The history of the Lychakiv Cemetery dates back to the late 18th century. It is one of the oldest and largest graveyards in Europe and it is is particularly noteworthy for its elaborate sculptures.
Most of the people who are buried here were Polish or Ukrainian.
The cemetery is also home to some military memorial and burial sites. Among them is the Memorial to the Ukrainian national liberation which can be found just next to the graves of the "Lwow Eaglets", who were young Polish defenders of the city during the Polish-Ukrainian war in 1918.
The entrance fee to the cemetery is with 10 UAH relatively expensive, but still very reasonable for western standards. Taking photos costs an additional 5 UAH which we didn't pay and in fact nobody really complained.
The Lychakiv Cemetery is located about 4 km east of the city centre. It can be found on a little hill in the district of Lychakiv.
Address: Lychakiv Cemetery, Meczynkowa vul., Lviv
Our tour guide Matt took us one day to an open-air museum of city sculpture – Lychakiv Cemetery.
Lychakiv Cemetery has been known since 1786 when it was officially established by Austro-Hungarian authorities that ruled in Lviv from 1772 until 1918.
It’s one of the oldest necropolisses in Europe. It is older than Pere Lachaise in Paris or Highgate Cemetery in London.
The cemetery is a state reserve and can be called an open-air museum of city sculpture. The sculpture styles vary from classicism to constructivism.
This is where the most famous people of Lviv were buried.
The first burial took pladce in the 16th century. The oldest existing grave dates back to 1675.
All in all more than 400,000 people were buried here.
You can get to this place by tram #7 from downtown.
The entrance fee is 10 UAH. You also have to buy a map (in Ukrainian) that can help you in orientation. The cemetery is huge – over 42 hectares (about 115 acres).
There are eleven memorials at the territory of the cemetery. We visited the new ones: the Ukrainian soldiers memorial (1918-1919) and the Polish military memorial (1918-1920) located in the far end of the cemetery.
There are other memorials, among them:
- Hill of Glory (Soviet army soldiers);
- Polish participants of the November uprising of 1830 and the January uprising of 1863.
I was moved to see the tomb of Ivan Franko (1856-1916), a great Ukrainian poet and public figure whom I deeply respect.
I had enough time and decided to walk upstairs and enjoy the view and share the pictures with you here.
You only have to enter the central entrance to the City Hall and walk upstairs to the fourth floor following the TOWER signs.
The tower is open from 11 a.m. every day until it gets dark.
It must be a nuisance for the city council employees to meet lots of guests in the corridors of their offices...
The entrance fee is 5 UAH.
It will take you about a quarter of an hour to get to the observation platform.
They say there are 306 stairs to the top.
Just take your time and climb them without haste.
Before you reach the tower observation platform located at the height of 74 meters there is a souvenir shop where you can buy a variety of souvenirs on your way to or from the observation platform.
Enjoy the bird’s eye view of downtown and of the entire Old Town!
Several of the houses around the Ploscha Rynok are worthy of note, especially on the eastern side where you will find numbers 4 and 6. The former is often known as the “Black Stone House” and a glance at my photos will show you why. This is described by “Lviv in your Pocket” as an “exceptional architectural monument ... matchless not only in Lviv, but in the whole of Europe”. It dates back to the late 16th century and was not always called black – because it did not always look black! The stone is in fact a local grey sandstone, and the present-day colour the result of centuries of exposure to coal dust and smoke. So naturally this wasn’t always called the “Black Stone House” but was formally the “Doctor’s Stone House”.
Today the house is one of the three buildings of the city’s historical museum. There wasn’t really enough time to do a museum justice so I gave this a miss although I would have welcomed the chance to go inside. I gather though that a separate entry fee is payable for all three branches of the museum – something to bear in mind if you want to see inside these historic houses.
Lviv has three cathedrals: Roman Catholic, Greek Catholic and Armenian Catholic. This is the beautiful Roman Catholic cathedral, and is officially known as the Archcathedral Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, but unsurprisingly is usually dubbed simply the Latin Cathedral. It was built in 1360, replacing an earlier small wooden Roman Catholic church dedicated to the Holy Trinity, but was severely damaged in the fire of 1527, so only the altar and sanctuary remain from that first structure. The present-day building dates mainly from the 18th century and is Baroque in style, albeit with 19th century stained glass windows. No photography is allowed inside so sadly I can’t share these with you. However Wikipedia has a good photograph of the interior.
Less than twenty years ago, during Soviet rule, most of the churches in Lviv were closed or used only as a museum or other non-religious purpose. The Latin Cathedral is one of just two that were left open and in use for worship.
A cemetery once existed around the cathedral but was relocated when Katedral’na Ploscha (Cathedral Square) was paved over. Only the beautiful Chapel of the Boim Family remains on the site – see separate tip below.
There is a suggested donation of 2 UAH to enter.
This was probably – no, definitely – the church that most impressed me of all those we visited in Lviv. It is located in the heart of what was formerly the Armenian quarter, in accordance with the Madgeburg Laws which divided parts of town by ethnicity, and is a mix of architectural styles and eras: Old Russian, Gothic and Armenian. Its exterior is not especially striking, although a peaceful-looking courtyard on the south side (closed when we visited and possibly always so) caught my eye with a statue of St Christopher above the entrance (see photo 4) and beautifully carved wooden crucifix (photo 5).
But it is the interior that made the most impression on me, filed as it is with vibrantly coloured friezes. I had paid the small fee required for photography and was so pleased that I had done so, in order to try to capture something of their richness on film. At the time I took them to be older than they in fact are, but most are the work of Jan Henryk de Rosen, a Polish artist of the early 20th century. These include the “Fresco of the Annunciation” (main photo), “Fresco of the Funeral Procession of St. Odilon” (photo 2) and the “Last Supper” behind the altar (photo 3). Elsewhere there are mosaics by Jozef Mehoffer, and two wonder-working icons of St. Gregory the Illuminator and the Mother of God, brought in the 17th century from Yazlovets.
The cathedral was closed by the Soviets, and used for storing plundered sacred art. It only finally reopened in 1992 to coincide with the visit of Pope John Paul II.
This grand avenue, 650 metres in length, runs from the Opera House at its northern end to Mickiewicz Square at the southern one. It lies on the western fringes of the oldest part of town and its width is striking after walking some of the narrow streets of that quarter. The two lines of traffic are divided by a strip of green which makes a popular walking place for both locals and tourists, and which is dotted with various monuments. Chief amongst these is the monument to Taras Shevchenko, a 19th century Ukrainian national poet. Victor (hunterV) says of him on his Luhansk page:
“He struggled for the liberation of Ukraine from the rule of tsarist Russia. All Ukrainians love and respect Taras Shevchenko just like the Scottish people love Robert Burns whose fate is in a certain way similar to that of Shevchenko. He was sentenced to ten years in prison for inspiring revolutionary ideals.”
Towards the southern end of the avenue is a statue of the Virgin Mary. This is a copy of the original which stood here for some decades in the early part of the 20th century. Under Soviet rule such an overtly religious monument was frowned upon, so it was removed firstly to the Boim Chapel, and later to the Bernardine Church, before finally finding a home in the Church of St Andrew.
This street has had many names in the course of its 150+ year history. It started life as two streets: Lower and Upper Karl Ludwig Streets, separated by the River Poltva. In 1871 Lower Karl Ludwig Street became Hetmanska Street and in 1919 the by-now simply Karl Ludwig Street took on the new name of Legions Street. Meanwhile the river had been rerouted underground in 1887 and in 1940 the two streets finally became fully united under a single name, First of May Street. A year later they were divided again, into Opera and Museum Streets, but only briefly, as they were soon rejoined into Adolf Hitler Ring. In 1944 the name reverted to First of May Street. A few years later it found itself as Lenin Boulevard, and in 1991 took on its current name of Prospekt Svobody or Liberty Boulevard. Phew!
As well as the large monument to Taras Shevchenko on Prospekt Svobody we saw several other impressive monuments in Lviv. Two that especially caught my eye were to Ivan Pidkova and Ivan Federov.
The monument to Ivan Pidkova (main photo and photo 2) is in a small square just to the east of Prospekt Svobody. I really like this expressive and modern-looking statue. Pidkova was a Hetman (i.e. commander) of the Ukrainian Cossacks who led a rebellion against the Turks and was executed by their allies, the Poles in June 1578. Pidkova means “horseshoe” in Ukrainian, and you can see on the monument “IVAN” (in Cyrillic letters, so B = V and H = N), and beneath that the image of the horseshoe to stand for Pidkova. This nickname may have its origins in the way that he used to ride his stallions to the point of breaking off their horseshoes, or possibly because he could break horseshoes and coins with his fists.
Photo 3 shows the large monument to Ivan Federov which stands near the Church of the Assumption on vulytsia Pidvalna. Federov (also sometimes called Fedorovych) is considered to be the founder of book printing and book publishing in Russia and Ukraine. In the mid 16th century he oversaw the construction of a printing house in Moscow, commissioned by Tsar Ivan IV, and published several liturgical works in Church Slavonic. As with the introduction of printing technology elsewhere in the world, this new innovation created competition for the scribes who forced him to flee Moscow – first to Lithuania, and in 1572 to Lviv. Here he resumed his work as a printer and published more religious texts. Later his printing shop fell into the hands of the Lviv Dormition Brotherhood, who continued to use his designs right up to the early 19th century. Today the area around his statue here in Lviv is used as a small open-air book market, but when we visited it was raining and all the stalls were covered with plastic sheets to protect the books.
At the time of its construction in the 17th century the Bernadine Church and monastery was located outside of the city walls, therefore it was protected by its own fortifications. These were demolished at the beginning of the 19th century.
The late renaissance church complex includes a baroque bell tower from 1734.
During Communist times the Bernadine Church was closed and totally negelected. Nowadays the Church belongs to the Greek-Catholic Church of St. Andrew.
The Bernadine Church is situated in Lviv's old town, just east of the Adam Mickiewitz Square and south of the Market Square (Ploshcha Rynok).
Address: Bernadine Church, Soborna pl. 3, Lviv
The Dormition Church ensemble consists of the church (1629) itself, the Kornyakt Tower (1578) and the Three Saints Chapel (1578).
The Renaissance style church is also known under its Ukrainian name Uspenska Church and was the only Orthodox church within the city walls.
The 66 m tall Kornyakt Tower was home to the largest and loudest bell in Galicia. It was not only used for church purposes but also in cases of alarms, such as fire.
Domed with tree cupolas as peculiar to Ukrainian cult building and with a liberal decoration of the interior, chapel will leave amazed all the visitors.
The Dormition Church with the Kornyakt Tower and the Three Saints Chapel are situated east of Market Square (Ploshcha Rynok), near the corner of Ruska and Pidvalna street
Address: Dormition Church, Ruska vul. 5, Lviv
Lviv's Opera House was designed by the local architect Zygmunt Gorgolewski in a Viennese neo-Renaissance style. Its ceremonial opening took place in October 1900.
The Opera House has its own ballet and opera company. Ticket prices are very modest by Western Standards.
One evening In June 2007 we took the chance to watch the Ukrainian opera "Natalka Poltavka", which was indeed an interesting experience.
Our tickets were only 35 UAH and also offered the chance to have a look at the beautiful interior of the building.
The Opera House can be found at the northern end of the Svobody Avenue, right in the heart of Lviv's city centre.
Address: Opera House, Svobody Prosp. 28, Lviv
One afternoon we decided to check out Lviv's History Museum, which is actually located in 3 different buildings at the Market Square (Ploshcha Rynok).
We only visited the part of the Museum about Lviv's modern history.
On display are all kind of things related to events of the 19th and 20th century, including World War I and II and Ukraine's struggle for liberation. Please note that most info is given only in Ukrainan.
The entrance fee was only 3 UAH. The museum is open every day (except Wednesdays) from 10:00 - 17:30 h.
The Lviv History Museum about the city's modern history can be found at the Market Square 4 (Ploshcha Rynok) in the so called Black House (Chorna Kamianytsia). Other parts of the museum are located in the buildings number 6 and 24.
Address: Lviv History Museum, Rynok pl. 4, Lviv
Lviv Opera and Ballet Theater is called after Solomia Krooshel’nytska (1875-1952), a famous Ukrainian opera singer.
The building looks majestic and impressive indeed.
It adorns Liberty Avenue and attracts a lot of people –
both tourists and spectators – and I was one of them.
The square in front of the theater with a fountain is a meeting point of many people.
The square behind the theater is a small traditional souvenirs market. This is where you can buy works of local artists to take home as souvenirs.
The theater is a very special architectural landmark of Lviv and has long been one of the symbols of the city.
It is famous among theatrical structures in Ukraine (Kiev, Odessa).
The building was erected in 1897-1900 in a classical style with forms and details characteristic of Renaissance and baroque architecture.
The theater's interior is no less striking than its exquisite exterior. The interior is famous for its splendour. It is lavishly decorated with multi-colored marble, ornamental paintings, moldings, sculptures and gilding. You can see a lot of decorative reliefs, masks and other ornamentation inside the theater.
The name of this house sounds as "Chorna Kamianytsia" in Ukrainian.
This house belongs to the architectural gems of Lviv too.
It is is called an exceptional architectural monument of Lviv.
Out of all the forty-four houses located around the City Council building this one is sure to catch your eye.
Its construction began in 1588. It was built of local gray sandstone.
They say it was very colorful at first like many other houses in the area.
The imposing black color must be a product of century-long absorbtion of smoke and dust, although I don’t see why all other houses have not turned black like this one. Was it simply painted over? I know it’s a rhetorical question.
This building belongs to the historical museum now.
The drugstore has been open since 1735.
It was owned by a retired Austrian army doctor who hung a black Austrian eagle over the entrance and called his drugstore Under the Black Eagle.
You can enter and do your shopping in the first hall. The other two halls are not open for customers. You can visit them on an excursion.
There is a copy of the first kerosene lamp invented here in Lviv. It hangs enframed on the wall.
If you enter the first hall, pay attention to the murals on the ceiling. They represent four allegories: four elements – fire, water, air and land. The inscriptions are in Latin: ignis, terra, aqua and aer.
The second hall is dedicated to hisorical medicines and tools and the third one is called Alchemist’s Study.
When you are on an excursion, you can also pay a visit to the cave. One of the underground rooms is called Wine Therapy Room. It’s a room with big oak barrels and a large table.
This is where they treated anaemia with Iron Wine.