First steps into Lviv, the architectural jewel of Ukraine

This morning we took a 2 hour train from Ternopil to Lviv in western Ukraine. Lviv and Ternopil are both in the Galicia region (not to be confused with Galicia of Spain), and have some similarities in history and are both strongholds of Ukrainian culture and patriotism.

The moment I exited the magnificent train station, I was awed by the difference in the two urban landscapes. It didn’t come as a surprise, as Lviv is a city of about 750 000, while Ternopil has about 210 000 people. The architecture in Lviv, as we first saw on the tram to the city centre, was absolutely marvellous, and it could be mistaken for one of the more famous European cities like Prague, Budapest or Vienna (though I’ve never been there). Lviv should be on the same scale of architectural brilliance as them.

Here are 2 photos of the city centre near the tower. Unfortunately I’m unable to upload my photos from my better camera these few days. These photos from my phone camera absolutely do not do justice to the great architectural beauty of the city.

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Later in the day, we hope to catch a ballet performance at the famous Lviv Opera House. Little known fact: a river runs through BELOW the opera house! Many years ago, during the Hapsburg era, the king wanted to build the opera house, but this minor river stood in the path. He didn’t want to have a city centre that replicates Venice’s waterways, so he wanted the river to be covered. If you were to enter the opera house’s eastern side gate (it’s just opposite our hostel), and head to the basement, you can see the remnants of a bridge over the river. Yes, all these below the grand opera house.

In addition, there’s a cafe in the same basement. I guess it’s opera themed. We had to take off our jackets, and put on one of the fancy drama costumes the cafe provided, before we were allowed to enter. (Thank you Leo for the introduction to this river and cafe!)

Every city is full of hidden mysteries.

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69 thoughts on “First steps into Lviv, the architectural jewel of Ukraine

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