Ukrainian edition of the FORBES magazine rated the city of Lviv (Lvov), situated in Western Ukraine 564km from Kyiv (1 hour 40 min flight, night train, car), as number four (after Kyiv, Odessa і Kharkov) in the list of Ukrainian cities with best recommendations for starting a business. Lviv won due to the factors which experts called “human resources” (number 1) and “investment climate” (number 2 in the country).
Sector of business services is considered to be one of the priority areas of business development in Lviv (Lvov). Tourism goes next. And this is not at all surprising, as during the last year this city with a 760 thousand population was visited by 900 000 tourists! Foreigners often come to Lviv. First of all, the city is only 70km away from the boundary with Poland, and second, the city is also interesting because of the fact that for many centuries it had been an apple of discord and belonged to different countries. From 1349 till 1772 it was under the rule of Poland and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, 1772-1918 – Austro-Hungarian Empire, 1918-1939 – Poland again, 1944-1991 – USSR. And here comes a question: who are the native citizens of Lviv? According to the population census held in 1931, 63,5% of Lviv population spoke Polish, 24,1% – Yiddish, 7,8% – Ukrainian and only 3,5% – Russian!
First records about Lviv go back to 1256. The city is considered to be founded by King Daniel I of Galicia, who named it after his son Lev (means 'lion'). This is an unbelievable city, the historical centre of which is included into the UNESCO cultural heritage list. Narrow paved streets, lots of greenery, cosy cafes, hospitable people, peculiar character and the unique soul of the city, which have been preserved for more than 7 centuries! Lviv belonged to the unique cultural space of Europe for centuries, and it turned the city into a pearl of architecture, centre of arts, handcrafts and book publishing.
In the 18-20 centuries Lviv was famous as the city of technical innovations and inventions. It is considered that gas and kerosene lamps were invented here. The first tram in Ukraine, at first horse and later electric one, was run in this city. The first telephone connection was made in Lviv in 1883, and in 1928 in this city the typhus vaccine was discovered. In the second half of the 19th century oil deposits were found here and in the beginning of the 20th century Lviv became the capital of the third oil production region in the world after the USA and Russia. The first Ukrainian musical academy was opened in Lviv. The first university on the territory of Ukraine again was founded in this very city. This is where the first standing city theatre, and later the first Ukrainian professional theatre were opened.
Lviv is the city where old and modern traditions form a strange but beautiful harmony. The city architecture combines Baroque and Gothic styles, Romanesque style and the Renaissance, Rococo and Empire style, Eclecticism and Constructivism. Polish and Austro-Hungarian magnates and patrons invited the most talented masters who created the unique style and character of the city. Lviv is an outdoor museum where one can see almost 2000 of architectural, historical and cultural monuments! Lviv possesses the greatest number of architectural monuments among all the cities in Ukraine. The centre of Lviv was included into the UNESCO world heritage list.
Take an idle walk along the streets in the historical part of the city and you will definitely feel the mystery of the Middle Ages! The central place of old Lviv was Market Square, almost rectangular in its form, with the city council, mansions and houses of city’s grand people in it. This was the place of trade, trials and punishing criminals. Long time ago on all four sides of the square there were wells, and now these wells are turned into beautiful fountains with sculptures of Neptune, Adonis, Diana and Amphitrite. In 1356 Lviv was granted with Magdeburg Rights, which asserted rights and liberties of citizens and their right for self-government. In the central part of the square the City Hall (Ratusha) is located, first records of which go back to 1381. Unfortunately, the original building could not be preserved as it had been on fire for several times. The modern building with a tower 65-metre tall (1835) has become the city’s symbol. The City Hall is protected by two lions. They are holding shields with an image of the city’s coat of arms and the city gate with towers, which symbolize Lviv’s power for defence. This is why the city motto, granted by Pope Alexander VII in 1658, is Semper fіdelіs (Always Faithful).
Many famous people lived and worked in Lviv, among them one should mention writers Wanda Wasilewska, Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, Stanislaw Lem, historians Mykhailo Hrushevskyi, Szymon Askenazy, musicians and composers Franz Mozart (the youngest son of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart), Yuri Bashmet, Sviatoslav Vakarchuk (Okean Elzy frontman), singers Solomiya Krushelnytska, Angelica Varum, actors Bohdan Stupka, Leonid Yarmolnik, directors Les Kurbas, Roman Viktiuk. Lviv is also closely connected with life and work of Balzac, Sholem Aleichem, Nadezhda Mandelstam and many other prominent people.
Lviv is an economical, cultural and educational centre of Western Ukraine. It is the place of numerous art galleries, theatre and music companies and more than 40 museums. Lviv State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre of Solomiya Krushelnytska is definitely worth visiting. The historic meeting of Central Europe Presidents was held in this building in 1999. You should also visit the ethnographic museum, which is unique in Ukraine, the first prison-museum in Ukraine, pharmacy-museum, “Shevchenkivskyi Gai”, Pototskyi Palace, “Arsenal” and so on.
The long-standing and honoured tradition of drinking coffee in Lviv is famous all over Ukraine. Every respectable Lviv resident is believed to drink coffee at least once a day. Lviv centre is full of wonderful cosy cafes where you can have a cup of this long time ago beloved drink. By the way, some researches show that coffee is the second in the list of popular drinks on the planet after water. And in Lviv they really know how to brew coffee. You will be offered lots of options beginning from classical coffee, brewed in a coffee-pot on hot sand, with spices, cardamom and cinnamon, to special innovatory recipes with unbelievable original taste. No surprise, the first coffee-house in Ukraine was opened in Lviv in 1871. And every year the city holds Coffee Festival during which the best coffee-house is chosen. Also, Lviv is called the chocolate capital of Ukraine. Lviv residents have a special word for chocolate – “chokoliada”. There are many shops with custom-made chocolate. Every year the city celebrates a four-day Chocolate Festival. English chocolate fountains 1,5m tall, huge artificial chocolate city made of 3 tons of chocolate, various crafted chocolate pieces that would fit every taste – this will stay in your mind for a long time!
Lviv is well-known for its restaurants where not only can you taste the delicious dishes of Ukrainian cuisine and other world cuisines, but also become a participant of a fabulous theatrical performance or historical events. For example, you are not permitted to enter restaurant “Kryivka” if you can’t give a strict man in the UIA uniform (Ukrainian Insurgent Army) the answer to a special password. And if you do manage to get into the underground cache of Ukrainian partisans, you should by all means taste “The Hero’s First Communion” (borsch), grilled beef “Alyoshka from hebe” and “Dinner of Forest Gauleiter” – they are worth it! Guests always leave “Kryivka” with local Medovuha and Kminivka as souvenirs, and one can also buy a lunch-to-go consisting of dishes that Ukrainian partisans usually had for lunch, and many other interesting things which remind of the heroic past of Ukraine’s liberation movement as well as demonstrate a brilliant sense of humor of the Ukrainians. Masoch-café is also worth visiting as it is dedicated to writer Leopold von Sacher-Masoch who was born in Lviv. Guests will not only be impressed by the interior of the café. Admirable waiters will serve you such treats as “Lustful despotissa”, “Sensual body”, “Slave”, “Mistress”, “Love ritual”. Oh no, it’s not what you think, these are just the names of sophisticated and delicious dishes! For example, “Cruel Beauty” is salmon fillet basted with teriyaki on vegetable ragout.
All the year round Lviv (Lvov) holds lots of festivals, contests and concerts. In summer and winter, in spring and autumn, this old hospitable city will welcome you with sincere smiles of its citizens and will gladly open the door to all its wonders. Do not miss such an opportunity!
Due for visiting in Lviv: Market Square, Opera Theatre, Latin Cathedral, Dominican Church, St. George’s Cathedral, Armenian cathedral, Lviv High Castle, City Hall, Historical Museum at the Market Square, “Shevchenkivskyi Gai”.
Restaurants in Lviv with Ukrainian cuisine: Budmo, Vertep, Gutsulska Grazhda, Gutsulskyi Dvir, Zolotyi Vepr, Mizhnarodnyi Varenychnyi Fond (International Varenyky Fund), Kryivka.
Lviv hotels: Citadel Inn*****, Swiss Hotel****, Eurohotel****, Dnister****, Opera****, Volter****, Nton***, Grand Hotel.
The best way to get to Lviv from Kyiv by car is by taking Zhytomyr rout E40 (M06), about 540km. And you can get to Lviv from Poland through customs point Krakovets (E40, M09), about 70km.
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