Lviv has a really twisted history. It was founded around 1250 and since the very beginning it made rounds to being Polish, Hungarian, Polish, Austrian, Polish and eventually Ukrainian. That already explains why it is a very important place for my country, even if it is now abroad (the similar story is with Vilnius). Ukraine claims Lviv was occupied by Poland and never was a Polish city but, like always, everyone has his own opinion and well, the facts are strong. Even now on every step I could see marks of Polish presence there. There are streets named after important Polish people, old Polish advertisments can be found on the walls in the old town, there’s still a really big Polish community living in Lviv. But the city was so much more multi ethinic back in its best times! Besides Poles and Ukrainian there were big communities of Armenians, Jews, Germans, Russians or Czechs and Lviv still feels so multi-cultural!
We arrived extremely early in the cold morning to the beautiful, busy train station that still remembers the good Habsburg times when Lviv was the capital of the Galicia province. From the very first moment I loved it there – there was a huge chaos around me and the atmosphere so typical for post-Soviet countries that made me feel over excitied, ready to explore more of the city. The old and extremely cold tram slowly took us to the old historical center (that is a part of the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1998). It was still pretty early and not too many people around, I felt like I have the whole city to myself. There were huge snowdrifts in every corner of the Main Square, Rynok, all the backstreets were full of snow. This and colourful, beautiful houses made Lviv look like in a fairy tale, it was a true winter wonderland! It was love at first sight!
The next two days were spent walking around the city and discovering its beauty and exploring the hidden corners. The old town isn’t all that big but there are so much to see! Half of the Ukraininan monuments can be found in Lviv! Every single house is so beautiful, they all represent various styles and half of them have an important historic value. All the churches are so impressive and full of details. But my fave thing, as it is in almost every city I visit, was climbing up to the Town Hall tower to enjoy the view of the city. It was breathtaking! I finally could see the real beauty of Lviv – sure, the front houses were beautiful but I could spot so many hidden streets, backyards and smaller, not renovated houses. And all of that covered in snow! Amazing!
As you probably know Lviv is one of my favorite cities in Ukraine. Click here to find out about other best places to visit in Ukraine!
I love rusty areas, houses that are special when you look closer at them. I love backstreets that aren’t renovated with fancy shops and restaurants. I love backyards where the normal life runs slowly. And Lviv was all of that! No matter how beautiful the old town was and how much I loved every corner of it the backstreets were where I left my heart. Walking around there, discovering the less touristy part of the city, looking at people were pure happiness to me! And these huge amounts of snow made the city so magical! When we climbed the Visokyi Zamok Hill to watch the sunset (the view was not so bad from there!) I ciuple of times droped into the snow that was over my knee! Good times! ;)
They say there’s no bad weather, only bad clothes and I think so too but 3 pairs of socks or not when it’s over -15C you can’t stay too long outside walking around the city. We spent the big part of our two days in Lviv visiting many cafes to warm up over a cup of tea. Lviv has a really great cafe culture and the city is full of cozy places to visit and spend some quality time in. Each cafe we went to was full of people that just added up to the atmosphere! We were also lucky to visit the famous Lviv Opera and wow, that was a true gem! It was so incredibly beautiful inside, there were so many golden details that I didn’t know where to look at!! That was definitely the most beautiful theatre I’ve ever visited and I know it’s gonna be hard to beat it!
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I’m really hoping this trip to Lviv next month will work out! I regret it took me this long to get there, it’s so nearby after all, and now I can’t wait to see more of the city as there are still so many place I haven’t seen (I especially regret not visiting Lychakiv Cemetery but somehow the trams didn’t run there when we waited for over 30 minutes on the stop). Lviv is not only beautiful but it is also incredibly charming with the wonderful, kind of bohemian atmosphere. It must be one of the most amazing cities in that part of Europe and it quickly became my 3rd favourite country, just after Prague and Tbilisi.
Do you like travelling in winter? Would you like to visit Lviv?
If you think of visiting Ukraine or just want to read more about the country take a look what else I wrote about it!
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