Lviv Old Cemetery

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The Old Jewish Cemetery is one of the oldest historical sites in Lviv. Theories dated it to the early fourteenth or even the previous century when the city was founded. The earliest document mentioning the cemetery dates 1414 and refers to its boundary. It expanded in the seventeenth century and remained within those limits until its closure in 1855, when the  city’s historical necropolises were substituted with large communal cemeteries, including distinct confessional parcels. The Old Jewish Cemetery exited as a memorial site until the Nazi occupation of 1941. It was limited by Rappaporta, Szpitalna (today Bazarna), Majzelsa (Brovarna) and Kleparowska streets. In this area, the buildings of the Jewish hospital, almshouse, the burial society’s stables, and the Moshav Zekenim Synagogue also stood. During the construction of the Maurycy Lazarus Israelite Hospital (1898–1903), the cemetery was fenced by a brick wall.
The cemetery housed graves of many prominent members of the Lviv community, buried mainly in its central area. These included Naḥman ben Isaac (d. 1616), the patron of the Nachmanowicz (the Golden Rose, alias Turei Zahav) Synagogue, his wife Roza bat Yakov (1637) whose name epitomizes the same synagogue, the martyrs Adela of Drohobych (1710) and the brothers Ḥayim and Jehoshua ben Isaac Reizes (1728), the rabbis and scholars Levi ben Yakov Kikines (1503), Joshua ben Alexander Ha-Cohen Falk (1614), Tzvi Hirsch ben Yaakov Ashkenazi (Ḥakham Tzvi, 1718)David ben Samuel Ha-Levi Segal (Turei Zahav, 1667), Ḥayim Ha-Cohen Rappaport (1771), Yakov Ornstein (1839), Abraham Kohn (1848), and others.
Under the Nazi occupation, the cemetery was defiled and designated for constructing a traffic junction, facilitating a bypass of the city center. However, these plans remained uncompleted. The destroyed cemetery was converted into the so-called Krakivsky Market under Soviet rule in 1947. Many tombstones composed the retaining walls between the market’s terraces. The Moshav Zekenim Synagogue and the stables were razed, whereas the edifices of the Jewish Hospital continuously serve the city.

Not a single tombstone of the cemetery has survived in its integrity. The visual and textual evidence is collected from the publications of Majer Bałaban, Solomon Buber, Jecheskiel Caro, and Gabriel Suchystaw. Most of the photographs were commissioned by the Commission for the Care of Jewish Monuments at the Jewish Community of Lviv from the photographer Marek (Mordechai) Münz in 1925. These photographs are preserved in the Lviv Museum of Ethnography, Arts and Crafts.


Bałaban, Majer. Dzielnica żydowska, jej dzieje i zabytki. Lviv: Towarzystwo Miłośników Przeszłości Lwowa, 1909.
Bałaban, Majer. “Zapomniany zabytek.” Sztuka: Miesięcznik ilustrowany poświęcony sztuce i kulturze 1.1 (1911): 173-177.
Bałaban, Majer. Żydzi lwowscy na przełomie XVIgo i XVIIgo wieku. Lviv: Wawelberg, 1906.
Buber, Solomon. Anshei shem: geonei Israel, adirei ha-torah, rabanim, rashei metivta, morei tsedek…. Kraków: J. Fischer, 1895.
Caro, Jecheskiel. Geschichte der Juden in Lemberg: Von den Ältesten Zeiten bis zur Theilung Polens im Jahre 1792. Kraków: J. Fischer, 1894.
Kravtsov, Sergey R. “The Israelite Hospital in Lemberg/Lwów/Lviv, 1898–1912: ‘Jewish’ Architecture by an ‘International’ Team.” Jews and Slavs 25 (2016): 85–100.
Suchystaw, Gabriel, Matzevet kodesh hu zikhron tzadikim: Sefer zikaron le-kol geonim ve-ha-kedoshim, 4 vols. Lviv: D. H. Schrenzel, 1860–1879.
Plan for the Cemetery Reconstruction. Central Historical Archives of Ukraine in Lviv, fond 720, op.1, od. zb. 625.


                                     (Sergey Kravtsov, Center for Jewish Art, Hebrew University of Jerusalem)


Old Jewish Cemetery in Lviv. Fragment of the town plan, 1802.

Old Jewish Cemetery in Lviv. Fragment of the town plan, 1844

Old Jewish Cemetery in Lviv. Fragment of the town plan, 1943

Plan for the Cemetery Reconstruction. Central Historical Archives of Ukraine in Lviv, fond 720, op., od. zb. 625.