Vault Windows in Lviv

An intersting architectural and infrastructural element of the old buildings in Lviv is the vault window with a metal shutter. Even these seemingly unimportant, mundane covers were finished off with an artistic and decorative touch—a unique cutout, which I assume served the purpose of providing some light and ventilation into […]

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Bomb Shelter Steel Covers in Vienna

In Vienna one can still find the covers to WWII civilian bomb shelters. Originally I thought these metal grates were either storm drains or vaults lights with missing glass, but I discovered that in fact they were covers for ventilation shafts and emergency exits. Across the territory of Nazi Germany […]

German-Era Bomb Shelter Signs in Lviv

During the Nazi-occupation of Lviv from 1941 to 1944, the Germans established bomb shelters in basements around the city. To this day we can still see some of the signage, namely, the letters “NA” and an arrow pointing to the shelter. According to one source, “NA” (short for “Notausgang”) marked […]

Buchach through the Glasses of Agnon

By Eugenia Senik Translated by Svitlana Bregman Everyone has his or her own Buchach. There are people who were born here and still live in the town. There are those who took their first steps on this land, but upon learning to walk fast and nimbly went far beyond their hometown. […]

Lederer & Popper Montage Postcards of Galicia and Beyond

Over 100 years ago the Prague-based company Lederer & Popper created a series of colored photomontage postcards featuring various cities, in particular in the Austrian and German Empires. I first came across a few photomontages from Lviv and was particularly struck by the one depicting a woman who had fallen […]

Rover: Bicycle Galician-Style

In the Ukrainian diaspora we call a bicycle a “rover” – the word which was commonly used in western Ukraine before the war. Now in Ukraine the word “velosyped” is most widely used, but people in western Ukraine, espеcially in villages, still often say “rover.” (See my diaspora language dictionary here.) The first […]

Evolution of Metrical Records in Galicia (1760-1830)

Metrical books are birth, marriage, and death registers kept by the Church. “Greek Catholic records were initially kept in Church Slavonic, then in Latin, and finally in Ukrainian. During periods of transition, the records occasionally show the use or mix of two languages—Church Slavonic and Latin, or Latin and Ukrainian…The […]

‘Ghost Statues’: Lviv’s Empty Niches

An interesting phenomenon in Lviv is its many “ghost statues.” This is what I call the empty niches found on the facades of buildings where once stood statues, especially religious figures such as the Virgin Mary or saints. Under the Soviet Union, traces of religion were removed from the urban […]

The Ballad and Orchestra of St. Nicholas

Ballada o Św. Mikołaju is beautiful song about the sad fate of the Lemkos (a Carpathian ethnic sub-group), who were forcibly resettled from their ancestral homeland in 1944-46 to the Soviet Union, and in 1947 under Operation Vistula to western and northern Poland. Remnants of their homes, churches, and cemeteries still remain in […]

Prewar Lviv in Photographs: Hand-Painted Signs

I’ve searched through old photographs of Lviv for ones with hand-painted signs, in particular for signs that are still visible today. I’ve only found one—an old photograph of a milkhouse, which I posted about earlier. But in any case, I found plenty of great photographs that show how storefronts and […]

Anchor Plates in Lviv

Anchor plates are ubiquitous in Lviv as they are on most of the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century buildings in the city. Anchor plates (also called wall washers, pattress plates, masonry stars, etc.) are used to reinforce the structure of masonry buildings. Made from cast or wrought iron, these plates are connected to […]