Lviv, Ukraine is an architectural and cultural treasure. UNESCO declared the historic center of the city a world heritage site. Expanding outward from Rynok Square, the streets of Lviv’s historic center overflow with stunning masterpieces of artistic craftsmanship. Italian architects and German builders worked alongside local artisans to create the beauty of Lviv’s historic downtown. The result is a magnificent combination of Italian and German Renaissance architectural traditions with a uniquely eastern European flair.
The city has been called Lwów, Lemberg, and Lvov. Over the years, different nations have controlled the city. Lviv has rested within the borders of Poland, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Austrian Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the West Ukrainian People’s Republic, and the Soviet Union. Centuries ago the sounds of German, Polish, Yiddish, Russian, and Ukrainian echoed together over the cobblestone streets of this stunning city. A place where different cultures come together, Lviv’s multi-cultural heritage makes this city elegant.
1. Rynok Square
Market, or Rynok, Square, is the central square of the city. German colonists laid the foundation for the square in the 14th-century. During the Renaissance, Italian artisans came to Lviv to live, work, and build. The architecture of the 50 individual monuments surrounding this square reflect this cultural legacy. The square is home to some of the most magnificent Italian architecture from the 16th and 17th centuries in eastern Europe.
Address: Rynok Square, Lviv, Ukraine
Website: Rynok Square, Lviv, Oekraïne
2. Potocki Palace
Potocki Palace was built for the former Minister President of Austria, Józef Potocki, during the 1880s and 1890s. The interior of the palace reflects the extravagant style made popular by King Louis XVI of France. The building currently houses the European Painting Collection of the 14th to the 18th centuries of the Lviv National Gallery of Art including works by Guerin and Goya.
Address: 15 Mykoly Kopernyka Street, Lviv, Ukraine
Website: Potocki Palace
3. Lviv National Gallery of Art
Lviv National Gallery of Art houses a vast collection of European art. The gallery has an outstanding display of Baroque Austrian paintings. Georges de La Tour’s “At the Moneylender’s” hangs in this museum. Works by Dutch, Flemish, and Spanish masters round out the museum’s treasures. The gallery has an extremely well curated collection of Polish art, including paintings by Artur Grottger and Jan Matejko.
Lviv National Gallery of Art
Address: 3 Stefanyka Street, Lviv, Ukraine
Website: Lviv National Gallery of Art
4. House of Scientists
This neo-Baroque palace, built in 1898, features silk wall paper, marble fireplaces, crystal chandeliers. An intricately decorated oak staircase lends an air of elegance to the inside of the building. The building was once used as a casino. A number of films have been shot at this location.
House of Scientists
Address: 6 Lystopadovoho Chynu Street, Lviv, Ukraine
Website: House of Scientists
5. Boim Chapel
The late-Renaissance Boim Chapel was built in the early 17th-century. Round windows allow light to stream gracefully into the chapel. A beautifully detailed sandstone facade with exquisite carvings of St. Peter, St. Paul, and the death of Christ, adorn the outside of the building. George Boim intended the chapel to serve as a family burial chapel.
Address: 1 Katedralna Square, Lviv, Ukraine
Website: Boim Chapel (in Russian)
6. St. George's Cathedral
A church in one form or another has rested on the site occupied by St. George’s Cathedral since the 13th-century. The cathedral serves as an important symbol of the intertwining of Ukraine’s eastern and western heritage. The cathedral houses the 17th-century icon of the Virgin Mary of Terebovlya. Other highlights include Jan Pinsel’s 18th-century sculptures depicting St.George’s dragon slaying activities.
Saint George's Cathedral
Address: 5 Svyatogo Yura Square, Lviv, Ukraine
7. Lviv Metropolita Basilica Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Lviv Metropolitan Basilica Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is also known as the Latin Cathedral. Construction began on the building in 1370. The architecture is a mixture of Baroque and Rococo styles. Teodor Axentowicz designed the cathedral’s intricate stained glass window depicting the Virgin Mary holding Polish and Lithuanian symbols.
Lviv Metropolitan Basilica Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Address: 1 Square Katedralna, Lviv, Ukraine
8. Lviv Historical Museum
The Lviv Historic Museum offers a number of exhibits including displays of early bronze age materials, ancient manuscripts and early printed books, paintings, clocks, and a vast collection of porcelain and metal artifacts. Also on view are exhibitions of clocks and furniture from various eras. The museum has several different components including: the Archaeology Department, the Department of Ancient History, the Department of Western Ukraine Lands History, Department of History of Ukrainian Diaspora, Department of Liberation Struggle, Department of Historical Treasures, Museum of Historical Treasures, and the Museum-Arsenal. The museum is housed in several different buildings around Lviv.
Lviv Historical Museum
Address: 6 Rynok Square, Lviv, Ukraine
Website: Lviv Historical Museum
9. Bernardine Church
The Bernadine Church was built and consecrated in the 17th-century. The blended architecture has elements of Dutch and Italian influences. Artists redecorated the inside of the church between 1738 and 1740. The bell tower was added to the church in 1773.
Address: 3A Soborna Square, Lviv, Ukraine
Website: Bernadine Church
10. Dormition Church
The Dormition Church is also known as the Assumption Church and the Wallachian Church. The church forms part of a complex that also contains the Kornyakta Tower and the Chapel of the Three Saints. The Kornyakta Tower, completed between 1572-1578, resembles Venetian bell towers from the same period. The Chapel of Three Saints and the church combine western European and traditional Ukrainian styles in both architectural and artistic elements. Full of arches and depictions of saints offset by golden trim, the brightness of the church remains subtly restrained.
Address: 5/7 Ruska Street, Lviv, Ukraine
Website: Dormition Church (in Russian)
11. Dominican Cathedral and Monastery
The Dominican Cathedral is a magnificent Baroque building from the 18th-century. Parts of the complex were used for storage when Lviv was part of the Soviet Union. The monastery currently houses the Lviv Museum of History of Religion.
Address: Muzejna square. 1, Lviv, Ukraine
Website: Dominican Cathedral (in Russian)
12. High Castle
King Kazimierz of Poland ordered the construction of Lviv’s High Castle in 1360. The fort that once stood at the top of Castle Hill is now in ruins, but the climb is well worth the effort. What’s left of the castle sits in the middle of a municipal park just north of the city. The walk to the top of the park is rewarded by amazing views of the old town and the surrounding countryside.
Address: Castle Hill, Lviv, Ukraine
Website: High Castle
One of many crossroads
As travelers we often think of borders we have crossed and places we have been. Lviv challenges our assumptions of what belongs where and to whom. Masterworks of Italian Renaissance architecture, Dutch painting, Greek orthodox monasteries, and Catholic cathedrals live side by side in a place that has been called home by Armenians, Italians, Russians, Poles, Ukrainians, Lithuanians, and Hungarians. Many people from near and far-off lands lived in, worked in and shaped this city. And together they made Lviv unforgettable.
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