Sunday, 6 May 2012



Lviv, known also as L'viv or Lvov, is a city in western Ukraine. The city is regarded as one of the main cultural centres of today's Ukraine and historically has also been a major Polish and Jewish cultural center, as Poles and Jews were the two main ethnicities of the city until the outbreak of World War II and the following Holocaust and Polish population transfers (1944–1946). 

The historical heart of Lviv with its old buildings and cobblestone roads has survived World War II and ensuing Soviet presence largely unscathed. The city has many industries and institutions of higher education such as the Lviv University and the Lviv Polytechnic. Lviv is also a home to many world-class cultural institutions, including a philharmonic orchestra and the famous Lviv Theatre of Opera and Ballet. The historic city centre is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Lviv celebrated its 750th anniversary with a son et lumière in the city centre in September 2006.

As a medieval city in Red Ruthenia, Lviv was founded on the existent settlement most probably in 1247 by King Danylo Halytskyi of the Ruthenian principality of Halych-Volhynia, and named in honour of his son, Lev. The first record belongs to the cronicles mentioning the events of 1256, when the fire in the city of Cholm was seen from Lviv. Together with the rest of Red Ruthenia, Lviv was captured by the Kingdom of Poland in 1349 during the reign of Polish king Casimir III the Great. Lviv belonged to the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland 1349–1772, the Austrian Empire 1772–1918 and the Second Polish Republic 1918–1939. With the joint German-Soviet Invasion of Poland at the outbreak of the second World War, the city of Lviv with adjacent land were annexed and incorporated into the Soviet Union, becoming part of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic from 1939 to 1941. Between July 1941 and July 1944 Lviv was under German occupation and was located in the General Government. In July 1944 it was captured by the Soviet Red Army and the Polish Home Army. According to the agreements of the Yalta Conference, Lviv was again integrated into the Ukrainian SSR. Most of the Poles living in Lviv were resettled into Polish territories annexed from Germany.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the city remained a part of the now independent Ukraine, for which it currently serves as the administrative centre of Lviv Oblast, and is designated as its own raion (district) within that oblast. On 12 June 2009 the Ukrainian magazine Focus assessed Lviv as the best Ukrainian city to live in. Its more Western European flavor lends it the nickname the "Little Paris of Ukraine".

Lviv, Lwow, Lvov, Lemberg, Leopolis... it's a city of many faces. Don't expect the pristine perfection of Prague, but nor the millions of tourists for that matter. What you can expect is a dash of magic, as Lviv can hold its own with the most beautiful of Europe's cities. This dreamy metropolis has been both the capital of Habsburg Galicia, and a key city in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Today it's Ukraine's sweeping second city. The people are full of spirit, there's a banquet for culture vultures and the architecture can hardly fail to bowl you over. 

Travellers with an appetite for culture will be pleased to hear that you won't have to look far to find treasures in Lviv. Simply walking the streets is a pleasure, whilst you could spend several days exploring the delights of the Old Market Square alone. In amongst all these grand old buildings are some tremendous museums. You can savour everything from priceless religious icons in a fine old mansion to the gothic charms of a three hundred year-old (and still functioning) chemists. Meanwhile, Lviv's Gallery of Painting boasts an array of Central and Eastern European art that can put the collections of many better known cities to shame. Musical wayfarers too, will find treats in store. Besides the odd classical performance in one of the city's ancient churches, there's a sublime opera house on hand. At various times of year the romantic old opera house gets involved in Lviv's musical festivals.

Opera House
Although there are one or two fancy restaurants in Lviv, don't expect a gourmet experience just yet. Nevertheless, your hearty old-fashioned diners have charms all of their own. There you can dig into a plate of the legendary pyrohy dumplings or some hearty, steaming soups. In central town, the variety of what's on offer is growing, with reasonable Italian and International restaurants now coming to the fore. 

Sweet-toothed adventurers will be pleased to discover that the old penchant for cakes - a culture which took off during the Habsburg days - is very much alive and well.

During the Soviet times, people used to travel for miles for a taste of the legendary Lvivski beer, a venerable brew whose traditions stretch all the way back to 1715. It makes for a tasty pint that's not be missed. Ukraine's vodkas also get our vote - not least the Nemiroff brand, whose speciality is a marvellous chilli number with a dash of honey. Sounds weird? Give it a try! The locals are also great coffee nuts, and a smattering of stylish cafes have popped up of late, most with summer gardens where you can sit and savour the delights of Lviv's streets.  

Lviv may not be swimming with swish Western styled shops, but on the other hand, treasure after treasure can be found in the region's traditional arts and crafts. Whether it's hand-painted 'pysanky' eggs, lacquer boxes or linen shirts, finding something with quality will be a pleasure. And besides the shops dotted around the Old Town, visiting a market is a must. In this respect, haggling is very much par for the course. Stall owners will certainly not turn away a fist full of dollars, but bear in mind that you may be playing the Father Christmas role by paying five times the local price.

The Potocki Palace

                                                        Lviv’s Top 5:
  1. St. George's Cathedral  is a baroque-rococo cathedral. It was constructed between 1744-1760 on a hill overlooking the city. This is the third manifestation of a church to inhabit the site since the 13th century, and its prominence has repeatedly made it a target for invaders and vandals. The cathedral also holds a predominant position in Ukrainian religious and cultural terms. During 19th and 20th centuries, the cathedral served as the mother church of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC)( Eastern Rite Catholic).
  2. The Archcathedral Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  usually called simply the Latin Cathedral, is located in city's Old Town, in the south western corner of market square. The first church built on this site was a small wooden Roman Catholic church dedicated to the Holy Trinity, built in 1344 and lost in a fire six years later. In 1360 the king Casimir III of Poland founded the construction of the present day church, built in Gothic style, for a cathedral of the newly created Latin diocese. The church was consecrated in 1405 and the parish was moved here from the church of Mary of Snow. In 1412 the seat of the bishop was transferred from Halych. Construction work continued throughout the 15th century and in 1481 the Cathedral was finally consecrated.  In the years 1761–1776 the Cathedral was refurbished in the Baroque style and a tall bell tower was added.
  3. The Lviv High Castle is a historic castle located on the top of the Castle Hill of the city of Lviv. It is currently the highest point in the city, 413 metres (1,355 ft) above sea level. The castle currently stands in ruins. The High Castle is located in close proximity of the historic centre of Lviv, formerly being surrounded by a fortification wall. The Castle Hill took its name from the High Castle (as opposite to the other, Low Castle), which used to be located on the hill from the 13th century to the late 19th century. The castle was a main defensive fort of the city during its existence. As it follows from Rus' Chronicles, the first fortifying structures appeared on the Castle Hill in the time Halych-Volhynia, and were built by Leo I of Halych from wood. It was originally a wood and soil construction, as most others at that time. In 1259 by a request of Burunday Khan they were destroyed, but in 1270 were rebuilt. In 1340, when Lviv was captured by Casimir III of Poland the wooden castle was put under fire. In 1353 it was destroyed again by Lithuanians. A new brick castle appeared on the hill in 1362 by the king Casmimir III. It became the residence of Polish nobles.
  4. The Potocki Palace  was built in the 1880s as an urban seat of Alfred Józef Potocki, Minister-President of Austria. No cost was spared to make it the grandest nobleman's residence in the city. The French architect Louis de Verny elaborated all of Beaux-Arts stylisic devices to produce a hypertrophied imitation of a French hôtel particulier. An open, parklike setting was scored to give the mansion a sense of depth. At the turn of the century the parkland gave way to a network of apartment buildings. The palace itself was adapted for holding wedding ceremonies in 1972 and subsequently underwent restoration. In the 2000s the President of Ukraine appropriated the palace as one of his residences.
  5. The Chapel of Boim family  is a small shrine located just outside the Latin Cathedral, in what used to be known as the Chapter Square. Built between 1609 and 1615, the chapel was originally located in what used to be the city's main cemetery. Founded by mighty merchants, Jerzy Boim and his wife Jadwiga Niżniowska, the Boim chapel was finished by their son, Paweł Jerzy Boim. Attributed to Andrzej Bemer, the chapel is among the prime examples of mannerist architecture in Central Europe. The chapel has lately been under threat from decay; fundraising campaigns are trying to raise the money to save the chapel.

    Boim Chapel


1 comment:

  1. They call Lviv a little Paris, because it is one of the most romantic cities of Ukraine. The city center is so reach on historical and architectural monuments. That is why it is considered to be a perfect travel destinations in Ukraine and Eastern Europe. Hotel prices are rather expensive there, but I created a Lviv apartments directory you can find there an affordable apartment according your demands. By the way, if you know more apartments in Lviv, feel free to submit them to this directory.