Lviv is a city in western Ukraine with a rich past. Over the years of its existence, it has become the cultural and scientific center of the region. Today it attracts tourists from all over the world with its medieval architecture, numerous churches, picturesque parks and delicious chocolate.
What to do in Lviv
First of all, Lviv is a city where lovers of architecture and antiquity will find a lot of interesting things for themselves. Market Square, the City Hall, the Dominican Cathedral, the Church of St. Elizabeth, the Lviv Citadel and other equally significant buildings amaze tourists with their majestic views. The indisputable heritage of the city are castles and palaces built in the times of the Commonwealth, which remember many bloody events.
The Ukrainian regional center is a place where all kinds of styles and cultures are mixed, which makes the trip through it bright and unforgettable.
Tourists with children are better off visiting numerous museums. The children will certainly enjoy visiting the secret pharmacy, where the guide will tell you about the pills of happiness, the experiments of alchemists and will give you a taste of the real elixir of health. And after studying the basics of pharmaceuticals, you should definitely consolidate your knowledge in a chocolate workshop, where the spirit of magic hovers, and figures of incredible beauty are created from sweet treats by hand.
Fans of unhurried walks should choose one of the Lviv parks as the ultimate goal, where it is equally comfortable both in hot summer and frosty winter. On the way, be sure to take a look at the observation deck, which offers a breathtaking view of the city.
Music fans will have a good time at the local opera house, and fans of applied arts will like the Museum of Ethnography and Folk Crafts.
History and architecture of the city
The market is a popular place in Lviv. Thousands of tourists come here every day to see the architecture of medieval buildings and feel the special European atmosphere. Despite the fact that the city has long since returned to Ukraine, it still bears the imprint of Europe.
Tourists are waiting for small cafes with tables at the entrance, hot tart coffee and fragrant buns, old paving stones, a town hall with a clock that strikes every 60 minutes, and street performers who are ready to give a lesson in salsa or play Strauss for little money. This is the place where time stopped two hundred years ago.
The key and at the same time deceptive place in Lviv. Here, until the end of the 19th century, the walls and towers of the Polish “High Castle” towered, which was later dismantled. Today, only part of the wall, a steep mountain serpentine and a loophole have survived. But climbing the mountain will charge you with a good mood, and will also allow you to take breathtaking pictures of the surroundings.
City Hall Tower
The administrative building itself was erected at the time of Lviv’s entry into Galicia. This explains its discreet architecture. Climbing four hundred steps, the tourist will certainly appreciate the view from the observation deck.
The complex of buildings, which served two centuries ago as defensive towers of the Lviv fortress, has become an architectural monument and, at the same time, a luxurious five-star hotel. Here you can spend the night in a real 19th-century barracks and dine in a restaurant. Around the towers there is a park complex.
Cathedral of St. George
The luxurious Greek Catholic Cathedral, built 250 years ago, is a classic example of the Rococo style. The facade of the building is decorated with a sculpture of George the Victorious, who is considered the patron saint of the city.
The interior decoration of the temple uses the works of Fesinger and Filevitch, on the walls there are embroideries with Ukrainian themes, made by the caring hands of local craftswomen-nuns.
The transparent iconostasis and the icon of the Mother of God of Terebovlya deserve special attention. At the exit from the cathedral, the traveler is greeted by a bell tower, the bell for which was cast back in the 14th century.
The church was built in Lvov by a community of Armenians 700 years ago. For a long time the temple was closed to the public. Today, the complex includes not only a majestic temple decorated with icons, but also a monastery, a bell tower, the palace of the archbishops and the former building of the Armenian bank.
The ensemble is under the protection of UNESCO. Some of the premises are of exclusively cultural and architectural value and are not used for their intended purpose. Only the temple works, within the walls of which divine services of the Armenian Apostolic Church are still held.
Church of the Holy Trinity
An unremarkable church, which guidebooks rarely talk about, is of great value to the city’s residents. It is located in the depths of the Sykhiv residential area.
The church was built in the 17th century and has survived to this day in its original form. The building is made of solid wood, the interior is decorated with icons, frescoes depicting biblical scenes, and Christ Pantocrator is depicted on the dome.
The Latin Cathedral, also called the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, is an ancient architectural monument of Lviv. The construction of the temple lasted more than a hundred years. The cathedral was built in the Gothic style, its vault and walls are decorated with frescoes by masters of the 19th century.
Attached to the temple are 8 chapels-tombs of the 16th-18th centuries, each of which is worthy of a separate visit. The stained glass windows of the church were made by Tadeusz Popiel, Józef Mechhofer and Ferdinand Laufberger.
Construction began in 1630, but due to numerous changes in plans, the church lost its original appearance. Previously, the temple could accommodate up to 5,000 believers, but in Soviet times, the interior was destroyed and the church retained only the exterior. To this day, the reconstruction of the interior decoration and the restoration of the organ that has fallen into disrepair is underway.
Leisure and amusement parks
The oldest park in Lviv impresses with its area and elegance of garden art. The square was planned back in the 19th century, and a century later it was expanded at the expense of the adjacent wastelands. Initially, the Soroka stream flowed on the territory of the park zone, which was later enclosed in a collector.
Today, the territory is equipped with many pedestrian alleys and paths, there is a cinema and a restaurant. Nearby is the children’s railway station. The park is one of the best places in Lviv to collect herbarium. More than 200 species of trees and shrubs grow here, many of which cannot be found in other parts of Ukraine.
Park of Culture and Leisure named after Bogdan Khmelnitsky
The most comfortable park of the city is located on 26 hectares. It includes not only a well-groomed territory with fountains, flower beds and paths, but also attractions, sculptural compositions, cafes and playgrounds. In the warm season, public events, concerts, outdoor film screenings, performances by local and visiting groups are held in the park.
Botanical Garden of Lviv National University
Botanical Garden at the University. I. Franko was founded in the 19th century. Initially it was planned to place the park on 2 hectares, but the ever-expanding collection of plants required the purchase of additional land in another part of the city.
Today, the garden is considered a protected area and is protected by the state. It includes greenhouses, an arboretum and numerous greenhouses. On the territory you can get acquainted with 800 species of trees and shrubs, 700 varieties of cultivated plants and 1300 representatives of the tropics and subtropics.
Entertainment and excursions
Lviv Opera House
The theater is a must-see for both lovers of classical and modern opera and ballet fans — its repertoire includes more than 50 productions. The building was built at the beginning of the 20th century and still amazes tourists and guests of the city with its majestic architecture.
The facade is decorated with sculptures of four Greek muses: Thalia, Melpomene, Polyhymnia and Erato. The concert hall is designed for 1000 visitors and includes stalls, boxes and balconies.
The unusual museum is located in the basement of the medieval pharmacy «Under the Hungarian Crown». Fans of secret knowledge and alchemical experiments will discover a lot of interesting things here. The museum does not have the usual boring showcases with exhibits — it is a kind of theatrical performance with elements of a video tour.
The guide will introduce tourists to the lion-pharmacist, show happiness pills and medicines “against the spree”, let them try alchemical elixirs that promise wealth and long life, and at the exit everyone is invited to buy soap for bribe takers, souvenir bottles and other equally amazing things.
The only museum-restaurant in the city. Some visitors describe the establishment as a museum where you can eat deliciously, while others argue that this is a cafe where the interior resembles a museum exposition. The Gas Lamp houses the largest collection of kerosene lamps in Ukraine, and the lamps are not hidden behind glass: they can be picked up, viewed and photographed.
The cuisine is devoid of frills, but the choice of tinctures, strong and weak alcoholic drinks is very large. The presentation is also interesting — instead of glasses and glasses in a cafe, test tubes are used.
Lviv Chocolate Workshop
Tourists and guests of the city appreciate and love this city not only for architectural and cultural monuments, but also for delicious chocolate. The cafe-workshop sells handmade sweets, figurines and tiles.
The interior is made in the style of the 60s: there are lace napkins on the tables, there are vases with flowers. The showcases are filled with confectionery products that are tried on the spot or bought as an original souvenir.
Prices are an order of magnitude higher than in supermarkets, but chocolate here is prepared according to a secret recipe and has no equal in taste.
According to legends, more than a hundred kilometers of underground rooms and labyrinths are hidden under Lviv. Most of them are located under the Dominican Cathedral, then the labyrinths go towards the secret pharmacy and end in the area of the Jesuit Church. Today it is easy to get there: there are guided tours of the most popular catacombs.
Numerous monastic cells and the refuge of Princess Galzhka Ostrozhskaya are hidden under the temple, a museum of flasks and amazing alchemical accessories is located under the pharmacy. In the vicinity of the church there is a burial hall, which once became a place for the spread of terrible epidemics. A scary but exciting trip.
The newest interactive museum in Lviv features more than 200 exhibits, each of which can be picked up, viewed and photographed. The guide will tell the full story of the emergence and development of brewing, will dedicate to the intricacies of local technologies and reveal the secrets of one of the most popular Lviv drinks.
Guests are offered to try themselves as a brewer and purchase a tasting set of 4 varieties of Lviv draft.
Monument to Leopold Sacher-Masoch
A monument to the writer, who became famous for pathological-sexual novels, appeared in Lviv 10 years ago. But even today it gathers crowds of tourists next to it. The fact is that this is not an ordinary monument: a seemingly harmless monument hides several secrets that make it so attractive to visitors to the city.
Masoch’s pants have an invisible pocket. If you climb into it, you can find that the writer has no underwear at all. Having studied the pockets of the monument, you can proceed to his chest — a small glass window is hidden there. This is an allusion to the work of the writer with his love of peeping. Photos of intimate games are shown inside.
Monument to the backpack
A monument to the knapsack has opened at the Lviv Geographical University. The creators felt that this shoulder luggage is great to bring people together — regardless of income level, nationality or social status.
Monument to the beer navel
Lviv does not skimp on curious sculptures. One of these monuments commemorates the beer belly. It is installed near the historical brewery «Royal Brewery».
Supporters and opponents are still arguing how positive the message is of the sculpture. After a cursory examination of the monument, you should definitely look into the «Royal Brewery» and try the varieties of primordially Lviv beer.
The series of non-banal monuments of Lviv continues with the monument to a smile, hidden on the Armenian street. Tourists and locals often drop in here, who know that if you rub the copper nose of a half-man, half-fish, then any wish will come true.
The round Olesko castle grew up in the 17th century on an impregnable hill. Its unusual shape helped the inhabitants to defend themselves from enemies. In Soviet times, it was ruined and fell into disrepair.
In the second half of the 20th century, the fortress was reconstructed, and today halls and rooms are open to visitors, exactly reproducing ancient interiors. The main building is surrounded by a stunningly beautiful citrus garden with flowering oleanders, cypresses, numerous fountains and gazebos.
One of the defensive structures of the 17th century, the castle-fort has a complex layout with numerous corridors and secret rooms. Inside, the ancient interiors are partially recreated, but some of the plans are irretrievably lost — the vocational school was located in the castle for a long time.
Next to the main castle is the Chinese Palace, where an exposition of Asian art is presented.
A luxurious palace in the Lviv region with a difficult past. Built in the 17th century, the castle survived the devastation, was looted by soldiers in World War II, and was 85% burned out in 1956.
Today the palace has been restored, but the lion’s share of the collections belongs to Polish and Russian museums. The interiors of the 1600s have been restored in the palace, the walls are decorated with copies of works by Rubens, Caravaggio, Titian and other artists. The building is surrounded by an Italian-style garden.