Like in any other Ukrainian city, a car license plate with four similar digits is a status thing. It cannot be bought for any money, but is a sign of well-connected people/tough guys.
However, Lviv is famous and unique in many ways.
Picture 1: BB 1111 BE : a VIP car in a street in Lviv. No comments :-) Just my respects to the ubiquitos "chosen few" guys with their neverending connections! (oops, may they forgive my free expression here)...
Picture 2: Lenin monument erected in Lviv in front of the Opera and Ballet Theater on January 20, 1952 was among the first Lenin monuments in Ukraine to be demolished by the outraged crowd after Ukraine had declared its independence. That monument cost a pretty penny in its time and was the only one where Lenin's name was written in Ukrainian. The material for the monument - the granite and bronze - were the best, which did not save the majestic monument from being savagely destroyed by the local patriots who despised Lenin and the entire totalitarian Soviet way of life...
Picture 3: Central Hostel
Unlike many Ukrainian cities, Lviv has a hostel with affordable prices. It is located in the central square.
Tel. +38 097 222 41 36
5 Market Square
Besides, there are other hostels downtown and not far from it.
Picture 4 : Only Lviv has a Ukrainian partisans' restaurant, dedicated to the activities of the Ukrainian Insurgence Army - the place we visited with pleasure and had a good time there enjoying the fun of the "secret" ambience.
Picture 5: Only Lviv has a cemetery declared as the national museum - Lychakiv Cemetery that we visited and had deep impressions.
We visited Lviv at Christmas time, which is celebrated in Ukraine and other predominantly Orthodox countries on January 7th. The Orthodox Church is the 2nd largest Christian church in the world with 200-300 million adherents mostly living in Eastern and Southeastern Europe, and the Middle East. Being of Ukrainian background, I was already familiar with some of the most popular traditions like the carols and eating 12 meatless dishes for Sviaty Vechir, or Holy Evening. My Ukrainian Christmas experience in Lviv was that of a very religious holiday celebrated both with family and friends, as well as in the streets and cafes with great food and drink.
On Christmas eve, kids and teenagers go through the streets and cafes performing short plays of themes and scenes from the Bible, sometimes asking for money afterwards. The shops and restaurants close early on Christmas eve. People of all ages go caroling in groups through the streets. There are some special foods to try including my favorite, kutia, a sweet grain pudding served really only at Christmas time.
At Chistmas time, religious activities have a major role with some churches seemingly conducting nonstop services, and there are many nativity scenes around the city. The Ukrainian Christmas stars are also on display, as well as bunches of wheat called Didukh which represent the importance of the wheat crops to life in Ukraine. Cities including Lviv and Kiev have month-long Christmas markets with beautiful decorations, food, drinks, and shopping raging from cheap tourist kitsch to nice handicrafts. On Christmas Eve and Day, the markets feature stages with singing and dancing, and thousands of people join the celebration.
Funny thing, maybe it was just in time I visited Lviv, but every day was a demonstration day against something - against using Russian language as second official, against president Yanukovich, against some reforms in religion. Also there was pre - election time, when party members advertised themselves.
Probably it is not a lie that Lviv is a place of high Ukrainian culture, where people care about their life and future, so every change could be sensible.
As in every major town, where are also not only locals, but tourists, street musicians earn some extra money. Actually for me the difference of musicians in other places was quite simple and logical - most of them in Lviv tried to play - sing mostly Ukrainian songs (probably pop or national ones). As in some other places, as Vilnius, street musicians just use popular World music in their list.
As it was unusual to me, I managed to see it immediately and make a secret photo (was thinking that these old people could be against it).
It seems that it is quite popular to play chess at the benches of Svobody avenue, first day I saw only one couple of old people doing so, but in a weekend there were a couple on every bench and it looked like a chess competition of Lviv pensioners :)
In busy areas such as train stations, metro stations, football stadiums in Ukraine you will see toilet facilities that look like this (even in the ladies toilets). Regular toilets will be found in hotels and restaurants. In the busy areas and when entering a toilet using the toilet is generally free of charge, you may need to purchase toilet paper which costs roughly 2 Hryvnia. Toilet paper is purchased from a lady who will usually sit at a small desk as you walk in to the bathroom. There are usually good facilities for hand washing and drying.
You can see dozens, if not hundreds, of memorial plaques all over the city.
They are mostly dedicated to local heroes or famous people who used to live and work in Lviv.
Here are some of the memorial plaques I have seen and liked:
To Lesia Ukrainka,
a famous Ukrainian poetess;
to Prosvita Society;
at the City Hall;
to Yevhen Konovalets;
to Martha Chorna-Medeya,
a Ukrainian Insurgent Army's
liaison lady who was killed by the Nazis on May 23, 1943.
You can see a very special and funny little monument at the entrance to Dzyga.
It is called Smile and was created by Oleg Dergachov.
It is located at 35 Armenian Street.
I wonder what the artist meant by his creation... What I did was to walk round it, stand and ponder.
It was a pity all our group was not there for a common picture.
I went to this place after I had seen off all the group members to the railway station.
Perhaps next time we will all come up here.
I have never seen such funny monuments or a Smile monument in any city of Ukraine or Russia.
Armenian Street is closed by one of the buildings of the former Dominican monastery. At present it houses the city archives and Dzyga creative gallery.
It is one of the cultural hubs of Lviv.
This is where different creative parties are held: exhibitions, festivals, performances and conferences.
The founders of this art project call it ART terra of modern art for Ukrainian (and not only) artists who overcome space limited by four walls with their creations filling it with paiting, graphics, sculpture, installations, performances, happenings, icon paiting, word, with their souls, energy and charisma.
The entrance is free.
The gallery's name itself can have two meaning: the literal one: "whirligig" as a toy and the figurative one: fidget. I think they meant the figurative one.
There is an antiques store and a coffeehouse here.
You can see a very special and funny little monument at the entrance to Dzyga. It is called Smile and was created by Oleg Dergachov.
Lions Parade became a traditional art festival in Lviv.
It takes place in September in Market Square.
You can lots of colored lions of natural size.
On those days Market Square becomes a place of numerous photo sessions.
There are four fountains with sculptures representing mythological figures around Market Square:
- on the south-western side –
- on the north-western side –
- on the north-eastern side -
- on the south-eastern side -
The fountain figures were made by Hartman Witwer (1774-1825) out of limestone.
They embody the allegory of earth (the sculptures of Diana and Adonis) and water (the sculptures of Neptune and Amphitrite).
The Market Square figures were created between 1810 and 1814.
These fountains are a good meeting point for people, especially for the first-time visitors of Lviv.
One of the first pictures of the entire group of VT Meeting participants was made in front of Amphitrite fountain.
There are a lot of unique city festivals that no other Ukrainian or Russian city can boast of:
Musical Arts Festival;
Days of Lviv
(a city festival observed on the second weekend of May
with a lot of colorful events)
When we had lunch at Gallery Cafe, we saw the participants of the International Children's Painting Festivals called Young Talents Under the Patronage of King Daniel and the Golden Easel competition.
That festival was taking place at Merchants' Tower center in Liberty Avenue.
We saw a lot of amazing kids' pictures and handicrafts. Good luck in the future, kids! :-)
Kinopalats at 22 Theater Street is a nice place to hide from the terrible rain and storm that often happen here in Lviv.
I enjoyesd my walk, but when the rainy weather became unbearable, I decided to see a new movie at this place.
It was Prince of Persia.
The ticket price was 35 UAH.
I enjoyed every minute of it!
Answering machine: +38 032 297 50 50;
Ticket reservation: +38 032 297 50 05.
The Ukraine is a country of cash, so it is always best to pay cash. The local currency is the "Hryvnia" (abbreviation: UAH) which is divided into 100 Kopecks.
In 2004/05 new banknotes were put into circulation, but the various old ones are still valid and in circulation as well.
This causes some confusion as you may have 2 or even more variations of the same banknote in your wallet.
In the last years the Ukrainian Hryvnia has been relatively stable. Nevertheless you might see some signs stating prices in US Dollar or Euro.
I usually prefer to get my money from cash points which can be found at almost every corner in Lviv. I really find it amazing how many banks you find in Ukrainian cities.
You can also exchange your local currency at one of the many exchange booths. As their rates might vary, I recommend to campare a few rates and ask how many Hryvnia you really get for your currency.
Just make sure that you don't have to pay a commission and that you count the money at the window in front of the person in charge.
Latin Cathedral is the main Roman-Catholic church in Lviv.
It was the first site we saw in Market Square. The cathedral was founded in 1349.
It was constructed during the centuries and absorbed the styles of different epochs.
There are precious relics in the central altar of the church, among them the wonder-working Icon of the Virgin Mary the Gentle.
You can see a memorial plaque dedicated to the visit of Pope John Paul II who attended a mass here on June 26, 2001.
The Chapel of the Boim Family is the only remaining part of the cathedral cemetery. It is located on the site.
Interactive Map of Lviv