Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Historic Ukrainian city scrambles to wrap up heritage from bombs

Historic Ukrainian city scrambles to wrap up heritage from bombs

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Ukrainian servicemen walk past wrapped statues at the Archcathedral Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, also known as Latin Cathedral in Lviv western Ukraine on March 5. AFP

Historic Ukrainian city scrambles to wrap up heritage from bombs

Statues wrapped in foam and fireproof material can be seen all around the historic city of Lviv, where the race is on to protect cultural treasures against possible Russian bombardment.

In the western Ukrainian city’s Market Square, only a trident can be seen sticking out from a statue of Neptune – the Roman god of the seas – that is entirely covered in a plastic sheeting.

“I got some money, gathered a team and bought some material,” said Andriy Salyuk, head of the Society for the Protection of Monuments, and one of the main drivers behind the protection effort.

Volunteers have joined up with city workers and builders in the movement to defend the rich heritage of Lviv, a city of 700,000 people whose centre is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Salyuk said he was moved to act when an art historian “told me that if there was a bombing, God help us, we could lose the stained glass windows!”

‘We can’t do everything’

Speaking to AFP in an office decorated with Ukrainian flags and the colours of various battalions fighting in eastern Ukraine, he said he has received donations from wealthy benefactors.

The effort has brought together an unlikely coalition, including construction companies which have advised on the best material to use to protect the stained glass windows of various churches.

At the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption, which dates back to the 14th century, Andriy Pochekva was overseeing the installation of one such panel.

“We cannot protect from a direct impact but we are trying as much as possible to protect from light damage, whether it’s a fire or a shockwave or small fragments,” he said, as a crane manoeuvred the panel into position.

On one side of the cathedral, a large sculpture of the Holy Sepulchre has already been covered up under the watchful eye of Liliya Onishchenko from the city’s cultural heritage protection department.

“I have devoted my entire life to defending cultural heritage,” the 66-year-old said.

“I do not want to see the results of our work destroyed by the war,” she said.

In another part of the city, she said a recently restored wooden altar from the 14th century in an Armenian church has been dismantled and placed under protection “like World War I”.

Onishchenko said museums in the city have also been storing away their exhibits for safekeeping.

After protecting “the most fragile objects”, Salyuk said he wanted to pass on to the next stage.

“People ask what we are going to do with the works of art inside the churches. We would love to help them, to coordinate, but we can’t do everything.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Research key to Kanitha’s rep for expertise

    Sok Kanitha is used to weighing in on controversial issues using a confident approach that signals expertise and authority, and a recent video she made was no exception. Her “Episode 342: The History of NATO” video went live on January 16, 2023 and immediately shot to 30,000 likes and 3,500

  • Cambodia maintains 'Kun Khmer' stance despite Thailand’s boycott threat

    Cambodia has taken the position that it will use the term "Kun Khmer" to refer to the sport of kickboxing at the upcoming Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, and has removed the term Muay from all references to the sport. Despite strong reactions from the Thai

  • Knockout! Kun Khmer replaces ‘Muay’ for Phnom Penh Games

    Cambodia has decided to officially remove the word Muay from the programme of the 32nd Southeast Asian (SEA) Games 2023 in May. “Kun Khmer” will instead be used to represent the Southeast Asian sport of kickboxing, in accordance with the wishes of the Cambodian people. Vath

  • Artificial insemination takes herd from 7 to 700

    Some farms breed local cows or even import bulls from a broad for the purpose of breeding heavier livestock for meat production. One Tbong Khnum farmer has found a more efficient way. Hout Leang employs artificial insemination to fertilise local cows. Thanks to imported “straws”

  • New int’l airport nearly half complete as travel industry returns to life

    Construction of a new airport that is slated to serve the capital has passed the 43 per cent completion mark, raising prospects for a proper recovery in the civil aviation and tourism sectors as international travellers return to the Kingdom in increasingly large numbers. The figure

  • Chinese group tours return to Cambodia starting Feb 6

    Cambodia is among 20 countries selected by Beijing for a pilot programme allowing travel agencies to provide international group tours as well as flight and hotel packages to Chinese citizens, following a three-year ban. As the days tick down until the programme kicks off on February 6,