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Lviv / Lvov Ukraine Information

Lviv (Ukrainian: Львів L'viv, IPA: [lʲwiw] Polish: Lw?w; Russian: Львов, L'vov; German: Lemberg; Latin: Leopolis; see also other names) is a city in western Ukraine. The city is regarded as one of the main cultural centers of today's Ukraine[1] and historically also for Ukraine's neighbor, Poland, as the city before WWII and the following population transfers was the second most important Polish cultural centre. The historical heart of Lviv with its old buildings and cobblestone roads has survived World War II and ensuing Soviet presence largely unscathed. The city has many industries and institutions of higher education such as the Lviv University and the Lviv Polytechnic. Lviv is also a home to many world-class cultural institutions, including a philharmonic orchestra and the famous Lviv Theatre of Opera and Ballet. The historic city centre is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Lviv celebrated its 750th anniversary with a son et lumi?re in the city centre in September 2006.

Lviv was founded in 1256 in Red Ruthenia by King Danylo Halytskyi of the Ruthenian principality of Halych-Volhynia, and named in honor of his son, Lev. Together with the rest of Red Ruthenia, Lviv was captured by the Kingdom of Poland in 1349 during the reign of Polish king Casimir III the Great. Lviv belonged to the Kingdom of Poland 1349–1569, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth 1569–1772, the Austrian Empire 1772–1918 and the Second Polish Republic 1918–1939. With the Invasion of Poland at the outbreak of the Second World War, the city of Lviv with adjacent land were annexed and incorporated into the Soviet Union, becoming part of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic from 1939 to 1941. Between July 1941 and July 1944 Lviv was under German occupation and was located in the General Government. In July 1944 it was captured by the Soviet Red Army and the Polish Home Army. According to the agreements of the Yalta Conference, Lviv was again integrated into the Ukrainian SSR.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the city remained a part of the now independent Ukraine, for which it currently serves as the administrative centre of Lviv Oblast, and is designated as its own raion (district) within that oblast. On 12 June 2009 the Ukrainian magazine Focus assessed Lviv as the best Ukrainian city to live in.

History of Lviv

Archeologists have demonstrated that the Lviv area was settled by the 5th century. From the ninth century in the area of present-day Lviv, between Castle Hill and the river Poltava, there existed a Lendian settlement - in the tenth century the Lendians established a fortified settlement on Castle Hill. In 1977 it was discovered that the Orthodox church of St. Nicholas had been built on a previously functioning cemetery. In 981, the Cherven Towns area was captured by Vladimir I and fell under the rule of Kievan Rus.

Kingdom of Poland

During the wars over the succession of Galicia-Volhynia Principality Poland gained control over Lviv and adjacent region in 1349. As a part of Kingdom of Poland, and later the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, Lviv, known in Polish as Lw?w, became the capital of the Ruthenian Voivodeship created in 1389.

In 1356 Casimir III of Poland brought in German burghers and within 7 years granted the Magdeburg rights which implied that all city matters were to be resolved by a council elected by the wealthy citizens. The city council seal of the 14th century stated: S (igillum): Civitatis Lembvrgensis.

In 1414 city became the seat of a Catholic Archdiocese. In 1444 Lviv was granted with the staple right, which resulted in city's growing prosperity and wealth, as it became one of major trading centers on the merchant routes between Central Europe and Black Sea region. It was also transformed into a one of main fortresses in the kingdom.

As Lviv prospered it became religiously and ethnically diverse with Germans, Poles, Ruthenians, Armenians and Jews being the most important nationalities living within the city. With passing time most of them had assimilated to the dominant Polish culture and became polonized.

In 1572 the first publisher of books in Ukraine Ivan Fedorovych, a graduate of the University of Krakow, settled in Lviv for a brief period when he was chased out of Moscow. The city became a significant centre for Eastern orthodoxy with the establishment of an orthodox brotherhood, a Greek-Slavonic school and a printer which published the first full versions of the Bible in Church Slavonic in 1580.

The 17th century brought invading armies of Swedes, Hungarians from Transylvania, Russians and Cossacks to its gates. However, Lviv was the only major city in Poland which was not captured by the invaders. In 1672 it was besieged by the Ottomans who also failed to conquer it. Lviv was captured for the first time by a foreign army in 1704 when Swedish troops under King Charles XII entered the city after a short siege.

Habsburg Empire In 1772, following the First Partition of Poland, the region was annexed by Austria. Known in German as Lemberg, the city became the capital of the Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria. The city grew dramatically under Austrian rule, increasing in population from approximately 30,000 at the time of Austrian annexation in 1772 to 206,100 by 1910. In 1773, the first newspaper in Lviv, Gazette de Leopoli, began to be published. In 1784, a German language University was opened which was closed in 1805. In 1817, the University was re-opened.

In the 19th century, the Austrian administration attempted to germanise the city's educational and governmental functioning. Many cultural organizations which did not have a pro-German orientation were closed. After the revolution of 1848, the language of instruction at the University shifted from German to include Ukrainian and Polish. Around that time, a certain sociolect developed in the city known as the Lw?w dialect. Considered to be a type of Polish dialect, it draws its roots from numerous other languages besides Polish.

In 1853, it was the first European city to have street lights due to innovations discovered by Lviv inhabitants Ignacy Łukasiewicz and Jan Zeh. In that year kerosene lamps were introduced as street lights which in 1858 were updated to gas and in 1900 to electricity.

After the so-called Ausgleich of February 1867, the Austrian Empire was reformed into a dualist Austria-Hungary and a slow yet steady process of liberalization of Austrian rule in Galicia started. From 1873, Galicia was de facto an autonomous province of Austria-Hungary with Polish and, to a much lesser degree, Ukrainian or Ruthenian, as official languages. The Germanisation had been halted and the censorship lifted as well. Galicia was subject to the Austrian part of the Dual Monarchy, but the Galician Sejm and provincial administration, both established in Lviv, had extensive privileges and prerogatives, especially in education, culture, and local affairs. The city started to grow rapidly, becoming the 4th largest in Austria-Hungary, according to the census of 1910. Many Belle ?poque public edifices and tenement houses were erected; the buildings from the Austrian period, such as the opera theater built in the Viennese neo-Renaissance style, still dominate and characterize much of the centre of the city.

During Habsburg rule, Lviv became one of the most important Polish, Ukrainian and Jewish cultural centers. In Lviv, according to the Austrian census of 1910, which listed religion and language, 51% of the city's population were Roman Catholics, 28% Jews, and 19% belonged to the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. Linguistically, 86% of the city's population used the Polish language and 11% preferred the Ukrainian language. Lviv was home to the Polish Ossolineum, with the second largest collection of Polish books in the world, the Polish Academy of Arts, the Polish Historical Society, the Polish Theater and Polish Archdiocese. At the same time, the city also housed the largest and most influential Ukrainian institutions in the world, including the Prosvita society dedicated to spreading literacy in the Ukrainian language, the Shevchenko Scientific Society, the Dniester Insurance Company and base of the Ukrainian cooperative movement, and it served as the seat of the Ukrainian Catholic Church. Lviv was also a major center of Jewish culture, in particular as a center of the Yiddish language, and was the home of the world's first Yiddish-language daily newspaper, the Lemberger Togblat, established in 1904.

In the early stage of World War I, Lviv was captured by the Russian army in September 1914 but retaken by Austria–Hungary in June the following year.

Polish-Ukrainian War Further information: Polish-Ukrainian War

After the collapse of the Habsburg Monarchy at the end of World War I Lviv became an arena of battle between the local Polish population and the Ukrainian Sich Riflemen. Both nations perceived the city as integral part of their new statehoods which at that time were forming in the former Austrian territories. On the night of 31 October - 1 November 1918 the Western Ukrainian National Republic was proclaimed with Lviv as its capital. 2,300 Ukrainian soldiers from the Ukrainian Sich Riflemen (Sichovi Striltsi), which had previously been a corps in the Austrian Army, took control over Lviv. The city's Polish majority opposed the Ukrainian declaration and began to fight against the Ukrainian troops. During this combat an important role was taken by young Polish city defenders called Lw?w Eaglets. For the courage of its inhabitants Lviv was awarded the Virtuti Militari cross by J?zef Piłsudski on 22 November 1920.

The Ukrainian forces withdrew outside Lvov's confines by 21 November 1918, after which elements of Polish soldiery begun to loot and burn much of the Jewish and Ukrainian quarters of the city, killing approximately 340 civilians (see: Lw?w pogrom (1918).The retreating Ukrainian forces besieged the city. The Sich riflemen reformed into the Ukrainian Galician Army (UHA). The Polish forces aided from central Poland, including General Haller's Blue Army, equipped by the French, relieved the besieged city in May 1919 forcing the UHA to the east. Despite Entente mediation attempts to cease hostilities and reach a compromise between belligerents the Polish–Ukrainian War continued until July 1919 when the last UHA forces withdrew east of the river Zbruch. The border on the river Zbruch was confirmed at the Treaty of Warsaw, when in April 1920 Polish government signed an agreement with Symon Petlura where it was agreed that for military support against the Bolsheviks the Ukrainian People's Republic renounced its claims to the territories of Eastern Galicia.

In August 1920 Lviv was attacked by the Red Army under the command of Aleksandr Yegorov and Stalin during Polish-Soviet War but the city repelled the attack. Polish sovereignty over Lviv was internationally recognized when the Council of Ambassadors ultimately approved it in March 1923.

Second Polish Republic

In the interbellum period Lviv held the rank of Poland's third most populous city (after Warsaw and Ł?dź) and became the seat of the Lw?w Voivodeship. Right after Warsaw, it was the second most important cultural and academic centre of interwar Poland. In the academic year 1937–38 there were 9,100 students attending 5 higher education facilities including the renowned university and institute of technology. In 1928 professor Rudolf Weigl of the Lviv University discovered the vaccine against typhus. The major trade fair called Targi Wschodnie was established 1921. Its geographic location gave it an important role in stimulating international trade and fostering city's and Poland's economic development.

While the eastern part of the Lw?w Voivodeship had a relative Ukrainian majority in most of the rural areas the city itself did not (see table to the right). Prewar Lviv had also a large and thriving Jewish population. The Polish inhabitants of the city spoke the characteristic Lw?w dialect.

Although Polish authorities obliged themselves internationally to provide Eastern Galicia with an autonomy (including a creation of a separate Ukrainian university in Lviv) and even though in September 1922 adequate Polish Sejm's Bill was enacted, it was not fulfilled. Instead, the Polish government closed down many Ukrainian schools that had previously flourished during Austrian rule and closed down every Ukrainian university department at the University of Lviv with the exception of one. Unlike in Austrian times, when the size and amount of public parades or other cultural expressions corresponded to each cultural group's relative population, the Polish government emphasized the Polish nature of the city and limited public displays of Jewish and Ukrainian culture. Military parades and commemorations of battles at particular streets within the city, all celebrating the Polish forces who fought against the Ukrainians in 1918, became frequent, and in the 1930s a vast memorial monument and burial ground of Polish soldiers from that conflict was built in the city's Lychakiv Cemetery. The Polish government fostered the idea of Lviv as an eastern Polish outpost standing strong against eastern "hordes."

WWII and Soviet occupation further information: Battle of Lw?w (1939)

Following the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact Germany invaded Poland on 1 September 1939 and by 14 September Lviv was completely encircled by German units. Subsequently the Soviets invaded Poland on 17 September. The Soviet Union annexed the eastern part of Second Polish Republic including the city of Lviv which capitulated to the Red Army on 22 September 1939.

The city (named Lvov in Russian) became the capital of the newly formed Lviv Oblast. The Soviets opened many Ukrainian-language schools that had been closed by the Polish government and Ukrainian was reintroduced in the University of Lviv (where the Polish government had banished it during the interwar years), which became thoroughly Ukrainized and renamed after Ukrainian writer Ivan Franko. The Soviets also started repressions against local Poles and Ukrainians deporting many of the citizens. Waves of deportations started with the Poles followed by the Jews who had refused Soviet passports and then the Ukrainian nationalists.

Nazi occupation On 22 June 1941, Nazi Germany and several of its allies invaded the USSR.

In the initial stage of Operation Barbarossa (late June 1941) Lviv was taken by the Germans. The evacuating Soviets killed most of the prison population. Wehrmacht forces arriving in the city discovered evidence of the Soviet mass murders committed by the NKVD and NKGB. Ukrainian nationalists, organized as a militia, and the civilian population were allowed to take revenge on the "Jews and the Bolsheviks" and indulged in several mass killings in Lviv and the surrounding region, which resulted in the deaths estimated at between 4,000 and 10,000 Jews (see: Lviv pogroms below).

The Lviv pogroms

Where two massacres of Jews living in and near in the city of Lw?w, the occupied Republic of Poland (now Lviv, Ukraine), that took place from 30 June to 2 July and 25–29 July 1941 during World War II. According to Yad Vashem 6 thousands Jews were killed by Einsatzgruppen, some Ukrainian nationalists and Ukrainian militia. During the interbellum, Lviv had the third-largest Jewish population in Poland, which swelled further to over 200,000 Jews as refugees fled from the Nazis. Documents recently released by the Ukrainian Security Services allege that the group OUN (Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists) may have been involved less than originally thought.

First pogrom - Immediately after the Germans entered the city, Einsatzgruppen with the participation of Ukrainian nationalists organized a pogrom in retaliation for the retreating NKVD's mass-murder of approximately 2000-10000 prisoners (including mainly Polish and Ukrainian intellectuals and political activists) at Lviv's three prisons (Brygidki prison, Łąckiego street prison and Zamarstynowska street prison). According to Ukrainian scholars most of these victims were Ukrainian. Although Jews had also been among the victims of the NKVD, they were accused as a group by some Ukrainians of having cooperated with the Soviets. Before the massacre, the Germans and the Ukrainians spread rumors implicating the Jews in killing Ukrainian political prisoners. The crowd ran wild—assaulting, abusing, torturing, and murdering Jews, and raping Jewish women as German soldiers took pictures. The Ukrainian militia (which later became the Ukrainian Auxiliary Police) hastily created by the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists after the occupation of the Lviv participated in the pogrom. During the four-week pogrom from the end of June to early July 1941, it is alleged that nearly 4,000 Jews were murdered.

Petlura days - A second pogrom took place in the last days of July 1941 and was labeled "Petliura Days" after the assassinated Ukrainian leader Symon Petlura. This pogrom was allegedly organized by Ukrainian nationalist circles with German encouragement. On 25 July, Ukrainian militants from outside the city, joined the Ukrainian militia (which later became the Ukrainian Auxiliary Police) and participated in acts of violence against Jews. This group assaulted any Jew whom they encountered with clubs, knives, and axes. Jews were taken to the Jewish cemetery and murdered brutally. Ukrainian police circulated in groups of five and consulted prepared lists. Some 2,000 people were murdered in approximately three days. According to Richard Breitman 5000 Jews died as a result of this pogrom. In addition, some 3,000 persons, mostly Jews, were executed in the municipal stadium by the German military.

Afterwards - The Lviv ghetto was established after the pogroms, holding some 120,000 Jews, most of whom were deported to the Belzec extermination camp or killed locally during the following two years. Following the pogroms, Einsatzgruppen killings, harsh conditions in the ghetto, and deportation to the Nazi concentration camps, including the Janowska concentration camp located on the outskirts of the city, resulted in the almost complete annihilation of the Jewish population. When the Soviet forces reached Lviv in 1944 driving out the Nazi occupation, only 200–300 Jews remained The Germans during the occupation of the city committed numerous other atrocities including the "killing of Polish university professors".

On 30 June 1941 Yaroslav Stetsko proclaimed in Lviv the Government of an independent Ukrainian state allied with Nazi Germany. This was done without pre-approval from the Germans and after 15 September 1941 the organizers were arrested.

The Sikorski–Mayski Agreement signed in London on 30 July 1941 between Polish government-in-exile and USSR's government invalidated the September 1939 Soviet-German partition of Poland, as the Soviets declared it null and void.

Meanwhile German-occupied Eastern Galicia at the beginning of August 1941 was incorporated into the General Government as Distrikt Galizien with Lviv as district's capital.

Germany viewed Galicia, formerly Austrian crown land, as already aryanised and civilized. As a result the Ukrainian Galicians escaped the full extent of German acts in comparison to Ukrainians who lived in Ukraine. German policy towards the Polish population in this area was more harsh and comparable to the situation in the rest of the General Government. According to the Third Reich's racial policies Galician Jews became the main target of German repressions. Almost all of the Jewish Galicians were deported to concentration camps or killed. In 1941 there were approximately 200,000 Jews in Lviv. By the end of the war the Jewish population was virtually wiped out with only 200 to 300 Jews left alive.

Soviet re-occupation - The Soviet 3rd Tank Army entered Lviv again after the Lvov–Sandomierz Offensive of 22–24 July 1944. After the city was taken by cooperating Soviet forces and local resistance soldiers of Armia Krajowa (see: Lw?w Uprising), the local commanders of the Polish AK were invited to a meeting with the commanders of the Red Army where they were arrested by the NKVD.

In January 1945 the local NKVD arrested many Poles in Lviv where, according to Soviet sources, on 1 October 1944 Poles still made a clear majority – 66.7% of the population, to encourage their emigration from their city. Those arrested were released after they signed papers agreeing to immigrate to Poland which postwar borders were moved westwards leaving the city in the Soviet Union. It is estimated that from 100,000 to 140,000 Poles were resettled from the city into the so called Recovered Territories as a part of postwar population transfers. Little remains of Polish culture in Lviv except for the Italian-influenced architecture. The Polish history of Lviv is still well remembered in Poland and those Poles who stayed in Lviv have formed their own organization the Association of Polish Culture of the Lviv Land.

Lviv and its population suffered greatly during the two world wars as many of the offensives were fought across the local geography causing significant collateral damage and disruption.

On 16 August 1945, a border agreement between the government of Poland installed by the Soviets and the government of the USSR was signed in Moscow. In the treaty, Poland formally ceded its prewar eastern part to the Soviet Union agreeing to the Polish-Soviet border drawn according to the so called Curzon Line. Consequently the agreement was ratified on 5 February 1946. Thus since February 1946 Lviv became a part of the Soviet Union.

Soviet Union - Expulsion of the Polish population together with migration from Ukrainian-speaking rural areas around the city and from other parts of the Soviet Union altered the ethnic composition of the city which became mostly Ukrainian.

In the 1950s and 1960s the city significantly expanded both in population and size mostly due to the city's rapidly growing industrial base. Due to the fight of SMERSH with the guerrilla formations of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army the city obtained a nickname with a negative connotation of Banderstadt as the City of Stepan Bandera. The word stadt was added instead of the common Slavic grad to imply alienation. Over the years the residents of the city found this so ridiculous that even people not familiar with Bandera accepted it as sarcasm in reference to the Soviet perception of western Ukraine. By the time of the fall of the Soviet Union the name became a proud mark for the Lviv natives culminating in the creation of a local rock band under the name Khloptsi z Bandershtadtu (Boys from Banderstadt).

In the period of liberalization from the Soviet system in the 1980s the city became the centre of political movements advocating Ukrainian independence from the USSR.

Independent Ukraine - Citizens of Lviv strongly supported Viktor Yushchenko during the 2004 Ukrainian presidential election and played a key role in the Orange Revolution. Hundred of thousands of people would gather in freezing temperature to demonstrate for the Orange camp. Acts of civil disobedience forced the head of the local police to resign and the local assembly issued a resolution refusing to accept the fraudulent first official results.

Lviv remains today one of the main centers of Ukrainian culture and the origin of much of the nation's political class.

Geography and Location

Lviv is located on the edge of the Roztochia Upland, approximately 70 km from the Polish border and 160 km (100 miles) from the eastern Carpathian Mountains. The average altitude of Lviv is 296 m (971.13 ft) above sea level. Its highest point is the Vysokyi Zamok (High Castle), 409 m (1,341.86 ft) above sea level. This castle has a commanding view of the historic city centre with its distinctive green-domed churches and intricate architecture.

The old walled city was at the foothills of the High Castle on the banks of the river Poltava. In the 13th century, the river was used to transport goods. In the early 20th century, the Poltava was covered over in areas where it flows through the city. The river flows directly beneath the central street of Lviv, Freedom Avenue (Prospect Svobody) and the renowned Lviv Opera House.


Lviv's climate is humid continental (K?ppen climate classification Dfb). The average temperatures are −4 °C (25 °F) in January and 25 °C (77 °F) in June.[citation needed] Average annual rainfall is 660 mm (26 inches) with the maximum being in summer. Cloud coverage averages 66 days per year.

Transport - Local public transportation

Buses - The public bus network is mainly represented by mini-buses. Large buses are inconvenient due to the traffic conditions of the narrow streets in the central historical part of the city. People call these mini-buses marshrutka (route taxi) and they operate over the whole city. Marshrutkas have no fixed stops and stop not only at bus stops but in other places where it is allowed. The marshrutkas are cheap, fast and mostly reliable. This kind of transport is so popular and convenient that mini-buses are often overcrowded during rush hour. Marshrutkas also run on suburban lines to most suburbs and nearby towns, e.g. to Shehyni at the Polish border. There are also two bus routes in Lviv.

The price (as of February 2010[update]) of a one-way single ride in a marshrutka within the city of Lviv is 1.75 UAH (= 0.2 USD) regardless of the distance traveled. No tickets are provided – and the money is paid to the driver. The price (February 2010) of a ride on a city-bus is 1.00 UAH.

Trams - The first tramway lines were horse–drawn opening on 5 May 1880 and the electric tram was opened on 31 May 1894. The last horse-drawn line was transferred to electric traction in 1908. In 1922 the tramways were switched to driving on the right-hand side. After World War II and the annexation of the city by the Soviet Union several lines were closed but most of infrastructure was preserved. The tracks are narrow-gauge, unusual for the Soviet Union, but explained by the fact that the system was built while the city was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and needed to run in narrow medieval streets in the centre of town.

The Lviv tramway now runs about 220 cars on 75 km of track. Previously in bad shape many tracks were reconstructed in 2006 and even more are due to be reconstructed.

Trolleybuses - After the war the city grew rapidly due to evacuees returning from Russia and the Soviet Government's vigorous development of heavy industry. This included the transfer of entire factories from the Urals and others to the newly "liberated" territories of the USSR.

The city centre tramway lines were replaced with trolleybuses on 27 November 1952. New lines were opened to the blocks of flats at the city outskirts. The network now runs about 100 trolleybuses–mostly of the 1980s Skoda 14Tr and LAZ 52522. In 2006–2008 11 modern low-floor trolleybuses (LAZ E183) built by the Lviv Bus Factory were purchased.

Rail bus - One more way of public transportation in Lviv is "rail bus". This is a motor-rail car that runs from the largest district of Lviv to the one of the largest industrial zones going through the central railway station. It makes 7 trips a day and has a mission of a faster and more comfortable connection between the remote urban districts.

International transportation

Railways - Modern Lviv remains a hub on which nine railways converge providing local and international services. Lviv railway is one of the oldest in Ukraine. The first train arrived to Lviv on 4 November 1861. The main Lviv Railway Station, designed by Władysław Sadłowski, was built in 1904 and was considered one of the best in Europe from both the architectural and the technical aspects.

In the interbellum period Lviv (known then as Lw?w) was one of the most important hubs of the Polish State Railways. The junction at Lviv consisted in mid-1939 of four stations — main station Lw?w Gł?wny (now Ukrainian: Lviv Holovnyi), Lw?w Klepar?w (now Lviv Klepariv), Lw?w Łyczak?w (now Lviv Lychakiv), and Lw?w Podzamcze (now Lviv Pidzamche). In August 1939 just before World War Two 73 trains departed daily from the Main Station including 56 local and 17 fast trains. Lviv was directly connected with all major centers of the Second Polish Republic as well as such cities as Berlin, Bucharest, and Budapest.

Currently several trains cross the nearby Polish–Ukrainian border (mostly via Przemyśl in Poland). There are good connections to Slovakia (Ko?ice) and Hungary (Budapest). Many routes have overnight trains with sleeping compartments.

Lviv railway is often called a main gateway from Ukraine to Europe although buses are often a cheaper and more convenient way of entering the "Schengen" countries.

Air transport - Beginnings of aviation in Lviv reach back to 1884 when the Aeronautic Society was opened there. The Society issued its own magazine Astronauta but soon ceased to exist. In 1909 on the initiative of Edmund Libanski the Awiata Society was founded. Among its members there was a group of professors and students of the Lviv Polytechnic, including Stefan Drzewiecki and Zygmunt Sochacki. Awiata was the oldest Polish organization of this kind and it concentrated its activities mainly on exhibitions such as the First Aviation Exhibition which took place in 1910 and featured models of aircraft built by Lviv students.

In 1913–1914 brothers Tadeusz and Władysław Floriańscy built a two-seated airplane. When World War One broke out Austrian authorities confiscated it but did not manage to evacuate the plane in time and it was seized by the Russians who used the plane for intelligence purposes. The Floriański brothers' plane was the first Polish-made aircraft. On 5 November 1918, a crew consisting of Stefan Bastyr and Janusz de Beaurain carried out the first ever flight under the Polish flag taking off from Lviv's Lewand?wka (now Ukrainian: Levandivka) airport. In the interbellum period Lviv was a major center of gliding with a notable Gliding School in Bezmiechowa which opened in 1932. In the same year the Institute of Gliding Technology was opened in Lviv and was the second such institute in the world. In 1938 the First Polish Aircraft Exhibition took place in the city.

Interbellum Lviv also was a major center of the Polish Air Force with the Sixth Air Regiment located there. The Regiment was based at the airport in Lviv's suburb of Sknił?w (today Ukrainian: Sknyliv) opened in 1924. Sknyliv Airport is now named Lviv International Airport (LWO), and is located 6 km from the city centre. A new terminal and other improvements are being under a $200 million expansion project in preparation for the 2012 UEFA European Football Championships


Lviv's historic centre has been on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage list since 1998. UNESCO gave the following reasons for its selection:

Criterion II: In its urban fabric and its architecture, Lviv is an outstanding example of the fusion of the architectural and artistic traditions of Eastern Europe with those of Italy and Germany. Criterion V: 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.


Lviv's historic churches, buildings and relics date from the 13th century. 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.

The buildings have many stone sculptures and carvings, particularly on large doors, which are hundreds of years old. The remains of old churches dot the central cityscape. Some three- to five-storey buildings have hidden inner courtyards and grottoes in various states of repair. Some cemeteries are of interest: for example the Lychakivskiy Cemetery where the Polish elite were buried for centuries. Leaving the central area the architectural style changes radically as Soviet-era high-rise blocks dominate. In the centre of the city the Soviet era is reflected mainly in a few modern-style national monuments and sculptures.

Monuments in Lviv - City sculptures commemorate many people and topics reflecting the rich history of Lviv. There are monuments to:

  • Adam Mickiewicz
  • Ivan Franko
  • King Danylo
  • Taras Shevchenko
  • Ivan Fedorov
  • Solomiya Krushelnytska
  • Ivan Pidkova
  • Mykhailo Hrushevskyi
  • Pope John Paul II
  • Jan Kiliński
  • Ivan Trush
  • Saint George
  • Bartosz Głowacki
  • Monument to the Virgin Mary
  • Nikifor
  • The Good Soldier ?vejk
  • Stepan Bandera
  • Leopold von Sacher-Masoch

During the interbellum period there were monuments commemorated to important figures of the history of Poland. Some of these were moved to the Polish Recovered Territories, like the monument of Alexander Fredro which now is in Wroclaw, the monument of King Jan III Sobieski which after 1945 was moved to Gdansk, and the monument of Kornel Ujejski which now is in Szczecin.

Theatre and opera - In 1842 the Skarbek Theatre was opened making it the third largest theatre in Central Europe. In 1903 the Lviv National Opera house, which at that time was called the City-Theatre, was opened emulating the Vienna State Opera house. The house initially offered a changing repertoire such as classical dramas in German and Polish language, opera, operetta, comedy and theatre. The opera house is named after the diva Salomea Krushelnytska who worked here.

Museums and art galleries - The first museum of Lviv was the Lubomirscy Museum opened in 1827. It displayed a wide collection of art and historical objects connected with history of Poland. In 1857 the Baworowski Library was founded whose most precious books are now kept in Krakow.

The most notable of the museums and art galleries are the Lviv National Museum which houses the National Gallery, the Museum of Religion (formerly the Museum of Atheism) and the National Museum (formerly the Museum of Industry).


The "Group Artes" was a young movement founded in 1929. Many of the artists studied in Paris and travelled throughout Europe. They worked and experimented in different areas of modern art: Futurism, Cubism, New Objectivity and Surrealism. Co–operation took place between avant-garde musicians and authors. Altogether thirteen exhibitions by "Artes" took place in Warsaw, Krak?w, Ł?dz and Lviv. The German occupation put an end to this group. Otto Hahn was executed in 1942 in Lviv and Alexander Riemer was murdered in 1943 in Auschwitz. Henryk Streng and Margit Reich-Sielska were able to escape the Holocaust (or Shoah). Most of the surviving members of Artes lived in Poland after 1945. Only Margit Reich-Sielska (1900–1980) and Roman Sielski (1903–1990) stayed in Soviet Lviv.

For years the city was one of the most important cultural centers of Poland with such writers as Alexander Fredro, Leopold Staff, Maria Konopnicka and Jan Kasprowicz living in Lviv. It also is home to one of the largest museums in Ukraine the National Museum of Lviv.

Places to see in Lviv

The Lviv National Museum - is one of Ukraine's largest museums, dedicated to Ukrainian culture in all its manifestations. It was established by Archbishop Andrey Sheptytsky in 1905 and was originally known as the Lwow Ecclesiastical Museum. It currently bears Sheptytsky's name.

The founder donated some 10,000 items to the museum and raised the funds required for its maintenance. An extravagant Neo-Baroque villa was acquired to house the collections. After the Second World War, the museum was renamed the Lviv Museum of Ukrainian Art. The collection was augmented by adding a number of exhibits confiscated from other Lviv museums. By the late 20th century, the museum's holdings of Ukrainian icons and folk art were the largest in the country.

The National Museum has recently moved into the ornate building of the former Polish Industrial Museum. A cluster of memorial houses and the Sokalshchina Museum in Chervonohrad are affiliated with the National Museum.

Market Square - The Rynok Square in Lviv (Ukrainian: Площа Ринок, Polish: Rynek we Lwowie) is a central square of the city of Lviv, Ukraine. It was planned in the second half of the 14th century, following granting city rights by Polish king Casimir III, who annexed Red Ruthenia. The king ordered Lviv to be moved more to the south, where a new city was built to the plan of a traditional European settlement: a central square surrounded by living quarters and fortifications. Old, Ruthenian Lviv had become a suburb of the new city.

The square is rectangular in shape, with measurements of 142 meters by 129 meters and 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-meter tower, was built in 1835 by architects J. Markl and F. Trescher.

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 early 19th century, probably designed by Hartman Witwer. The sculptures represent mythological figures, such as Neptune, Diana, Amphitrite and Adonis. In front of the Town Hall, there is a pillory. In 1998 the Market Place, together with the historic city center of Lviv, was recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site.

History of the square - The square was designed soon after Lviv's location as a city. Originally, the buildings were Gothic; however, a great fire on 3 June 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. There is a vault in tenement house number 24 and a portal in house number 25. The Rynok Square was witness to several important events in the history of Poland and Ukraine. Among these, in 1387 King Wladyslaw Jagiello accepted the homage of Petru I of Moldavia here. In 1436 another Moldavian ruler, Ilias of Moldavia, paid homage to King Wladyslaw III in Lviv. Also, at the pillory, several historical figures were executed, including rulers of Moldavia Stefan Tomşa (1564), Ioan Potcoavă (1577) and Iancu Sasul (1582).

In 1848, during the Spring of Nations, a Polish National Guard was formed here. On 11 November 1920, Prime Minister Jozef Pilsudski hosted a military parade to commemorate awarding the Virtuti Militari cross to the city. Also, on 30 June 1941, Yaroslav Stetsko proclaimed Ukraine's independence in a house located on the square. In 2006, a major restoration of the square's pavement was carried out.

Old Town - Lviv's Old Town (Ukrainian: Старе Місто Львова, Stare Misto L'vova; Polish: Stare Miasto we Lwowie) is the historic centre of the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, in the Lviv Oblast (province). Since 1998, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) lists Lviv's historic center as part of "World Heritage". On December 05, 1998, during the 22nd Session of the World Heritage Committee in Kyoto (Japan), Lviv was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The UNESCO gave the following reasons for its selection:

Criterion ii: In its urban fabric and its architecture, Lviv is an outstanding example of the fusion of the architectural and artistic traditions of Eastern Europe with those of Italy and Germany. Criterion v: 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 townscape.

The territory of the Lviv Historic Centre Ensemble covers 120 ha of the Old Russ and Medieval part of the city, as well as the territory of the St. George's Cathedral on the St. George's Hill. The buffer area of the Historic Centre, which is defined by the historic area bounds, is approximately 3,000 ha.

The Pharmacy Museum - The Pharmacy Museum in Lviv was opened in 1966 in the building of an old drugstore at the corner of the Market Square. The drugstore was established in 1735 by Wilhelm Natorp, a military pharmacist. It was called "Under the Black Eagle". The museum consists of 16 rooms which exhibit antique pharmaceutical appliances, prescriptions, medicines, dishes, a library of pharmacy-related books, and even a reconstructed alchemy workshop.

The Cemetery of the Defenders of Lw?w (Polish: Cmentarz Obrońc?w Lwowa, Cmentarz Orląt, Cemetery of Eaglets) - is a memorial and a burial place for the Poles who died in Lviv (Polish: Lw?w) during the hostilities of the Polish-Ukrainian War and Polish-Soviet War between 1918 and 1920.The complex is a part of the city's historic Lychakiv Cemetery. There are about 3000 graves in that part of the cemetery; some from the Lw?w Eaglets young militia volunteers, after whom that part of the cemetery is named. It was one of the most famous necropolises of the interwar Poland.

Gallery of the History of Ukrainian Military Uniforms - The gallery presents certain reconstructions of Ukrainian military uniforms during the period of liberation movements in the first half of the XX century.

The exhibits presented in the gallery reflect the scientific work and research of many years accomplished by Bohuslav Lyubiv, Honored Art Worker of Ukraine, and member of the Society of Designers of Ukraine. These unique exhibits reflect the historic origins, development and traditions of military formations in Ukraine during the first half of the XX century, and reproduce lost curiosities of military uniforms.

Mykhaylo Hrushevsky State Memorial Museum - The museum is a modern historical and cultural institution with a large collection of relics that tell the story of life and creative and political work of the first President of Ukraine.

The museum's six exhibition halls characterize virtually all periods of life and colossal work of Mykhaylo Hrushevsky, but special emphasis is placed on covering Lviv period of the scientist's life (1894-1914). This is quite understandable, since two most fruitful decades of the historian's biography which he spent in Lviv deserve special attention. This period fully exposed Hrushevsky's scientific talent as the founder and organizer of many Ukrainian institutions (Taras Shevchenko Scientific Society, The Literary and Scientific Herald, The Notes of Shevchenko Scientific Society), as a scientist, as a historical researcher, as a literary critic, and as the professor of Lviv University and author of such fundamental works as "The History of Ukraine-Ruthenia" and "The History of the Ukrainian Literature" as well as substantial research on the history of Ukraine, literature, ethnography, folklore, and sociology that has been highly recognized by scientists throughout the world.

The pride of the collection are original editions of Mykhaylo Hrushevsky's works, his photographs and letters, personal things belonging to him and the members of his family, periodicals, and a set of authentic documents. The garden planted by nine European presidents during the Summit of Heads of Eastern and Central European States in Lviv in May 1999 blossoms on the museum's territory.

Lviv the Cultural Capital of Ukraine

On the 28th of April 2009, Lviv has been recognized as the cultural capital of Ukraine. This status award was given based on expert research of The State service of tourism and resorts and "The Council on tourism and resorts issues". The main reasons of such obtaining is the conducting of more than 100 festivals annually, 60 museums, 100 churches of different confessions, and the big tourist interest in Lviv.

For the past 2 years the tourist stream to the city increased by 40 %, and now it is more than a million people per year. Among the foreigners, the biggest amounts of tourists come from Poland, Germany, Austria, Belarus, USA and Russia. The city is known as a center of art, literature, music and theatre. Nowadays, the indisputable evidences of the city cultural richness are a big number of theaters, concert halls, creative unions, and also high number of many artistic activities. Temples, frescos, paintings, traditions, feasts, festivals – all these are the heirdom of the past and the product of the present geniuses, which can be felt only in Lviv.

Due to the rich cultural programs, developed infrastructure (now Lviv has more than 8 000 hotel rooms, over 700 cafes and restaurants, free WI-Fi zones in the city center, good connection with many countries of the world) Lviv has the biggest tourist potential in Ukraine.

Lviv is also a huge educational center with 23 educational institutions, 7 of which prepares support staff for tourism infrastructure. According to the statics, more than 10 thousand tourists come to each city festival. Lviv has established many city-feasts, such as Coffee and Chocolate feasts, the feast of pampukh, The Day of Batyar, such festivals as "Ethnovyr", "Krayina Mriy", international theatrical festival "Golden Lion".Lviv is the city, where festivals and concerts are being held every week.

Lviv in UNESCO - On December 05, 1998, during the 22nd Session of the World Heritage Committee in Kyoto (Japan), Lviv was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The following reasons for the inclusion of Lviv in the World Heritage List and the compliance with the following UNESCO criteria were named: Criterion Р С': In its urban fabric and architecture, Lviv is an outstanding example of the fusion of Eastern Europe architectural and artistic traditions with those of Italy and Germany;

Criterion B: The political and commercial role of Lviv attracted to the city 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 townscape. The territory of the Lviv Historic Centre Ensemble covers 120 ha of the Old Russ and Medieval part of the city, as well as the territory of the St. George's Cathedral on the St. George's Hill. The buffer area of the Historic Centre, which is defined by the historic area bounds, is approximately 3,000 ha.

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