Take a Stroll Through Lviv’s Mickiewicz Square
Named in honor of Polish poet Adam Bernard Mickiewicz (24 December 1798–26 November 1855), whose statue is a prominent landmark, Mickiewicz Square is one of the main squares of the Ukrainian city of Lviv and is located between the old town and the southern section of modern midtown. When the square was originally planned and laid out in the early 19th century, it came to be known as Ferdinand Square in honor of Ferdinand Habsburg-d’Este, the Austrian governor of Galicia. It was renamed St Mary’s Square in 1862, referring to the monument dedicated to the saint. It was only in 1904 that the statue of the Polish poet was erected in the center of the square which was later renamed Mickiewicz Square upon occupation of the city by the Soviets, who reportedly objected to a square in the now Soviet city being named after a Christian Saint.
Prior to World War II the city of Lviv belonged to Poland, with the majority of its inhabitants being of Polish and Jewish descent. In the course of the invasion of Poland by the Soviet Union in 1939, the city was annexed by the Soviets. Even though the majority of Lviv’s Polish population was expelled from the city upon the permanent annexation of Lviv in 1945, both the monument and the name remained to this day.
The three-meter high statue of Mickiewicz stands upon a granite column measuring 21 meters in height. The statue features the poet receiving a lyre from the winged mythological genius of poetry. The statue was both designed and carved by Polish sculptor Antoni Popiel and the base of the column features the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth’s coat-of-arms.
Other features of Mickiewicz Square include a fountain and a figure of St Mary, the Sprecher’s tenement house and the turn of the century Hotel George. During the Soviet era, the sculpture of St Mary had been stored in the chapel of the Boim family, before being moved to St Andrews Church. It was reconstructed and place back in the square in 1997. Built in 1900 as a luxury hotel, Hotel George was designed by architects from Vienna, Hermann Hellmer and Ferdinand Fellner, with its sculptural embellishments created by architect and sculptor Leonard Marconi. Today, all these landmarks remind passersby of the history behind the vibrant Ukrainian city of Lviv.