Lviv? Lvov? Lwow? Lemberg? Leopolis?

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February 9th 2017
Published: April 18th 2018
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As with any lower profile nation of this world, you might readily assume that the nation's capital city is the final word in the cultural statement of the country in question, and in the case of the Ukraine, I was in search of evidence to prove this statement of fact wrong. So, after a fulfilling stint on the ski slopes in Bukovel, the next port of call was the compact city of Ivano Frankivsk, which is only about two hours (maximum) bus journey from the ski resort. The city being the size it is, hotel location is not really of paramount importance but given the reasonable hotel prices, it is probably wise to look for a centrally-located hotel, and in this case it happened to be the hotel Franz, a tidy-looking property at a bargain basement price. All of this meant that waking up on the first morning and heading out on a city tour, the route unfolded with ease and the city sights seemed to reveal themselves in relatively quick succession. A city visitor may find elements of various cultures intertwined within Ivano-Frankivsk, the Polish city hall, the Austrian city's business center, the Soviet prefabricated apartment blocks at the city's urban-rural fringe, and others. Beyond the occasional park and diminished shopping complex, there are attractions worthy of photo opportunities as well as market-style shopping worth a look, in simply because of the reasonable price tags. Leaving Ivano Frankivsk, a bus ride of roughly equal duration heading north takes the traveller to the much-lauded city of Lviv which goes by a variety of different names (see blog entry's title) - please don't ask me why! Lviv's historic churches, buildings and relics date from the 13th century – 18th century (Polish rule). In recent centuries it was spared some of the invasions and wars that destroyed other Ukrainian cities. Its architecture reflects various European styles and periods. After the fires of 1527 and 1556 Lviv lost most of its gothic-style buildings but it retains many buildings in renaissance, baroque,and the classic styles. There are works by artists of the Vienna Secession, Art Nouveau and Art Deco. For my money Lviv's crowning glory happens to be the grand and stately-looking Opera House which would not look out of place in Vienna from the perspective of either the exterior or the interior. A jaunt around town will reveal architectural grandness of a similar magnitude, and indeed in the context of this mighty fine city, we are talking fine features in a compact cluster, which have only really just been picked up on in recent times as tourists have started to trickle in. Lviv is also famous for its numerous coffee houses, so a fine souvenir from one of the numerous centrally-located souvenir shops is a bag of coffee, either pre-ground or in beans format. Eating out is also a pleasure of substantial proportions, and all you really need to do is to research into the options and take your pick from what is available. The question which probably remains is whether this city really has anything to rival the Nation's capital Kiev, and depending on your viewpoint my overall take on the issue is that your appreciation for and admiration of one of the two cities could very easily transpose to the other and make you fond of both urban areas. By way of conclusion, this was a small city in Ukraine with a sizable soul and a large sense of appeal, and as with other acknowledged gems of this earth, all it would really take is a sufficient amount of publicity to make the world sit up and listen and realise that truly great things do indeed come in small, compact packages.


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