Lviv – The City of the Lion

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Lviv - Old TownIt was my last journey before moving to Spain, and instead of saving money for that, I decided to spend it all on that journey. The route included a quick tour of Romania, Moldova and Ukraine. We were six friends from different countries who met each other a year before in a summer school in Madrid. I have to say that to us, the region seemed a bit exotic even though half of us belonged to the ‘Eastern European bloc’. And while people were beginning to explore Romania, Moldova, and to a lesser extent Ukraine, were not that touristic.

I heard many stories about the region, one of them that it was rather poor. Well that was partially true. While Kiev looked like a city booming with business, Lviv did appear to us like a place stuck in time. The arrival in Lviv wasn’t a glorious one. The bus from Kiev left us in the periphery from where we had to take a minibus to the center. The neighborhood looked pretty devastated and somebody even tried to rob one of my friends. The impression of the city center was quite different though.

The historic center of Lviv is one of the best examples of central European heritage with notable Italian and German influences. While the city has lost most of its gothic structures, it still preserves many renaissance, baroque, neo classical and art nouveau buildings. The ‘old charm’ is visible everywhere, from the magnificent Lvov Train station to the Opera House and dozens of churches from various periods. Many cobbled streets and beautiful squares complete the urban setting.

A good way to visit Lviv’s Old town is to begin from the main square Rynok where the City hall with its tower dominates the landscape. The walk around the center should include several important churches, built for different faiths: the Roman Catholic Latin Cathedral on the main square, the Apostolic Armenian Cathedral, the Orthodox Dormition Cathedral, the Greek Catholic St. George’s Cathedral and the Roman Catholic Dominican Church. Other interesting buildings around the center are: Lviv high castle, Potocki Palace and Lviv Opera and Ballet.

Check out this post for the best restaurants in Lviv.

Lviv is one of the few historically outstanding cities in Europe that hasn’t been discovered by tourists. Numerous cultural layers of the magnificent Old town are easily accessible and walking around is a rewarding experience. The number of tourists is steadily growing, but one can still stroll around the medieval streets and admire the beauty of its architecture, enjoying the luxury of being in an undiscovered place. In spite of the current difficult situation in Ukraine, it is a good moment to visit Lviv since it’s located reasonably far from the conflict area.

Lviv – The City of the Lion

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