The Poltva – Lviv, Ukraine

After a successful explore of the Лощина nuclear bunker we made our way back to the city centre for our second nighttime venture underground. This time the target was the most well known underground location in Lviv, the Poltva river.

It is curious that Lviv is one of the few large inland Eastern European cities without a river running through its centre. The reason for this is that in the early 19th century it was decided to cover over the river which ran through the centre of the city and divert it underground. Today, thousands of people walk the streets of Lviv not knowing that there is a large fast flowing river right beneath their feet. Unfortunately the city council of the time reworked Lviv’s sewer system so that it fed straight into the Poltva. This taints the water as it passes from the countryside and makes its journey through the city. Nowadays the river which was once central to the creation of Lviv lies encased in concrete, built over and forgotten.

We arrived at our entry point a bit after 11pm meaning it was nice and quiet around. We still had to be quick though as our entry was quite visible. Two of the explorer’s lifted the manhole and the rest of us piled underground as quick as we could followed by the other two. We descended underground through a short tunnel which deposited us in the much larger tunnel which encased the Poltva. The river was flowing surprisingly fast considering there hadn’t been much rain lately.

There was a narrow pathway either side of the river stretching into the distance. One of the Lviv explorers took the lead and we made our way upstream. We had to tread carefully as the path was very narrow and very slippy, especially where we had to step over drains feeding out of the wall. Falling into the fast flowing river here would have some serious consequences so we had to make sure not to lose our concentration at any time. We continued upstream for a good distance passing some different types of tunnel construction before the path started to widen out a bit. Here it was made of fresher concrete with square grooves for grip. It was still slippy as hell though! A short bit after this we made it to our destination, a point where one of the smaller tributaries joined the Poltva and where a bridge was built above the water connecting the footpaths on both sides of the river. What was cool was that this point was directly below the Opera house right in the city centre of Lviv.

After taking a few photos here we decided to turn back, the footpath ahead was even slipper than what we had previously been over possibly due to the water level recently having been above that path’s level. Also, it was around midnight at this stage. So we carefully walked all the way back to our entry point and made our exit back above ground into the streets of Lviv. I only got 3 photos in the end due to not having much time. It’s a pity that I didn’t have a stronger torch as the photos just aren’t lit up enough. Still though, the experience itself was well worth the journey down there and I owe a major thanks to the Explorer Lviv crew for showing me around.

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