It is a city of Galician princes, Polish kings, and Austrian emperors. It is a city of Leopold von Sacher-Masoch and Stanislaw Lem, Ivan Franko and Roman Viktyuk, Solomiia Krushelnytska and Volodymyr Ivasiuk. Who can tell about the city better than those who were born in it, who grew up or studied there? Ukrainian celebrities talk about “their city" for whom Lviv is not just a tiny dot on the map.
If you want to know Lviv better, you should look for inspiration admiring its unique architecture or take a walk down the streets of Old Town which paving keeps the secrets of the Middle Ages. You can drop into one of its numerous cafes for a cup of savory coffee or simply listen to street musicians, check out art galleries and observe Lviv residents. All of that makes the city unique and inimitable. The way it is.
Olga Freimuth, a compere of "Inspector Freimuth on 1 + 1" TV channel
Olga Freimuth was not born in Lviv, though she spent her student years in Lviv National University at the Faculty of International Journalism.
Whenever I’m in Lviv, no matter how busy I can be, I put off everything and come to the city center for at least a few minutes to visit Latin cathedral - people sometimes call it “Polish”. Whether it is cold or hot, I always go there to pray. There are such kinds of churches where God always “picks up the phone”. It seems to me it is there - in Latin cathedral - where I impetrated my fate.
I was studying at the National University of Lviv and moonlighted as a waitress. Almost every day my route ran from the alma mater to "Tsukernya"- a café which catered cakes to the restaurant where I worked. On my way there I dropped into the cathedral and prayed, saying, "Thank you, Lord, for all I have. Still, could you find a place for me, somewhere in journalism? I do want to be a journalist!" This is how I convinced God to help my dreams come true. Nowadays I keep coming back to thank Lord.
There is another place in Lviv listed as my favorite. It is Lychakiv cemetery. I am far from being a Goth, nor I am a fan of various subcultures. For me, it is the only opportunity to meet the artists I admire. Although these people have been in heaven, they are alive for me. This is a place where Solomiia Krushelnytska was buried. There is the tomb of Vladimir Ivasyuk. I like to walk passing by the tombstones reflecting on the lives and destiny of these people.
It seems to me that Lviv has a big problem with places to eat. On the one hand, there are plenty of conceptual tourist attractions in the city. On the other hand, cuisine is the biggest issue. This is why I'm always half-starved in Lviv. Once in "Inspector Freimuth”, we focused on the iconic places in Lviv. The facade of an attractive concept can hide dirt and unprofessional cooks in a place loved by many people.
Pavlo Gudimov, musician, gallery owner
Pavlo Gudimov, a musician and gallery owner, has been living in Kiev for 15 years so far. Still he comes to his home town Lviv several times a year.
Despite the fact that I have been living in Kyiv for over 15 years, I'm a frequenter of Lviv. This is why my memories of the city are quite fresh. All these tiny houses, backstreets, galleries and museums are a part of my reality, not just a couple of nostalgic childhood reminiscences. My educational background is connected to landscape architecture. Hence Lviv parks attracted me since I was a child.
Lviv is one of those few Ukrainian cities belted with green zones including the parks in the city centre.
You simply wander from one park to another. Druzhby park runs into Zalizna voda, Zalizna voda is connected with Stryisky park which, in its turn, is followed by the park named after Bogdan Khmelnytsky. Further on it transforms into the Citadel and Ivan Franko park. They all were built in different times. Ivan Franko park is the oldest square in Lviv as well as it is the oldest in Ukraine. It was founded as a Jesuit garden built in the medieval period. Later it became the first public park, a real entertainment center. Can you imagine a kind of Disneyland at the beginning of the last century? Even at those times Lviv was an extremely progressive city.
Lviv is also rich in museums. I do recommend you to visit the National museum, the Art gallery and the Historic museum. You should also see the Gallery of contemporary art in the upper part of Stryisky park as well as the museum of Johann Pinzel in Mytna square. By the way, the exposition of Pinzel's sculptures had a huge success in the Louvre.
I adore Lviv restaurants and its little confectionaries. Staryi mur tiny cafe in Serbska street is one of my favorite places. They only serve tea and coffee. If you dream of meeting modern Lviv artists, don't hesitate to pop in for a cup of something hot. It's a meeting point for people of art, such as Ravsky, Kostyrko, Sagaidakovsky.
Armenian cathedral with its unbelievable atmosphere is my favorite sacral place. By the way, Jan Henrick Rozen, a Polish artist, was invited to paint the walls and created stained-glass windows for the cathedral.
Vitaly Kozlovsky, a musician
"I love Stryisky park. Whenever I come to the city, I'm sure to go there. It is a place with incredible energy, "- says Vitaly Kozlovsky
Lviv calls back memories of my first love. Here and there in the city I see the benches of my dates. As you might know, there is an alley of benches in Shota Rustavelly street, right next to the trolleybus stations. There is a tiny secret place of my first kiss. I think I was 14 or 15 years old. The feeling of that happiness and warmth is almost tangible, even now, so many years later.
Lyubko Deresh, a writer
I'm simply in love with Lviv, its Old town, parks, streets and backyards.
But Lviv is not only made of all of this. I have a few favorite places in the center, such as "Odynychka" cafe right next to the Boim chapel, behind the Cathedral. It is a stylish and cozy place. I like the courtyard near the Armenian Church. It used to be a focal point for hipsters’ gatherings. I also used to come to the place searching for communication. Apparently, the tradition is still alive and it's being passed on. I adore the route from Virmenska street to the square near the Dominican church. It is really cozy, shady, and quiet place. The city fireworks were once launched from here. You see, there are a lot of medieval secrets lurking in every corner.
I like to be somewhere in Fedorov square at about 5 pm in spring or even in summer and peer into the Porohova Tower and the High Castle, thinking that it would be cool to take a walk there. But in fact, giving up this idea, I would wander along the Arsenal in order to be blinded by the evening sun in Brativ Rohatyntsiv street and its shop windows.
What else? I really love the rooftop of Gasova Liampa. It's a miracle to watch the panorama of Lviv from there. I love it more than the High Castle as the correlation of the efforts you spend to enjoy the city view is in favor of Gasova Liampa. And now I share the most intimate thing about Lviv… On a late winter night I stand there, in the High Castle, and hark to the sounds that come far from Zamarstyniv. It's February. The snow is melting and the thaw turns the High Castle into a perfect glaze. There is someone walking down there along the railroad hitting the trains on the wheels with a hammer on a long handle. The High Castle is all wrapped up with a blanket of fog. It's mysterious. It's magic then. Apart from those mysterious moments of February, Zamarstyniv is not on my list of favorites. I must admit, though, it still looks inviting from quite a distance.
I love the descent from Krakivska to Shpytalna street where Krakivsky market begins. Kleparivska is a passion I can't explain. I might say, my love for this street is pure. I adore the corner of Franko University as well. It's right next to Budynok Vchenyh. What a pleasure it is just to be there waiting for a bus at summer season when the air is hot. I also like some secret places of Levandivka where desolation is in the air and it feels like being in the country. I love the railroad that gets you from Lyubinska to Levandivka - I followed this route to visit a friend studying in the lyceum.
The side of Stryisky market is another, completely different story. There is Shota Rustaveli street, which used to be Shevchenko avenue, where I loved to come to "Svitoch" store which once was a shop with audiotapes. The very place is another gentle reminiscence - there are two Ukrainian bookstores. I do not like them, or rather - I like them from a distance, as well as Bohdan Khmelnytsky's mace. Then my special place comes. It's near Grushevskogo street where the area of Biological Faculty begins. These are holy places. Especially when you go up Dragomanova street. There should be Dragomanova library. There, at the very top, a kind of mystery goes on. You can feel it in early spring. You should come there at noon or just after. Everything melts. The birds are singing. I do recommend to go there and to listen to them. And please share your impressions with friends.
We go further down Shota Rustaveli street just right up to Stryisky market. These are the sweetest sweets. Perhaps, it is the only market place coming to which I feel a kind of joy. You can follow the mystery route up Stryiska street, especially crossing the park. It's alright in autumn. Summer route is fine as well. The densest emotions settle there on late autumn nights when you make your way back home through the park. Or then again, in the fall, when the fogs are thick.
Julia Borysko, TV presenter "TSN. The Night "
Since her student days, Julia Borisko has enjoyed her favorite pleasure route through the deserted streets of the city center.
I lived in Lviv for 21 years. Here I graduated from the school and the university. Here I have a whole collection of places to walk for pleasure or hang out with friends. A 'must visit place' whenever I come to the city is to drink coffee somewhere with a view on the Boim chapel. There once was a cemetery. Nowadays it's a lively tourist destination. In the morning there are many people of Lviv who love to start the day over with "a cup of coffee ", as they say. My husband's parents live in the very center - you can spot the roof of the Boim Chapel from their balcony. Recently Lviv has become a place of pilgrimage for the huge number of tourists. Being a kind of introvert who avoids large crowds, I prefer to work out my gastronomical passion rather than walking around the city. I'm interested in new restaurants that are popular among the locals and that are not cool enough to worship-visitors. For example, there are some near the Armenian courtyard, behind the Arsenal, or somewhere in the cold old cellars of Valova street.
When do I like to walk around the city? I like it when the weather is nasty, when there are almost no people on the streets. Since my student days I've had a walking route down deserted streets around the city center. When Lviv was trapped in lingering rains, I took an umbrella and spent hours wandering around the city. When it begins to rain during my stay in Lviv, I still can’t help to remember my old habits.
Pavlo Tabakov, a musician
Pavlo Tabakov, the first winner of "Golos Krainy" TV show, comes to his hometown in search of inspiration
I come here for inspiration. And it is everywhere: in the ancient cobblestones, in unique architecture, picturesque cafes, in open and smiling faces of the strangers. It's an ideal place for creative work.
Museina square and its main attraction - the fabulous Dominican cathedral are some of my favorite parts of the city. When I have free time, I walk into the temple just to sit, to think, to absorb a piece of its positive energy. Here in Museina Square, and a little further, in Plosha Rynok there is Europe, not just Lviv. Those who once visited the city, are sure to come back again. And it's worth it!
Lviv made me who I am. Here my parents bought me my first accordion, guitar and the piano. Here, in Valova street, 18, at Musical Pedagogical School named Filaret Kolessa, I was finally convinced that my future would be on the scene. By the way, on the premises of my alma mater there used to be two monasteries - male and female. So you can imagine the energy that these walls have absorbed, where music classes are located directly in the former cells.
I remember the famous underpass in Mytnaya square, it makes me smile. There was my improvised scene when I was 16 or 17. Along with a friend from a medical school, we took the guitars and spent there almost all summer days playing world hits. It earned us some dumplings, potato pancakes and the beer.
Some facts about Lviv city:
Lviv has over 20 parks and green zones, there are 2 botanical gardens, and 16 natural monuments, making it one of the greenest cities in the world.
Lviv is the most popular tourist city of Ukraine. Last year it was attended by a record number of tourists - 2 million people.
Lviv is a unique blend of different cultures. Where else in the city center could you see magnificent examples of Ukrainian, Polish, Armenian, Jewish, German, Austrian, and other cultures?
East courtyard of the Armenian Cathedral is one of the most beloved and popular tourist places of the city.
Lviv Opera House, built at the beginning of last century by the architect Zygmunt Gorgolewski, is compared to Paris and Vienna Operas.
Lviv tram is another attraction of the city. It was launched on May, 31, 1894.
Well-known Ukrainian writer Lyubko Deresh graduated from the Faculty of Economics of Lviv University.
Photos: Alexander Chekmenev (1), Maxim Geleverya (1), shutterstock (7), by press-service of "1 + 1" (2), Pavlo Tabakov (1), Vitaly Kozlovsky (1), Anna Vishtak (3)
The original text: Viva! magazine