Lviv packs a millennium of churches, a huddle of bean-perfumed coffee houses and Eastern Europe’s quirkiest bunch of restaurants.
Lviv’s pedestrian-friendly Old Town still looks and feels like a slice of Central Europe. Centre for Lviv’s social life is the spacious Rynok or former market square, abuzz with outdoor cafés and surrounded by Renaissance mansions backed by a warren of courtyards.
Here are 7 reasons why I am in love with Lviv:
Lviv was founded over 750 years ago in 1256 by Danilo Halytskyi, who named it after his son Lev. Lviv has been occupied by Poland, the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Soviet Union with the city’s name changing each time. Warfare, occupation, armed uprisings, and forced population migrations imbue Lviv’s history with sadness, animate it with controversy but also give Lviv its richness. There’s a well-known story of Western Ukraine about a man who was born in Austria, educated in Poland, who went to war in Ukraine, fled to Germany and was executed in the Soviet Union, and he did it all without ever leaving his village. Lviv consists of more than 55% of Ukraine’s historical landmarks, many of them in the city’s beautiful and pedestrian-friendly Old Town.
My favourite way to experience any city is on foot. That way I can ask for directions and start a conversation. Sometimes a simple Hi makes for memorable experiences. I feel that you notice the little things that you would miss if you were driving.
In Lviv, walk without any specific target along its cobbled streets and colourful buildings. Admire old, rusty cars which you won’t find in Western Europe anymore. Look for old Polish signs still visible under the layer of fresh paint. Stumble on a hole in the street, deep like a crater of recently erupting Etna. Watch a mix of cars and marshrutkas, changing lanes as they please, not following any street rules.