At the foot of the Carpathian Mountains

Another long day trip through Galicia. My friend Jürgen and I are up early to make our way to the train station and take the next marshrutka to Staryi Sambir – a place 90 km southwest of Lviv (Lemberg, Lwow).

The road is much better than on our trip yesterday. Our bus flies through Galicia and after 2 hours the Carpathian mountains come into sight. Staryi Sambir proves to be a pretty place with a mixture of architecture from the Austrian periode and traditional Ukrainian farmhouses.

The Jewish cemetery is located at the southern end of town, we just have to follow the main road. The cemetery is picturesquely situated on a hill on the edge of a forest and extends over an estimated area of two acres. Surprisingly, there is a bilingual sign at the entrance, which gives information about history and restoration of the place. The grave stones are a nice mix of folklore motifs and carvings in high quality craftsmanship.

The cemetery is in good condition. For about an hour we walk around and take pictures until we notice that in a few hundred meters distance a fire has broken out in the forest. Sometimes the flames seem to come closer, sometimes the wind drives them in a different direction. We can not assess whether this is a controlled fire or not. We decide to go back to the village.

The synagogue – located in the town’s center – is comparatively well preserved and has a beautifully ornamented gable. The building could easely be repaired if someone would invest some money. Two doors of the building are locked. I can not say for what it is used today.

Jürgen and I are on our way back to Lviv. The bus is crowded, but many passengers leave in Sambir. We Snooze parts of the ride. It’s springlike warm, the sun is shining. On a field a first stork walks.

Back in Lviv, we see that on the Svobody Boulevard a large crowd has gathered. On the local Maidan a Sunday service takes place – a mixture of mess and protest. The ordinary people come together here – people of all generations. The few masked “fighters” of the “right sector” look more like a foreign body in this normality and are a tiny minority. The mood is very festive and serious. The people join in the singing of the monks on stage – cross themselves and leave the boulevard with serious faces.

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One thought on “At the foot of the Carpathian Mountains

  1. Amazing! Thank you.
    My grandfather z”l was from Lemberg Lewow (l’vov) but he never spoke of his family (that perished), so while searching for information, I wasn’t able to find anything about his family, other than his parents” names. Thank you for this amazing glimpse.

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