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Armenian Catholic
By Galicja Pogranicze
Published: 01.10.2010

The Armenian Cathedral
(14-15th centuries) - is a unique monument of Eastern culture in Europe. It is a successful architectural combination of various styles: the typical Armenian sanctuary, the Romanesque-Gothic style of Western Europe, and the traditional Halychyna type.
 
Church of the Assumption of the Virgin.
Ukrainian Diocese of Armenian Apostolic church.
    In the 1360s the large Armenian community in Lvov commenced the construction of their grand cathedral. Silesian architect Doring designed a church after the model of a cathedral in Ani - the ancient Armenian capital, which is now on the territory of present-day Turkey. The edifice was built of cut stone and faced with ashlars slabs with walls a metre-and-a-half wide. The structure of the dome is unique - it rests on hollow ribs made of earthenware jugs. The cathedral’s interior portrays an authentic image from the East: stylized Armenian sacrificial crosses carved in stone, called khachkars, which dating back to the 14-15th centuries. In addition, the decorative ensemble includes unique frescos on window posts, fragments of the oldest monumental painting in Lvov, and Modernist mosaics and wall-paintings of the early 20th century. All these aspects create unique forms and coloration, rarely found anywhere else in the world.
    The south yard located between the street and the cathedral conveys an inimitable impression: the 15th century arcaded gallery features European architectural traditions. Here the remains of an ancient Armenian cemetery have been preserved: gravestones, the oldest one being 600 years old, have been transferred from cemeteries of other Armenian churches and monasteries in Lvov. These cemeteries vanished several centuries ago. This cemetery, however, is far from being typical: the cathedral yard is evenly paved with gravestones, and gravestones are also built into the walls. Entering the cathedral yard from the direction of Krakivska Street one can see gravestones of the 16-17th centuries bearing well-preserved inscriptions to the right and to the left of the cathedral. The epitaph for Patriarch Stephan V of Armenia, who died in Lvov in 1551, has been preserved in one of the cathedral’s walls. The full-length figure of the Patriarch was carved in relief by a Lvov craftsman. This gravestone is the oldest one of its kind to have survived to the present day.
    Another extraordinary facet of the cathedral complex is the 18th century chapel, which is carved of wood and stands outside in the churchyard. The chapel contains an altar featuring the Passion of Christ on Calvary. The column of St. Christopher, erected in 1726, stands in the eastern cathedral yard. This is also the location of the former Palace of Armenian Archbishops and the Armenian bank (the oldest pawnshop in Lvov). The ornamented stone portal, which has been preserved in the bell tower’s arched entranceway, leads the way to the Armenian court. The northern yard belonged to the monastery of the Armenian Benedictines in the 17th century.
   The first liturgy performed in post-totalitarian times took place in the chapel outside the Cathedral on January 7, 2001. Pope John Paul II prayed in the Lvov Armenian Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary on the 25th of June 2001. In May 2003 the entrance in Krakivska street was opened, and at the same time, the Armenian Cathedral was sanctified by the Supreme Patriarch of the Armenian Church, Catholics of all Armenians Garegin.

The Palace of Armenian Archbishops is an architectural monument of the 17th-18th centuries.
   The late 17th century by Archbishop Hunaniyan stands on the east side of the Armenian Cathedral’s courtyard. After the fire of 1778 it was rebuilt and expanded by one of the Archbishop’s successors - Ja. Avgustynovych. The palace used to be the centre of life of Lvov’s Armenian community.
   An interesting surviving element of the original building is the portal with the stone framing decorated with the ornamental motive in the form of grooves with small chaplets inserted into them. This motive was widespread in the architecture of the East and the ancient Kilikian state. Today fragments that are over five centuries old are preserved under the palace’s roof and in its exterior. Among them is an emblematic symbol of Armenian archbishops on the exterior wall of the palace.
Aleksander Borovkov
photo (sasza, bo, zakapior)

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The Kornyakt Town - photo Bohdan Zhukiewicz

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