Lviv, Львiв, Lwów, Lvov, Lemberg, Leopolis.
Lviv, Lviv, Lviv, a city of many names, of many peoples, many religions, many ideologies, so much history.
How did it come to Lviv? How did I come to plan a passage through a Europe to this city of lions?
And why Ukraine? Why this war-stricken country of the edges of Europe?
For me, my interest in Ukraine starts in the early 1980s when I first read of Nestor Ivanovych Makhno from the village of Huliaipole, deep in the Cossack south.
Makhno led an anarchist-peasant army, the Makhnovshchina, during the Russian revolution and civil war.
The Makhnovshchina fought firstly against the Whites and then later the Red Army after betrayal by Trotsky and the Bolsheviks.
Makhno was a heroic figure, not a perfect man by any means but one who symbolised freedom and the idea of the equality of all people. He was an inspiration to me as an anarchist youth.
Independence and Euro Maidan
Twenty five years later the USSR collapses and Ukraine gains its freedom.
Time passes. I’m just about aware of the Orange Revolution but it’s the Euro Maidan of November 2013, and the subsequent aftermath and Russian aggression, that fully captures my attention that brings me back once again to Ukraine.
The city of lions
So that’s Ukraine, what about Lviv?
I hadn’t heard of the city before the start of 2015. I first saw Lviv mentioned on Twitter, the name immediately interested me, the two consonants at the start of the short name, how on earth was it pronounced?
I dug deeper, a city near the geo-political heart of this great European continent. The history; chaotic, often bloody and terrible.
A gateway to the East, a boiling cauldron of history, culture, ethnicity, religion and ideology.
Oh and so beautiful!