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Euro 2012 Host Cities: Lviv, Ukraine

In a country that is still very closely tied to its Soviet past, and to its Russian neighbor, the city of Lviv boasts that it is the least Soviet city in it, and it may very well have a point. While most other major, and less major cities in the country are dominated by monolithic gray Soviet era-sytle buildings, Lviv’s centre boasts a mix of architectural styles which range from Neoclassical to Rococo, Baroque, Renaissance and Gothic. Not to say that the city is completely devoid of Soviet concrete apartment blocks, but they don’t dot the centre at all.

One other particularity about Lviv that sets it apart from most other cities in the region is its deep-rooted coffee-house culture, which aligns it more to central European cultural trends, but coffee is extremely popular in the ex-Soviet block to be sure.

While the city may be the least Soviet in the country, it does retain enough of that atmosphere and type of culture to broaden its appeal even more. You can still find weathered babushkas selling pickled vegetables and honey at the Kravisky Market, you’ll occasionally see an old-school gastronom, or food store, and Soviet slab hotels still offer rooms for the price of what would be a five-star breakfast in Western Europe.

The fact is that this is a rather undiscovered gem of a city, and it has been the debate for a few decades about whether or not it will follow in the steps of Krakow or Prague, as in, being swamped by tourists. That debate may very well end after the city hosts a few football matches during the 2012 European Football Championship. This event will not only bring with it resurfaced roads and upgraded tram lines, but also a new airport which will surely attract budget airlines, Lviv might just be the next biggest thing to visit in Eastern Europe.

Once in Lviv you’ll find the more or less normal array of religious buildings, landmarks and museums which you can spend quite a lot of time visiting, they’re all just a part of the bigger whole.

 

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