Look up to see the real Lviv
Lviv’s unique atmosphere needs no introduction: the city’s numerous cafes and concept restaurants, museums, music festivals and retro film exhibitions combine with the local Batyar culture to create an amazingly intoxicating cocktail that enthralls and entices. However, beyond these contemporary cultural riches there is a more eternal city hovering just above our heads. In the old town, the shape of the streets, grandeur of the buildings, the frescoes and sculptures reflect the tastes, values and images of people who lived here long ago. Look up and you will see them, connect with their lives, feel their joys and tragedies.
Leopolitans have always had stories to tell. With no blogs, facebook or livejournal accounts to access, the Leopolitans of the past had their own way of sharing their stories with the world. And we must admit, their stories, carved on the facades of the buildings, really do stand the test of time. One such story connects two buildings on the crossroads of Bankivska and Kopernika streets. The building on the corner of Bankivska Street belonged to a wealthy bank owner who had a less fortunate brother. The bank owner had a respectable life; his younger brother had nothing but his love of adventure. Inevitably for the adventurous brother trouble was always just around the next corner. One day, owing a significant amount of money to serious people, he rushed to his prosperous brother and explained that he was in danger of losing his life. The bank owner refused to help, telling his brother to leave and never return. The devastated man fled the country and set about trying to make enough money to settle his debts. Ten years passed and his wishes came true beyond his wildest dreams. On his return, he constructed his own house directly across the street from his brother. One day he received a visitor; his older brother had come to pay his respects - and to ask for a loan to help his business stave off bankruptcy. The younger brother smiled and answered: “The answer to your request is on the roof of my house”. Puzzled, the elder brother rushed out to the street, looked up at the roof, and realized that his brother had made his decision long before that visit. Go take a look, and see his message for yourself!
As you raise your gaze up above street level you will find that the streets of Lviv have a vast array of similar stories, some fondly remembered and some long since lost in the mists of myth and legend. Most of these architectural anecdotes retell everyday stories which connect today’s Leopolitans with their ancestors. Next time you are strolling through the city centre please take a moment to look up and ask yourself: who created this beauty? What were they trying to say?
Hopefully this article provides you with more than just another tale of another city. It informs us that such stories are not only to be listened to, but also to be created. And who knows, maybe it will be your observation that unlocks some previously forgotten Lviv secret? Look up above the crowds and you too can discover the legends of the old city.