‘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 […]

Read More

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

The Vanishing Galician Accent and How it Lingers in the Diaspora

The lexicon (which I wrote about here) and accent of the diaspora community in North America (specifically the community that descended from the third wave of immigration (1940s-50s), many of which came from Galicia) differs somewhat from the lexicon and accent heard today in western Ukraine. In the diaspora this […]

The Lexicon of the Third-Wave Ukrainian Diaspora

Or, The Vanishing Galician Lexicon and How It Lingers in the Diaspora When I moved to Ukraine, I had to learn a whole new Ukrainian vocabulary. It turned out that I had grown up speaking a Galician/diasporan Ukrainian, which used many dialectisms, Polonisms, and archaisms. To keep track of the differences […]