Lutsk(Polish: Łuck) is the capital of Volhynia Oblast in the Ukraine. The city with a population of more than 200,000 is located on the Styr River. The remains of the historic capital of Volhynia are located in the Old Town. Lutsk’s most precious historical monuments include a Gothic castle and a Latin cathedral.
Lutsk’s origin is connected with the Ruthenian kingdoms of Vladimir and Halych-Volhynia. The development of urban centre started under the Lithuanian rule. Duke Lubart built a castle bearing his name until the present day, and Duke Vytautas granted a town charter to his favourite town. Vytautas also moved the Roman-Catholic bishopric, the largest one in the then Polish-Lithuanian state, from Vladimir to Lutsk (the Orthodox diocese existed there from the 13th century). Vytautas also hosted a meeting of European monarchs in Lutsk in 1429. He brought Jews, Armenians, Karaims and Tatars to the town. Lutsk continued to develop after the incorporation of Volhynia into the Polish Crown in 1569. Owing to its many churches and monasteries the town was called a Volhynian Rome. After the Third Partition of Poland the entire Volhynia was incorporated into the Russian Empire. Lutsk’s decline from a voivodship to a county town and the gradual dissolution of orders and convents and the closing down of churches contributed to the town’s gradual collapse. In June 1916, Lutsk and its vicinity became the scene of one of the largest battles of World War I on the Austro-Russian front. After the war the town was within the borders of the Second Polish Republic — again as the capital of the Volhynia Voivodship. Before the outbreak of World War II Jews accounted for nearly 50 percent of Lutsk’s population. The time of Nazi occupation brought an almost entire extermination to their population. Just before the entry of German troops to Lutsk NKVD murdered several thousand prisoners, including many Poles, in the local prison. In the spring of 1943, the town was filled up with Polish refugees fleeing massacres carried out by Ukrainian nationalists. Ukrainian Insurgent Army’s bands murdered people on the outskirts of Lutsk. After the war a majority of local Poles left for Poland. Today, there are some 3,000 of them in Lutsk. They mainly gather around the Roman-Catholic Church and in two organizations for Poles abroad.