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The Russins Quarter is located between the eastern fortification wall and Rynok Square. The Church of the Dormition of the Virgin is considered the center of the district and is situated at N 7, Russka Street.
For centuries Russka Street and the church have been the focal point of Ukrainian culture in Lviv. After the city fell under Polish rule, the Russins were allocated the most dangerous district to settle in. In 1525 Seym (Polish government) issued a decree allowing the Russins to buy property only in this part of town. Polish rulers imposed certain restrictions on the Orthodox Lviv inhabitants, for example, prohibiting them from conducting trading and plying some crafts.
The community had to fight for their right to practice their belief and preserve their ethnical character. Yet, despite the persecutions, the Russins together with the Greeks, Moldavians and other nations of the Orthodox Creed managed to create this unique and peculiar part of the city.
In the 16th century an Orthodox fraternity was organized in the district to fight obstruction from the Catholic religion. Among the fraternity members were Stefan and Lavrenty Zizaniy, Pamvo Berynda, and Job Boretsky. The fraternity had its own school. Polish Kings, Russian Emperor Peter I and Swedish King Karl XII visited the district. During his pilgrimage to Lviv, Pope John Paul II passed down Russka Street. Each building in the district reveals its own fascinating mystery.
Among buildings in the district, the most interesting is N 20, embellished with Ukrainian ornament and ceramic patches. It was designed in 1905 by I. Levynsky, O. Lopushansky and T. Obminsky at the request of the "Dnister" Society. In 1914 the first floor was turned into a gym of the „Ukraine” Student Society. Memorial plaques remind us that in this house the famous director and actor Les Kurbas began his artistic career.
The house on the corner of Ruska and Serbska Streets impresses the passer-by with the owner's diligent attitude to the restoration works. The facade still bears some fragments of Lviv Gothic style. Its walls are noted not only for the soot of the ages, but also for the ill fame of one of Lviv's first brothels that was opened in the building in the 1550s.
Although sometimes located in the most unexpected places, such establishments were not rare in Lviv. Thus, in the 18th century one of the brothels was situated at 18, Russka Street, right opposite the Russin Church. It was only in 1788 that the authorities yielded to the persistent demands of priest Ivan Horbachevsky and relocated the establishment. According to contemporary Lviv historians, in 1735 a visit to a fancy woman cost only 12 groshes (Polish currency), while a skilled painter was making 30 groshes a day. Therefore, painters were making enough to have a pint of beer and something to go with it.
Let's walk down Russka Street to the intersection with Ivana Fedorova Street. Building N 11 once housed the school and publishers that belonged to the Orthodox fraternity. Here on July 27, 1599, the fraternity members reached agreement to defend their rights in court. The trials, which lasted many strenuous years and consumed large sums of money, finally ended in 1745, when the court ruled in favor of the Russins. However, they couldn't enjoy the victory to the full extent - the Austrian authorities repealed the regulations of the Magdeburg Law. In 1893, Isidor Sharanevych opened the Museum of the Orthodox Fraternity in the premises. The museum displayed a collection of Russin art, which now is exhibited in different Lviv Museums.