The foundation of the Dominican Church in Lviv dates back to the second half of the 13th century. Constance, the wife of Lev I of Galicia, commissioned the construction of a small wooden church in gratitude for the generosity of the local Dominican monks. The wooden church was destroyed by fire in 1408 and later replaced by a Gothic-era stone church.
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In 1612 Lviv Dominican Church and the monastery became the headquarters of the Eastern European Dominican Order. However, in 1742 the building of the church was demolished as some major cracks started to appear threatening the building would simply collapse one day.The present appearance of the cathedral was designed by architect Jan de Witte. The construction was possible thanks to the financial contributions of Polish hetman Joseph Potockiy, who laid the first stone in the temple’s foundation. The Dominican coat of arms and the symbol of Dominican order – a dog with a burning torch clenched in its teeth - are on the building's facade. The building is also decorated with monumental figures of saints. The beautiful bell tower by the Church was constructed in 1865.
The Dominican Church’s interior awes with its splendor and elegance. Its centerpiece is the baroque altar with four elaborately stone curved apostle figures. The cathedral keeps some remarkable pieces of art, among which are stone and alabaster tomb stones dating back to the 16th - 17th centuries, brought here from the former Gothic church.
During the Soviet era the site was used as a regional archive and as a class space for the local Printing Academy. After restoration in 1972 the Dominican Monastery opened as a museum dedicated to the history of religion and atheism. These days the museum, which boasts rather rich and interesting collection of artifacts is housed in the neighboring building, which used to house the monastery. The exhibition looks at all religions currently active in Ukraine and includes an Ostroh Bible, one of the first complete translations into Old Church Slavonic printed in 1580.
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The Dominican Church in Lviv is rightfully considered to be one of the best monuments to late baroque architecture not only in Ukraine, but all of Europe. The building harmoniously rounds out the historical center’s ensemble. Along with other temples in Lviv, it is included on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites.
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