What to see and where to go in Lviv, Ukraine
January 1, 1970
by Helen Riabchenko
Why to visit Lviv?
If you ever happen to visit Lviv just for one day, I am sure you won’t be able to forget it! People all over Ukraine call Lviv a cultural capital of the country and no one dares to doubt it. Every year Lviv hosts numerous cultural and entertaining events that bring thousands of tourists to taste chocolate, to drink coffee, to listen to street musicians, to watch street artists and, of course, enjoy the beautiful architecture of old cathedrals and elegant buildings.
So, if I were to make my list of 100 reasons to visit Lviv shorter, I would’ve outlined the following points:
- It is inspiringly beautiful
- It is deliciously tasty
- It makes you wanna live there
Sightseeing in Lviv
I don’t know about the others, but when I am in a new city the first thing I do, I go sightseeing and examine the must-sees. While living in Lviv for 5 years, I hosted all my friends and sisters and, of course, was their local guide. Despite the fact that I’ve been to every interesting cafe, restaurant, place or even bench so many times, it seems I will never get tired of talking about Lviv as the best city on Earth.
The central square is the main tourist attraction, where all the important places to visit are located. Since originally Lviv was a rather small town, like many other European capitals, the old town is just several quarters. But those quarters are filled with unique colorful buildings that look like toy ones if to observe them from the above. By the way, if you are not afraid of countless stairs, you can climb up to the top of the Town Hall buildings and have a nice view of the cathedral’s domes and rooftops. In old Lviv all those marvelous buildings in the city belonged to merchants and they were allowed to have only three windows in each house. Except for one, which had four windows. Go and find it!
Another interesting fact about those buildings is their courtyards. In old non-feminist and non-emancipated times, women were not allowed to go outside without a man, so there were small courtyards inside the buildings to let females chill themselves and have a walk with a friend. Usually, those places are small areas occupied by family bikes or laundry drying wires, but in the old town, you can find a lot of surprisingly interesting things in such courtyards if you, of course, know where to look for. One of such hidden jewels is Italian courtyard, where you can sip a glass of wine and watch tourists and wedding photographers taking pictures.
Even if you are not religious or especially of you are, the five cathedrals in the city center are definitely worth attention. The majority of them allow you to enter freely without any difficulties. You may see people crossing themselves while entering and exiting the cathedrals (in Ukraine people often cross themselves whenever they go near any kind of church). A lot of people in Lviv are Catholics, while the rest of Ukrainians are mostly Orthodox. Women should wear skirts and scarves while entering a church, but this rule usually does not apply to tourists. If you see that the doors of the cathedral are open you can definitely go in, but taking pictures with a flashlight may cause an old candle-selling lady to go near and try to explain the importance of sacred places. Anyway, the risk of old ladies approaching with a desire for communication is always present in Ukraine, so don’t be afraid too much, they won’t understand English. While inside the cathedrals pay attention to images on the walls and on the ceiling. Some cathedrals have amazing organs, decorated with golden ornaments. In the city center, there are five big cathedrals, which is hard not to notice:
It has a huge dome, usually, is opened for visiting during the day and near it, there is a Museum of Religion.
It is right in the main square, usually is closed for visiting unless you stick to some tourist group, who is having an excursion.
St. Andrew’s Cathedral
It has majestic organ inside, the decorations are very rich and beautiful, usually, it is open during the daytime for visiting.
It is very old and has beautiful paintings on the walls and ceiling. Also, you can look there for masons signs, by the way, you can find those signs in the street architecture too.
It is very difficult to find and get in, but you can give it a try and knock at the door. It is the most unusual church probably in whole Ukraine because of its Eastern looking arches, mosaics, and paintings on the walls.
What to Eat in Lviv
Lviv is famous for its chocolate and coffee, so don’t forget to visit the local Chocolate Factory and Coffee Mine!
Chocolate Factory has been a great tourist attraction for may years, due to the fact that they do chocolate themselves and you can observe the process and taste the results. Don’t enter there if you are not going to buy anything because that smell and colorful candies will simply drive you crazy. Chocolate Factory is also a cafe, where you can order not hot but melted chocolate or any other chocolate drink or dish. The best places in summer are on the top of the building because apart from incredible taste you will also have a nice view of the city.
Coffee Mine is literally a mine with rails, trucks and picks to mine the coffee. You can put the protective helmet and walk down the narrow tunnels, where people drunk from coffee enjoy their every sip of strong Americano, gentle latte or fragrant cappuccino. If you liked the coffee, you can simply take more of it with you home and always remember the scent of Lviv.
I Want to Live Here
Not sure if you will have the same feelings as I was having almost five years ago when I visited Lviv for the first time, but after spending there five years it still remains the best city I ever had. It inspires and encourages me to develop myself and discover new things. Hope you will like it too!