Lviv’s “Green Treasure”

  • Lviv’s “Green Treasure”
  • Lviv’s “Green Treasure”
  • Lviv’s “Green Treasure”
  • Lviv’s “Green Treasure”
Issue 68, May 2014.

Ukraine is a country that has a rich and rewarding history.Its colorful past can be seen and explored through its wonderful architecture, buildings and landscapes that have survived through the years. In its major cities, such as Lviv, visitors will find a wide range of attractions and noteworthy sites to discover.

Truly, Lviv is the most unusual city in Ukraine, and its most colorful. It is one the country’s of most popular tourist destinations, only Kyiv can compete with its beauty, grandness and number of amazing landmarks.

A trip to Lviv always seems like journey through time and space. However much you visit this city, you cannot claim that you have seen all its sights and unraveled all its mysteries. With each visit, you will find new surprises in this city, fascinating and impressing you with its inimitable appearance over and over again.

During the day, Lviv has many monuments, churches, and statues to keep your interest but when night falls, it's most remarkable feature becomes it's multi-colored TV tower which is located on the highest point of Lviv. Located in the central part of the city there is a hill, where a fortress used to stand, and which is now a beautiful park - The High Castle, truly a masterpiece of landscape art. This place attracts numerous tourists due to its spectacular observation terrace (413 m above sea level) which offers breathtaking views over the city.

There is a belief among historians that the whole Lviv’s history began with the construction of the castle by Prince Danylo Halytskyi in the 13th century. At first the fort was wooden, but a hundred years later, Polish king King Kazimir III Casimir built in its place a stone outpost with four towers. The castle served as a mint and storage of ammunition and important documents and the whole place got the “Castle Hill”. By the 17th and 18th centuries, it became quite weak defensive structure, and even was ransacked in 1648 by the Cossacks under Bohdan Khmelnytskyi, 50 years later, it was captured and destroyed by Swedish troops. After that, the fort lost its strategic importance, turned into ruins which were used by locals as building materials till it was taken apart in the 19th century. At those times, dry weather brought down a constant cloud of dust and sand from the castle ruins onto the city, and sometimes heavy rains resulted in mudslides that cut deep gullies in the hillsides and were dangerous for the locals who lived nearby. So the decision was reached to plant trees on the denuded peak and set a park on the old fortress site. Trees and shrubs were planted on Castle Hill beginning in 1835, and most of the work was completed within a few years offering Lvivites picturesque pathways alongside with spectacular views of the city which lay in the valley below. An artificial grotto – complete with stone lions moved here from the old Lviv Town Hall – was constructed near the western slope and even exquisite park restaurant was opened in 1845. Following the visit of Austrian Emperor in 1851, Castle Hill was given the official designation of “Franz Josefs Berg”.

Castle Hill is divided into two terraces: an upper and a lower. At the northern end of the lower terrace is the central walkway which loops the perimeter at the base of the upper terrace. There are located two monuments here: the first commemorating Jan Sobiesky III’s victory in 1675 over the Tartar forces and the second one honoring of the victorious assault on the castle in 1648, led by Cossack colonel Maksym Kryvonos. On the southern side there is a scenic viewpoint, and on the west a gardening center, restaurant, and artificial grotto flanked by sculptures of lions moved here from the old Lviv Council building.

At the start of the 20th century The High Castle park was extremely popular leisure destination for Lviv citizens and even an electric tram traveled to the park, easing public access to the area, unfortunately the line was later removed.

The final touch resulting in Castle Hill’s current composition was the addition of a mound erected on the peak commemorating the 300th anniversary of the creation of a unified Polish-Lithuanian State. Work on the “historical landmark” was begun in 1869 under the direction of liberal politician Franciszek Jan Smolka .

In the 1950ies Lviv’s 192-meter tall TV Tower was erected on the top of the hill with a television center nearby, the complex striking a discordant note in the overall landscaping of the park and hill. To the upper level and the top of the hill leads winding staircases. Once there, one can get to the observation terrace and admire the spectacular view over the city at 413 meters above sea level. The city is especially enchanting in the evening glow, and both curious tourists and locals ascend the hill in order to feast their eyes on this unforgettable sight.

Today The High Castle park, occupying 36.2 hectares, is a national point of pride, included on Ukraine’s list of natural wildlife preserves and into list of European big t parks.

By the way, did you know that the European Day of Parks takes place on and around 24th of May each year. The European Day of Parks is a commemorative day for protected areas across Europe that was launched in 1999 by the EUROPARC Federation to celebrate protected areas throughout Europe. It aims at bringing people closer to nature and raising public awareness on the importance of the natural beauty preserved in protected areas and the importance of conservation and sustainable management of those places.

Also this holiday is a great opportunity for “Lviv Today” to promote The High Castle, one of Lviv’s beautiful parks and for You it could be great chance to take a long and quite stroll under ash and chestnut trees. All You need is to grab a map, get to the city center and follow M. Krivonos Street (a steel ladder goes up from a restaurant on the lower terrace); or just follow the High Castle Street.