On one of our Jewish Lviv tours you will discover a spectacular Jewish heritage which is hardly matched by any of the famous Eastern European Jewish hubs. The largest city in western Ukraine was recognized in 2009 as the country’s Cultural Capital, thanks to its incredible abundance of museums, literature festivals, sacred art works hosted by a multitude of churches, and not least thanks to Lviv’s Jewish heritage. In fact, before WW2, Lviv was one of the most important centres of both Ukrainian and European Jewish cultural, religious and political life. Writers, poets, scientists, satirists and actors lived and worked in this city, such as (just to name a few) Majer Balaban, Deborah Vogel, Moishe Shimmel, Rachel Auerbach, Simon Wiesenthal, Berta Kalich and even the father of Yiddish literature, Shalom Aleichem, whose stories inspired the musical Fiddler on the Roof, the first commercially successful English-language stage production about Jewish life in Eastern Europe.
Before WW2, Lviv was a provincial capital for Galicia under Austrian rule, Lemberg. The Jewish community reached approximately 150 thousand people, more than one-third of the city’s population. After the Nazis invaded Lviv in June 1941, Jews faced not only discriminatory directives but also the aggression from the local population. Lviv ghetto was created in November 1941 in the northern part of the city. Overpopulation, hunger and epidemics, as well as regular brutal ‘actions’ and deportations decimated the Jewish population. Only approximately 1 000 Jews survived the war, in many cases thanks to the help of their Polish and Ukrainian neighbours.
In our Jewish Lviv Tour, we will profit from the precious legacy of Lviv’s Jewish authors, artists and intellectuals to stimulate your imagination and go back in time to the complex multi-cultural reality of pre-war Lviv. We will raise your awareness about little details, like a mezuza or an inscription on the wall, in order to reconstruct Lviv’s Jewish life before the war around its 44 synagogues, the literary cafes, the famous Gimpel Yiddish theatre, the Jewish Museum Lviv, as well as the tragic story of the city’s ghetto.
We will delve even further back in time by exploring the historical landmarks that constitute Lviv’s Old Town, a stunning UNESCO world heritage site! The heart of Lviv’s historic city centre is certainly Rynok Square, the ancient Market Square, the center of political, public, cultural and commercial life for over 500 years. The elegant Neo-Renaissance Theatre of Opera and Ballet is one of Europe’s most beautiful theatres, and centre of a vibrant cultural life. A walk through the old Virmenska Street, home to the Armenian community, shows a unique architecture of its kind, which reveals the ancient spirit of Eastern Christianity.
Another unique building is the extraordinary Boim Chapel, a Renaissance gem built in 1609, where 14 members of the Boim family are buried.
Lviv is also a place where the candle of Ukrainian national identity burns brightest and where Russian is definitely a minority language. And this of course applies also to the food! You can’t leave without tasting delicacies such as Borsch and Vareniki, essential Ukrainian dishes, or without paying a visit to one of the many bean-perfumed coffeehouses. And since Ukraine is known to be Europe’s breadbasket (being the Challah the main protagonist) we strongly recommend “Bread and Wine”, in Virmenska Street as one of the points to end our Jewish tour of Lviv and enjoy some culinary highlights.
We can't wait to show you Lviv's historical, cultural and culinary treasures with our Lviv Jewish Tour!