Touring Lviv’s Iconic Sights with Pro Lviv!

  • Touring Lviv’s Iconic Sights with Pro Lviv!
Issue 85, December 2015.

Touring Lviv’s Iconic Sites with Pro Lviv!

Did you know that the Galician capital was already a popular winter sports destination by the 1910s? For example, figure skating was already well-established by the end of the 19th-Century thanks to the efforts of the Lviv Skating Association (LSA) and the Sokol Ukrainian-Polish Gymnastic Association.

The LSA began to teach ice skating at Panienski Pond dating back from January 1874. Panienski Pond was a popular place for Leopolitans to skate and attracted large audiences that skated late into the evening. Stanislaw Sztylinksi, a member of the local police and gymnastics teacher at Sokol, was the LSA’s first instructor and helped organise events, including Lviv’s first ice skating competition in 1874. By the following winter season, many changes were noted. A Christmas programme complete with military band was added, afternoon skating lessons were offered, and free public skates were launched. Even better – the LSA Board was entrusted to run the buffet with drinks and sweets from Lviv’s finest confectioneries!

The LSA remained the only skating organiser in the area until the mid-1880s. In addition to the public skating that took place from late November to early March, the LSA organised great performances on the ice in the form of festivals. For example, back in 1884, the city welcomed a ‘Medieval Tournament’ to the ice! As the sun went down in the late afternoon, electric lights were lit that attracted many spectators. In the middle of the ice was a giant ship, around which skaters with torches – dressed in medieval costuming – circled around. A “polar bear” hunt tournament followed, and of course the military band. According to reports at the time, the tournament was great and the skaters were “greatly applauded for their full of elegance skating”.

At the time, outfits for girls that like to skate consisted of a bodice, a long skirt, and a hat; they were introduced at the beginning of the 20th-Century and didn’t change for many decades. Men also wore conservative outfits, including coats, medium-to-long pants, and skates. At first, the sport only attracted Lviv’s elite – it was even impossible to purchase skates in the city until well into the 20th-Century. Skate blades just had to be attached directly to shoes or boots. Thankfully for Leopolitan lovers of skating, this changed in the 1920s when three stores opened in Lviv’s city centre offering a wide variety of wooden skates. Metal skates with thin blades appeared in the 1960s.

Obviously, Leopolitans benefitted from the many rinks available on local ponds, but only the LSA organised public skating – both Panienski Pond and Pelczynski Pond. Over the years, the LSA organised many skating festivals, masquerades, and competitions. They were popular places to be on holidays, as they were presented in artificial light with the backing of a military band, which made for a sensational Galician winter experience.

If you would like to know more about Lviv’s sports history, why not book a tour a Pro Lviv – the company behind many of Lviv’s most popular sightseeing tours. The company offers a wide range of specially-tailored walking tours of the city that are designed to suit all tastes and interests. Just a sampling of the tours on offer include: Lviv Impression; La Belle Epoque; Stories about Sofiyevka & Regional Exhibition; Seven Stories about Love; Kleparivska Street Stories; At the Intersection of 10 Roads; culinary tours including coffeehouse crawls; and tours of the city’s most impressive architectural monuments. These tours combine a comprehensive historical background with plenty of fascinating anecdotes about Lviv’s colourful past. They are a must-see both for tourists and those that simply love living in Lviv.

There are many ways to enjoy all of Lviv’s top sights and activities – from our inspirational itineraries to our specialist guide-led tours to even private tours with one of our expert guides. For more information, please visit: or htts:// or call (097) 002-9955.