No tourist visit to Ukraine is complete without a trip to Lviv. Lviv is the largest city and cultural center of western Ukraine, with around 800,000 inhabitants. If you are coming here from Kiev or other Ukrainian cities farther east you will definitely sense differences in the culture and architecture. Indeed, Lviv was a part of some five or so different countries over the past 120 years. The city has a noticeably more European flavor than those further east, with a historic center and wide variety of churches reminiscent of Krakow and less preoccupation with status symbols than, say, Kiev and eastern Ukraine. You will find numerous groups of Polish tourists roaming the old town who always seem to retreat back to the nearby border by night-time to save money on accommodations.
To claim that Lviv is a tourist capital of Ukraine is not an overstatement. Everyday thousands of tourists from different parts of the world visit the city. Numerous guests are attracted by history and magnificent architecture, but not only by that. Unique spirit of the city, its Genius Loci is made of its intense artistic and cultural life, patriotism of the inhabitants and magic scent of coffee filling narrow Lviv streets from the cozy coffeehouses.
Today tourism becomes a strategic direction for city’s development. Experts maintain that it has to become a priority for our city. The fact that Ukraine together with Poland will be hosts of Euro Cup 2012 only enhances the meaning of tourism to our city.
There are many tourist firms in the city which are eager and able to render their services to everyone willing to spend good time in Lviv and vicinity. Tourists are offered different thematic guided tours, visits to numerous museums, theaters, churches and other tourist sights. They can spend their time in parks, swimming pools and Aqua Park. Many restaurants and coffeehouses welcome tourists as well.
The place where a historic castle used to stand and now stands a mound built in 1869 to commemorate 300th anniversary of Lublin Union. On the mound there is an observation platform with nice views of the city and another sandy mound, which you can also climb, and which has a cross devoted to the dead of the war in Afghanistan. From the mound you can walk around the whole central hill-park of the town.
You can climb the tower of the town hall: go in via the main entrance, wander about until you see a sign ‘вхид на вежу’, then follow those signs up 103 steps to a ticket-office and up 305 more steps to the top of the tower. There’s a great view of the Old Town, and this is clearly one of the romantic spots of the city: I saw a marriage-proposal there.
The Chapel of the Boyms family is a famous and very unique late Renaissance monument; it has no analogues, neither in Ukraine nor in the rest of Europe. This unique monument adorns Cathedral Square; this lane leads into one of the best views of Rynok Square and City Hall. Georgiy Boym, a Lviv merchant of Hungarian origin, who grew rich trading wine, obtained Lviv citizenship simultaneously with the post of burgomaster, and decided to build a family chapel of unparalleled beauty. The building, designed by Andrzej Bemer, a constructor from Wroclaw, was consecrated in 1615.
The Lviv Opera House (28 Svobody Square) is an architectural gem of Lviv, built in the Neo-Renaissance style in 1901, and one of the most beautiful theatres in Europe. Constructed at the beginning of the 20th century, designed by architect Zygmunt Gorgolewski, the Grand Theatre in Lviv has been compared to the Paris and Vienna opera houses. Standing in front of the magnificent façade of this marvellous building, one can feel the overwhelming power of art, its eternity in contrast with the transience of human life. This building comprises various European architectural styles fashioned in all their lavishness.
The Bernardine Monastery (now the Greek Catholic Church of St. Andrew) is an impressive monument in the Renaissance, Mannerism, and Baroque styles dating to 1600-1630s. This is a fortified medieval monastery.
One of the greatest monuments of civil Renaissance architecture of the sixteenth century in Ukraine is the Korniakt House at Rynok Sq., 6 in Lviv. Creator of the building architect Pietero Barbon, Italian in origin, combined the forms of Italian Renaissance and local traditions of ancient construction. The house includes beautiful spacious courtyard in the style of Italian Renaissance with 3-stored opened galleries that charm by the rhythm of arcades supported by the columns of Tuscan order. The proportions of the courtyard strike by their harmony.
St. Yura’s (George’s) Cathedral is located on southwest cliff range and dominant in panorama of the city. The temple was built according to draft created by Bernard Merentin, in1744. After Merentin’s death 1759, Klements Fesinger continued with the work and finishes it. The founder of the temple was metropolitan, Anastasiy Sheptitskiy, who spared no effort in establishing and improving Ukrainian church. His desire was to build a great temple that would equal to the greatest cathedrals in Europe.
The Palace was built from the plans of French palaces on the river Laura. If you walk all inside you will be able to hide from noisy traffic on Kopernika Street, and you’ll have a chance to find a balcony that would suit a perfect place for two loving people. For this moment the Lviv national arts gallery is situated here.
Impressive Baroque temple built for Dominicans in 18th century. Resembles the church of St. Charles Borromeus in Vienna with its concave facade and huge elliptical dome. After WW2 the building served as a warehouse and later Museum of Religion and Atheism, now it is a Greek Catholic parish church.
Lviv is home to Ukraine’s oldest known brewery. In 2005 on the brewery’s 290th anniversary one of its old storage vaults was redecorated into a beer hall that became the Brewing Museum. The museum’s collection presents the history of brewing in Lviv and features ancient beer bottles, beer mugs from all over the world, beer barrels and books with beer recipes that date back to the 19th century; all exhibits are all labeled in English. Your admission fee includes a short film about the oldest brewery in Ukraine and a beer tasting (for those over 18, of course).
Latin Cathedral temple (1360-1460.) was building longer that human life lasts — around 100 years. Construction began in 60s, XIV century. The first builder was Nichko, a master from Lviv and the overseer was Peter Shteher. During that time building big structures required a lot time – cathedral was finished only in 1481. In 1404, Wroclaw master Ganske covered altar with arcs. It was also Wrotslav masters, Grom and Rabish, who continued their work.
The site is under protection of UNESCO. There are about four hundred thousand people buried here, including Ukrainian heroes such as Ivan Franko; the park is enormous, and very pleasant to wander around on a network of variously-maintained paths. At the back of the cemetery is The Cemetery of the Defenders of Lviv, a necropolis which honors the Polish war dead from the Battle of Lviv and the 1918-1920 Polish-Soviet War. Destroyed after the Soviet deportation of the city’s Poles, it has recently been restored.
Lviv City Arsenal was built on the site of an armory, which was dismantled because of its precarious construction, in the middle of the 16th century. But just twenty years later, the building was damaged by the fire and was almost completely rebuilt. Lviv Arsenal was a massive two-storied stone building with tiny windows-loopholes and octagonal tower. It was adjoined to one of the fortress’ walls surrounding the town and had a deep ditch that served as additional protection for the armory. Currently one of the most interesting Lviv museums – the Weaponry Museum – occupies arsenal’s two upper stores, which were restored and rebuilt, but still keep the spirit of the Middle Ages. It features country’s richest collection of antique firearms and cold steel, protective arms and military equipment.
The Museum, also known as Shevchenkivsky Hai (Shevchenko Valley), is probably the best place for relaxation, education and entertainment in Lviv. In a couple of hours you can learn more about lifestyle of Ukrainian villagers through exploring over a 100 of wooden village houses, churches and everyday household items preserved in their original look, take a quiet walk in park alleys covering 84 hectars of woods, and sit down for a fun picnic with your friends. No cafes are available at the park, so even if you plan no picnic, make sure to bring your own snacks.
Secret Pharmacy is a new tourist attraction, which offers an interesting program which includes watching a movie about the history of the pharmacy. Pharmacy “Under the Hungarian crown” was founded in 1772 at the former Bernardine Square (now Soborna Square) by the Alexander Lonshan de Ber’ye. Pharmacy name was given due to the fact that, in the Bernardine monastery for some time were the relics of St. Stephen – king and patron saint of Hungary. At the beginning of the 20th century at the same place was built a new three-storey building where the pharmacy is located today (architect Karol Boublik). Then in the trading hall was set the Baroque furniture and outside was placed the inscription – “Founded in 1772”.
Four reasons why you should visit the Secret pharmacy:
1. Amazing story of the last Alchemist
2. Unexpected facts about great inventions of pharmacists
3. Exclusive pills for happiness: wholesale and retail
4. Lion-pharmacist and other unique gifts of secret Lviv masters.
Numerous Ukrainian towns and villages can boast of having the remnants of ancient fortifications, but only the small 1 h driving from Lviv region center of Zhovkva has an absolute right to call its fortress “ideal”. Here, in the first half of the XVII century the only mint in the territory of Ukraine was in operation with the coins being minted from silver that belonged to the Hetman Zolkiewski’s widow.
At the beginning of the XVII century it had three storeyed corner towers, an entrance gateway in the north-eastern wall, and fighting galleries with loopholes along the walled perimeter.
The south-western wing was decorated with an open gallery and arcades and it served as a palace. Unfortunately luxurious halls, a treasury and an armory can not be restored but the facade of the former outpost is again the town’s showpiece due to restoration began in 2003.