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.
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 history of Lviv's Market Square (Ploshcha Rynok) dates back to the 14th century.
The town hall stands in the middle of the square and it is surrounded by about 44 burgher houses of various architectural styles, each of them has its own story.
Please read my "Things to do" tips for more information about some of the buildings.
The Market Square was always the centre of the town, therefore it has seen many historic events from arrivals of dukes and kings to executions of thieves and adulterers.
Four fountains with statues of Greek gods were erected in the corners of the square in the late 18th century.
Nowadays the Market Square is pedestrianised; only old trams rattle down the southern side.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Touring Lviv (Publisher: Baltia) - a detailed 224-page guidebook on the sight-seeing places, with maps. Includes a lot of useful information, including Lviv restaurants, coffee shops, place to go out and accommodation tips. it also has a section on trips outside of Lviv (Zhovkva-Krekhiv, Olesko-Pidhitsi-Zolochiv, etc.) Besides Ukrainian and Russian, it’s available in English, German and Polish. it's available in all book stores on Rynok Sq. and around. the price varies from 55-65 Hr ($11-13). there are also plentry of smaller brochures and leaflets on the single places like the Latin Cathedral, the Golden Horse-Shoe trip, etc.
you might also consider stocking travel guides to other Ukrainian cities including Kyiv (English, German, Italian Spanish, Polish, Russian); Crimea (English, German, Russian); Transcarpatia (English, Russian); Odesa (English, Russian)
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...
Favorite thing: In the picture you can see the main post office in Lviv. It is open every day but not all day. For example on Sunday it is open from 9:00 a.m. till 3 p.m. The entrance is from Slovackoho Street. I had problems to buy stamps but, fortunatelly, cards finnally get to people.:) The stamp to Europe and USA cost the same, what seems to me strange...
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...
Here is a few of LORIPORI'S TIDBITS - helpful bits of information about your visit to Lviv.
Citizens of the EU, Norway, Switzerland, Japan, Israel, Canada and the U.S. can enter Ukraine visa-free and stay up to 90 days.
220 volts Ac, 50 Hz - all sockets require two round pins
The national currency is the Hryvnia (hr or UAH)
Notes: 1 2 5 10 50 100 200 500 Hryvnia
Coins: 100 kopecks in a hryvnia - 1 2 5 10 25 50 kopecks 1 hr
I saw a few exchange booths during our walks around Lviv. Personally, I used an ATM machine across the street from the George Hotel. It had English as a language option which was helpful.
When I got home and checked my bank statement, the 200 hr cost me $27.17 CDN or 13.5 cents each hryvnia / 7.4 hr per $1.00 CDN
LVIV IN YOUR POCKET:
A great little reference book to have. I got mine (free) at the George Hotel. It contains hotels, restaurants, cafe's, nightlife, sightseeing, events, shopping and maps - all in great detail.
One of Lviv's most distinctive, beautiful and historic sites, is the LYCHAKIV CEMETERY, located 4 km east of the city center on Meczynkowa Vul. This is an ideal location to begin your exploration of Lviv's diverse history, fascinating culture and stunning art. So that is exactly what our VT Group did on Wednesday, June 2. Victor (HunterV) was our "Official Guide". We enjoyed our tour very much as Victor explained many things to us, as most writings were in Ukrainian.
Although officially established in 1786 by Austro-Hungarian authorities, the first burials actually took place in the 16th century. Since then more than 400,000 Inhabitants have been laid to rest here. Grave markers have tributes inscribed in Ukrainian, Russian, German, Polish, Armenian and Latin - evidence of Lviv's diversity.
Throughout the 19th century, plots were reserved by elite and middle class families, artisans, scientists, spiritual leaders and politicians. This trend obviously shifted during the Soviet era, as, wedged between ancient chapels and elite family crypts, stand simple monuments. When we visited, a new grave still covered with flowers (photo #5), could be seen. It was being worked on by an engraver, putting in the details of the newly departed.
Admission to the cemetery was 10 UAH ( about $1.50 CDN)
Fondest memory: Lychakiv is a protected historical monument. Here you will see many beautiful sculptures such as the statue of an angel gazing sadly towards heaven.
The Tomb of Volodymyr Ivasyuk (photo # 2) portrays a young man, who died at a young age. Victor explained to us that his tomb says this young man died of tragic circumstances.
Tomb of Solomiya Krushelnytska (photo #3).
The elaborate and beautiful Tomb of Armenian Archbishop Samuel Cyryl Stefanowicz (photo # 4)