Monday, June 17, 2013

Lviv, Ukraine: June 14-17, 2013

The Ceiling of the Lviv Opera House Built in 1901

From Donetsk to Lviv, both in Ukraine a distance of 1025 km east to west, and such a difference in architecture and atmosphere. Ukrainians call Lviv the "Ukrainian Krakow." Lviv has so many beautifully restored Art Nouveau buildings, and it retains the patina of age that makes it so different.  The public gardens are less manicured, wilder than Donetsk. Nature has not been whipped into shape here.  We took the #2 tram to the Center from the apartment we were renting, and this mode of transportation felt so gentile and out of the past.

It was the Lviv Jazz Festival weekend.  We arranged our trip to Lviv much too late to get tickets to the headliner performances, but we did get to hear jazz performers from Ukraine, USA, and Belarus at the free concerts in Rynok (Market) Square.  

We wandered.  One day we went to the Lychakiv Cemetery which dates back to 1786 even though there is one gravestone that is from 1675.  The burials mirror the city's history first with Poles and a few Germans sprinkled in, then only Poles, and then after 1945 mostly Ukrainians as a result of the transitions, expulsions, and wars.  Many of the most beautiful tombstones are sculptures of weeping women.

On Sunday evening in Lviv, young and old were outside enjoying the squares and parks.  

The older men played chess, cards, or backgammon in the Shevchenko Park near the Opera House. 

Chess Fans

Some games attracted more of a crowd than others.  One large "mob" of men were just clustered together chatting.

Benches were packed shoulder to shoulder with senior citizens who seemed to be just out enjoying a pleasant late Spring evening.  Daylight hours are long now with it not getting dark until after 10 pm.

A group of men and women gathered in front of Shevchenko's monument and began to sing.  They sang and sang for about two hours for themselves not for an audience.

Ukrainian Artist and Poet Taras Shevchenko

Back in Rynok Square even with the commotion of the Jazz Festival, life continued as if it were any other weekend.

Lviv has an easy charm about it.  The city motto is "Just Lviv It!"

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