In some ways Lviv reminded me a lot of Kosice. Both have histories dating back centuries, both have been part of different nations at different times, and both are incredibly beautiful.
In Lviv’s case, it was founded in 1256 and came under Polish control in the 1300s. It remained Polish until the Austria-Hungary empire took it in 1772. After World War One, in 1918 it returned to Poland. During World War Two it came under Soviet occupation and remained that way until 1991 when it became part of Western Ukraine.
During World War Two the Poles and Jews were largely deported. By 1959 Poles represented only 4% of the population. Somehow, despite fighting, Lviv suffered relatively little damage during World War Two.
Lviv has a nice feel to it. I’m not sure how else to say it. Walking down its cobblestone streets and seeing the beautiful buildings it’s easy to close your eyes and imagine how life was in previous generations.
Somehow Lviv is famous for coffee. I didn’t fully understand how this could be, but I did visit a small factory in the city that roasts and grounds beans and it smelled heavenly.
I immediately recognized that Lviv is quite artistic. I saw so many people in the streets with sketchpads drawing buildings, people, or whatever caught their eye. Maybe there is an art school nearby, but I saw people of all ages doing this. It was awesome. As someone with the artistic ability of a 3-year-old at best, anyone who can draw what they see or what they have in mind has my admiration.
Leopold von Sacher-Masoch was one of Lviv’s famous residents. He was an accomplished writer and utopian thinker. But you know him better from the use of his name for the term Masochism. It wasn’t he who coined it, but an Austrian psychiatrist. The strange thing is that the term was coined while Masoch was still alive. I wonder if he objected more to his name being used in this way, or being labeled as a masochist!?
One thing I really liked about Lviv was its huge park near the city center. As the first Ukrainian city I saw, I later realized that Ukraine does green cities very well. But the park just added something to the city that made it extra special.
I don’t know what else to say. Some cities just “feel” good and Lviv was one such place. Perhaps it helped that my couchsurfing host Meryem truly went out of her way to make sure I was comfortable, happy, and well-fed. She was amazing and also showed me how diverse this nation is. So I thank her dearly for her hospitality and education.
Otherwise, you’ll have to check out Lviv for yourself!