Three years of Lviv life

  • Three years of Lviv life
Issue 35, May 2011.

The past few years have seen the Ukrainian publishing industry suffer one of its biggest droughts since the early 1990s, with well-established titles closing throughout the magazine sector. It is testament to both the dedication  of the Lviv Today editorial team and the vibrancy of the modern Lviv market that Lviv Today has managed to not only survive throughout this difficult period but to actually thrive. Since its inception, the magazine has benefited  from a huge amount of goodwill from Leopolitans in all walks of life and this support — which proved to be crisis-resistant — has played a crucial part in the publication’s success. Since the very first issue of the magazine there has been a sense that Lviv had long needed a publication of this nature and a broad recognition that the city’s tourist appeal is boosted by the accessibility which the appearance of Lviv Today has provided. This was certainly our intention when we first drew up plans for the future magazine back in late 2007. From the very beginning, our
key objective was to provide a stage upon which Lviv could shine and to remove the language barrier which was preventing the world from enjoying one of Eastern Europe’s last remaining undiscovered pearls. Ukraine’s often negative international image has cost the country billions in lost investment and our editorial mission has always been to counter any negative perceptions by showcasing the best of Lviv and highlighting the city’s rich cultural diversity. It has been our enormous good fortune that Lviv just happens to be one of the most photogenic cities in Eastern Europe, while we have been equally lucky with respect to Lviv’s cultural life, which in many ways outshines the cultural calendar in the nation’s capital, Kyiv. Meanwhile, events like Lviv Fashion Week — which actually appeared just in time for the first ever issue of Lviv Today back in spring 2008 — have helped provide us  with stylish copy for our ever-popular monthly photo coverage of the life of the city. In other words, it is not difficult to make Lviv look good these days and it is an enormous pleasure to be able to put everything that’s good about the city together into monthly print portions. Once of the nicest and most gratifying things which people say about Lviv Today is that it makes Lviv look good. This was also part of the plan and a very conscious effort on the part of  the magazine’s publishers to present domestic and international audiences with a narrative for modern Lviv that was not dominated by damaging nationalistic stereotypes. Sadly, for many outsider s modern Lviv is still all too often dismissed as a monolithic, nationalistic bastion of cultural extremism — a disastrously negative image that is fuelled by disproportionate media coverage of fringe political movements which are unrepresentative of the vast majority of the ethnically and religiously diverse Lviv population. Indeed, anyone who has lived in the city  for any period of time will confirm the existence of a rich and deep-rooted multiculturalism throughout the Leopolitan population which is intertwined into almost every aspect of Lviv’s cherished local cultural inheritance. Lviv was a truly multicultural city centuries before the idea became politically fashionable in London, Berlin and Paris, and despite the trauma and tragedy of the 20th century this cosmopolitan heritage is still tangible across modern Lviv society. It is an honour to reflect this cosmopolitanism in each issue of Lviv Today and to highlight the ways in which it continues to shape, colour and inform the development of the modern city. 
One of the most interesting social phenomena of the past three years in this respect has been the way different tourism and hospitality sector venues have attempted to borrow from Lviv’s rich history to boost their own appeal. We have seen venues named after ancient kings, local literary legends, insurgent armies and Lemberg  scientists. However, perhaps the most significant trend of the past three years has been the enthusiasm for Habsburg themed venues. Habsburg chic offers Leopolitans the perfect antidote to the lingering post-Soviet blues brought on by the collapse of an altogether less civilizing empire and fond memories of Lviv’s role as a major regional Habsburg city have boosted the city’s self-esteem considerably, reflecting Lviv’s growing confidence in its European identity. Perhaps the most exciting thing about this year’s Lviv Today anniversary is the knowledge that  the best is clearly yet to come. Lviv stands on the cusp of a new era in its development and I fully expect the city to prove the big stand-out hit of Euro 2012. Of all eight host cities in both Poland and Ukraine, Lviv has exactly the right blend of under-developed emerging market status together with European ambience and EU proximity  which will make the city Euro 2012’s biggest winner. With a state-of-the-art international airport in place and infrastructure linking the city to the EU’s mega-highways, these are exciting times for everyone in the capital of West Ukraine and we at Lviv Today look forward to keeping all our readers informed of the city’s progress.