The emperor is coming!
What kind of city did the emperor Franz Josef see when he first visited Lviv in 1851?
"The stinky Poltva river was flowing since nobody was thinking about closing it yet. Life was flourishing in the old inner city, while the streets of Jagelonska, Sykstutska, and Kopernika were hardly built. It was dangerous to go to Pekarska, Lychakivska, and Kurkowa in the evening. The coffins were still taken out from the old theater basements near the Jesuit church, left behind the monastery. The burnt university walls completed the picture. The best buildings were the City Tower Hall and the theater building renovated after the fire." It is the description of the mid-19th century Lviv later provided by the governmental "Gazeta Lwowska."
Some five decades later, during a short visit in 1903, the city president regretted not having enough time to show to Franz Josef all the changes taking place here during his term of office (water supply, water sewage, electrification, a newly-built Urban Theater, and many others).
It is a story of Lviv through the lens of visits of the Empire’s top official. Over his almost 70 years-long rule (from 1848 to 1916), the emperor of the Austrian Empire Franz Josef visited Lviv five times. Every time, it was a prominent event, and every time the city presented itself in a different light.
Lviv was presented to the emperor, and the emperor was shown to citizens. The festive ceremonies and itineraries had to be thoroughly designed and planned. They can help us see more than a mere emperor’s city walk. Specifically, we can trace the changes in the imperial policy, the processes of community making (including also ethnic communities), and the transformation of the city.
The tradition of visits of top officials has come down to our days. Many "imperial" objects in Lviv have been carrying their honorary mission throughout centuries, and still, host high officials today.
Welcome to visit Lviv of the 19th – 20th century, along with Franz Josef!
The multimedia story was created within the workshops of Lviv Interactive.
Participants: Vasyl Rasevych, Roman Melnyk, Roksolana Holovata, Roman Lekhniuk, Olha Zarechniuk, Taras Nazaruk, Sofia Dyak.
Top: Henryk Rodakowski, from the Collection of the Muzeum Narodowe w Krakowie