Vault Windows in Lviv

An interesting 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 […]

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 […]

‘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 […]

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 […]

Sztuka Cafe: Recreating the Atmosphere of Austro-Hungarian Lviv

One of the best well-preserved examples of prewar Lviv hand-painted signs is found on the façade of a lovely cafe called Sztuka. A cafe of the same name existed in Lviv during the Austrian era. Today’s cafe, though continuing the tradition of the original cafe which was founded in 1909, is located […]

New Ghost Signs in Passage Andreolli, Part II

In May I came across newly uncovered ghost signs in Lviv’s Passage Andreolli. Several years ago a couple of very nice ghost signs were uncovered on the other side of the passage and fortunately they were promptly restored. However, I am uncertain about the fate of these. One of the […]

Remnants of Lviv’s Medieval Fortifications

When the Austrian Empire acquired Lviv in 1772, the city’s fortification walls and moats were in a particularly poor state. Five years later, the new rulers began to pull down the fortifications as part of their urban planning strategy, which, among other aims, sought to unite the historic center and […]

Jewish Traces in Lviv: Tombstones Turned to Pavement

When Lviv’s Lenin statue was toppled in 1990, fragments of Jewish tombstones were discovered in the foundation. This came as no surprise, however, as it was a known fact that Nazi and Soviet authorities not only destroyed Lviv’s Jewish cemeteries, but also used the stone to pave the city. Lviv […]