The balance can not be more positive, because I spent a few amazing days in my already second country, Romania. And moreover, I loved the new country that I visited and I was able to know and to be surprised by Lviv, which has already entered my list of favorite cities in Eastern Europe. This city, which is about 50 kilometers away from the border with Poland, is much more similar to cities such as Krakow, Prague and other Central Europe ones, than to others of the same Ukraine, and it has quite a simple reason: It belongs to Ukraine only since the end of World War II.
Few touches of history
Since you step in the same city you quickly realize that it is not another ex-Soviet city, and checking a little history you can understand why, because over the past centuries has changed hands several times.
It began being founded by King Daniel of Galicia under the name of Lev, and soon was controlled by the Kingdom of Poland and continued like this for several centuries until it was taken by the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Finally remained so until World War II when, after struggles and assaults on the city by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, got controlled by the last ones that gave it to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, which past decades ended up being Ukraine.
Knowing this it’s understandable why this city and its buildings give off that scent of Central Europe so authentic, even being located in a former Soviet country.
The old town
The old town of this city is one of the first places to be impressed so full of color and life. Declared World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1998, in the middle you will find the famous Rynok Square and all surrounding streets full of historical and original buildings, as they were not destroyed during any of the two World Wars.
Walking around the center, even if you’ve done it several days already, you will always find something new. Lviv has heart and soul, and that can be seen from any corner of the old town, full of cafes and people having street life, even if at nightfall in October barely reaches 5 degrees.
- Shevchenkivs’kyi Hai
A little more than 3 km away from the center, is the National Museum of Architecture and Rural Life. This one, located in the natural park of Shevchenkivs’kyi Hai, is an outdoor museum that shows the life of the villages in the western regions of Ukraine during the last centuries.
With real samples of wooden houses and churches in natural size, water pipes, household items and other utensils for the day, also having animals in the wild and exhibits of the lifestyle they had, all this will allow us to experience country life in our own skin, and the obvious change to the city and its amenities of today.
Near the museum just mentioned, you will find this necropolis. While I have to say that I’m not a big fan of cemeteries, being on this one when I realized I already had several hours walking inside.
Lychakiv is one of the oldest cemeteries in Europe, and because of the many personalities from Eastern Europe who are buried there, is often compared to the Père Lachaise cemetery of Paris. Between how big it is and how full of monuments that are true works of art, you will easily get lost wandering around in this place that due to the elegantly landscaped streets that cross it, it ends up looking more like a park.
Finally, just say that is a real delight to discover in the east of Europe, and definitely a city where you should get lost, since even when leaving the old town we will find beautiful buildings such as the Opera and the Cathedral of St. George. And because of the short popularity you will not find many tourists, so you can go out and mix with the people, breathing the spirit of Lviv as one of its inhabitants… And that you cannot pay with money.