Lutsk (Ukrainian: Луцьк, translate. Luts'k, Lithuanian: Luckas, Polish: Łuck, Belarusian: Луцак or Луцк, transliterated Lutchak or Lutsk) is a city located by the Styr River in northwestern Ukraine. It is the administrative center of the Volyn Oblast (province) and the administrative center of the surrounding Lutskyi Raion (district) within the oblast. The city is also designated as its own separate raion within the oblast.
Lutsk is an ancient Slavic town, mentioned in the Hypatian Chronicle as Luchesk in the records of 1085. The etymology of the name is unclear. There are three hypotheses:The name is derived from the old-Slavic word luka, an arc or bend (of a river)
The name is derived from Luka, the chieftain of the Dulebs, an ancient Slavic tribe living in the area
The name is derived from Luchanii (Luchans), an ancient branch of the aforementioned tribe
It is also historically known in Ukrainian as Луцьк, in Belarusian as Луцак or Луцк, in Russian as Луцк, and in Polish as Łuck.
Lutsk is one of the most ancient cities of Ukraine. The name “Lutsk” was first seen in the Ipatiev Chronicle of 1085, when the city appeared in the center of the internal fight between the heirs of Yaroslav the Wise. However, archaeological research gives reason to believe that the settlement was founded in about 1000 A.D. or earlier.
The most truth worthy version of the origin of the name Lutsk (ancient – Luchesk) is connected with the geographical position of the city at the bend (luka in old Slavic) of the river Styr. The settlement appeared on the island formed by the Styr and its tributaries, located here for defense reasons. On the present-day maps the site is indicated as the location of the State Historical and Cultural Preserve “The Old Lutsk”.
At the time of the Kyivan Rus, Lutsk was the capital of the local prince’s territory, covering part of Volyn and later of Galicia-Volyn. In the ХІІ century Lutsk had mighty wooden fortifications, which enabled the citizens of the city to withstand a six weeks’ siege in the spring of 1150 by the regiments of Yuriy Dolgorukiy, the founder of Moscow. During the siege his son, young prince Andriy, was close to death.
Lutsk also witnessed the Tatar-Mongol invasion. The chronicles state that in 1259 the city withstood the siege of khan Kuremsa. But in 1267 Prince Vasylko, responding to the demand of khan Kuresma's commander Buronday, destroyed the fortifications.
Emergence of Lutsk as the capital of Volyn lands is closely connected with the rule of Lyubart-Dymytry in the second half of ХІV century. He changed the outward appearance of the fortifications of Lutsk, replacing the wooden construction with brick. The son of the grand Lithuanian duke Gedymin, Lyubart was married to the local princess and became a true protector of Volyn. Under his rule Lutsk Castle was the seat of the administrative, court and religious bodies that governed Volyn.
After Lyubart’s death Lutsk remained the residence of Lithuanian and Russian princes: Vitovt (1392-1430) and Svydrygailo (1431-1452). Under Vitovt’s ruling in 1429 Lutsk hosted the famous meeting of European monarchs to address the ongoing Tatar threat to Europe. Participants included the Lithuanian prince, Polish king Vladyslav II Yagaylo and emperor Sygizmund of Luxemburg among others. The granting of Magdeburg right was an important moment in the social, political and economic life of Lutsk citizens of the ХV century. With the grant the inhabitants of Lutsk were ensured their elective bodies of self-government.
By the late ХVІ century the Lutsk castle had lost its significance as a defense stronghold but the city remained the worldly and spiritual capital of the land. Because of a large number of sacral buildings, contemporaries called it “Rome of Volyn”. Polish poet Sebastian Klionovic wrote: "Who could pass Lutsk by; the city is worthy a song?”(1584).
After the Lublin Union in 1569 Volyn was integrated into the Kingdom of Poland and Lutsk became the capital of a newly formed voevodship and a residence of voevods. The city gradually became more and more Polish as legal guarantees of Russian nobles and clergy proved to be only written promises.
Reflecting resistance to the Polish influence and Beresteyska Union (1596) an orthodox brotherhood appeared in Lutsk at the beginning of XVII century. On September 1, 1619, the brotherhood was officially recognized by the king and was given the privilege to build a church and a shelter.
The late XVII and the XVIII century was a period of slow decay in Lutsk. Frequent fires, floods and epidemics were devastating. The cultural and religious Ukrainian life in the city was gradually stifled. In the government offices of the voevodship Ukrainian language was replaced by Polish and Poles took the positions of the officials.
In 1795, after the third division of Poland, the area was joined to the territory of the Russian Empire. The capital of a newly created Volyn province became Zhytomyr, while Lutsk remained the centre of the povit (region).
The XIX century saw a continued stagnation of economic and social life in the city. Only after the construction of the South-Eastern railroad branch in 1890’s did Lutsk begin to experience an economic recovery. At that time (1895) the population of Lutsk was 15125 people.
During World War I Lutsk became the scene of fierce battlefield combat. In the summer of 1915 the famous Brusylivsky Breakthrough took place in Lutsk suburbs and entered the history of the World War I.
After the February Revolution in 1917 the blue and yellow flag was hoisted above the city for the first time. In April 1917, the first Ukrainian socio-political society “Ukrainian Community» appeared. During the Hetmanate period, in August, 1918, the organization called “Prosvita” was created. On December 20, 1918, detachments of the Ukrainian nationalist leader Symon Petlyura came to Lutsk.
However, on May 16, 1919, Lutsk was occupied by the Polish army and according to the Riga Treaty of 1920 the Western part of Volyn became part of the territory of the Rich Pospolyta II. In March, 1921, Lutsk became the capital of the new Volyn voevodship. In 1939 in another historic change, the city became a part of the Soviet Union, becoming the centre of Volyn region, composed of the Western part of the former Volyn voevodship.
On June, 1941, World War II swept into Lutsk, as the city was occupied by the German troops. However, on June 23, in a terrible prelude to the German occupation, nearly three thousand prisoners were executed in the yard of Lutsk prison by a special squad of the retreating Soviet military forces. Tragically, under German domination, thousands more Lutsk citizens were systematically eliminated.
In the post-war period Lutsk gradually was rebuilt and renewed, with more rapid development of the city in the 1960’s-70. In 1973 new boundaries of the city were established and now the city occupies 4267 hectares. At the same time, new enterprises were initiated: bearing plant, textile factory and other industrial projects, which led to a significant population explosion. That in turn triggered a boom in housing construction in greater Lutsk including the Zavokzalny and Gnidavsky districts.
After Ukraine gained its independence in 1991, Lutsk retained its leading position in the political, economic, cultural and religious life of Volyn. The city is one of the largest cities in the Western Ukraine (about 210,000 inhabitants). In addition, the location of Volyn Oblast, on the borders of Poland and Belarus, makes Lutsk a center for international trade. New economic development helps the city to continue to grow and prosper.
Lutsk is one of the most ancient cities of Ukraine. Its historical centre is located near the river Styr and the city's name comes from the Old Russian word “luka”, i.e. a meadow or flood-land place in a river arch. According to the chronicles of 1085 Lutsk had become a military fortification and center for trade and commercial activities at that time.
Historically, the city was the last capital of Volyn-Galician Rus, a south residence of Lithuanian grand dukes and a traditional capital of Volyn. Lutsk was the site of a meeting of great European monarchs in 1429. It witnessed war in 1431 and became a shelter for people of the Volyn region during the war against Tatars at the end of the XV century. In the traditional town layout for medieval towns, the Upper Castle (Grand Duke’s residence) was situated in the eastern section. The Roundabout Castle stood nearby with buildings for other dukes and nobility and wealthy citizens. Commercial trading blocks were situated between the Castle and the Styr River. The rest of the city, including the local government, was separate from the Castle.
Some of the ancient buildings are preserved to this day and since 1985 this part of Lutsk has been included in the State Historic-Cultural Preserve.
The most ancient building is the Upper Castle built by Lubart in 1340-1384. Today, only three towers - Vorotna, Styrova and Vladycha, connected with high walls - remain standing, along with the house of the Regional Treasury. Only one tower, Chartoriysky's, remains of the Roundabout Castle as well as some of the castle walls. Some monastery complexes can also be seen.
The Brigitta Convent was established in 1624 and functioned until a fire in 1845, when it was converted to a local prison. The Jesuit Convent with the Collegium and Roman-Catholic church was built in 1616-1639 by the Italian architect Jacob Briano. It was a part of the fortification system of the Roundabout Castle. The Jesuit Collegium was a very important higher educational institution famous for its library and student theatre. The Roman-Catholic church was the main cathedral in Lutsk. After World War II it became a warehouse and then a Museum of Atheism. In 1992 it was restored to its previous status.
Opposite the Roman Catholic Church there was the group of buildings of Sharita’s Convent. It existed during the XV-XVIII centuries and included the Bishop Palace, a hospital and a Latin school. At the end of the XVIII century the Academy of Science was founded in the same location and later – the Convent of Charity.
Commercial blocks and buildings for church workers and wealthy citizens were situated beyond the west side of the Roundabout Castle. In this area, you can see the house where the Kosach family lived, two of whose members, Lesya Ukrainka and Olena Pchilka, are among the most famous women not only in Lutsk, but throughout Ukraine. The home is now the location for the office of the Lutsk Cultural Preserve.
There is a Dominican Monastery on the south bank of Styr. When the monastery was flourishing it had a school, a printing-house and a music choir. It was a legally separated part of the town. Today there is a seminary of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church here.
The Jewish residential area is situated to the west of the Dominicans. The synagogue is preserved with the defending tower which gave it its nickname “Little Castle”.
More buildings of historic interest are situated nearer to the centre of the old town: the Lutheran kirk and the Protection of the Virgin Church. German colonists built the kirk in 1906-1907 and it is now used by evangelists. The Protection of the Virgin Church is considered to be the oldest church in Lutsk, first being mentioned in 1583. It houses one of the oldest icons of Ukraine. It was restored in the XVII century and the Bell Tower was built in the XIX century.
The Bazilian Monastery is situated in the northern part of the old town and includes the Church of the Exaltation. In the past it was also the site of a hospital and a school. These orthodox brotherhood buildings were intended to protect people’s beliefs, language and culture from the influence of Catholicism.
The future of the old part of Lutsk will depend on preservation efforts. The task is to maintain the ancient image of the city with all its functions. Restoration of destroyed buildings on their former foundations is the first step towards the realization of this goal.
Lutsk is the regional administrative centre of the Volyn region and occupies an area of 42 square kilometers. The city stretches 10 km from west to east and 15 km from north to south. As of January 1st, 2010, the city population was 210,200. The city is situated in northwest Ukraine 150 kilometers from Poland and Belarus. 452 kilometers of first class international rail line connect Lutsk with the capital of Ukraine – Kyiv.
Lutsk is an ancient city which has built traditions of self-government, manufacturing and trade for centuries. The biggest industrial enterprises of the city are Open Joints Stock Company “Lutsk Automobile Factory” (OJSC), “Lutsk Bearing Factory” (OJCS), Confectionary “LutskKondyter”, Lutsk Distillery, “Lutsk Foods” (OJCS), “Khlib” (OJCS), “Modern-Expo” Ltd., Closed Joint Stock Company “Terikhem Lutsk” (CJSC), and “Elektrotermometriya” (OJSC). The largest segment of the manufacturing base of Lutsk is in machine manufacturing, which represents 72.5% of the city’s total manufacturing output.
Lutsk has a successful motor vehicle manufacturing sector with a well-developed infrastructure, helping to develop a favorable climate for foreign investment. As a whole, from the time foreign investment began in January, 1994, through January, 2007, enterprises in Lutsk have attracted 223, 4 million dollars. The largest sources of investments have been Great Britain – 107, 4 million dollars -- and Poland – 68, 6 million dollars. The most significant trading partners of Lutsk are the Russian Federation, Germany, Poland and Italy. Today in Lutsk there are approximately 400 industrial and 770 trade enterprises. In addition, 19 markets operate in the city – the largest being the Central Market and Zavokzalny Market, with active trade in agricultural products as well as food and non-food goods. One of the largest automobile markets in Ukraine is located on Ershov Street in Lutsk. The financial industry has also grown quickly in Lutsk and there are now more than 30 banks in the regional center. The average salary in the city is 1064 grivnas as of June of this year.
Lutsk is connected by railway not only to Kiev, Lviv, Odessa, Simferopol and Chernivtsi but also with Berlin and Warsaw. There are two bus stations in different parts of the city that provide connections with other cities of Ukraine and with other towns in the Volyn region. Trolleybuses and mini-buses also run throughout Lutsk. In addition, over 30 thousand private vehicles are owned and operated by the citizens of Lutsk.
Modern Lutsk is divided into the old and the new city. The old city is a historical and architectural preserve, where architecture of the ХІІ-ХVIII century can be found. One of best known structures in the old city, the Upper Lutsk castle, is included as one of the ten oldest fortification buildings of Western Europe. In 1429 the castle was the site of a convention of European monarchs. Today it has become a popular staging ground for cinematography and a variety of music videos. The star of Eurovision Ruslana Lizhichko initiated the well-known project “Castles of Ukraine” - for the protection and preservation of unique sights of ancient times - on the walls of Lutsk castle. Also located in the old city are the Catholic cathedral of Saint Peter and Paul, the Orthodox Svyato-pokrovska church where old traditional worship is still conducted, a former neogothic Lutheran kircha and a Jewish synagogue. It is also possible to visit a medieval underground complex beneath Lutsk castle, including a temple, tombs and dining-rooms as well as to walk on mysterious underground roads that according to legend once extended under the whole city.
One of the longest central avenues of Lutsk is beautiful Voli Avenue that was so named after the proclamation of independence in Ukraine. Parallel to the avenue, which is decorated with flower-beds and fountains, flows the Styr River, a tributary of the Pripyat River. Adjoining the Styr River is Central Park named after Lesia Ukrainka which along with extensive peaceful, tree-lined walkways contains a beach along the river, a children’s amusement park and a zoo.
The new city of Lutsk is divided into 55 micro districts, with the newest development in the 33rd and 40th districts marked by multi-story apartment buildings constructed in the 1970’s and 80’s. These areas house the major part of the population of Lutsk and now include a variety of stores, schools, restaurants and grocery markets. One of the largest hypermarkets in western Ukraine, Tam-Tam, is located in this area.
Scientific and educational facilities of the city include 27 comprehensive schools and 9 higher education institutions. The oldest of them are Volyn National University named after Lesia Ukrainka and Lutsk National Technical University. In January, 2007, in secondary school №16, classes for the children of Roma nationality were established.
10 print mass media publications are produced in Lutsk: seven city news-papers and three magazines. There are also two television broadcasting companies, five radio stations, five large printing enterprises and seven publishing houses. Cultural facilities in the city include the drama and musical Taras Shevchenko Theater, the Palace of Culture (Prosvita) which offers a variety of events including performances sponsored by the regional philharmonic society, and the Puppet Theater for children. Admirers of fine art can enjoy a variety of paintings in the Art Gallery of National Union of Artists of Ukraine.
Lutsk is also known even outside Ukraine as a city of various festivals, national fairs and knights’ tournaments. In summer, tourists can enjoy the festival of modern Ukrainian song “On the Waves of Svityaz”, our festival of authentic folk creations “Beregynya” and the international festival “Poliske Lito” with folklore from numerous countries including Ukraine. Traditional knights’ tournaments take place in Lutsk castle. The International musical festival named in honor of Igor Stravinsky has become known for its excellence and is a Lutsk tradition.
Saint Mykolay has been considered the protector of Lutsk since ancient times and is commemorated by a bronze monument constructed by the citizens of the city.
In addition, the lives and fates of famous historical figures – of Galshka Gulevichivna, Cossack otaman Severyn Nalivayko, writers Lesa Ukrainka and Olena Pchilka, iconist Yov Konzelevich, orientalist Agatangel Krymsky, composer Igor Stravinsky, geologist Pavlo Tutkovsky, political figure Vyacheslav Lipinsky and many others are connected with the city.
A regional museum will acquaint visitors not only with the history of Volyn and its heroes but also with its modern life. There are unique rarities in the collection of the Volyn icon museum including the oldest icon in Ukraine – the icon of Kholmska God’s Mother (ХІ century). In the museum of bells in Lutsk Castle, you can examine the display of exhibits and listen to the bells’ magical sounds.
Lutsk attracts visitors not only by its history but also by its interesting, friendly people and by the opportunity to experience the modern city, to relax among the variety of lush parks and flower-gardens and to taste national and local dishes in the network of dining establishments. There are 60 bars and restaurants, 180 cafes and snack bars, 40 cafeterias, dining-rooms and summer cafes in Lutsk. Lutsk is always happy to greet guests!