Lutsk (Ukrainian: Луцьк, translit. Luts’k, Polish: Łuck) is a city located by the Styr River in north-western Ukraine. It is the administrative center of the Volyn Oblast (province), as well as the administrative center of the surrounding Lutskyi Raion (district) within the oblast. The city itself is also designated as its own separate raion within the oblast.
The current estimated population is around 206,000 (as of 2007).
Lutsk is an ancient Slavic town, mentioned in the Hypatian Chronicle as Luchesk in the records under 1085. The etymology of the name is unclear. There are three hypotheses:
* the name is derived from the old-Slavic word luka, an arc or bend (of a river).
* the name is derived from Luka, the chieftain of the Dulebs, an ancient Slavic tribe living in the area
* the name is derived from Luchanii (Luchans), an ancient branch of the aforementioned tribe
It is also historically known in Russian language as Луцк, and in the Polish language as Łuck.
According to legends, Luchesk was founded in the 7th century. However, the first known documental reference is from the year 1085. The town was the capital of Halych-Volynia until the foundation of Volodymyr-Volynsky.
The town was founded around a wooden castle built by a local branch of the Rurik Dynasty. At times the stronghold was a capital of the duchy, but since there was no need for a fixed capital in medieval Europe, the town did not become an important centre of commerce or culture. In 1240 the nearby town was seized and looted by the Tatars, but the castle was not harmed. In 1321 George son of Lev, the last of the line, died in a battle with the forces of Gediminas, Grand Duke of Lithuania and the castle was seized by the forces of the latter. In 1349 the town was captured by the forces of Casimir III, but it was soon retaken by Lithuania.
During the Lithuanian rule the town began to prosper. Lubart, son of Gedymin, erected a stone castle as a part of his fortification effort. Vytautas the Great founded the proper town by importing colonists (mostly Jews, Tartars, Armenians and Karaims). In 1427 he also transferred the Catholic bishopric from Volodymyr-Volynskyi to Luchesk. Vytautas was the last monarch to underline the title of Duke of Volhynia and reside in the Lutsk Castle. The town grew very fast and by the end of the 15th century there were 19 Orthodox and 2 Catholic churches. It was the seat of two Christian bishops: Catholic and Orthodox. Because of that, the town was nick-named the Volhynian Rome. The cross of Lutsk is featured on the highest Lithuanian Presidential award Order of Vytautas the Great.
In 1429 Lutsk was a meeting place for a conference of monarchs on handling the Tartar threat organized by Jogaila and Sophia of Halshany. Among those invited were Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor, Vasili II the Blind of Russia, king of Denmark Eric of Pomerania, Grand Master of the Livonian Order Zisse von Rutenberg, Duke of Szczecin Kazimierz V, Dan II the Hospodar of Wallachia and Prince-electors of most of countries of Germany.
After the death of Švitrigaila in 1432 Volhynia became a fief of the Crown of Poland and the town became the seat of the governors, and later the Marshalls of the Land of Volhynia. The same year, Lutsk was granted Magdeburg rights. In 1569 Volhynia was fully incorporated into the Polish Crown and the town became the capital of the Volhynian Voivodeship and the Łuck powiat. After the Union of Lublin the local Orthodox bishop converted to Greek-Catholicism.
The town continued to prosper as an important economic centre of the region. By mid-17th century Łuck had approximately 50,000 inhabitants and was one of the largest in the area. During the Khmelnytskyi Uprising the town was seized by the forces of Colonel Kolodko. Up to 4,000 people were slaughtered, approximately 35,000 fled and the town was looted and partially burnt. It never fully recovered. In addition, in 1781 the city was struck by a fire which destroyed 440 houses, both cathedrals, and several other churches.
In 1795 as a result of Partitions of Poland, Lutsk was annexed by Russia. The Voivodeship was liquidated and the town lost its significance as the capital of the province (which was moved to Zhytomir). After the November Uprising efforts increased to remove Polish influence and Russian became dominant. The Greek Catholic churches were turned into Orthodox Christian ones which caused the self-liquidation of the Unia here. In 1845 another great fire struck the city further depopulating it.
In 1850 three major forts were built around Lutsk and the town became a small fortress called Mikhailogorod. During the First World War the town was seized by Austria-Hungary on August 29, 1915. The town was slightly damaged. During more than a year of Austro-Hungarian occupation Lutsk became an important military centre with the headquarters of the IV Army under Archduke Josef Ferdinand stationed there. However, poor food supply led to a plague of epidemic typhus which decimated the city's inhabitants.
On June 4, 1916 four Russian armies under general Aleksei Brusilov started, what later became known as the Brusilov Offensive. After up to three days of heavy artillery barrage, the Battle of Lutsk began. On June 7, 1916 the Russian forces reconquered the city. After the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk in 1917 the city was seized by Germany on February 7, 1918. On February 22, 1918 the town was transferred by the withdrawing German army to the forces loyal to Symon Petlura. However, on May 16, 1919 it was captured by Polish forces under Gen. Aleksander Karnicki.
After the World War I Łuck was annexed by the newly-reborn Poland as the capital of the Volhynian Voivodeship. It was connected by railroad to Lviv (then Lwow) and Przemyśl and several factories were built both in the city and its outskirts. 13 Kresowy Light Artillery Regiment was stationed in the city centre. In 1938 the construction of the biggest and the most modern radio transmitter was started in the city (see Polish Radio Lutsk). On January 1, 1939 Łuck itself had 39,000 inhabitants (approximately 17,500 Jews and 13,500 Poles). The powiat formed around the town had 316,970 inhabitants, with 59% of Ukrainians, 19.5% of Poles, 14% of Jews and approximately 23,000 Czechs and Germans.
In 1939 as a result of the Invasion of Poland and the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact Lutsk, along with the rest of western Volyn was annexed by the Soviet Union. Most of the factories (including the almost-finished radio station) were dismantled and sent to Russia. Approximately 10 000 of the city's inhabitants (mostly Poles) were sent to Kazakhstan (more than 7,000 people) or arrested by the NKVD (approximately 1,550).
After the start of Operation Barbarossa the city was captured by the Wehrmacht, but not before thousands of Polish and Ukrainian prisoners were shot by the retreating NKVD. Upon Nazi occupation most of the Jewish inhabitants of the city were forced into a ghetto and then murdered at the Polanka hill nearby the city. During the Massacres of Poles in Volhynia approximately 10,000 Poles were murdered by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army in the area.
Following the end of the war the remaining Polish inhabitants of the city were expelled, mostly to the Polish Regained Territories. The city became an industrial centre in the Ukrainian SSR. The numerous changing in city demographics meant that by the end of the war the city was almost entirely Ukrainian.
Being one of the largest cities of Western Ukraine, in 2003 Lutsk hosted a General Consulate of Poland.
Industry and commerce
Lutsk is an important centre of industry. Factories of cars, shoes, bearings, furniture, machines and electronics, as well as weaveries, steel mills and a chemical plant are located in the area.
Culture and science
The city has an opera, an art gallery and a regional museum. A school for teachers (subordinate to the Lviv Polytechnic) is located in the city.
Places of interest
* parts of two castles (the Upper Castle from the 13th century and the Lower Castle from the 14th century)
* a Catholic cathedral (built 1610 as a Jesuit church, reconstructed in 1781)
* an Orthodox cathedral (built 1755 as a church and monastery of Bernardines)
* Several monasteries, both Catholic and Orthodox: Basilians (17th century), Dominicans (17th century), Trinitarians (18th century) and Charites (?) (18th century)
* Two 16th century Greek-Catholic churches
* Lutsk Synagogue (1626-1629)
* the villages of Trochenbrod and Lozisht near by