The European culture capital that you’ve never heard of

When you think of European cultural capitals, the places that typically come to mind are: Paris, Vienna, Amsterdam, Berlin or several others. However, a little known city in Ukraine called Lviv, is also a hotbed of cultural diversity and economic trade. CNN reports on why Lviv is one of the most underrated cities in Europe and how they continue to thrive:

With its independent coffee houses and traditional chocolatiers, Lviv looks, smells, and tastes like the best of Europe. Indeed, its Western flavor has earned it the moniker “Little Paris of Ukraine.” And yet, compared to other prized European cities, relatively few people travel here.

For centuries Lviv — located 50 kilometers from the Poland-Ukraine border — was a significant stopping point on the main trade routes between the east and west — and this prime location helped pay for its striking beauty.

During the renaissance, the city could afford Italy’s finest architects because every merchant passing through was forced to stay and sell their goods for at least two weeks.

“It was a very smart move to collect money from them,” said Hrytsak. “It kept the wealth in the city, and that wealth has been transformed into (architectural) richness.”

But very recently things have started to change — and fast. According to research from the Lausanne School of hotel business, Lviv experienced a sudden 40% increase in tourism in early 2010, compared to the previous three-year average. This, it said, was the highest rate in Europe.

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