April 17, 2014

Exploring the “The Crossroad Of Europe”

As the European Championship approaches, all eyes in Europe are on the host countries, Poland and Ukraine. Of these two nations, Ukraine is by far the least visited and well known. Nevertheless, there is a wealth of beautiful cities located in Ukraine, especially in the western area. At the forefront of Ukraine’s magnificence is the city of Lviv, located close to the border with Poland.

Lviv has a rich history, having been under the rule of the Polish Empire, Austrian Empire, and Russian Empire, along with having Mongol and Tartar influence dating back to the early years of the last millennium. As a result of this cultural miscegenation, visiting Lviv is similar to visiting a medley of European cities. The grandeur of the old city was so spectacular that the heart of Lviv was proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and has been colloquially named the Paris of Eastern Europe.

If you are looking at travelling to Lviv consider the following areas:

Historical Churches: There are a number of churches worth looking at in Lviv. Many of them exhibit spectacular craftsmanship and splendor, some dating back to the 13th century.  The Church of the Transfiguration is a beautiful Austrian-era church with a breath-taking gold interior. St. George’s Cathedral is the third church to stand at its present location, on a hill overlooking the city. Legend has it that the icon of the Virgin Mary found inside the church can create miracles. 

Lviv Museum of Folk Architecture and Culture: Better known in Ukraine as Shevchenkivskyi Hay. This isn’t your everyday museum. It is a now-uninhabited village created completely from wood in the 18th century. The museum is truly unparalleled in the world. 

Courtyard of King Jan III Sobieski House: King Sobieski was a 17th century Polish king. His house in Lviv has been preserved as a museum. However, the most stunning sight in his home is his courtyard. Built in the renaissance style, it contains three tiers of open, arched balcony, and is a great place to stop for coffee and update that travel blog!

 Lviv Opera and Ballet Theatre: Built from 1897 to 1900, this building is located in the heart of downtown and is the most renowned building in Lviv. The sculptors, architects, and painters who worked on the construction of the theatre were at the head of their professions in Eastern Europe, and thus seeing this theatre will give a traveller the perfect example of the artistry at the turn of the century.

Lychakiv Cemetery: A breathtaking cemetery containing the remains of prominent Ukrainian and Polish intellectuals, as well as war memorials. The remarkable thing about this cemetery is the seamless combination of lush, well-manicured foliage and intricate, detailed tombstone design.

Ukraine is not a typical tourist destination, but it is one of the hidden wonders of Europe. The great thing about visiting a Ukrainian city is that it is a relatively cheap trip. The exchange rate of the American dollar to Ukrainian hryvnia is 1 to 8, making hotels, food, and leisure affordable for many.

Lviv is a unique city with a rich history that has created an abundance of sites for the willing traveller.

Guest post provided by Sally of explore-earth travel blog.

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