Palaces of Lviv (Part 1)

The Ukrainian city of Lviv has a long and fascinating history, evidence of which can be found in its many landmarks, museums and attractions. The charming and majestic palaces of Lviv reveal an aspect of the city which was lost in the age of industrialization, remaining as a testament to times when life moved at a slower pace and an air of romance was reflected in the beautifully decorated palaces of the nobility and wealthy merchants of the time. The many palaces of Lviv were built as the Middle Ages gave way to the progressive thinking of the 15th and 16th century Renaissance period, where artistic expression knew no bounds and those with the financial means indulged in displays of opulence.

While just about every building around the Market Square (Ploshcha Rynok) of Lviv was originally a palace, or at the very least a mansion, only a relatively small number have been preserved virtually in their original state. These include the Bandinelli Palace and the Kornyakt Palace, located at numbers 2 and 6 Ploshcha Rynok respectively, both of which are currently museums. The Bandinelli Palace was named by the Italian merchant Roberto Bandinelli who bought the building from the original owner, Jarosz Wedelski. A great deal of speculation surrounded Bandinelli, with different theories being offered as to why the Italian was living in Ukraine, the most popular being that he had fled Italy after fighting a duel which put him in danger of retribution. Whatever his past deeds may have been, Bandinelli was a respectable member of the community in Lviv, establishing a business providing essential postal services. Although the building suffered from neglect during the Soviet era, Bandinelli Palace was restored by a group of history enthusiasts, and now serves as a museum that includes a history of the development of the postal service.

The Kornyakt Palace was owned by the wine trader Kostyantyn Kornyakt, who had achieved the status of nobility through his post as royal secretary for Polish King Sigismund I August. As a reward for his continued loyalty, the subsequent king, Stephen Bathory, granted permission for the building of the Kornyakt Palace. This was considered to be a great privilege at the time and renowned Italian architects were commissioned with the design. The palace has distinct Italian features, including the beautiful Venetian courtyard which became the venue for theater performances of Shakespeare’s works. During the 17th century, the palace was the royal residence of Polish King Jan III Sobieski and featured in a number of historical events, including the 1686 signing of a peace treaty between Russia and Poland. In September 1908, the Kornyakt Palace in Lviv became a National Museum, and today visitors have access to this majestic architectural masterpiece and the historical treasures it contains.

Find out more in Palaces of Lviv (Part 2)