The Ukrainian Week visits places where tourists have yet to set foot
As a rule, tourists visiting Lviv look at the city from two spots: the observation area at Vysokiy Zamok – the Castle Hill - and the Town Hall. The former is the highest point of the city at 413 m above sea level, although 15 metres are a man-made mound added in honour of the 300th anniversary of the Union of Lublin. It is its peak that serves as the observation area. The Town Hall is 65 m high, making it the tallest building of the kind in Ukraine. It offers the best view of the city centre – you can see the rise and fall of the terrain: the Town Hall is located in the valley of the underground Poltva River, and the centre is surrounded by the Lviv plateau hills.
Apart from these, the city has several more observation areas, but they are almost inaccessible for tourists, or are classified facilities requiring a special permit. You can notice them all from Vysokiy Zamok, but the skyscrapers themselves offer a much more interesting view of the city. And each is of great significance to Lviv.
Located in the eastern part of Lviv, the Church of the Mother of God of Ostrobramska, now called the Church of the Intercession of the Blessed Virgin, on vulytsia Lychakivska (photo 1) is one of them. The double name of the church is related to the fact that it was initially built as a Roman Catholic Church and belonged to the Salesian order. It was completed shortly before World War II. During the Soviet era, it was used as a warehouse, and it was only in 1992 that monks returned to it, albeit Greek Catholic. The church is impressive in size and located on the peak of the Lychakiv Hill, opening the view of one the most interesting streets in Lviv – vulytsia Lychakivska, which goes all the way to the city centre. It is even more interesting to climb the bell tower, which is built in the style of Florentine campaniles, which are not inherent to Lviv. So add a 60 m. bell tower to the height of the Lychakiv Hill, and everything will become clear.
From there, you can see the whole city, which is scattered to the west, but to the south, a clear landmark is the Tax Administration building. The 53-metre skyscraper is the highest office building in Lviv, which is no coincidence, since tax officers inherited it from the Communist Party of Ukraine. During the Soviet era, the idea was to transfer the city’s administrative centre to the south of the city. Initially, this is where the buildings of the CPU Lviv Oblast Committee were to be transferred, for which the large-scale construction of a 14-storey building on vul. Striyska was proposed. It was supposed to offer the view of the entire city. However, the communists’ plans for the elegant new office failed in 1991 and the building on vul. Striyska remained unfinished for ten long years – it was impossible to find a new owner. Now, the Tax Administration has taken over.
The scenery from the roof of the Tax Administration building may be breathtaking but tourists have no access to it. It offers a clear view of the city’s tallest building – the Church of St. Olha and Elizabeth (photo 2) also known in Lviv by its old name, St. Elzhbet’s Cathedral. Its height of 85 m allows you to see the city from the west. Stepan, with whom I climbed the bell tower, turned out to be a unique person. Not only has he worked in this church for the last 20 years and knows just about everything about it. He was the person who restored the crosses on the steeples. St. Elzhbet’s Cathedral was built in the first decade of the 20th century as a Roman Catholic Church. During the Soviet era it was used as a warehouse, then given to the Greek Catholic community in the early 1990s. He recalled that “We carried the crosses up in small parts; we worked on the connections of all details on the ground, the stairs where in a very poor state, many exterior details of the church steeples were missing and had to be rebuilt”.
The cathedral is the tallest in Lviv, which is no coincidence. It was the intent of its architects, that the first thing any traveller entering Lviv from the west had to see, was a Roman Catholic cathedral, which blocks the view of the main Greek Catholic church - St. George’s Cathedral. No-one could foresee that St. Elzhbet’s Cathedral would become a Greek Catholic church some 100 years later.
The Lviv television tower is the tallest structure in Lviv (192 m), located at the top of the Vysokiy Zamok Hill. The tower is lit up in the evenings. Unfortunately, tourists are prohibited from climbing to the top.
The Church of St. Olha and Elizabeth is the tallest building in Lviv, constructed in 1903–1911 (85 m). Its address is 1, Ploshcha Kropyvnytskoho, but it is in fact on the crossroads of vul. Horodotska, vul. Stepana Bandery and Ploshcha Kropyvnytskoho.
The Church of the Assumption is the oldest skyscraper in Lviv with 66 m, built in 1591–162. It is located the crossroad of vul. Pidvalna and Ruska.
The bell tower of the Archcathedral Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary or simply Latin Cathedral is located at Ploshcha Katedralna, near Ploshcha Rynok. It is 64.3 m tall and built in 1760–1778.
The State Tax Administration building is the tallest office block with 53 m, located at 35, vul. Striyska. The construction began in 1986.
Vilna Ukraina (Free Ukraine) Publishing House is at the crossroads of vul. Striyska and vul. Volodymyra Velykoho has 50–52 m. It was built in 1973.