People first started to settle in the area of today’s Drohobycz due to the presence of salt deposits in the region. The first mention of the town dates back to the 11th century and the era of Kievan Rus. Salt mining and processing was the main source of income for the town – the technology of its extraction was rather simple: brine was poured into special jugs which were heated over a fire. As the water evaporated, the salt would remain in a shape called topka in Polish (a shape resembling a truncated cone).

In 1340, the settlement was incorporated into Poland by King Kazimierz Wielki along with the entire Principality of Galicia-Volhynia. The new ruler granted Drohobycz a coat of arms depicting nine salt topkas, a symbol still in use to this day. The town's salt mines became one of the most important sources of income for the royal treasury.

After its second incorporation into the Kingdom of Poland in 1387 (it had earlier briefly been a part of Hungary), the city was annexed to Przemyśl Land in Ruthenian Province. In the 15th and 16th century, Drohobycz grew and developed as a typical medieval city. After being chartered under Magdeburg Law by Władysław II Jagiełło in 1422, the city hosted fairs and developed its own self-government and judiciary. In 1565, there were 45 salterns in Drohobycz. The turbulent 17th century saw the city invaded by Tatars, Khmelnitsky, and György Rákóczi II, as well as plagued by epidemics and fires.

In 1772, after the First Partition of Poland, Ruthenian Province fell under the rule of Austrian Habsburgs as part of Galicia and Lodomeria. In the 19th century, the petroleum processing industry developed rapidly in the city parallel to Drohobycz’s traditional salt production. With the opening of the first refinery in 1859, oil processing moved to the forefront of the local economy. After “salt” Drohobycz had converted into “paraffin” Drohobycz, the city became the centre of the world's first oil region and quickly gained a European character, mainly thanks the construction of stone houses.

After the turmoil of World War I, the Polish-Soviet War and the Polish-Ukrainian War, the city became part of the Second Polish Republic as a district capital in Lwowskie Province. During the interwar period, Drohobycz was still the centre of the petroleum industry.

After the Soviet Army entered the town in 1939, a separate Drohobych Oblast was created, consisting of nine raions. The oblast existed until it was incorporated into Lviv Oblast in May 1959. The time of the Soviet occupation is remembered mostly for mass deportations and murder of political prisoners. In June 1941, the Wehrmacht entered the city. During the German occupation, Drohobycz was part of Galicia District of the General Government. The most famous resident of Drohobycz, writer and painter Bruno Schultz, died in the Drohobycz Ghetto.

In July 1944, Drohobycz was liberated as part of the Operation Tempest by the Polish Home Army. However, the Red Army took control only a few days later. Many Polish soldiers were subsequently shot by the NKVD and others were deported to camps. After the establishment of a new Polish-Soviet border at the Yalta Conference, most Poles left the city and moved to the Recovered Territories and to the so-called Centrala.

In 2013, there were about 77,000 people living in Drohobycz, which has been a raion city of Lviv Oblast, Ukraine, since 1991. More than 90% of the population identifies as Ukrainian.

Bibliography:

  • Drohobycz – miasto wielu kultur, ed. W. Boniusiak, Rzeszów 2005.
  • Lorenz R., Drohobycz, Legnica 1991.
  • Pastuch R., Istorija Drohobicza w datach, podijach i faktach, Lviv 1991.
  • Królewskie wolne miasto Drohobycz, [Drohobycz 1930].
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