If you’re planning a tour of Europe’s great historic cities, Lviv, a paragon of mixed architecture and culture, should absolutely be on your list! There are few other places in Europe that truly represent coexistence and cooperation as does the capital of the Galicia region in Ukraine. Named after the city’s founder, Prince Lev, “the city of the lion” is the ancient romantic city that will leave you looking forward to your next visit. Cobblestone Freeway Tour kindly hosted us on this trip and showed us the very best of Ukraine. Thanks to them, I got to experience the fascinating culture, learn about their past, and meet friendly locals.
Lviv’s international success can be traced back to its strategic location: many of the trade routes leading to other places in Europe intersect at Lviv. Merchants of many different cultures met and settled at the capital of Galicia. As a result, the city is a historical and cultural melting pot as Armenians, Italians, Scots, Swedes, and many others have been housed in its walls. The unique architecture seen in Lviv is unlike anywhere else: it’s a mix of Baroque, Renaissance, Gothic, Romanic, Empire, and Rococo styles.
The Chapel of the Boim Family
The Chapel of the Boim Family is one of the most impressive buildings in Lviv’s Old Town, and also a Unesco World Heritage Site. Constructed in the early 17th century on the grounds of a former city cemetery, this structure was originally intended for use as a crypt. As you can tell from the photos, the detail is just incredible.
Lviv Beer Museum – Lvivarnya
One of the many attractions Lviv has to offer is the beer museum, Lvivarnya, a modern, interactive exposition all dedicated to beer. It’s meant to be a highly sensory experience and visitors are taken through the history of beer, given a peek of the brewing process, and then encouraged to taste freshly brewed beer. This unique museum visit was such a fun way to learn about beer in Ukraine!
The Armenian Cathedral
The Armenian Cathedral, built in 1370, is a national monument listed on the World Heritage List. An additional claim to fame is that it is the sole temple apostoloi Armenian church in Western Ukraine. You can really feel the history the moment you walk through the doors. I loved all the different colors inside and enjoyed seeing the Renaissance arcades which are the oldest preserved part of the Cathedral.
The High Castle offers some of the best views of Lviv and is a must see! While over 123 meters high, the history of the High Castle is so much more than just being an impressive view. The Lviv Poles built this artificial mountain in 1900 to celebrate an important union. It was the 300th anniversary of the Union of Lublin as seen on the memorial stone that says “free-free, with equal levels- Poland, Lithuania and Russia”.
We posed for a group photo wearing our colorful embroidered shirts and dresses to celebrate Vyshyvanka (Embroidery) Day, which Ukrainians from all around the world celebrate on May 18th. They wear the Ukrainian embroidered shirts not only to preserve their ancestral traditions, but also to stand in solidarity with Ukraine. I felt so lucky to be there on this day and take part in this tradition!
St. George’s Cathedral
The history behind the St. George Cathedral is equally fascinating: it is claimed that a temple on Mount St. George has been around since the fourteenth century, but before that, it was a cave inhabited by a monk named Basil. It became a cathedral in mid-1700s, and is considered to be the best Baroque temple city. It is absolutely stunning from the inside and out.
For more impressive views, dare to climb the 408 steps to reach the Hall Observation Deck in Tower Hall. It is also home to one of the oldest clocks in Ukraine, a 160-year-old piece of history originally from Vienna.
Drunken Cherry Bar
One of my favorite local bars off Market Square in the old town of Lviv was the Drunken Cherry Bar. The cherry liquor they served is amazingly sweet, easy to drink, and not loaded down with alcohol (or at least I didn’t feel it!). Combine this delicious drink with the ambiance of their outdoor high top tables on the sidewalk, we were in heaven! This place is very cozy inside. and the decor is great with lots of maturing liquor in barrels and glass jugs. The entire ceiling is covered with full liquor bottles hanging to form a chandelier! It’s very popular among locals, and is always very crowded but so worth the visit.
Lviv Coffee Mining Manufacture
I learned that Lviv is a city famous for its coffee. In Rynok Square, located in the old city center, your nose will catch a rich coffee aroma before you even see the Lviv Coffee Mining Manufacture shop! Legend says that coffee beans grow underground, but I don’t quite know if I believe that. Inside, you’ll find a little cafe and a gift shop with several different types of coffee you can buy according to the weight. The most interesting part is downstairs… the caves! We went on a short tour to the manufacturer, where we were given a helmet (watch your down head there!) and found some more places to sit and try coffee from a can. hey unsealed the cans with a flame right before our very eyes, it was a very cool experience. Although it’s touristy, I would high recommend seeing the underground tunnels with the coffee mining equipment.
After touring the mines, you can sit, relax, and try some of their special coffee. They bring out the coffee in these tin cups and caramelize the sugar on the top with a blow torch. It was a very memorable experience!
Additionally, Lviv is home to one of the greatest European cemeteries, known for being the burial home of many important historical and cultural figures. Founded in 1786, the Lychakiv Cemetery contains some of the administrative elite from the capital. There’s a unique beauty and peacefulness here which definitely makes it worth a visit.
Lviv Opera House
And finally, don’t forget to stop by the Lviv Opera House! Built by Sigmund Gorgolewski, an architect who was considered a project genius, it was fashioned in the style known as “Vienna-Renaissance”. The Lviv Opera House still stages productions of opera and ballet today.
Lviv was a visual feast for the eyes! It is just one of the many beautiful places we saw on our adventures with Cobblestone Freeway Tours and I can’t wait to share more with you.