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1(5)/1999, p. 19

Olgierd Czerner
The limits of the Gothic style in the architecture of  the Western Ukraine; the border between Central and Eastern Europe?

    Already in the interwar period there were attempts to establish boundaries between Western and Eastern Europe on the basis of cultural phenomena, such as the range and limits of the various architectural styles.
    While Romanesque forms reached the Kievan Rus', Kiev, and the Vladimir (Suzdal) and Czernichov Duchies from Byzantium where uninterrupted development of art lasted since the antiquity; to Halich, however, they entered also under the influence of Poland and Hungary. Cistercians, moving eastwards, did not cross the river Vistula; they expanded further into the Kingdom of Hungary.
    Quite a different matter is Gothic architecture, which was invented in the West, without reference to Roman traditions. Its eastern bounda­ries arc marked by the Castle of Ostróg, as well as by the Cathedral and Dominican Church in Kamieniec Podolski, and the Chapel of the Chocim Castle. Ali those locations are situated within the 26° 30' me­ridian to the East.
    Subsequent styles of modern times (renaissance, baroque) are more universal; they were even transferred to other continents and therefore cannot be taken into consideration here. Gothic, which chronologically came first, remained exclusive property of Europe. It was introduced into Western Ukraine by Dominicans and Franciscans in the last quar­ter of thirteenth century; in the fourteenth century the Gothic was the result of the return of those lands within the political borders of Po­land, and of the economic activity of the King Casimir the Great and his folIowers, i.e., people belonging to Latin civilisation. At the same time, however, Russian artists filled with their muraIs the Gothic churches in Lublin, Sandomicrz and Cracow.
    For Poles, Gothic brick architecture was felt to belong to a sepa­rate civilisation. Polish exiles in the far Siberia built their church in Irkutsk after 1870 in the form of the Vistula Gothic. Thus, although Gothic-revival styles can easily be found in Russia, their case was to demonstrate a real civilisational separateness. The border which runs through the contemporary Western Ukraine may be submitted to changes, nowadays in particular. It is rooted, however, in the Polish psyche, a fact which we do not always recognise.