Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Ukraine -- Zhovkva

Under the arcade on Zhovkva's main square. You can see where a mezuzah was affixed. Photo (c) Ruth Ellen Gruber

As reported earlier on this blog, I visited Zhovkva, near L'viv, in November, after attending the conference on Jewish history and heritage.

Here's a link to my article about Zhovkva -- including more than the synagogue -- published in the International Herald Tribune.


By Ruth Ellen Gruber
Jan. 12, 2009

ZHOVKVA, UKRAINE -- In Renaissance Italy, artists and master architects theorized that the ideal proportions for a city could be derived from those of the human form. Some even made drawings superimposing town plans onto the bodies of men.

Half a millennium later, Lubomyr Kravets, the director of the tourist office in the little town of Zhovkva, just north of L'viv, unfolded a local map to show me how that theory had been put into practice here in western Ukraine.

"See" he said, pointing. "Zhovkva looks like a human body. The castle here is the head, and the big church over this way is the heart. The four entrance gates in the town walls were the arms and legs."

Zhovkva was founded in 1594 as a private fortress town by the Polish military commander Stanislaw Zolkiewski. It was one of several fortified towns in what was then the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth that were conceived as "ideal cities" and built by architects and master masons from Italy.

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