Lviv on Christmas and New Year days (Part 1). AlexTar travelog
Hello, my dear travelers! Welcome to Alextar travelog! Happy New Year! My 2021 started in one of the most beautiful cities in Ukraine – Lviv. The city is known as a centre of art, literature, music and theatre. Nowadays, the indisputable evidence of the city cultural richness is a big number of theatres, concert halls, creative unions, and also the high number of many artistic activities (more than 100 festivals annually, 60 museums, 10 theatres). The political and commercial role of Lviv attracted to it a number of ethnic groups with different cultural and religious traditions, who established separate yet interdependent communities within the city, evidence for which is still discernible in the modern town's landscape.
For most people Lviv starts at the airport or railway station. I travelled from Kyiv to Lviv by train. In the next videos I will tell you a little about this transport in Ukraine. It is one of the most notable pieces of Art Nouveau architecture in former Galicia.
The station was opened to the public in 1904. On a monthly basis, the terminal handles over 1.2 million passengers and moves 16 thousand tons of freight. There are different kinds of transportation in Lviv but the most popular and convenient is tram.
Right in front of the railway station there is a tram stop from where all trams go to the downtown districts. You can book a ticket from the driver or by mobile app. But remember to punch the paper ticket. In this trip I decided to try 2 apartments in different districts.
So Next time I will also tell you where I stayed in Lviv. So keep updated. The heart of the city, with its old buildings and cobblestone streets, survived Soviet period and German occupation during World War II largely unscathed. Lviv is one of the most important cultural centres of Ukraine. Lviv's historic centre has been on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage list since 1998.
In its urban fabric and its architecture, Lviv is an outstanding example of the fusion of the architectural and artistic traditions of central and eastern Europe with those of Italy and Germany. Rynok or Market Square is a central square of the city. According to archaeological data, the square was planned in the second half of the 13th century, during the reign of Prince Leo I of Galicia. The square is rectangular in shape with two streets radiating out of every corner. In the middle there was a row of houses, with its southern wall made by the Town Hall.
However, when in 1825 the tower of the Town Hall burned, all adjacent houses were demolished and a new hall, with a 65-metre tower, was built in 1835. The square was designed soon after Lviv’s location as a city. Originally, the buildings were Gothic; however, a great fire in 1527 destroyed most of the city. The new city, then known in Polish as Lwow, was rebuilt in Renaissance style, with a few remaining examples of Gothic architecture. Market Square was witness to several important events in the history of Poland and Ukraine. Around the square, there are 44 tenement houses, which represent several architectural styles, from Renaissance to Modernism.
In the four corners, there are fountains— wells from 1793, probably designed by Hartman Witwer. The sculptures represent four Greek mythological figures: Neptune, Diana, Amphitrite and Adonis. In front of the Town Hall, there was a pillory. During winter holidays the square turns into very festive place with Christmas decorations and fair where you can try local specialties and buy some souvenirs.
I recommend you to try mulled wine – it’s spiced wine warmed and very tasty. I wanted to go to the viewing platform on the top of city hall tower but unfortunately it was closed due to maintenance or coronavirus restrictions. Anyway if you have a chance to go there don’t hesitate to do it. The panorama is amazing.
Near the city hall there is a skating rink during winter season which is very popular and crowded sometimes. Around the Market square there are many beautiful historical sights like cathedrals and museums. The Dominican church and monastery is located in the city's Old Town, east of the market square. It was originally built as the Roman Catholic church of Corpus Christi, and today serves as the Greek Catholic church of the Holy Eucharist. Today the church is place of masses and organ concerts which you can attend on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Just listen how beautiful they sound.
I planned to go to the organ concert but they only have it if there are enough people. And on that day unfortunately there was no performance. But you also can visit the Lviv Museum of the History of Religion near the church.
They arrange guided tours for any number of people for only 50 hrivna (1.46 euro) per adult ticket with an excursion to vault under the church. Here you will know the history of religion in Lviv and Ukraine, and the tour guide will tell you very interesting stories about Dominican Order and the Church they built. The Dominican Order first arrived in Lviv during the 13th century and the first wooden church is said to have been built in 1234 within the Low Castle, founded by the wife of Leo I of Halych. It is built on the plan of the Greek Cross inscribed in an ellipsoid and topped with a monumental dome. Many centuries ago this vault was the first floor of the first built church, but during long time it sinked lower the nowadays ground.
The exposition is located in the building of the former Dominican monastery. Nowadays in the museum are demonstrated in interesting way the peculiarities of the appearance and development of the main religions of the world. The funds contain more than 50 thousand exhibits.
And, among them, there are unique ones — — a large collection of icons (XVI-XIX с.) and that of old Bibles. The museum staff regularly conducts scientific conferences and edits the scientific almanac about the church history. So, you see how interesting this place is.
Lviv is a very religious city, that’s why there are many important churches and cathedrals in the city center. Armenian street is the main street of the Armenian quarter, the place where Armenians lived in the medieval Lviv. It has an incredible Armenian Cathedral of the Assumption of Mary located on it, particular Armenian houses and several restaurants with Armenian style.
A small Armenian church was built in the year 1370, founded by an Armenian merchant from Caffa, and established as the mother church of an eparchy. It is said to have been modeled after the Cathedral of Ani in the ancient Armenian capital of Ani. The cathedral holds two wonder-working icons of St. Gregory the Illuminator and the Mother of God, brought in the 17th century from Yazlovets. Just north of the Cathedral lies a small convent of Armenian Benedictines, and to the south, adjoining the bell tower, the palace of the Armenian Archbishops, both built in the late 17th century.
It is one of the most popular places for taking wedding photos. With the tour guide Armenian quarter will be even more interesting. There is another very famous and popular church. The Archcathedral Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, usually called simply the Latin Cathedral is a 14th-century Roman Catholic cathedral located in the city's Old Town, in the south western corner of the market square, called Cathedral Square. The first church built on this site was a small wooden Roman Catholic church dedicated to the Holy Trinity, built in 1344 and lost in a fire six years later. In 1360, king Casimir III of Poland began the construction of the present day church, built in Gothic style, as the cathedral of the newly created Latin diocese.
The cathedral witnessed many significant events. In the year 1776 the Cathedral was refurbished in Baroque style and a tall bell tower was added. The miraculous icon of the Mother of God held in the Cathedral was crowned and placed in the main altar. But then it was moved to Kraków after World War II. The most beautiful decorations are made on the West side facade.
Also near the cathedral you will see a small building. It’s the Boim Chapel - a monument of religious architecture. It was constructed from 1609 to 1615 and is part of Lviv's Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are several places with panoramic view in the city. Unfortunately, most of them were closed. But the one on Memorial of Heroes of Nebesna Sotnya is the newest spot.
It’s located only 700 meters from market square, on Maksyma Kryvonosa street. The view from here isn’t as amazing as from the top of city hall tower but it’s free of charge and there are no restrictions for visiting it. Near the memorial there is an interesting building in style of medieval castle. It’s just a Main Department State Emergency Service of Ukraine in Lviv region. Walking down Pidvalna street you will reach ancient Gunpowder Tower.
It’s an outstanding monument of the Renaissance military and defensive architecture. Its value is in that it is the only element of the medieval Lviv’s fortification system, which survived in perfect state until now. The tower was raised on the defensive hill that was located outside the city fortifications’ outer line, in the middle of the 16th century, and protected the eastern approaches to the city. Next, you will see a Carmelite Church.
It was first mentioned in 1634 as the church of the monastery of the Barefoot Carmelites. In 1748 it was the scene of a notorious scuffle ("monomachia") between the Carmelites and their neighbours, the Capuchins. The suburban location caused the church to be rather well fortified, yet it was ravaged by the Cossacks in the Khmelnytsky Revolt and the Swedes in the Great Northern War. The entire façade was redesigned in the 19th century. Still, the building retains much of its original character and design. Especially noteworthy are the 300-year-old black marble altar and a series of frescoes executed by Giuseppe Pedretti in the 1730s.
Near the church there is a café which I’m going to tell you about in the next video about cafes and restaurants in Lviv. Wherever you go in Lviv it’s impossible to miss the Dormition Church and the most conspicuous landmarks, the Korniakt Tower, and The City Arsenal on the left, which houses an armoury museum. Keep walking down to crossroad of streets Vynnychenka and Lychakivska. Here is Hlyniany Gate. It is the focal point of the few remaining fortifications in Lviv.
It was built in 1618 to Fryderyk Getkant's designs in order to defend the approach from Hlyniany. The outer moat and the wooden galleries on the inside are the upshot of a 1970s reconstruction. To reach the gate you should find the underground walkway.
Just beyond the gate is the Bernardine church and monastery. It is located in the city's Old Town, south of the market square. The monastery along with the Roman Catholic church of St. Andrew now belong to the Order of St. Basil the Great.
The Franciscan Observantists, known in the region as Bernardines after their monastery in Kraków in order to distinguish them from Franciscan Conventuals, were invited to Lviv in 1460. In the 17th century the present day church and monastery were constructed in the same place in the style of Italian and Dutch mannerism and consecrated in 1630. As the complex was located outside Lviv's city walls it was equipped with its own fortifications from the east and south, mostly taken apart at the beginning of the 19th century.
The interior was refurbished in the Baroque style. The church managed to avoid being closed by the Austrian emperor Joseph II, although part of the monastery was taken over for the city archive. Since 1991 the complex is under the care of Ukrainian Greek Catholic Basilian Order and has undergone thorough renovation.
Among narrow streets and small squares of Old Town there is Golden Rose Synagogue. It was the oldest synagogue in Ukraine. In 1943 ruined by the Nazis.
It’s a place with very sad but important history. Lviv is popular among street musicians, so you can see many performances even in winter. They are very creative and usually play popular songs using traditional, classical or futuristic instruments. People gather around to support them with some tips.