Considered Ukraine’s cultural capital, Lviv has the most western architecture of all the cities of the country. Lviv is a poetic city steeped in legends both ancient and relatively new. Narrow medieval streets paved with stones as well as architectural decorations done in different styles are all preserved in the original forms.
The historic city centre (Old Town) is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is renowned for its beautiful narrow streets, magnificent churches, fascinating museums and charming atmosphere. It is the perfect place to visit with pubs and breweries among the cobblestone roads and Renaissance-era buildings.
The city is welcoming, offering a wide range of themed restaurants, bars and nightlife. No matter the season, it’s popular with Ukrainians who come here for a weekend to feel the Old Town vibes. For them, this is a common summer ritual when the weather warms up. For them, it is no novelty to sit in public places such as sidewalks or parks and partake in a light alcoholic beverage.
Lviv is famous for its knaipas which are local pubs that serve drinks and food. One of the most curious ones is Gasova Lampa (Gas Lamp) — a museum-restaurant with one of the biggest collection of gas lamps in Europe. In case you are a lamp collector, a visit to Gasova Lampa at 20 Virmenska Street is a must. Similarly, the Lviv Chocolate Factory is a must-visit for chocolate lovers.
Founded in 1256 by Danylo Halytskiy, a prince of the Galicia-Volhynia principality, Lviv is 50 kilometres from the Polish border. Under the long reign of Danylo’s son, Lev (1264-1301), Lviv became the capital city of the Galician-Volhynian kingdom. It is full of culture and historical significance to Ukrainian history. No wonder that, many who visit the city carry back lasting memories for Ukraine.
In spite of all the whims of history, the city has not lost its Ukrainian spirit and Lviv’s delicate architecture has not suffered from ravages of the Soviet era.
The St. George’s Cathedral is a popular tourist attraction. The Cathedral is one of the finest examples of Rococo church architecture in Europe. From 1817 to 1946, it served as the seat of the Ukranian Greek Catholic Church. The cathedral’s complex, consisting of the church, the bell tower (its bell dates back to 1341), the metropolitan’s palace, office buildings, a wrought-iron fence, two gates, and a garden, stands on a high terrace overlooking the old city of Lviv. The high exterior walls are decorated with simplified Corinthian pilasters, Rococo stone lanterns, and a cornice.
The Armenian Cathedral is part of the tapestry woven by more than 100 nationalities. Armenians began inhabiting the city in the 14th century and established their own quarter complete with a small cathedral completed in 1370. This original building perished in the fire of 1527. The structure that stands today blends a few architectural styles including Old Russian, Gothic and Armenian. The courtyard gives a tranquil setting for the decorative column and figure of St. Christopher. The neighbouring buildings are those of a former Armenian bank, established in the 17th century, and Lviv’s oldest pawnshop.
The Chapel of the Boim Family was constructed in the early 17th century on the grounds of what was a city cemetery. This quaint structure was originally intended for use as a crypt by the Boim family. George Boim, a Lviv merchant and moneylender of Hungarian origin, started the project and his son, Paul-George, put the finishing touches on what would become a permanent feature in Lviv’s stunning centre. The side of the chapel is decorated with fretwork that gives the impression that the entire structure has been turned inside-out.
Other Places to See:
- The Dzyga Cultural Center is a contemporary art space with a music hall and bar.
- The National Museum in Lviv comprises of two buildings: the original museum and the newer museum across from the Grand Hotel. Enjoy a grand view of Ukrainian icons from the 14th to the 17th century.
- The 220 spiral metal steps of Castle Hill, northeast of the city centre, lead to the remains of a castle that is supposedly on the spot where Danylo founded Lviv. Enjoy the spectacular views of the city and the distant Carpathian Mountains from the summit.
- As a day trip from Lviv, visitors can follow the Golden Horseshoe route: a tourist trail around the most prominent regional castles — Olesko Castle, Zolochiv Castle and Pidhirtsi Castle.