The Greek Catholic Archbishop's Cathedral of Saint George - magnificent Rococo architectural ensemble dating back to the 18th century (comprising a church, bell tower, metropolitan's palace and capitulary buildings) located on the high hill over Lviv, beautifully blending into the urban landscape.
An earlier church with a cave monastery was built on this hill in the 13th century by Halychyna-Volyn Prince Lev Danylovych for his uncle Vasylko, who decided to withdraw from secular concerns and dedicate his life to serving God. The current Rococo ensemble was built in the 1760s by architect Bernard Meretyn. Educated in the spirit of Western European architectural traditions Meretyn also introduced elements of Ukrainian religious art in his design.
Passing through the gate adorned with allegorical figures of the Roman and Greek Churches one finds oneself in a large church yard. To the left is the main façade of the Cathedral with its formidable portal and figures of Saints Athanasius and Lev Sheptytsky – high clergymen to whom the cathedral owes its existence. The attic above the portal is topped by a sculptural group of St. George Slaying the Dragon. This brilliant creation by artist Jan Pinsel is one of the best examples of 18th century Lviv sculpture, and it rivals other world masterpieces of the sculptural art.
The church interior is striking with its richness and diversity of iconography. Special mention should be made of the work of a prominent artist of the 18th century, Luka Dolynsky, who painted the icons of the altar; they depict prophets, whose figures are distinguished by the nobleness of their countenances,interpreted as they are using a humanistic approach. In the icon case located in the left nave one can view a valuable relic – the icon of the Virgin Mary of Terebovlya, which dates back to the 17th century. In 1663 tears from the Virgin Mary’s eyes flowed for 40 days to alert the populace about the impending Turkish siege. In 1704 the icon started crying for the second time when King Charles XII of Sweden seized Lviv. The icon has been preserved in silver plating arranged by the Father Superior of the Terebovlya Monastery. In the crypt of the Cathedral lie the sarcophagi of the most prominent figures of the Greek Catholic Church, Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky, and other members of the Church hierarchy.
Opposite the Cathedral stands the Metropolitan’s Palace, an 18th century Rococo building constructed by architect Fesinger, displaying some elements of Classicism. The palace apartments are richly decorated. A bell tower furnished with the oldest bell in Ukraine rises on the other side of the church. The inscription on it dates back to 1341 and recounts wartime adversities of the past. The eastern terrace of the church yard affords a spectacular view of the city.
The Cathedral of St. George is a sacred symbol for Ukraine - a bridge uniting the great achievements of the Christian culture and the spirituality of two branches of the Church: the Byzantine East and the Latin West.