Ancient History in Lutsk

Located on the gently-flowing Styr River in northwestern Ukraine, the city of Lutsk is the administrative center of the Volyn Oblast and the Lutskyi Raion. Although recorded history shows that Lutsk was founded in 1085, there is believed to have been a settlement on the site as far back as the 7th century. A branch of the local Rurik Dynasty built a wooden castle on the banks of the river, and a settlement soon sprang up around it. Over the subsequent years, Lutsk was seized and looted by the Tatars, Lithuanians, Casimir III of Poland, and again by Lithuania in the mid-1300s.

Visitors to Lutsk can explore Lubart’s Castle, built by Liubartas, the youngest son of Gediminas the Grand Duke of Lithuania at the time. Liubartas, also known as Lubart, was the last ruler of the Galicia-Volhynia alliance. Overlooking the Styre River, Lubart’s Castle is a well-known landmark in Lutsk and features prominently in the city’s ancient history. In its strategic position, the castle successfully repelled a siege by Casimir III, also known as Casimir the Great, of Poland, who had conquered the city for a brief period prior to Liubartus building his castle and had hoped to reclaim Lutsk. In 1431 Jogaila tried to take the city, followed in 1436 by Sigismund Kestutaitis, Grand Duke of Lithuania, but neither was successful. Later additions to Lubart’s Castle included fortifications against gunfire, changing the principal entrance to the west and the building of three towers.

Lesya Ukrainka Street in Lutsk is a pedestrian walkway worth taking a stroll along. It joins the Fellowship Bridge to the central theater square of the city. Starting in the 12th century as a route to the Saint Mary monastery, by the 16th century there were eight monasteries and churches along the road which later came to be called Lesya Ukrainka. It began to develop commercially in the latter part of the 19th century, featuring a public amusement park and circus. These were later replaced by brick-built houses and shops, with some of the older, historically and architecturally significant buildings being altered, robbing the area of valuable heritage. Nonetheless, many landmark buildings remain, making it an interesting place to visit when in Lutsk.

Another place of interest to visit in Lutsk is the old Market Square. While it was once the social, commercial and political center of the city, remaining the trade center of Lutsk until World War II, today the square, along with old houses and churches, is preserved as a historical landmark.