: Lviv, Ukraine's tourist gem unearths its tragic past - Al Jazeera

17:30 Oct. 11, 2016

Lviv, Ukraine's tourist gem unearths its tragic past - Al Jazeera

The Latin Cathedral stands in the old city center at night near Rynok Square on September 15, 2014 in Lviv, Ukraine (Getty Images)

Celebrated as one of Ukraine's most elegant cities, Lviv is still uncovering its recent history of totalitarian crimes

Far from the battlefields of eastern Ukraine, this charming city some 750 miles to the west is known for its cafes and cobblestone streets.

Besides being a top tourist destination, Lviv is also touted as a model for transparency and good local governance.

But under its architectural beauty and progressive streak lies a dark past - a fact Svyatoslav Sheremeta confronted last August, when his team of archaeologists dug up the remains of a dozen people they believe were murdered by the Soviet secret police during World War II.

Buried in the courtyard of a former prison, just a short walk from the city's picturesque Old Town, the remains were found among discarded alcohol bottles from the era.

"It's difficult to register in one's head," Sheremeta says of the chilling discovery.

Read more Human remains found in courtyard of Lviv museum

Celebrated as one of Ukraine's most elegant cities and its window on Europe, Lviv is still unearthing its recent history of totalitarianism, war and ethnic conflict.

In commemorating the many victims of 20th-century violence, it is also engaging a complicated past that stirs debate over historical memory, a challenge that is part of Ukraine's broader quest for a new national identity.

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