Which Cemetery in Lviv Has a Status of a Museum?

Interested in an English tour of Western Ukraine and the city of Lviv?

Lychakiv Cemetery was opened in 1786 following an imperial Austro-Hungarian edict ordering that all cemeteries be moved outside of the city limits, and served the central, wealthier part of Lviv, a fact that contributed to its unusual splendor. Standing at the Gothic Revival entrance gate, look inside to see a wide open square with a number of chapels at the perimeter. These are the burial chapels of the Lviv rich from before the Second World War. The chapel on the right with a round dome belongs to the Baczewski family who owned a Lviv distillery that produced over 300 types of liquor. In prewar Lviv, the name Baczewski became a generic word for any alcohol. To the left is the chapel of the Adamskis, who were important pharmacists. Franciszek Adamski was in the Napoleon army. Look further left at the smaller of the two brick chapels which belongs to the owner of the Lviv brewery Karol Kiselka. He started as a factory worker and later became the chairman of the Lviv Chamber of Commerce. His brewery still functions today and makes the famous Lviv Beer. The bigger brick chapel to the left belonged to the Kszegunowicz family of land owners and politicians. Walk a few hundred steps up the alleys behind the Adamski chapel in this oldest part of the cemetery to discover some great examples of sculpture in the style of classicism.

A few steps straight and to the left of the main entrance gate, on a high pedestal, is the sculpture of Seweryn Goszczynski, an important participant in the Polish uprising against Russia in 1830-31. Circle this grave to read the list of his literary works and battles where he participated. Next, walk down the alley that runs behind the grave, stopping at the modest tombstone of the Ukrainian impressionist painter Ivan Trush. Then, walking down the alley, cast your eyes left to a bronze grieving female figure designed to shed tears when it rains, and further a banker’s grave with the vault’s handle resembling a round handle of a safe box, reaching a round open area near the second entrance gate. Walk straight across it to the grave of the classic of Polish literature Maria Konopnicka, always adorned with flowers and lit candles. Across the walkway from her, in his family vault, rests the architect of the Lviv Opera House Zygmund Gorgolewski, who died shortly after his life’s work was completed. At the high end of the square that we just crossed stands a grand monument, decorated with a stone lion and an eagle at the grave of Julian Ordon who courageously fought Russians in Warsaw and later died in Florence. Other imposing graves nearby that catch the eye are those of the Presidents of Lviv Tadeusz Rutowski with a stone lion close to the street and Michal Michalski. In 1906 Michalski introduced automobile traffic rules in Lviv and cars got license plates. Another president of Lviv, Godzimir Malachowski, who rests in his family vault nearby, oversaw the introduction of electric tramways and of the modern water supply system and the opening of the Lviv Opera House. The more recent Soviet looking graves that push the older ones to the background were added after the war by the Soviet rulers of the city.

Now let us walk back to where we started at the entrance gate and from there proceed past the Baczewski chapel on the right. The grave right after the chapel is that of Markiyan Shashkevych, who was one of the first writers to write his literary works in everyday Ukrainian . Next to him you can see a bronze female figure holding a torch at the grave of Volodymyr Barvinsky, who published Dilo, the first Ukrainian daily newspaper in Lviv. Look for the stone sculpture of an older man with two children at his sides higher up the alley on the left. This is Joseph Torosiewicz of Armenian descent who supported a charity for the education of young people. At any time of the year you will notice fresh flowers at the grave nearby of the great Ukrainian poet, writer, social and literary critic, journalist, economist, and political activist Ivan Franko. His grave has a stone character from one of his revolutionary poems – a miner with a pick hitting a rock. Across from Ivan Franko is the grave of the well-known Ukrainian composer Stanislaw Liudkevych. The grave of another big name in music, the world famous Ukrainian opera singer of the early 20th century Solomiya Krushelnytska after whom the Lviv Opera House is now named, is a few steps up on the left, marked by a figure holding a harp.

Keep walking along this nicely paved alley for some five minutes, taking in an incredible mixture of Austrian, Polish, Ukrainian and Soviet styles, until you reach the Ukrainian and, behind it, the Polish military memorials to soldiers who died in the Ukrainian – Polish war of 1918-1919, and the Polish – Soviet war of 1920. The Polish part of the memorial was restored after years of Soviet destruction. The Ukrainian memorial with the tall granite obelisk was added after independence. Both parts were officially opened in 2005. The most visible element at the Polish side is a domed chapel towering over the tombs below. Between the chapel and the tombs are catacombs where the exhumed remains of 72 fighters were laid to rest. In addition to Ukrainian and Polish fighters, this part of the cemetery also has graves and monuments to American and French volunteers who fought on the Polish side. Below, a semi-circular colonnade monument was built with a Latin inscription reading “Mortui sunt ut liberi vivamus” (“They died so we could live free”). In 1925 the ashes of one of the unknown defenders of Lviv were transferred to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Warsaw.