The Ivano-Frankivsk Region (known as Stanislav Oblast in 1939—62), a province in Western Ukraine, was established in 1939 when as a result of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact the province was attached by the Soviet Union to the Ukrainian SSR.
The Gorgony and Chornohora ranges of the Ukrainian Carpathians (Mt Hoverla — 2061 m) cover the western part of the province. Along their northeastern edge, there lies the 50-km belt of the Pre-Carpathian plateau, limited by the deep and scenic Dniester River valley on the opposite side. A picturesque part of the Podillia Uplands called the Opillia Plateau forms the north of the province.
The valleys of the Dnistro and Prut Rivers, the principal rivers of the region, with the riverbeds of their numerous tributaries (the Bystrytsia, Zolota Lypa, Hnyla Lypa, Limnytsia, Pistynka, Cheremosh and others) abundant in bars and waterfalls, are strikingly beautiful.
The earliest settlements emerged in the Dniester valley in the Middle Paleolithic era (ca 100.000 years ago). In the Princely era, Peremyshl, Zvenyhorod, and Terebovlia Principalities were united into the Principality of Halych, the heyday of which fell on 1150—1180s. In 1199, the Principality of Halych (Galicia) merged with the neighbouring Principality of Volyn into the large Principality of Halych-Volyn, which lasted for a century and a half. By the cost of accepting the suzerainty to the Golden Horde under Batu Khan in the mid-13th c. the Principality of Halych-Vblyn served as a barrier to the Mongols’ advancing farther into Europe. In 1349, Poland’s King Casimir III (Kazimierz) mounted a successful invasion, annexing the Principality of Halych-Volyn, and the domination of the Polish magnates and royal officials over the province lasted for more than four centuries.
After the First Partition of Poland in 1772, the region came under the power of the House of Habsburg. In 1918, the Austro-Hungarian Empire collapsed, and the Western Ukrainian People’s Republic was proclaimed in Stanislaviv. The Republic existed only for several months and its territory was annexed by the re-established Poland for a 20-year period until the outbreak of WWII.
Ivano-Frankivschyna is chockful of architectural monuments of a wide temporal array — from the Princely era up to the present day. They include multi-style variety of Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Greek Catholic and Jewish architecture. Among them the wooden churches wrought by the Halychyna and Hutsul carpenters still arouse everybody’s admiration.
Ivano-Frankivsk, the largest city and the administrative centre of the Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast, lies between the two Bystrytsia Rivers — the Nadvirnianska Bystrytsia and Solot-vynska Bystrytsia. In 1662, Polish Great Crown Hetman Stanisiaw Potocki (Stanislav Pototsky) founded the settlement named after him as Stanislawow and managed to receive a Magdeburg right to the city.
The oldest existant city structures are the Pototsky Palace (1682) complex and the former Roman Catholic parish church (1672—1703) housing the Museum of Sacred Galician Art. The City hall was built in the centre of the Market square in 1695. In the interwar period, Poles radically rebuilt the City hall turning it into the most well-known glimpse of a Construc-tivist structure in Western Ukraine. It is over the City hall that the yellow-and-blue flag — the future symbol of Ukrainian Independence — was raised for the first time in 1990. In the early 18th c., the Jesuits erected the most magnificent city church, later on restored and converted into a Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral (the Resurrection Cathedral). In 1801, the Austrian government bought Stanislawyw from the Pototskys, and with the establishment of the Soviet power the city was renamed as Stanislav. In 1962, the city’s name was changed into Ivano-Frankivsk to honour Ukrainian writer Ivan Franko.
Ancient Halych originated on the abrupt the Lukva River bank on the spot of today’s village Krylos in the early 12th c. (the first written mention of Halych — 1113). In 1144, Prince Volodymyrko Volodarovych who united the competing principalities of Przemysl, Zvenyhorod and Terebovlia into the state of Halychyna transferred his capital to Halych making it the seat of his Rurikid dynasty. In 1199, Halych became the capital city of the united Principality of Halych-Volyn. In 1241, the hordes of Batu Khan ruined the refractory city to the grounds and Prince Danylo of Halych moved the capital of his domain to Khelm. On the foundations of the Assumption Cathedral (1157), in 1500, St. Basil (Vasylevska) Chapel was erected and the material from the Cathedral, ruined in 1241, was used in building of the Assumption Church (early 16th c.).
The present-day town is situated 5 km away from the ancient capital of Halychyna, where the Lukva River joins the Dniester and where prince Liubart of Lithuania constructed his wooden castle in 1367. In the 16th c., during the Polish rule, the place of the castle was taken by the stone fortress, later on (during a brief Ottoman occupation of Podillia) the fortress was destroyed by Turks (1676). The city’s main historical monument is the Nativity church, known from thel6th c. and restored in 1906. In front of the Church, there is an equestrian monument to Danylo of Halych, opened in 2003 to mark the 750th anniversary of that prince’s coronation as the king of Ruthenia and on the hilltop the castle of Halych is under reconstruction.
On the high bank of the Dniester River at the estuary of the Limnytsia River (now the village of Shevchenkove) is St. Pan-teleimon’s church, originally constructed at the turn of the 12th—13th c.c., an outstanding example of the ancient Halych architecture.
The city of Rohatyn on the Hnyla Lypa River was first mentioned in 1340. In 1415, under the Polish rule, it was granted the Magdeburg rights, and subsequently developed into an important trading and manufacturing town. The oldest city’s churches are the stone Church of the Nativity of the Theotokos (the 14th c., renovated in 1829), wooden Church of the Holy Spirit (1598), one of the most perfect patterns of Halychyna wooden architecture, Saint Nicholas Roman Catholic Church (the 15th c.) that commenced its recurrent new life after the restoration of 1969—73.
Legend has it, a native of Rohatyn was Nastia Lisovska, a Ukrainian Orthodox priest’s daughter and a beauty, who was captured in 1520 by the Crimean Tatars during one of their frequent raids and taken as a slave. Due to her prettiness, intelligence, and dodginess Nastia (better known in history as Roksolana-Hurrem) became the unrivalled favourite of the Ottoman sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, eventually was freed and became his only legal wife. Roksolana who played an important role in the political life of the Ottoman Empire turned into a legendary figure whose image inspired the inhabitants of the city to erect the monument to the respected concubine on the central square of her native city.
The village of Pniv, located on the bank of the Bystrytsia Nadvirnianska River, is known from 1482. On the precipice of the river terrace, the Kuropatvas, the noble family from Hungary, built one of the largest castles (the 16th c.) that used to control the route to the upper reaches of the river valley. In the 17th c., the Pniv Castle suffered repeated attacks and destructions. After annexation of the lands by the Austrian Empire (1772), the castle lost its strategic importance and was left to the mercy of the elements.
A town on the Maniavka brook is known due to the Orthodox Maniavskyy Skyt (a skyt is a community of Christian hermits) monastery, hidden in the thick woods in its neighbourhood. As stated by the legend, the hermitage was set up in the mid-13th c. by the monks from the Kyivan Cave Monastery ravaged by the Mongol Batu Khan Hordes. New life in the hermitage began to glow in 1608, when anchorite Job (Ivan) Kniahynytskyy returned from Mt Athos in Greece to his native land to build up monastic life. The re-established hermitage was granted self-government and independence and as the years passed it gained immense prestige. Ivan Vyhovsky, a hetman of the Ukrainian Cossacks in 1657—59, was buried in the hermitage.
The Orthodox monastery of Maniava founded by Saint Job was closed down by Austrian authorities in 1785. In 1970s, the authorities decided to turn the semi-ruined monastery into a museum and it was restored, being now a major tourist attraction of the area. In 1998, the monastery was granted back to the Orthodox Church.
The spa town of Vorokhta on the Prut River has preserved a jewel of Hutsul wooden architecture, the Nativity church (1615), with the fragments of wall-paintings of the 19th c. The Carpathian National Nature Park in the upper part of the Prut River basin, established in 1980 on an area of 50.303 hectares, is Ukraine’s largest national park.
In keeping with unwritten tradition, the most picturesque rocks of the region bear the name of the folk hero Oleksa Dovbush, who defended the peasants from the evil landowners, the most famous of Dovbush Rocks being located near Yaremche and near Bubnysche.