Chapel of Boim Family
The Chapel of Boim Family, neighboring the Latin Cathedral, is one of the most impressive buildings in Lviv historical center. The unique stone décor and inimitable in their idea and implementation works of art that adorn the chapel have made it to a real architectural masterpiece and the brightest gem of the medieval architecture.
The chapel was raised in the early 17th century and served as a burying vault for the rich and powerful Boim family, whose members did a lot for Lviv. The construction was initiated by the wealthy merchant and usurer of Hungarian origin Georgy Boim, who is said to have lent money to the king, and was finished by his son Pawel.
The family vault, in which 14 members of the Boim family were buried, was situated on the church cemetery. In the late 18th century, Austrian authorities, who were concerned with environmental conditions and Lviv residents’ health, ordered to move the burial place to new graveyards, built in the city outskirts, and to pull down the vaults. Only three chapels, including the Chapel of Boim Family, escaped demolition by a miracle.
Chapel’s square building in the late Renaissance style is crowned with a heavy dome, topped by an untypical sculpture of sitting sad Christ. The eastern facade is adorned with fresco portraits of Georgy Boim and his wife Jadwiga, and the northern one is adorned with bas-relief image of the Virgin Mary and Christ, under which a sculptural relief of the divine protector of the Boim Family, the St. George the Victory-bearer, is situated.
However, chapel’s main (western) facade has the greatest value: it is fully covered with carved stone décor. Its bas-reliefs, depicting scenes from the Old and New Testaments, gave the Chapel of Boim Family its nickname “Bible for the poor,” meaning that even someone who has never read the Holy Scripture can understand these ‘rock stories’.
Chapel’s interior is also rich with decorative elements. All walls are covered with sculptural images and stucco work, and decoration of dome’s inside area creates an illusion of added depth and space, visually increasing the size of the small vault.
Interior’s peculiar detail is the image of the Last Supper, situated in altar area. A new element was added to the classical plot: the grinning devil was put behind the chair of Judas, who has already received 30 pieces of silver for betraying Jesus Christ. It is due to this element that the Chapel of Boim Family has long remained not sanctified. According to another version, the then Archbishop of Lviv refused to sanctify the chapel for three years because of its alleged excessive pomp. At the same time, he was building his own chapel nearby, which looked very modest against the background of Boim family’s luxurious vault.
The Chapel of Boim Family is often compared to the burial vault of the Polish King Sigismund, which is located in the Wawel Castle in Krakow.