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Home to an eclectic mix of Ukrainians, Germans, Jews, Poles and Russians, Lviv represents a fusion of Central and Eastern European intellectual traditions. Nicknamed the ‘Little Paris of Ukraine’, it is a cultural and historic jewel, as yet undiscovered by the crowds.
Founded in 1256 by King Daniel of Galicia, who named it after his son, Lev, the city came under Polish control in the 14th century. It subsequently flourished as a cultural centre, particularly after the establishment of its university in the 17th century. In 1772, the Habsburgs took over and renamed it Lemberg. It grew exponentially, absorbing waves of German immigrants and incorporating Germanic architecture into its layout. It was finally re-incorporated into Ukraine in the 20th century.
Replete with pastel-shaded townhouses, its cobblestone Old Town is well-preserved and on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Some of its gothic buildings have been lost in fires, but there remain fine examples of renaissance, baroque, art nouveau and art deco architecture. Once upon a time there were some 60 churches and monasteries in the city. Today, their number is greatly reduced, but structures like the Baroque Dominican church, the chapel of the Boim family, and the Armenian Cathedral with its stunning brightly coloured frescos, are all worth hunting down.Read more
The heart of the city is marked by the bustling urban space of Market Square, filled with chic cafes and restaurants and flanked by elegant tenements that showcase everything from renaissance to modernism. One of its most striking buildings is the Black House, a renaissance building constructed for an Italian tax-collector. Over the years, its sandstone façade has turned completely black, whilst the ground floor is occupied by the city’s oldest pharmacy. Nearby, the Korniakt Palace features a fine Italian courtyard with arches and facades.