The Old Market square
The center of ancient Lvov used to be a square that is now called The Old Market. After the town had been conquered by Polish prince Kazimir III in XIV, the center of the city was moved to the south. The history of Middle Age Lvov is strongly connected with this small square, which covers the territory of 142 to 129meters. At that time the new Gothic city was growing on that place. The king invited craftsmen from Germany to build it. The square got the name “Ring”. Later on it was changed to Market (“Rynok”). As there were market lines on the square, the market later also got the name Rynok. For many centuries the central square of Lvov was the heart of life in Lvov. Here, like in Venice, it became common thing to meet people of different nationalities wearing their national costumes. Hungarians wearing little magerkas (small hats), cossakcs wearing big wide trousers, Russians wearing white hats, Turkish people wearing turbans etc – as it is described in the first documents known about the city. Punishments and executions were also held on this square in Lvov, there was a pranger (the pillar of shame). This was a rock post, that consisted of 2 figures turned away from each other. The one figure was a man with a sword; the other was a woman with balance. Here the death executions were performed. Robbers and naughty women were attached to this pillar. Today you can see this monument in Lvov Historical Museum.
Lvov was the only city in Europe at that time to have such wide paved sidewalks. Two couples that were going in each other’s direction could easily walk along these pavements. The Square Market has also seen such noble figures as Petr 1, Yan III, and Austrian Emperors Iossif II and Franz-Iossif. In the middle of the square there is a city-council. Its history starts back at the times of Vladimir Opilskiy who laid the first rock of the building of the very first city council in the end of XIV. This building was restored many times during the centuries. The modern building is constructed in the classical style in 1827-1835 on the place where used to be all the city councils in Lvov throughout centuries. Today you can go up the 350 steps of the 65 meter tower, to see the panorama of Lvov and to see the mechanism of pig town council clock. The entrance to the Ratusha is guarded by 2 lions holding the symbol of the town and wearing shields. Four fountains were built here in 1793 that are present today. Two of them are using old wells. Each fountain got an eight side cup, crowned with a statue of a character of ancient Greek mythology: Amfitrith, Diana, Neptune, Adonice. The fountains are still being used today. They are created by Gartman Vitver – famous sculptor of the end of the XVIII – the beginning of XIX centuries.
The market used to be divided into four parts, according to the sides of construction: northern, southern, western, and eastern. Before the houses got their numbers, they were called by the last name of the owner and were found by special architectural features. It was not difficult at all, as there were no two similar houses. The craftsmen were trying to give each house its own and unique style and character. All buildings on the Market Square are “brothers and sisters” but they all have their own individual style. The most interesting, from the architectural point of view, is the western part of the square. The best examples of Renaissance style in public architecture in Lvov are considered to be the houses #4 and #6. These buildings are known to be not only masterpieces of Lvov city, but also the valuable pieces of art in the whole Europe of the Age of Renaissance. Today you can visit the exhibit of the Lvov Historical museum in those buildings.