Ivano-Frankivsk was founded as Stanislaviv. During its history, the city changed its outlines, landscape, height – it grew and gained, but also lost. The nowaday Frankivsk is the city of contrasts, where modern buildings are adjacent to cozy villas, where incredibly beautiful streets of the old city center set up motion vectors, and the City Hall (Ratusha) spire is the lighthouse. The city is slow and active at the same time, good to the guests and permanent residents, ready to host and be discovered, to show and amaze.
It is enough to live the whole day in Frankivsk to discover the city, to understand its character and to fall in love. Visit 11 locations, offered by Sotka.
Departure with orchestra: Frankivsk station
The railway station in Stanislaviv (present Ivano-Frankivsk) was built in 1866. This date is fixed on the metal supports of the station’s canopy. The columns that support the roof are an example of artistic casting. The station building itself is a landmark architecture.
The Rundboden style brick building embodied the Austrian-German architecture school and was without dome at first. In 1906, it was rebuilt – raised, expanded and modernized in the Neo-Renaissance style. That station has been preserved till now.
The railway passing through Stanislaviv connected Lviv, Khodoriv and Chernivtsi. On September 1, 1866 the first train run this tracks – from Lviv to Chernivtsi. Only a year later Kiev started to take train arrivals, and three years later – Kharkov. The railroad in Stanislaviv was the second in Galicia and the third one on the territory of modern Ukraine.
A few hundred fearless Galicians traveled in the first train for 12 hours on a lovely day in September. There were 9 stops. Almost for an hour, – 47 minutes was recorded in historical sources, – the train stayed in Stanislaviv. All the citizens came to look at the unforgettable attraction and greet the travelers. Orchestra played on the platform – the railways directorate has taken care of it. The upper class was dancing.
In the early 1890’s Stanislaviv became a major rail junction, trains run in five directions, in particular to the Romanian city Iasi. The station was the first building in the city, lit with electric lamps in 1897. In the 1930’s, it was possible to get directly to Vienna and Berlin by rail.
Historical heart: City Hall and Market Square (Ratusha and Rynok Square)
Each Galician city, which implemented the Magdeburg Law, necessarily had a City Hall (Ratusha), where magistrate (city council) was located. The present City Hall in Frankivsk is the fourth in its turn, built in 1935, and the only one in Ukraine made in constructivism style. Its height is 49.5 meters.
There is an overview gallery is in the city hall. You can see the architectural ensemble of the city center: churches, squares, streets from the observation deck. Also you can make sure that the city leads to the Carpathians: you can see the the mountain ranges in clear weather on the horizons in the southwest direction. The highest Carpathian peaks of the Gorgany and Chornohora are within reach.
There is a local history museum in the city hall. The exposition includes a layout of the city in the 18th century – a fortress among two rivers – Bystrytsia-Nadvirnyanska and Bystrytsia-Solotvynska. There is an interesting collection of artifacts from the archaeological expeditions of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, which investigated the Old Halych mounds and Trypillian settlements along the Dniester, on the territory of modern village Nezvysko, Horodenka district. Weapons, jewelry, utensils, tools illustrate our history.
In the city hall basements, where the police and prison were located formerly, the Tourist Information Center is now. There you can book a tour, buy maps, find out about attractions in the city and outskirts, choose souvenirs.
Sacred space: temples and crypt
Sheptytsky Square is the spiritual center of Ivano-Frankivsk. There is a monument to the iconic personality in the Ukrainian church – metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky and the Rotunda of Mother of Jesus. The square is surrounded by temples of the 18th century – functioning Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ and Church of Virgin Mary. The locals call “Cathedra” and “Collegiate”.
Collegiate is one of the oldest and most magnificent buildings in the city. The first wooden construction, laid by the founder of the city Count Andrzej Potocki, was replaced by brick one in 1672-1703. The Baroque church was built according to the project of French architects Francois Corassini and Karol Benoit and with their direct guidance.
The church was functioning by the beginning of the 1960s. The regional art museum settled in the collegiate since 1980, when it had already been recognized as a national monument. Nowadays, it is the Museum of Arts of Precarpathia. It is decorated with permanent exhibition of sacred art of Galicia in the 15th-20th centuries, presented by unique old iconography and Baroque sculpture. For example, works by Jan Pinzel, mid-18th century. This collection is considered to be one of the best in Ukraine.
The crypt was preserved in church, which at one time was the burial place of the city founders, magnates Potoсky. Massive iron door in the floor leads to the family crypt in the dungeon. It is engraved with the coat of arms of Pototsky – Pilawa. Three strongly destroyed stone sarcophagi have been saved till nowadays.
Armenian church is located not far from Collegiate and Cathedra. Former Armenian Church of the Immaculate Conception of the most Blessed Virgin Mary is national architecture monument of the 18th century, built in Baroque style. Nowadays – active Orthodox Church of the Intercession of the Theotokos.
Art area: bastion and gallery
Fortress Gallery “Bastion” in Frankivsk is part of real fortifications of the old Stanislaviv.
From the very beginning Stanislaviv was laid as a fortress – the city was surrounded by protective walls on all sides. The date of granting Magdeburg Law to the city-fortress in 1662 today is considered to be the date of foundation of Ivano-Frankivsk.
The city founder ordered to build fortress – regular hexagon with bastions on the edges. Bastions – external pentagonal fortifications. Military engineer Francois Corassini created the fortifications. Up to 200 cannons were set up on fortifications at danger times. In 1676 the Stanislaviv Fortress successfully withstood the siege of thousands of Turkish Army. Later, in 1734-1750, it was rebuilt, strengthened and the entry gates were decorated. But since beginning of the 19th century the defensive construction lost its fortification value – the city grew, splashed out of the walls. The wall bricks were used in new buildings, stones – for paving streets. In nearly two decades the true city inside the fort has connected with the suburbs and defensive fortifications were demolished. New streets have appeared on the filled ditches.
Only one of six fortress bastions has withstanded, was restored and became part of the exhibition complex “Bastion”. It is an external brick wall in the Fortechnyi provulok (Fortress lane). It is interior, hidden under the glass of the gallery. Thus the architects emphasized the historical significance of this part of the city and preserved the monument.
Besides gallery, shops, workshops, exhibition hall “Art-na-Mur”, restaurant “Korassini” and a cafe, the fortress gallery complex “Bastion” has terrace – it is locked square behind Cathedra. Numerous city festivals and celebrations are held here. The exhibitions are being constantly changed in the gallery. And moreover, there are fashion shows, lections, master classes.
Presentation passage: Gartenberg’s coffee
Passage Gartenberg is unique even because “stometrivka” (or “sotka”) starts there – the pedestrian Nezalezhnosti street. The trade passage was erected in 1904 – by type of trading centers of that time in Western Europe. Leading architect of the famous Viennese company “Felner & Helmer” designed covered gallery with two rows of stores on both sides from the entrance to complete the order of the richest people in the city, merchants and homeowners Ignatius and David Gartenberg brothers.
Passage had five entrances. It was one-story at first and then flowed into the octagon shape second floor, which was covered by the dome. The glass roof was transparent, and the dome was the combination of transparent and colored glass. Contemporaries described a lot decorated interiors, paintings on the walls. There were sculptures in the niches. The fountain gushed at the entrance.
A huge stone building was destroyed during the First World War in 1917 and it was not restored anymore. Passage was rebuilt in 1925-1927 – previous forms were repeated. We can see approximately the same passage today.
After reconstruction in the 2000s, the name of Gartenberg was returned to passage and it turned into secular space. Now it entertains residents and guests of Frankivsk – there is nightclub with disco, bar, restaurant, coffee shop and pizzeria. Fashion shows are organized here most often.
Atmospheric Promenade: “Sotka”
To feel the city, one must definitely walk along “Stometrivka”, or “Sotka”. Every second house there is a historical and architecture landmark.
Famous architect Volodymyr Martyniuk was the author of the first in Ukraine pedestrian zone in Ivano-Frankivsk in the mid-1980s. He was awarded with the State Prize in 1988 for the project of complex reconstruction of Radianska street (Soviet street), the present Nezalezhnosti Street (Independence street).
“Sotka” is always very lively place, but storms before and on weekends. Shops, bookstores, cozy cafes, noisy pubs, luxurious (and not only) restaurants are meeting places for many residents. At “Sotka” artists unfold vernissages and draw portraits. Musicians play classics and rock, perform jazz and pop music.
Poetic stop: Mickiewicz Square
Century-old lindens in a small square in the city center invite you to sit down on one of the benches along the exquisite flower-beds. Mickiewicz Square has not changed its name since the 1870s – since the time of emergence in place of the former Esplanade of Stanislavsky fortress. The square, of course, is adorned by monument to the famous Polish poet Adam Mickiewicz.
At first, Mickiewicz was erected of white, very expensive, Italian marble. The sculpture was made by the Cracow sculptor Tadeusz Blotnicki – the artist had at his disposal poet’s posthumous mask. The monument was opened at the end of 1898. It was damaged during the Polish-Ukrainian war. Up to 1930 Mickiewicz stayed with broken nose, and then he was casted in bronze.
Territory of mysteries: Potocki Palace
Potocki Palace is the least investigated and the most enigmatic historical memorial of Stanislaviv-Frankivsk. Written sources say that the palace complex was a family house of the Polish crown hetman, the founder of the city. The King of the Commonwealth of Poland Jan III Sobieski, the prince of Transylvania Francis II Rakoczi visited the palace, built in 1672-1682.
In the Soviet times, the palace was rebuilt. The military hospital, which functioned until 2004, was placed in the buildings.
Project of restoration of the Potocki Palace has been launched in Frankivsk since 2010. In 2013 the entry gate was restored.
As a result, the whole complex is planned to open for visitors after restoration. It will be used partly as public space, partly as exhibition galleries and artistic territory, as well as a sightseeing attraction – the dungeons will be prepared for visitors and underground passageways will be partly opened.
Melpomene’s sharm: theater, socialist realism and “explosions”
The Ivan Franko Academic Regional Ukrainian Music and Drama Theater (Frankivsk drama theater) adds the stage charm to the modern city, known as literary and artistic center.
In 1980 the theater building was erected according to typical Soviet constructivism project on present Nezalezhnosti street. But unlike typical rectangular gray Soviet designs, the theater has a white stone facade, large stained-glass windows in the lobbies, original forges and bas-relief, dedicated to Melpomene. The interiors are decorated with oak carved panels in pseudo-Hutsul style. Forty years later, every detail is perceived as a reflection of the era – and it is valuable.
Frankivsk drama theater has always been distinguished for creative “explosions” that periodically remind Ukrainian cultural world of the collective’s artistic position. In the 1990s the troupe performed acute sociological and political theatricals, restored forgotten Ukrainian classics. The last “explosion” is still in progress – the Ivano-Frankivsk Ivan Franko Academic Regional Ukrainian Music and Drama Theater is recognized as one of the most successful theatrical groups in Ukraine.
Remembrance place: Memorial square
Memorial square was erected on the place of the old Christian cemetery, established in 1782.
Citizens called the burial place “Stanislavsky necropolis”, which was one of the oldest cemeteries in Western Ukraine – even older than famous Lychakiv Сemetery in Lviv. Many famous people of Stanislav – Ivano-Frankivsk were buried there. Not only civilians were buried in cemetery. Polish soldiers, Sich Riflemen, Hungarian soldiers of the Second World War found the eternal rest here. Historical sources preserve the memory of 152 Sich Riflemen and UGA (Ukrainian Galician Army) soldiers.
The graves of composer and conductor Denys Sichynskyi, professor and Ukrainian linguist Eugene Zhelehivskyi, politician, leader of the ZUNR (West Ukrainian People’s Republic) Lev Bachynskyi, teacher and scholar-philologist Mykola Sabat have been saved. And also there is the burial of Josypha Dzvonkovska, who was the second love of Ivan Franko – the poet devoted his poems to her.
Nowadays, despite the recent burials, the Memorial Square in Ivano-Frankivsk has the status of historical and memorial preserve. The citizens often bring candles and flowers to the grave of the 20-year-old local hero Roman Guryk, who was shot dead by sniper during Euromaidan, and to six tombstones of local law enforcement officers, which were the first ones who were killed in Russian military intervention in Ukraine. There is a memorial stele “Heaven’s Hundred Heroes”.
The favorite recreation place of residents is the Taras Shevchenko city park, which is located between Hetman Mazepa and Viacheslav Chornovil streets.
As a public park it was founded in 1896. At that time rare trees, imported from France, America and Poland, were planted there. A rich Armenian family from Moldova – Romaszkan owned the local lands. At the end of the XIX century Franz Romaszkan built a park palace in the late classicism style on the place of Potocky’s hunting lodge. Romaszkan also planted park around his villa. The city has redeemed a part of the Romaszkan’s lands, the main alley of the park was formed there.
Crossing Mazepa street from park, you come to the big city lake. There is “Island of Love”, which is probably named in honor of hot dates in a secluded place.