07.04.2010 | Text: Maryna Kryvunchenko

This small city is saturated with history

Other Ukrainian cities can hardly compete with Ivano-Frankivsk for many reasons including a great number of historic and cultural monuments, beautiful mountains and forests of the Carpathian region, types of folk art craft, exhibited in museums of Kyiv, Toronto, Moscow and New York and especially local Hutsul culture with its wizards called molfars, haunting dances and local cuisine. In fact, local wizards are said to prove their magic in 2004 when Eurovision winner Ruslana was shooting the video for her song Wild Dances in these parts. The weather was dull and the sky clouded, so she decided to ask a local molfar for help. Witnesses say that after 15 minutes of the wizard ritual the sun shone across the mountains


The history of the city begins with Stanislaw fortress built by a Polish magnate Andrzej Pototcki, who had been the ruler of these lands since 1660. He named the city Stanislaw in honor of his youngest son. The construction of the fortress and its fortifications was led by the French military engineer Francisco Corassini. Nowadays only a piece of the city wall has remained. It is located in the very city center, near the Saint Resurrection Cathedral. In 1809 by the order of the Austrian government the city walls were destroyed and the graff was backfilled.


In 1662 Stanislaw received the status of a city under the Magdeburg Law. The Renaissance architectural ideas of the ideal city were reflected in the city plan, its center, streets and churches. Its founder Andrzej Pototcki once stated: All who would reside in this city I give freedom for twenty years, during this period they can leave and return without restrains. I order to measure the land for constructing houses according to the needs and will of each person. It was a city of trade and crafts.

Since then, the city has survived many fires and almost disappeared in the so-called Marmalade fire of 1868. Almost the whole city had burnt down to ground due to the carelessness of a lady cooking fruit jam on an open fire in her backyard.

The city was built by representatives of Ukrainians, Polish, Hungarians, Germans, Austrians, Russians and Armenians that lived and worked here for centuries has eventually became a stronghold of Ukrainian nationalism. Its residents fearlessly struggled with the Turks, Nazi and Soviet invaders. Thats who they are the residents of this city people full of fire and undying patriotism.

In 1962, when the region was under the Soviet rule, Stanislaw was renamed to Ivano-Frankivsk in honor of famous Ukrainian writer and activist Ivan Franko.


Despite being pillaged many times by invaders and destroyed by fires and other natural disasters the city somehow managed to keep the atmosphere of a relaxed cozy town with a fleur of good old days. Lets start our tour from the Market Square, the heart of Ivano-Frankivsk.

The City Hall built in 1695 is the landmark of the Market Square. This building has been rebuilt five times. The modern City Hall that was built in 1930s long ago became the Museum of Local Lore and History. Throughout history, the building was used for different purposes and its basements have been used as a prison, a warehouse and a military fortification. Nowadays this nice building is the highest (49.5 m) in the downtown Frankivsk. The museum boasts a unique collection of artifacts archaeology, natural history and folk arts.

Another landmark of Ivano-Frankivsk is a former Armenian Church, currently St Basil Cathedral of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church. It was built in 17421762 in Baroque style on the place of a wooden church. According to the chroniclers the XI century a miracle-making Icon of Virgin Mary with teardrops falling from her eyes was kept in this church. Unfortunately, during the WWII it was confiscated, taken to Europe and lost for good there. In the Soviet times, the church was turned into museum of religion and atheism. Today it regained its old glory and it is worth seeing the magnificent beauty of the church built 250 years ago.

Old train station is the main entance to the town

The fans of beer should definitely visit the old brewery on 47 Vyrobnycha St. that is said to be founded by Roman Catholic monks in 1767. The place represents a unique example of Ukrainian industrial architecture of late 18-th century. It is still used as brew house according to its primary plan despite its old age. This brewery proudly produces real Ukrainian beer according to the ancient brewing traditions, so do not miss the chance to have a sip of Ukrainian history in a glass of cold stout.

The City Museum of Fine Arts is also worth visiting. Its exhibition hall is located in an old church built in the 17th century. It has a rich collection of unique works of sacral art from the 15th20th centuries.

Roaming the streets of the city you can also investigate the Palace of Potocki, the Hetman arbors, the monument commemorating the 2000th anniversary of the Nativity of Christ. Drop into any of cozy cafes which serve not only great coffee, but also local dishes: holubtsi (stuffed cabbage rolls), banush (traditional corn porridge with cheese and mushrooms), wild mushroom soup, deruny (crispy roasted potato pancakes).

Feel a fleur of good old days wordering around the city

Do not miss the chance to discover the worlds only Museum of Pysanka, a Ukrainian for Easter egg in Kolomyia, in Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast. The museum is located in a building made in the shape of a 14 meter egg. The museum offers a 6,000 Easter eggs collection from Ukraine and across the globe.


In general whenever you visit Ivano-Frankivsk there would be some event or festival going on. It is a center of many national and folk festivals, including Carpathian Vernisage, Vertep (Christmas Carol) Festival, International Blacksmiths Festival, Hutsul Festival. Among the closest is a Precarpathian Spring Arts and Music Festival held April 11 through 18.

To sum up, let me recall the famous Hutsul proverb about one molfar who said that happiness is the source of life for the world. This idea is very close to the hearts of Hutsuls, so find a piece of happiness while discovering a wonderful city Ivano-Frankivsk.

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