Lutsk is one of the most ancient cities of Ukraine. The original settlement was built around 1000 CE at a bend of the river Styr, on an island formed by the Styr and its tributaries. Today that area is the State Historical and Cultural Preserve, “The Old Lutsk”. Lutsk quickly became an important city of the Kiev Rus kingdom and toward the end of the 10th century was in the center of the intense fight between the heirs of Yaroslav the Wise.

By the 12th century Lutsk had mighty wooden fortifications; it withstood a six-week siege in 1150 by the prince of Moscow and one by the Mongols in 1259, though it was forced to surrender in 1267. In the late 14th century, Lyubart, son of the grand Lithuanian duke, was married to the local princess and became a real protector of Volyn. Under his rule, Lutsk Castle was the seat of administrative, court and religious bodies that governed Volyn. He also rebuilt the fortifications, replacing wooden construction with brick.

Congress of European Monarchs in Lutsk

After Lyubart’s death Lutsk remained the residence of Lithuanian and Russian princes, and in 1429 it hosted a meeting of European monarchs including the Lithuanian prince, Polish king and the emperor of Luxembourg. In the 15th century, the townsfolk were granted Magdeburg rights, elective bodies of self-government. By the 16th century Lutsk castle lost its significance for defense, but the city remained important. Because of a great number of religious buildings contemporaries called it the “Rome of Volyn” and Polish poet Sebastian Klionovic wrote: “Who could pass Lutsk by? The city is worth a song.”

After the Lublin Union in 1569 Volyn integrated into the Kingdom of Poland; the city gradually became more and more Polish despite legal guarantees given by Ruthenian nobles and clergy. From the late 17th through most of the 18th century Lutsk slowly decayed; there were devastating fires, floods, and epidemics and the cultural and religious Ukrainian life in the city was gradually stifled.

In 1795, after the third division of Poland, the region and its capital became part of the Russian Empire. The 19th century didn’t bring a revival of the economic and social life of the city. Only after the building of the South-Eastern railroad branch in the 1890s did Lutsk's economic rise begin. At that time (1895) the population of Lutsk was 15125 people.

During World War I Lutsk became a battlefield. After the February Revolution in 1917 the blue and yellow Ukrainian flag was hoisted above the city for the first time. However in 1919 Lutsk was occupied by the Polish army and it became part of Poland again until autumn 1939, when it was taken by the Soviet Union during their invasion of Poland. Then in 1941 the city was occupied by German troops. A terrible event happened before this – on June 23 about three thousand prisoners were executed in the yard of Lutsk prison by a special squad of the Soviet military forces. Later in the war, Soviet forces took the city back.

After the war Lutsk was gradually rebuilt and renewed. The greatest development took place in the 1960s and 70s; a number of large factories were built and that led to a population explosion. Many houses were built, especially in Zavokzalny and Gnidavsky districts.

Since Ukrainian independence Lutsk has continued to play a leading role in the political, economic, cultural and religious life of Volyn. The city is one of the largest in the Western Ukraine, its location near the Polish border makes it a center of international trade, and economic development is helping to change its appearance.

What to visit
Lubart Castle, XIII-XIV centuries. Defense building, symbol of the city. In one of the towers is the Museum of Bells. On the territory of the castle are the Museum of the Book, the Art Museum of Lutsk (department of the Volyn Regional Museum), the excavations of the Cathedral Church of John the Theologian (1, Katedralnaya St.).
Chartorysky Tower and Remains of the Surrounding Castle, 16th c. Drahomanov.
Falchevsky's House (Puzyny), 1545–1546 is a unique example of residential architecture (23, Katedralnaya St.).


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