Old Lviv means Rynok Square, that is cultural, public, economical centre of the city. History of the city is srtongly associated with this not big square during six centuries.
There were city hall, castles and houses of noble citizens, there were trade, justice and punishment. In former times in the south-west part of the square, where public punishment was, there was stone pillar in form of two figures turned back to back: blindfolded Themis with weights and executioner with sword (it is stored in History Museum).
"The Rynok Square is used for public affairs and affairs of merchants", - Ian Alnpek wrote in the first chronicle about Lviv in the end XVI - beginning XVII centuries. - "Here administrative disputes are solved, also different products are offered for sale. This is quiet wide square surrounded with beautiful high stone houses. Here you can meet merchants from all over the world, this place is like commercial warehouse for both European and Asian products".
High narrow houses with 3-window facades (under the law of the XVI century increase of windows number required special permission and payment of a large tax). Almost every building now is protected by law and has board "Monument of Architecture". 45 building on one square, 45 monuments of architecture - this is unique outdoor museum, visual history of Lviv architecture.
Gothic Lviv was almost fully destroyed by fire in 1527. But many houses on Rynok Square were built on the site of the ruined Gothic buildings, its basements and ground floors. Some features of Gothic style even nowadays decorate facades of houses №4, 6, 7, 16, 25, 26, 28, 45 etc.
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Remains of Old Lviv sometimes are hidden underground: recently on the excavations on Rynok Square ancient basements with Gothic features and brickwork of XV century were found (some of them are 2-storey). They are located under current pavements; before there were indoor galleries used for trade and as shelter from rain and snow.
Architectural image of the square was formed in the second half of XVI - beginning of XVII centuries, during the period of Lviv Renaissance. That's why it is imbodiment of strict taste, sense of proportion, noble restraint of decor and expressive means. Among the best buildings om Rynok Square there are houses №4, 6, where now History Museum is located.
House №4 is known as "Black Stone", that is black building. Old sources show that it was house of Andriy from Kyiv, the house burned down in 1571. The stead was bought by widow of Lviv patrician Sofia Ganel, and in 1577-1588 the building preserved till nowadays was built on the project of Petr Krasovskyi.
Soon it became the property of Italian merchant Tomash di Alberti, and in 1596 Ian Lorentsovich became its owner, who opened here one of the first pharmacies in Lviv. At that time, in the end of XVI century, the third floor was completed. In 1645 "Black Stone" was owned by Martin Anchovskyi, who was merchant, doctor and secretary of King Jan Sobieski. In 70th of XVII century architect Marian Gradovskyi decorated facade with attic and designed some interior elements. In 1884 the attic was converted in top floor.
Like other houses on Rynok Square "Black Stone" also occupies narrow and long territory. Traditional asymmetry of windows gives some ease to the building appearence. The facade is covered with darkened with time cut stone, which formed so called diamond rustication. In Italian houses of Renaissance period this rustication is big and heavy below and in the higher floors it becomes lighter.
This rustication gives the building some decorativeness, monumental quadras emphasize pinpoint accuracy of ornamental carving of portal and jambs, which is close to decor of chapel of Three Saints; on facade there are reliefs, delicate attic crowned with piles, carved obelisks and volutes. Such attics, which are usual for Polish and Central European architecture of XVI-XVII centuries, can be seen often in Lviv architecture of that period. Bas-reliefs of XVII century express antiquity and guileless innocence. They display Mother of God, St.Martin on horse, St.Stanislav Kostka.
Authors of "Black Stone" in general follow main principles of Renaissance architecture. simplicity and clarity of architectural volume, clear division on the floors, rectangles of portals and windows, functionality and logical justification of all constructions and details, monumentality and elegance, which give lyricism and intimacy to architectural image, - all this makes "Black Stone" one of the perfect examples of Lviv architecture of Renaissance.
According to witnesses the interior of "Black Stone" was decorated wirh great grandeur. Polychrome painted ceilings, carved frame windows and doors, rich adornments of house chapel, bronze, marble, paintings, oriental rugs - all this created a bright lively spectacle.
Not much preserved: several wooden girders, carving of Ukrainian folk art, cross-window columns with skillful carved ornament of rosettes, bunches of grape and heads of cherubs. Delicate taste and mastership are felt in decor of portal of later period, which lead to chapel: profiled pilasters supporting small Fascia, which, in turn, relies attic with a bas-relief crucifix.