Lviv is a very poetic city steeped in legends both ancient and relatively new. Narrow medieval streets paved with stones, architectural decoration done in different styles – all preserved in its original form. In ancient times Lviv was the capital of a mighty Slavic state called the Galicia-Volyn principality. Being a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and then Poland contributed to the formation of the city’s unique image. In spite of all the whims of history the city has not lost its Ukrainian spirit, and thank God, Lviv’s delicate architecture has not suffered from monstrosities of the Soviet Era. So it is no wonder that the central part of the city is included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage.
Getting to Lviv
There is an international airport in Lviv that connects the city with Warsaw, Toronto, Manchester, Frankfurt, Moscow, and several other airports in the former USSR. If you fly to Kyiv, you can catch a daily overnight train "Kyiv-Lviv" (#90, 91) which will get you to Lviv at around 6-7 am next day. The overnight train from Kyiv to Lviv costs $30 a person in a four-person compartment. Lviv's airport has a tourist information bureau where one can find out about accommodation, city and regional tours, and other travel tips. A car trip from Kyiv to Lviv takes about 7 hours.
The proud and beautiful medieval city of Lviv has been the "Western Ukraine capital of culture" for three centuries. Founded in 1256 by Danylo Halytskiy, a prince of the Galicia-Volhynia principality, this city of 850,000 is only 50 kilometers from the Polish border. Under the long reign of Danylo's son, Lev (1264-1301), Lviv came to be the capital city of the Galician-Volhynian Kingdom. It is full of culture & historical significance to Ukrainian history. One can find in Lviv the most beautifull architecture in Eastern Europe and it is no wonder that many who visit the city leave with lasting memories and love for Ukraine.
WHERE TO STAY
The Grand Hotel, 13 Prospekt Svobody; 72-40-42 or 72-76-65, http://www.ghgroup.com.ua/. The Grand, in the heart of Lviv, is the city’s most upscale hotel. Built in 1892, it reflects the ornate stylings of turn-of-the-last-century Austria-Hungary. Doubles from 795 to 1,590 hryvnia (about $170 to $340 at 5.35 hryvnia to the dollar).
Hotel George, 1 Mickiewicz Square; 72-59-52, www.georgehotel.ukrbiz.net. Also in central Lviv, this 1901 Neo-Renaissance structure combines Viennese charm with amazingly affordable rates. Doubles range from 185 to 535 hryvnia, including breakfast.
Apartments in or near central Lviv are a slice-of-life alternative to hotels. People rented comfortable apartments for $50 a night through Astro Travel, 2204 Bloor Street West, Toronto, Ontario, M6S 1N4; (905) 804-8826; www.ukrainetour.com
WHERE TO EAT
Café Veronika, 21 Shevchenka Street; 97-81-28. Best breakfast in Lviv, including fabulous pastries. Full-scale dinner menu, too. Dine outdoors, or choose from two downstairs dining rooms. Entrees from 25 to 100 hryvnia.
Videnska Kavyarnya, 12 Prospekt Svobody; 72-20-21. Fine food, with ground-level and rooftop patios. Entrees 25 to 75 hryvnia.
WHAT TO SEE AND DO
Dzyga Cultural Center, 35 Virmenska Street; 75-21-01. A contemporary art space with a music hall and bar.
The National Museum in Lviv comprises two buildings: the original museum at 42 Drahomanov Street, 72-57-45; and the newer museum at 20 Prospekt Svobody, 74-22-82 or 72-89-60, across from the Grand Hotel. Highlights includes Ukrainian icons from the 14th through the 17th century.
The 220 spiral metal steps of Castle Hill, northeast of the city center, lead to the crumbling remains of a castle that is supposedly on the spot where Danylo founded Lviv. Here you’ll find spectacular views of the city and the distant Carpathian Mountains.
Oleksandr Ruchko, 75-59-35 or 38 067 9243309 on his cellphone, www.guides.lviv.ua, serves as guide and interpreter in and around Lviv. Very reasonable prices and reliable service.
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