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Lviv, formerly named Leopolis, Lemberg, Lwów and Lvov, is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, but has been hidden behind the Iron Curtain in Ukraine for many years. It is a city in which Hitler and Stalin were given free rein, resulting in the systematic destruction of a thriving Central-European culture. Most residents were expelled or murdered. Yet the buildings have been miraculously salvaged.

How does a city with such a magnificent past and gruesome decline, cope with the after effects? How do the current residents deal with that heritage?

Five Dutchmen become intrigued by this question. Documentary photographer Dolph Kessler penetrates with his photographs deep into the Lviv of today. Journalist Michiel Driebergen, urban planner Kees van Ruyven and philosopher Ruud Meij explore the history, the present and the future of Lviv in three fascinating essays. Herman Zonderland made an unique map supplement. Together, they created this book as a declaration of love for Lviv, an undiscovered pearl in the heart of Europe.

De auteurs

DOLPH KESSLER (Amsterdam, 1950). After having studied urban design at Delft University of Technology, he was an urban planner, alderman of Leeuwarden and entrepreneur. From 2003 to 2006 he studied at the Amsterdam Photo Academy and since 2006, he has been working as a documentary photographer. His photos are regularly published in many and various magazines and newspapers. Alongside being an avid photographer of the ‘human condition’ which represents modern man in present day society, he is also a landscape photographer who is fascinated by the many possible interpretations given to landscape and nature.
At the end of 2009 the book Art Fairs was published by d’Jonge Hond Publishers. The book was a compilation of photographs taken by Kessler at high level international art fairs over a period of three years. He went on to win first prize when a selection of these photos was entered into the Art, Culture and Entertainment section of the annual Dutch photographic competition, de Zilveren Camera 2009.
A series of photobooks followed, having been commissioned by third parties, such as par example Een leven lang kunst (A lifelong love of art) (2011). He also self-publishes limited edition photobooks through his company Mauritsheech Publishers, these have included Tristan da Cunha (2007), South Atlantic Ocean (2008) and Nome (2009). The photobook De Noordzee rond (Around the North Sea) (2012) was his first self-published book to be produced with a high print run. The photobook ‘Lviv, city of paradoxes’ is his most recent publication.

MICHIEL DRIEBERGEN (Lelystad, 1980) is a journalist and radio producer. He has worked as editor of various radio programmes at the Dutch news station, Radio 1 and made numerous trips throughout eastern and southeastern Europe during those years. Since 2010, he has been living in Lviv for four months out of every year. While there, he was not only making radio reports, but also writing for Dutch newspapers and magazines. From 2014, he is now working as the full time Central European correspondent for various Dutch media. His main focus is on Poland and Ukraine.

KEES VAN RUYVEN (Amsterdam 1948) is an urban planner who has worked for the city of Amsterdam for over thirty years as co-ordinator with responsibility for the development and transformation of large urban areas, such as Amsterdam’s new waterfront. He subsequently worked as a self-employed advisor and initiator, on projects that give a creative stimulus to city neighbourhoods. For a number of years he worked on the reconstruction of Nicaragua’s capital, Managua, which had been virtually destroyed by an earthquake. He has written books about urban development and is a visiting lecturer at various universities. He fulfils a societal role as governor of various foundations.

RUUD MEIJ (Nijmegen, 1954) is affiliated with the university of Humanistic Studies of Utrecht and founded Governance & Integrity and Philosophers at Work with Frans Geraedts and Leonard de Jong. He executes anti-corruption and integrity programmes for government, education and healthcare institutions in the Netherlands, Belgium and Ukraine (Lviv). Ruud Meij has contributed to various publications, such as Handboek Integriteit (Guidebook to Integrity), Morele oordeelsvorming en de integere organisatie (Moral judgement and the integer organization), Goed werk (A good job) and OR en integriteit (Works councils and integrity).

HERMAN ZONDERLAND (Overzande, 1979) is an urban designer at the municipality of Amsterdam. He works at the interface of urbanism and public spaces. He combines this with his passion for graphic design. In 2011, his graduation project, called Hometown Glory was about the ‘wall’ between Israel and the West Bank, using the motto: ‘You always need a border to be able to unite’.


This visual journey brings together the richness of contemporary urban life and the complexities of contested heritage in a moment of hope and change in Ukraine” - Sofia Dyak

Whenever an enemy stood at the gates of Lviv, it meant a state of emergency for the rest of Europe” - Karl Schlögel

For the first time a book that shows Lviv in all its glory, and with its day-to-day battle. A great asset” - Marion Kovalchuk


Herman Zonderland has made a unique map supplement to Lviv, City of Paradoxes, Nine maps show the position of Lviv and the region of Galicia, from the foundation of the city until today. See this preview! The map from the year 1939, when Lviv was under Polish administration.


Book launch on Friday, September 12 in the Potocki Palace, Lviv.
The first Ukrainian-English books will be given to the mayor of Lviv Mr. Andriy Sadoviy.
Time: 16.30 - 18.00 hrs / Address: 15, Kopernika Street
Opening on Saturday, September 13 of a photo exhibition in the Gary Bowman Art Gallery
The exhibition will be opened by Bogdan Pankevych, Dutch consul in Lviv. Music by Yaroslav Sabov. Time: 16.00 hr / Address: 18, Nalyvaika Street. The exhibition will last until Saturday, October 5.
The future of Lviv, discussion on Wednesday, September 10 in the
Center for Urban History of East Central Europe
What will be the future of Lviv?
Time: 18.00 - 20.00 hrs / Address: 6, Akademia Bohomoltsia Str.
The future of Lviv, discussion on Thursday, September 11 in Communa
What will be the future of Lviv?
Time: 19.00 - 21.00 hrs / Address: 1, Halycka Street


256 pages, format: 29 x 23 cm, hardcover 
150 photo’s by Dolph Kessler
3 essays by Michiel Driebergen, Kees van Ruyven and Ruud Meij 
10 maps by Herman Zonderland.
Price: 35 euro. Mauritsheech Publishers in cooperation with Apriori Publishers Lviv
ISBN 978-90-821873-1-1

This is a website from Michiel Driebergen and Dolph Kessler
Contact: +31(0) 61528 5588

The texts on this page: Michiel Driebergen and Dolph Kessler (c) 2014
Webdesign: Studio Beeldstern Techniek: Content Power (c) 2014