Saturday, April 30, 2016
The Morning Tram in the Old City in Spring
Spring was finally in charge of the ancient city, relishing the sight of chestnut trees blooming, spreading a sweet, heavenly fragrance throughout the lively neighborhoods. The old buildings, sinking in white blossoms, had that distinctive European flair which people fall in love with the minute they step foot on the narrow streets covered with stone paving. Through the centuries, Lviv, which is situated in West Ukraine, has absorbed many cultures that created a special charm, attracting both foes and followers of history. In spite of all odds and many outlandish rulers, the proud natives have preserved their language, which flows like a breath of spring breeze. Catchy and musical, it charms ears and brings smiles to strangers’ faces. There is something soothing and melodic when Ukrainians speak in their native language, something that brings out a pride for their flocks and country.
Every country has something unique to be proud of. It may be enormous landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and the Egyptian pyramids, or just something small like blossoming chestnut trees thriving in May. The sweetly scented white and pink flower of the horse chestnut is one of the symbols of Ukraine. Growing to a height of thirty-six meters, these impressive trees have a domed crown and stout branches, creating a huge umbrella of shade in the summer months. Tall and majestic, they tower above the tiled roofs and golden churches. The leaves consist of five to seven leaflets which change from light to dark green as they grow, and transform into a breathtaking array of gold, copper, and bronze as they die off in winter and fall to the ground. The flowers produced in spring consist of panicles with between twenty and fifty flowers on each. Between one and five fruits develop on each of these panicles, and within the green spiky capsule-like shell is a nutlike seed called a horse chestnut, or conker. Planted along streets and in parks, they flourish for hundreds of years with beauty and charm, gracefully changing moods with each passing season. The spontaneous burst of flowering trees is intimately linked to the annual rite of spring. The appearance of the flashy, spiked efflorescence, the color of pale spring sunshine, is a natural miracle that marks the return to life in the streets and parks of the old city. For Ukrainians, chestnut trees represent the re-creation, strength, and stability.
I was sixteen when I left a village deep in the Carpathian Mountains and moved to Lviv to attend college. The city met me with the noise of the old trams, swarming on the streets like red fire ants. For years, the loud trams have consoled and inspired artists and poets, actors and lovers, and even a simple girl like me. I woke up to the their noises, announcing the beginning of a new day, and went to sleep with the thought that tomorrow the bell would ring in front of my window, greeting me with a happy shriek. The old tramway was one of these places where I fell in love, read, talked, hid, and thought until midnight. It was my shelter from rain and snow, sun and cold, sadness and frustration, loneness and vagrancy. It took me to places I wanted to go. It was my refuge and escape, comfort, and place to unwind, a tiny getaway at the end of the day. It cradled my children when they could not sleep. It watched me crying when I had to leave my country. It was more to me than a mere machine or transport. It was my friend for sixteen years.
Often sipping dark coffee under the crown of the blossoming trees, I turned my melancholy gaze to the screeching trams, covered in glittering petals, spinning like tiny snowflakes above their red roofs. It was something melancholic and at the same majestic to watch a morning tram going through the tunnel of the flowering trees, glowing in the dawn like young brides.
May in Lviv was one of those beautiful seasons that always brought peace to my soul. It reinvigorated my thinking and gave me a fresh outlook on my life. Majestic silhouettes of temples, surrounded by the flowering chestnut trees, make me feel closer to Mother Earth and God. Magnificent outlines of old streets, blooming parks and wide avenues, created a feeling of purity and being born again. Elegant buildings of different ages and architectural styles surrounded by thriving chestnut trees formed that unique and unforgettable atmosphere that I will never forget.
Years passed, things changed, but my memories will always hold the sound of the first morning tram, slowly crawling beneath the flowering chestnut trees thriving with a wild passion.
Lviv is definitely one of the most picturesque cities in Ukraine. The historic center of the city has the status of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Also, Lviv has the largest number of monuments in Ukraine
Lviv architecture reflects a lot of European styles corresponding to different historical epochs. Fortunately the city was not heavily damaged during the wars of the 20th century.
After fires of 1527 and 1556 there were almost no traces of Gothic Lviv, but the following epochs are well presented: Renaissance, baroque, classicism. The historical center of Lviv has a lot of architectural monuments of the 14th-17th centuries.
This beautiful church built in the neo-Gothic style is located in Lviv, on Kropivnitsky Square. According to legend, originally, it was named in honor of the Empress Elizabeth Habsburg, the wife of the Emperor of Austria-Hungary Franz Joseph I.Since 1991, the church is owned by the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and is called the Church of Sts. Olha and Elizabeth.