Prosp. Svobody

ID: 218

Svobody Boulevard (prospekt Svobody) is the main street of Lviv. From the mid-nineteenth century it consisted of two streets, known as Untere/Obere Karl Ludwig Straße or, in Polish, Karola Ludwika wyższa/niższa (“Lower/Upper Karl Ludwig Street”). In 1871 the Obere Karl Ludwig Straße was renamed Hetmańska, in honor of the Great Crown Hetman Stanisław Jabłonowski, whose monument had been erected there in 1859. Obere Karl Ludwig Straße became simply Karl Ludwig Straße/Karola Ludwika, until 1919, when it was renamed Legionów (“Legions”). The bed of the river Poltva was driven underground in 1887, under supervision of engineer Wacław Ibański. In 1940 Hetmańska nad Legionów Streets became part of the single Pershoho Travnia (“First of May”) Street. In 1941 the street was first divided into Opernstrasse and Museumstrasse, and later joined under the name of Adolf Hitler Platz/Ring. In 1944 the street's name went back to Pershoho Travnia. Later it was renamed Lenina Boulevard. In 1991 it was renamed Svobody Boulevard.


Svobody Boulevard is the main street of Lviv. Ever since the thirteenth century the new bed of the river Poltva, and the western fragment of the medieval city's fortifications ran along today's boulevard. In the thirteenth through fifteenth centuries the so-called High Wall was consructed – a wall of stone and bricks, fragments of which remain between buildings No. 16 and 18 on Svobody Blvd.

Denys Zubrytski enumerates the following towers that stood along today's boulevard in 1445:

“13. Butchers' [courtyard behind building in No. 6/8 Svobody Blvd.]. 14. Carpenters', coopers' and cartwrights' [by today's Mitskevycha Sq., 8]. 15. Blacksmiths', locksmiths' and needle-makers' [where today the Viennese Coffeehouse stands in No. 12, Svobody Blvd.]. 16. Merchants' [an imitation of the Merchants' Tower has been constructed in Svobody Blvd.]. 17. Bakers', the remains of which were demolished in 1836 for Skarbek's theater [by today's No. 18, Svobody Boulevard]”. [p. 95] 

Where the National Museum and the “Vernisage” flea market exist today, once stood the Low Castle, which performed rather an administrative than a defensive function. On its outside stood the Szlachecka (“Nobility”) or Sądowa (“Judicial”) tower (before the main entrance of today's National Museum), and the Narożna (“Corner”) tower, being a ravelin of the Low Castle (left of today's main entrance to the Maria Zankovetska Theater). 

An external city fortification belt was constructed in the sixteenth century, consisting of a bulwark with a stone wall and turrets situated atop it. Within the limits of today's Svobody Boulevard, the following turrets stood:

Farska (close to the Crucifixion in today's Mariiska Square), Hetmańska (opposite today's National Museum) and Grodska (between the Opera House and the Maria Zankovetska Theater), as well as external fortifications of the Jesuit Gate, by the site of today's monument to Taras Shevchenko). A pedestrian bridge was installed over Poltva, before the Jesuit Gate, which had been hewn through in the city walls in the early seventeenth century. 

Beyond the fortification line were situated several lone villas of the Halytske (“Galician”, known from the late eighteenth century onwards as Krakivske, “Cracow”) suburb. This area was marshy, and, according to local folklore, was a place for duck hunting into the late eighteenth century. 

The demolition of the city fortifications began in 1777. A promenade was laid in place of the former bulwark and ditch, planted with trees. The promenade, known as Lower Bulwarks (Wały Dolne), and later Hetmańskie Bulwarks, was a popular site for walking and strolling among the contemporary residents of Lviv (officially Lemberg at the time). 

Lviv's first theater was founded in a wooden shed close to the former Jesuit Gate. In 1776 the place was home to a German Göttersdorf's Theater, later to German troupes of Hilferding, Toscani, Franz Heinrich Bulla, and to Polish troupes under Tomasz Truskolawski (1780-1783), Wojciech Bogusławski, and Dominik Morawski. From 1795 onwards the theater functioned in the former Franciscan Church, which was adapted for this purpose. 

In 1858 street illumination with gas lamps began. 

In 1887, under supervision of engineer Wacław Ibański, the river-bed of Poltva was driven under a concrete vault to function henceforth as a sewer channel. The vault proceded from Mariiska Square (today's Mitskevycha Sq.) to the Angielski (“English”) Hotel (in the beginning of today's Hnatiuka St.). Next year the river-covering works were extended to include the Gołuchowskich Sq., which had had a vault constructed in the 1840s. A green area was established over the former river-bed, based on a project by Arnold Röhring. 

Unlike the pedestrian-oriented Hetmańska St., Karola Ludwika St. always exhibited livelier traffic. This was a sreet of hotels, restaurants, fashionable passages and shops. 

In 1879 two rows of metallic rails were laid in Karola Ludwika St., and in May 1880 a horse-drawn trolley began running from the Ferdinand Casernes (later the Main Train Station) to Mytna Square. On May 31, 1894, the electric trolley began running from the Main Train Station along Sykstuska and Hetmańska Streets to Zofiówka/Sofiyivka, where the Galician County Fair was being held. In late 1908 the electric trolley extended its route to include all of Hetmańska and Karola Ludwika streets, replacing the older horse-drawn trolley. 

Trams ran along these lines until the early 1950s, while in November 1952 the first trolley-bus line began functioning in Lviv, running from Mitskevycha Square through Horkoho (now Hnatiuka) St. to the Train Station. The trolley-buses ran along the city's main boulevard until 1976. The trams today only intersect with the boulevard between Doroshenka and Beryndy streeets.

Previous names:

In the mid-nineteenth century today's Svobody Boulevard consisted of two streets, divided by the bed of Poltva: Obere Karl Ludwig Straße / Karola Ludwika wyższa (“Upper Karl Ludwig St.”) from the side of the city center; and Untere Karl Ludwig Straße / Karola Ludwika niższa (“Lower Karl Ludwig St.”) from the side of the Krakivske suburb. The two streets were named after Archduke Karl Joseph Maria Ludwig (1833-1896), brother of Emperor Francis Joseph I, who lived in the Hausner House in Lviv (officially Lemberg at the time), on the corner of Szeroka St. (now building No. 1-3 in Svobody blvd.) in 1853-1855. His son, heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, Franz Ferdinand Karl Ludwig Maria d'Este (1863-1914) was murdered in Sarajevo by Serbian terrorists, while his grandson, Karl I (1887-1922) was to be the last Ausrian Emperor.

In 1871 the Upper Karl Ludwig Street was renamed Hetmańska to honor the Great Crown Hetman Stanisław Jabłonowski, whose monument was erected on the Bulwarks in 1859, while the Lower Karl Ludwig Street became known simply as Karl Ludwig Straße/Karola Ludwika.

Beginning in 1919 the Karola Ludwika St. was known as Legionów (“Legions”) St., in honor of the Polish legions, organized by Józef Piłsudski in 1914.

In 1940 Hetmańska and Legionów streets were incorporated into a single Pershoho travnia (“First of May”) St. When Lviv was taken by the Germans in 1941, the street was first divided into Opernstrasse and Museumstrasse, and later joined again as Adolf Hitler Platz/Ring. After the return of the Soviet authority, the street was again renamed Pershoho travnia, later to be renamed Lenina (“Lenin”) Boulevard. In 1991 the Lviv City Council of National Deputies renamed the street Svobody (“Liberty”) Boulevard.

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Notable buildings:

1-3 Svobody Prospect. The former building of the Hausner & Violand trade company. As of the early nineteenth century it was one of the largest buildings in Lviv. Construction began in 1809, during Napoleon's times. Lviv-based sculptors Hartman Witwer and Anton Schimser worked on the building's decoration in 1821-1822. Apart from residential apartments and shops, this large house held the County Credit Society, as well as (in the mid-nineteenth century) the Main Post Office.

11 Svobody Prospect.  This house was constructed in 1882, following a project by Emanuel Hall. In 1891 the Central Hotel opened here. Among the hotel's temporary residents was Lesia Ukrayinka. In 1910 the hotel was renovated by Edmund Żychowicz's company. The building's second store became home to the City Coffeehouse, which had a long balcony going along the façade. In Soviet times the building's first floor held the popular Lvivianka Café. After the building's most recent renovation in 1990-1992, it became part of the hotel and restaurant complex of the Grand Hotel.

12 Svobody Prospect. The “Viennese Coffeehouse” building was constructed in 1828-1829, together with the building of the chief sentry, based on projects by Mateo Brezani. The house acquired its present-day look after a renovation of 1880. The “Viennese Coffeehouse” played a significant role in the history of Galicia.

13 Svobody Prospect. The Grand Hotel building was constructed in 1892-1893, project by Erazm Hermatnik, construction was completed after Hermatnik's death by Zygmunt Kędzierski and Leonard Marconi. At the time of its completion this was the most elite hotel in Lviv. In 1893-1895 the hotel's owner Efraim Hausmann, constructed the open Hausmann Passage (Pasaż Hausmanna in Polish, now known as Kryva Lypa (“Crooked Linden”)). Under Soviet times the hotel was known as Lviv, and from 1964 onwards – as Verkhovyna (“Highland”). In 1990-1992 the hotel was renovated recreating its original late nineteenth-century appearance.

15 Svobody Prospect. The building of the Lviv Museum of Ethnography and Artistic Crafts (former Galician Savings Bank, constructed in 1889-1891, project by Julian Zacharewicz). In 1785 the Royal and Imperial General Military Commando was constructed in this location, to be replace in 1839 by the three-storey Hotel Angielski (“English”). The building was decorated with sculptures by Leonard Marconi, Julian Markowski and Stanisław Roman Lewandowski. Statues by Tadeusz Baroncz and Antoni Popiel, as well as Jan Styka's painting The Triumph of Labor no longer exist today. From 1951 onwards the building houses the Lviv Museum of Ethnography and Artistic Crafts, which later grew to include the Ethnological Institute.

20 Svobody Prospect. The National Museum (former Emperor Francis Joseph I City Industrial Museum, constructed in 1898-1904). Construction of the building was funded by the Galician Savings Bank. The project exhibition was won by Professor Gustaw Bisanz of the Polytechnical School, however the architectural design of the building was elaborated under supervision of architect Józef Kajetan Janowski, who was a member of the judges' board, and used in his project the main ideas of the project by Leonard Marconi, which had been awarded third place in the original competition. Construction works were supervised by Edmund Żychowicz. The building's façade and interiors were decorated based in part on projects by Marconi. In the interwar years the building was known as the City Museum of Artistic Crafts. In 1951 the remainder of the museum's collections were moved to the Museum of Ethnography and Artistic Crafts (now in No. 15, Svobody Boulevard). In 1952-1990 the building housed the Lviv department of the V. I. Lenin Central Museum in Moscow. From 1990 onwards the building is in the property of the National Museum in Lviv.

24 Svobody Prospect (constructed 1836-1837, project by Johann Salzmann). A fourth store was later added to the three-storey Biedermayer stone house. In 1856-1866 the building was home to the Polish poet and renowned geographer Wincenty Pol (1807-1872).

26 Svobody Prospect. This address belongs to the west wing of the Maria Zankovetska Theater (former Skarbka Theater), which was constructed in 1833-1842, following a project by Vienna-based architect Ludwig Pichl. The project was co-authored (and construction was supervised) by Lviv-based architect Johann Salzmann.

28 Svobody Prospect. The Solomiya Krushelnytska Opera and Ballet Theater (former Great City Theater, construction dates 1896-1900). Construction project for the building was developed by architect Zygmunt Gorgolewski, construction work was supervised by the Theater Construction Committee, headed by Godzimierz Małachowski, then-Mayor of Lviv (officially Lwów at the time). Ceremonious opening of the theater took place on October 4, 1990. On October 26-28, 1939, the theater was the site of the People's Assembly of Western Ukraine, which addressed the USSR's Supreme Soviet (Council) with the “request” to accede to the Soviet Union.

35 Svobody Prospect. No. 35 held by the Feller Passage (Pasaż Fellerów in Polish, now Mykhalchuka Str.). Unlike the Mikolasz Passage, the Feller Passage was not covered with a glass roof. The gallery proceeded  from Karola Ludwika St., where a pompous four-storey building was constructed in 1903, based on a project by architect Artur Schleyen (now building No. 35, Svobody Boulevard), to Rzeźnicka (“Butcher”) St., known today as Nalyvaika St. In 1908-1909 the head building in Karola Ludwika St. was rebuilt under the supervision of architect Ferdynand Kassler. Two allegorical women's statues – Commerce and Communication – were installed in the building's attic at this point. The authorship of the statues is attributed to Piotr Wojtowicz.

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Prosp. Svobody, 10 – bank building (former residential)

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Prosp. Svobody, 12 - hotel "Wien"

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Prosp. Svobody, 05 – "Plasma" trade arcade

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Prosp. Svobody, 06-08 – residential building

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Material compiled by Ihor Melnyk
Edited by Markian Prokopovych

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