Showing posts from June, 2012

Passage Andreolli

On Saturday I wanted to visit one of my favorite ghost signs, to see how much was left as it has been crumbling. Instead of being sad about how it is slowing disappearing, I was pleasantly surprised to find a man uncovering an epic ghost sign in the same passageway! And, in fact, I think it may be the best ghost sign in Lviv – very colorful and unique! I asked him whether they would be restoring it and he said yes! I watched for about 20 minutes as he chipped away at one side to reveal more.
 He saw I was very excited and posed for a picture as he sprayed water (?) on the part he had already uncovered.

Today I went back to check on it. I was expecting to see a lot more uncovered, but it looks like the rest of the sign is unrecoverable. But the part that is uncovered has been restored and looks really nice.

However, there are little parts of some other signs popping out in some other parts of the passage, so we shall see how much of them will be uncovered and restored. 

Anyhow, it w…

Hello and Farewell to Another Ghost Sign

I have good luck when it comes to finding ghost signs right when they have been uncovered and right before they will be covered again. Today I went on a bike ride to a part of Lviv I go to only every couple of months, and found that some ghost signs that I had previously seen on a building had been completely uncovered by the workers renovating the building. As always, it was such a wonderful feeling to find them so exposed. But I asked one of the workers whether they plan to paint over them, and he said yes :( Well, I am grateful I got to see them in all of their glory. Any day now they will be painted over… I wonder in how many years they will be uncovered again….
As for the history of the signs, I know that in 1934 a woman received permission to open a pharmacy in this building. (At that time there were still very few women who ran pharmacies.) The signs on the façade list items like perfume, soap, varnish, paint, string, water, so I’m wondering whether these items were sold in th…

Old photos of Lviv with hand-painted signs

I’ve searched old photos of Lviv for photos with hand-painted signs, in particular for ones that are still visible today. I’ve only found one – an old photo of the milk house, which I posted about earlier.

 Here are a few other ones with signs that disappeared long ago.

Photos taken from the following websites:,,,

Sztuka Cafe

One of my favorite cafes in Lviv is called Sztuka. A café of the same name was founded in 1909, but the new one was opened in a different location – in a former store. They restored the old hand-painted signs on the façade and the frescoes on the ceilings inside. They also have some old street signs hanging up inside. It has a really nice atmosphere, good coffee and sweets, and it’s on a quiet street a bit outside the old city center, so it’s not very touristy. Anyhow, it has some great examples of prewar hand-painted signs. Images of before and after restoration on cafe's website.
This is a new picture of the cafe made to look like an old photo.

 But I did find an old photo of the old café. 

Also, a documentary film about Lviv during the first Soviet occupation of Galicia in 1939 uses the signs in some of its scenes, as seen in the trailer:

And these are two recent shots of the façade

Modern hand-painted signs

It makes me very happy when new stores, bars, and restaurants use the old method of advertising what products they have for sale, that is, painting the name of their establishment and their products directly on the store’s facade. There are several examples of such places in Lviv. They are so much more aesthetically pleasing than stores which use big, bulky, plastic or neon signs.

This store, which in fact kept the old signs that were found during renovation, added one sign in Ukrainian, which says “Продукти” and has the store’s hours. At first I thought the Ukrainian sign was old and was really excited to find more old signs in Ukrainian, but the more I thought about I realized it is very unlikely that was old, especially as it has the hours of the store. In fact, I think it is possible that that section which has the word “products” listed in different languages may be all new.

The rest of the pictures are of new stores, restaurants, and bars that continued the tradition of hand-…

"Only in Lviv"

I have to post a link to this music video because my favorite ghost sign is featured in it :) It's a cover an old Polish song (from the 1930s) about how great L'viv is :)

Lviv's Ghost Signs

I love ghost signs. These messages from the past are one of my favorite parts of the urban landscape. I get overly excited every time I discover a new one.

Ghost signs (aka fading ads or brick ads) are old hand-painted signs that were painted directly on the walls of buildings. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, advertisements were painted onto walls by skilled sign painters. As new types of ads have all but replaced the old art of sign painting, sign painting is a vanishing occupation. These ads are typically faded as most date to before the 1960s, and many have survived much longer than that. There is a lot of information on ghost signs in western Europe and the US, so I will move on to the ghost signs of Eastern Europe, particularly of L’viv and Galicia.
I’d say ghost signs in Galicia differ quite a bit from those in western Europe and the US. I have noticed that in the West, ghost signs are most often found on the sides of brick buildings and advertise a brand o…