Lviv – considered by many as one of the largest cultural centers in Ukraine – is renowned for its coffee, chocolate and beer. An American intern at the Worldwide News Ukraine Meghan Dano decided to test this statement. She visited the city and got to know the history as well as traditions and customs of this mecca of art lovers.
The King of Galicia Danylo Halytskyi founded the city in 1256 and named it in honor of his son Lev. Through the centuries Lviv has been faithful to its rich traditions, welcoming the foreigners from all over the world. Due to its geographical location Lviv has benefited from active involvement into the international trade and has become a home for numerous nationalities: Germans, Ukrainians, Poles, Jews, Armenians, and many others. During its long history the city has been lucky to stay mostly intact after the World War II, the German and the Soviet occupations. Eventually, Lviv became one of the most Westernized cities of the contemporary Ukraine.
The centuries of Lviv’s history are broadly described in a myriad of books, magazines, and newspapers but some of the documented traditions stayed alive until today. Nowadays they have become the main Lviv’s attractions.
When walking down the streets of downtown Lviv it is impossible to resist the dazzling aroma of coffee spreading around from the countless cozy cafes, the temptation of the freshly brewed beer from the local brewery-restaurants or the locally made chocolate. “[Lviv is] known for many things but what it’s most famous for is probably its coffee, chocolate and beer,” introduces Lviv Meghan Dano.
Coffee, chocolate and beer are not accidental assets. For almost six centuries the city has been obsessing over coffee, even during the times when coffee was only available as a very strong bitter drink without the alternative to add milk or sugar. For those customers who prefer strong coffee the original bitterness is still available today.
Coffee in Lviv is served in tiny cups that definitely can’t be compared to the minimum 12 oz. size cups at the American Starbucks. Our guide Meghan shared: “It [coffee] is not quite Starbucks. It’s a lot stronger, just more like coffee, than just a sweet sugar, like [the one] you get at Starbucks.”
When it comes to chocolate, Lviv has had a sweet tooth almost since the time it was founded. The city’s location on the Silk Route made Lviv one of the major trade destinations during the Middle Ages. The city attracted a lot of merchants who made their significant contribution to the emergence of the first confectioners. Such was the beginning of chocolate and pastries production in the city.
Today old traditions are thriving in Lviv, and the chocolate industry is not an exception. Meghan Dano visited one of the local chocolate stores and her impression couldn’t have been more expressive: “Very, very good chocolate. Some of the best I’ve had.”
Along with coffee and chocolate, Lviv has always been known for its brewery traditions. The history of the city holds interesting facts about beer wars that took place back in the XV century. The conflict of the existing beer guilds and the newly emerged beer producers lead to wars. Beer guilds were trying to protect the quality of beer production by restricting their competitors from producing beer .
Today, Lviv’s entrepreneurs are actively establishing local breweries along with restaurants where they serve freshly made beer. Our guide Meghan was able to visit the fermentation room at one of the local breweries and gave a try to some freshly made beer. “Umm, that’s what you call fresh from the tap,” she said.
Coffee, chocolate and beer are the three main irrefutable attractions that the city of lions – Lviv – can offer to its visitors. “After trying all the chocolate, coffee, and beer here, I can say that it’s been a great time. I had a lot of fun, and my stomach is certainly very happy about it. I hope that everyone can come and visit [Lviv], and experience the beer, coffee, and chocolate because it truly is some of the best in Europe,” summed up her Lviv experience Meghan. Apparently the best way to feel the taste of legends that the old city offers to its visitors is just to spend your weekend in Lviv, a city that is open to the world.