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 […]

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‘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 […]

Blind Windows in Lviv

I started noticing “ghost windows” on many of Lviv’s older buildings. Originally, I thought they were windows that had at some point been bricked up. However, after researching, I discovered that in fact (at least in most cases) they are “blind windows”—architectural features that are shaped like windows but without […]

Luxfer Vault Lights in Lviv

Many years ago in Lviv I came across what looked like a metal door matt. I had no idea what it was until I saw similar panels in Edinburgh and Tallinn and turned to the Internet for help. Turns out it is a vault light to illuminate the basement. It […]

Guard Stones in Lviv

Guard stones are exterior architectural elements made of metal, stone, or concrete located at the corners of entranceways, carriage driveways, or gateways to protect walls from carriage wheel damage. Once an important element of the horse-drawn transportion infrastructure, guard stones have become largely obsolete as cars do not pose the […]