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 same danger to the walls. Unlike modern cars, the wheels and hubs of horse-drawn vehicles protruded beyond the vehicle’s body.

Furthermore, there are many cases where these old driveways have become pedestrian only, again making the guard stones redundant.

Guard stones are found all over the world.  Today, early guard stones are considered cultural heritage objects and some countries, such as France and Belgium, even protect them under specific heritage regulations.

In Lviv, these traces of the old horse-drawn transportation infrastructure can be found all around the city’s historical districts. In addition to Lviv, I’ve documented them in several other cities in Europe as can be seen via my “guard stones” tag.

  Metal Guard Stones

The metal ones come in several shapes and designs, but the most common seem to be the ones found in the second two photos below. Some have been partially buried; tips of others have been cemented in walls. Some are rather plain, others more elaborate. I was once told that the first one below was located in front of a building that used to be a bordello (hence it being so phallic). I’m not sure if my friends were being facetious or not (haven’t been able to confirm this); nevertheless, it’s an interesting thought…This one differs quite a bit compared to other ones I’ve seen:This next one is unique because it is not located at the corner of an entrance way, but rather protects a curb in the driveway of an old palace:These are extra obsolete as this former entranceway has been bricked up:

Stone Guard Stones



8 thoughts on “Prewar Painted Stripes in Lviv

  1. Thank you Areta for another important and timely blog post on the challenges and issues of Jewish heritage and recovery of memory. We are hopeful that soon the headstones used as basement steps in a courtyard in Lviv (Hałycka Płoszcza 15 / Galitskaya 15) will be recovered. The Lviv Volunteer Center is working behind the scenes to make this happen, with the support of the Lviv Jewish community and others.

  2. This is the part that blows my mind: “During periods of transition, the records occasionally show the use or mix of two languages—Church Slavonic and Latin, or Latin and Ukrainian…”
    SO COOL!
    Thanks, Areta!

  3. > The largest and best-preserved fragment of Lviv’s medieval defense structures is the Hlyniany Gate (1618)

    Areta, Hlyniany Gate and wall around it have been renovated.

    There used to be some residential building in its place (behind the now-demolished fire station in the foreground)

    Building, close-up

    The wall looked like this

  4. Any idea what the Yiddish is on the hat sign on the right? I can make out most of the letters, but my Yiddish isn’t good enough to fill in the blanks. I used to pass by that wall frequently on my way to a friends house, but he has moved since then. It’s still my favorite ghost sign, though 🙂

  5. Kudos to you, Aretha. I came across your blog from a repost from one of your diaspora Ukrainian language from Pre-war Galicia words versus accepted and widely used Post-war words for a long list of foods. I too grew up in the diaspora in Cleveland. I was in Lviv in November of this soon to be last year. Although Lviv is my Dad’s ancestral city, I had family from Central Ukraine and grew up hearing both dialects. I think the blog was from 2014 or 2015. I wanted to leave a comment on your new blog and commend you for the interesting sociolinguistic and cultural discussions you have initiated. Nice to see that you are now in the field doing your research first-hand.

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