Lviv (or Lvov) can be considered as the cultural capital of Ukraine with its vibrant history dating back to the 13th century.
Since Lviv used to be part of many countries over the past (including Poland, Austria – Hungary and also the Soviet Empire), the unique atmosphere and architecture in the historic center in now on the list of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites providing with many tourists appealing attractions.
With a great range of accommodation facilities, great infrastructure and foreign tourist-ready information and guides, Lviv is undoubtedly a place which should be on every traveller’s list.
While visiting, the Market Square (Ploshcha Rynok), The Lviv Opera and Ballet Theatre or the Town hall offering a great view over the city shall definitely not be missed out as well as the wide range of various museums and interesting art galleries.
Market Square -Lviv
Also known as Rynok Square, this central square in Lviv became a World Heritage site in 1998.
Full of cultural life and a centerpiece for local festivities, this square dates all the way back to the mid-14th century.
Market Square is nestled in-between 45 buildings of diverse and historic architectural design, in addition to four fountains each of which is highlighted by monuments depicting Greek mythological figures (Neptune, Diana, Amphitrite and Adonis).
The central location of the square makes it an ideal place to sit in one of the many surrounding cafes and enjoy the wonderful atmosphere, while also making it the heart of Lviv.
Arsenal Museum – Located on Pidvalna Street just a few minutes from Rynok Square is this Renaissance-era arsenal building dating back to the 1550s.
This is the oldest arsenal building in the city and serves as an extensive armory museum today.
The museum consists of weapons from more than 40 countries spanning the 13th – 20th centuries, so the exhibit is definitely worth the minimal entrance fee of 1-2 euros.
The Boim Chapel – This quaint chapel was built in 1615 under the instructions of George Boim, a Lviv merchant of Hungarian origin.
As you are passing by, the Boim Chapel’s late Renaissance design will make you stop in your tracks. The exterior of the building is covered with stone carvings depicting the ‘Passion of Jesus’ and the Saints Peter and Paul.
This site is a must see and has been under UNESCO protection since the 1970s. It is also just a few steps away from Market Square in a convenient location.
The Pharmacy Museum – Lviv
A few steps from Rynok Square is a pharmacy dating back to 1735. The pharmacy is amazingly still in use today, making it the only operating museum pharmacy across Europe and the oldest pharmacy in Ukraine.
The museum collection consists of over 2000 different items spanning the last few centuries, many of which have labeling in English.
The Lviv National Museum – Established in 1905, the Lviv National Museum is one of Ukraine’s largest, dedicated to capturing and maintaining an eclectic variety of items from the country’s past.
There are over 5,000 religion artifacts, making it Ukraine’s largest religious collection. Some of these artifacts include a wonderful variety of icons mostly dating between the 12th and 18th centuries.
The museum is located on Prospect Svobody in close proximity to the Opera House, making it within walking distance to pretty much everything in the center of Lviv.
This museum is a must see for art lovers and with a very minimal entrance fee (1-2 euros), it is definitely worth a visit for everyone. The museum is closed on Mondays and group tours are available in English.
The Armenian Cathedral – Armenian populations in Lviv date back to around the early14th century.
Construction for this cathedral began in the 1360s and finished in 1370. The original cathedral was all but lost in a fire around 1527 and has also endured countless sieges and invasions on the city.
While it was impossible to keep the Armenian Cathedral intact, restoration projects over the years have tried to emulate the original architectural design as closely as possible.
The cathedral is known for its combination of styles, which include Armenian Traditionalism, a Romanesque Gothic style and the Ukrainian Halychyna design.
The Armenian Cathedral is located right off of Virmenska Street.
The Archcathedral Basilica – Dating all the way back to 1360, this cathedral located in Old Town is still
in use today.
The cathedral is strongly revered by Roman Catholics and is a vivid example of the Gothic influence in Lviv.
Pope John Paul II famously attended mass service here in 2001 and it is also one of only two cathedrals that were allowed to remain open during Soviet rule.
The Dominican Church – The original foundation of the Dominican Monastery dates all the way back to the 13th century. A Gothic stone church took its place in the 15th century, making it a leading monastery for the Eastern European Dominican Order.
Due to unrepairable fissures on the main arch of the church, it was demolished and reconstructed in the 18th century.
The bell tower was later added in 1865. Today, it is home to the Greek Catholic Church of the Holy Eucharist and has also opened the small Museum of Religion (minimal charge for entrance), which is inside the cathedral.
The Bernardine church – Dating back to the 15th century, this church was originally built of solid wood, but later transformed
itself into a fortified monastery. The building that is seen today first came to life in 1600 under the talent of the famous builder, Paul of Rome.
Following his death, the Renaissance style he envisioned gave way to a more luxurious Mannerist design and finished with a Baroque influence and bell tower.
The church is wonderfully illuminated every night and is just a short walk away from Rynok Square on Soborna Square.
The Jesuit Church – Located on Teatralnaya Street in Old Town, this is one of the largest churches in the city.
It is believed to be one of the first churches in Eastern Europe to be created with the Baroque architectural style.
Once inside, you will find the splendid Baroque altar created around the 1750s as well as hidden network of dungeons or cellars, which have carried a certain mystique, along with many stories throughout the ages.
The Church of the Transfiguration – Located in Old Town just a bit north of Rynok Square is this lovely church dating back to the early 18th century.
The church is well-known for its gorgeous interior, so be sure to step inside. This church also served as a vital cultural center for Ukrainians in the early 20th century and was also one of the first parishes to reopen after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The Golden Rose Synagogue – This synagogue dates back all the way to 1581 when it was founded by Yitzhak ben Nachman.
It was completed a year later, making it the oldest synagogue in Ukraine. Sadly, the building was desecrated by the Nazis between 1941 and 1943.
The Golden Rose Synagogue has still left behind some original remanence of this historic building along with some artifacts.
It was made a World Heritage Site in 1998 and the city of Lviv has received international pressure to keep the surrounding areas off-limits for development, in hopes of further preservation.
The Church of St. Olha and St. Elizabeth – This church can be seen from the Central Railway Station, so it is located a bit away from the city center (it is about a 10-15 minute drive by taxi and will only cost a few euro).
This is considered a more modern building when considering Lviv’s history, having been built around 1910 by the Latin Archbishop, Saint Joseph Bilczewski. The architecture represents a neo-gothic style and was heavily influenced by the Votive Church in Vienna, Austria.
St. George’s Cathedral – This architectural delight is a wonderful example of Rococo
craftsmanship. The cathedral can be seen perched on a hill overlooking Lviv and consists of a bell tower (this is really quite famous, because it is said the oldest bell in Ukraine dating back to 1341), the Metropolitan’s Palace and other religious quarters.
The interior is also renowned for its religious works completed by one of Ukraine’s famous artists, Johan Pinzel.
The cathedral is well known for its richness and variation of religious icons, one of which is the world famous icon ‘Virgin Mary the Miracle Worker (the icon has supposedly been seen crying to warn the city before a siege or attack).’ This is just about a 20-30 minute walk from the central location of Prospect Svobody.
The Roman Catholic of St. Mary Magdalene – Located next to the Lviv Polytechnic just to the west of Old Town is this 17th
century church, known for the combination of Baroque and Renaissance styles. The church was plundered and burned at the beginning of the 18th century, but later rebuilt around 1760.
The building is distinguished by its two towers and statues of Saint Dominic and Saint Hyacinth standing between the towers.
Lviv National Art Gallery – Established in 1907, this is said to be one of the largest art museums in Ukraine, consisting of sculptures, paintings and even graphic art that encompasses both Western and Eastern Europe influence from the Middle Ages to the present.
There are well over 50,000 pieces of artwork inside, which are well categorized according to epoch, so be sure to give yourself plenty of time inside.
Like most museums in Lviv, it is closed on Monday. It is located right down the road from Ivan Franko University on Stefanyka Street.
The Dormition or Assumption Church – This is the main Orthodox Church in Lviv and is most distinguished by the 400 year old Korniakt Tower, one of the finest designs of Renaissance architecture in Eastern Europe. It is located towards the top of the hill in Old Town and is in active use today.
Kryyivka – Lviv
Located at building 14 in Rynok Square is this one of a kind bar and restaurant, offering life folk music throughout the late afternoons and evening.
The restaurant is themed after Ukrainian insurgents who fought against foreign invaders in Ukraine. In order to gain entry, you must say a password (slava Ukrayini, which means ‘glory to Ukraine’) to the security doorman, who will then greet you with a free shot of alcohol.
As soon as you walk down the stairs you will notice the murals on the wall and many military weapons throughout the tavern which give off a heavy nationalist sentiment.
With that being said, it is a very lively and friendly atmosphere inside. Don’t worry if you butcher the password, you will still be allowed in as long as you give it a try!
Lychakiv Cemetery – This is one of the most revered and historic cemeteries in Ukraine.
It contains the graves of many famous Poles and Ukrainians, including mathematicians, composers, historians, officers, aviators and writers.
It is also home to the Ukrainian National Army Memorial, the Field of Mars (contains the graves of 3,800 Soviet soldiers who died fighting against Nazi occupiers during the Great Patriotic War), the cemetery of the Lviv Defenders
(a burial place for the Poles and their allies who died fighting in the Polish-Ukrainian War and Polish-Soviet War) and Rebels’ Hill of January 1863 (a site for those who died during the Polish Uprising of January).