the development of the Sofiivka gardens when the city authorities took the territory adjoining Striyskyi Park under its administration to use for regional exhibits. New villas and cottages were being built in the area. It is well-known that Ivan Franko and Mykhailo Hrushevskyi owned homes in Sofiivka.
The Sofiivka territory is located between Striyskyi and Zalizna Voda Parks. Set at the center of the architectural ensemble of the green region is little St. Sofia Church. Historical records show a territory that runs northeast by southwest, with its perimeter marked by the modern streets of Mushaka, Samchuka, the end of Franka before the turn, Karmanskoho, and Yaroslavenka. Dibrovna Street, which intersects the Sofiivka neighborhood, functions as a lane through the garden-park swath.
Gaining a true picture of the garden-parks laid in during the early and mid-19th century – in the period of the builder Underka – is difficult using the extant historical descriptions of them published by Franciszek Jaworski and other researchers (Jaworski, 1011, 343-346; Stankiewicz, 1928, 69; Krypiakevych, 1991, 113). Public and private structures preserved in the neighborhood date from the late-19th – early-20th centuries, including the School for the Blind at 119 Franka and villas on Lemyka Street which, at the time of their construction, possessed lovely, lush gardens.
Jaworski leaves us with a lively description of Sofiivka as it was in 1911: “It’s as if the natural beauty of Lviv made a particular effort to imbue this impressive region with every characteristic which visitors to our city stand in awe of. From the peace and quiet of Pohulianka to the hubbub of the Jesuit Gardens, from the time-honored bourgeois traditions and charm of the Kaiserwald to the memory of old May Day celebrations…for all of that, however, it is in this part of town both of the present and future - so stylish in the true definition of that word, so popular with the crowds, this home to endless celebration and elegant villas, this ultimate expression of horticultural art in a city already so blessed by nature – that has been created one of Lviv’s most distinguishing features” (Jaworski, 1911, 344). We are left only to imagine what this “ultimate expression of the horticultural arts” must have looked like.
Perhaps the current floral plantings by Lviv’s horticultural society at 58a Mushaka Street give a lingering echo of the gardening heritage of old Sofiivka.
Sofia Hanlowa – merchant, property owner
Mykhailo Hrushevskyi – historian, civic activist, President of Ukraine
Jan Salzmann – architect
Jan Łukiewicz – city councilor, philanthropist
Underka – businessman
Ivan Franko – Ukrainian poet and author, civic activist
Franciszek Jaworski – historian
- Ivanochko, U., et al. “The Architecture of the late-18th – early-19th centuries”, Architecture of Lviv: Times and Styles, 13th-21st centuries. Biriulyov, Yuryi, ed. Lviv: Center of Europe Publishing, 2008. pp. 170-237.
- Jaworski, F. Lwόw stary i wczorajszy (szkice i opowiadania): Z ilustracyami. Wydanie drugie poprawione. Lwów: 1911.
- Krypyakevych, Ivan. Historical Walks Around Lviv. Lviv: Kamenyar, 1991.
- Orłowicz, M. Ilustrowany przewodnik po Lwowie: Ze 102 ilustracjami i planem miasta. Wydanie drugie rozszerzone. Lwów – Warszawa: Książnica-Atlas, 1925.
- Stankiewicz, Z. „Ogrody i plantacje miejskie”. Lwów dawny i dzisiejszy: Praca zbiorowa pod redakcja B. Janusza.Lwów: 1928, p. 62–71.
Material compiled by: Ihor Zhuk, december 2012