Actually it is quite strange and unusual thing to Central - Eastern town of Europe, as old center of Lviv is full of lion details, sculptures. Unusual, as it is not Africa, but symbol of exotic animal is alive.
The popularity of lions began from medieval times, when King Danylo Halytskyy named a town after his son Lev (a translation is "a lion"). It happened in 1256. You could find lion on emblem of Lviv, in sculptures, in details of houses, at the door entrance and so on. I was not too much into searching lions, but found a few.
Despite as I told before it has a lot of features of Western - Central Europe, some things let me feel I am back to Soviet Union:
Small shops with the most essential products
Old Russian cars or marsrutkas (LADA, emergency car, mini-buses with unknown names)
Public transportation system with tickets rolled into toilet paper style rolls
Anyway, more or less everything changes, so I already haven't found a kvass machine or sculptures from Soviet times (ideological ones).
Lviv is always named as a confluence of East and West and actually it is true. The history shows that it was Orthodox and Catholic both. Also it was possession of a few countries as Halych Volyn Principality, Lithuanian Grand Duchy, Poland, Austria. Every of them formed something unique in understanding, religion, architecture. Nowadays, I should tell, the most visible is Polish and Austrian influence (let say older baroque churches, similar to Polish ones, and a few floor houses looking like in Austria).
When I walked the town it looked a bit like Vienna, Krakow, Prague, just is smaller scale. Probably if I wont have possibility to see Ukrainian writings, I could tell it is another country.
A lot of excursions around Lviv and Lviv region are organized by Ravlyk arts gallery located in the entrance hall of the ethnographic museum at 15 Liberty Avenue.
I used their services and was glad.
+38 032 243 35 99
+38 067 303 60 44 Lessia
Fondest memory: The excursion to the cellars of former Jesuits Cathedral;
our visit to the High Castle.
Visiting the area of the TV tower in Lviv that is 200 meters high.
It was erected in 1957. It stands on High Castle hill.
We passed the TV tower on the way to the observation platform located on High Castle Hill.
Here are some wonderful views from the High Castle.
We walked along the winding road up the hill in spite of the rainy weather and those magnificent views were our reward!
This center is located to the right of the main entrance to the City Hall.
It open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., on Saturdays – till 6 p.m. and on Sundays – till 5 p.m.
They have a complete set of things about Lviv and Lviv region.
You can see a huge city standard on the left wall.
The address is:
1 Market Square
+38032 254 60 79
Tourist Information Center
Fondest memory: visiting its main sights and our tea and snacks at Kryivka restaurant.
Lviv is home to many churches of various denominations. On our two trips we have probably seen the most popular ones. I have listed them under "Things to do" tips.
Apart from these, we still came across quite a few other interesting churches. Among them were:
The Baroque bell tower of the Church of the Holy Spirit was erected at the Kopernika Street 40 in 1729. At present it houses a museum about Rusalka Dnistrova, which was the first collection of Ukrainian literature.
The Church of the order of poor Clares is nowadays home to a museum about sacral sculptures. The history of the building dates back to the 17th century. It is located at the beginning of Lychakivska Street.
The Roman-Catholic St. Anthony Church got its present appearance in the early 18th century. It can be found at Lychakivska street 49a, just east of the city centre.
Another Roman-Catholic church is situated just west of the city centre at Bandery Street 8. It is the Church of St. Mary Magdalene which was completed in the early 17th century.
Svobody Prospekt (Freedom Avenue) is Lviv's main boulevard in the city centre. It leads from the Opera House in the north to the Mickiewicz Square in the south.
The avenue consists of a wide tree lined pedestrianised area in the middle and one way streets on each side. Near the southern end of the avenue, the Virgin Mary Fountain can be found. Virgin Mary is said to be Lviv's city patroness.
The monument to the famous Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko and the so called Wave of National revival are situated in the middle of the avenue. They were erected in the 1990s and are a popular meeting point.
Our farewell dinner was great!
Our group gathered two times at the Ukrainian restaurant - At Ms.Stepanie's - that was very close to "George" hotel where almost everybody was staying.
This is where we could merely sit and exchange our impressions...
My friend Diana from Amsterdam asked me to help her at the post-office.
So we went there and inquired about their services.
The central post-office occupies an old huge building at 1 Slovatsky Street.
Tel.+380 322 721080
The area code for Lviv is 79000.
The post-office has a detailed web site, but unfortunately only in Ukrainian.
It was very useful to take a look at some of the guidebooks.
I bought one in Russian and took one in English - "Lviv in Your Pocket" - that was available at "George" hotel where my friends stayed.
I understood that any tour was possible with "Lviv in Your Pocket".
It contains all the necesary information and phone numbers for reservations.
Also, I bought a panorama map of Lviv (pictured here) and it was very useful for orientation in this huge city.
Fondest memory: many fond memories...It's hard to enumerate all of them...
Favorite thing: The 2012 Football Championship has stimulated creation of two very good websites on Lviv – Lviv. Travel and Visit.Lviv that besides good graphics and useful information in Ukrainian have comprehensive and adequate English translations. Besides things to do, the places to stay (including hostels), places to eat, it has the list of upcoming events, which I find particularly useful.
The Ukrainian currency is the Hryvnia. There are bills for 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 Hryvnias. There are also coins (kopiyka) – 100 kopiyka make one Hryvnia. The Hryvnia (usually abbreviated to UAH) is a relatively new currency, having been introduced in September 2 1996 when independence brought separation from the rouble zone.
The Hryvnia is a so-called “soft” currency, meaning that you can’t buy it outside the country. But once you get Lviv you shouldn’t have any problems, although when we arrived late at night at the station we couldn’t get the ATMs to accept our cards and were glad to find an exchange desk open. The next morning however I went to the bank near the George Hotel and was able to withdraw money from the ATM, which was helpfully situated in a closed cubicle off the street, to give privacy, and had instructions in English and other languages too.
When we were in Lviv there were roughly ten Hryvnia to the Euro, making “in your head” conversions pretty easy. Prices for almost everything were much lower than we are used to in the West, leading to many exclamations regarding the cheapness of meals, beer, entrance fees, tram fares etc. You can get a good two course meal for around 5€ (including a beer to wash it down), a generous shot of vodka for 1€, and travel on the tram for about 10 cents. But remember if you spend any time with local people that their much lower wages mean that these aren’t bargain prices to them.
The Ukrainian language uses the Cyrillic alphabet, making translation and understanding doubly difficult for those of us unused to it. Even place names and street signs are a challenge! It’s worth making the effort to learn the letters for this reason, even if you don’t have the time to master much of the actual language. I was pleased to find that the Russian I learnt many years ago at school (and have since almost totally forgotten) stood me in good stead, as I was able to pick out most of the letters and work out many of the signs.
One thing to bear in mind is that even letters that look the same as ours aren’t necessarily the same. What looks like an H is an N; what looks like a P is an R; a B is a V; and so on. So “PECTOPAH” on the building in my main photo should be said “RESTORAN” – and its meaning is immediately clear! The label on the beer glass in the other photo denotes that it is from Lviv, and beneath that on the red background is smaller lettering “VKPAIHA” – “UKRAINA”.
Learn these letters and finding your way around becomes just a little easier. But if you can’t get the hang of them, do carry a card with the name of your hotel in Ukrainian – that way you will always be able to ask the way back if really stuck.
Communal graves of soldiers and Freedom Fighters can also be found at Lychakiv Cemetery. The most renowned is the Graves of the LWOW EAGLETS. The Eaglets were Polish child soldiers who defended Lviv during the Polish-Ukrainian War (1918 - 1919).
There is also the Military Section of the Cemetery dedicated to the "Defenders of Lwow".