Guide to the Beautiful Cities of Ukraine
Ukraine, the almost landlocked country in Eastern Europe where if not for the Black Sea would not be the great nation that it is today.
In a way one could say that the country of Ukraine is a hybrid nation of many contributing cultures from different timelines which helped shape their ideology and unique national identity that separates them from their neighboring countries.
People often misunderstand Eastern Europeans as having the same ethnic backgrounds or a single lineage which is completely wrong.
For example, Westerners think that Russians and Ukrainians are the same because they speak the same language when, in fact, the Ukrainian language derived from an East Slavic language and is spoken by nearly 70% of the population.
Most of Ukrainians speak Russian simply because the country was once part of the Soviet Union and they imposed the Russian language as the primary language to be spoken across the Union.
What is Ukraine Like in the Eyes of Foreigners?
Those who have been to Ukraine at least once in their lives will always describe it in the same manner – they say that Ukraine is a combination of ancient Greece and Rome with an abundant Renaissance architecture seen in every major city in it.
Well, those foreigners couldn’t be more right and they sure know how to appreciate the beautiful sights of Ukraine better than the locals themselves! It has been, in fact, occupied by the ancient Thracian Greeks long ago, but the Romans have never reached this far in their ambitious campaigns, so perhaps the foreigners mistook 15th century architecture for a pre-common era Roman one. Still it’s not that far-fetched and to the untrained eye one could consider Ukraine as beautiful as the city of Rome itself.
To show you what they were describing about, let’s examine these four Ukrainian cities and find out if it matches their opinions.
Odessa, the pearl of the Black Sea
The history of the City of Odessa is quite fascinating. The very first settlers in this area were the Thracian Greeks from the ancient City of Histria (modern day Istria, Romania) around 600 BC.
Then it was ruled over by various nomadic tribes from the 2nd century BC all the way up to the middle ages and finally into the 16th century where it came under the rule of the Russian Empire whereupon Russian Empress Catherine the Great gave it the name Odessa. The Empress actually named this city after the ancient Greek city of Odessos (modern day Varna, Bulgaria – also established by the Thracian Greeks).
Odessa is sometimes called the “Pearl of the Black Sea” and “Southern Palmyra,” it has a population of 1,015,516 and is Ukraine’s major seaport that brings in several billion dollars worth of imported goods. Ukraine’s exports also go through here via the Black Sea route.
Around 1440 Odessa was a fortress built in the honor of the Khan of Crimea, Khadjibey (real name Hacı I Giray). This fort was to defend against the Golden Horde and the Ottoman Turks from overruning it and it was also an important military garrison that protected other cities inland.
Odessa the port city was officially founded on September 2, 1794 by Russian Empress Catherine the Great. The Port of Odessa is connected to 2 other ports in the same Oblast region which are namely Port Yuzhne and Port of Chornomorsk where Ukraine’s oil and natural gas pipelines and depots are strategically linked to Russia and and European pipelines for economic purposes.
Odessa has a hot-summer humid continental climate, but winters can fall negative below zero degree Celcius occasionally. The economy of Odessa largely stems from its traditional role as a port city. Because winter affects this part of the Black Sea only very slightly ships can come and go as they please, which means sea trade for Ukraine is always moving and dynamic.
Fun things to do while in Odessa:
Since Odessa has existed for over a thousand years, then you can bet that it has a lot of incredible places to go see and experience Eastern European adventure like you’ve never tried before. One such a place is the Odessa Catacombs! These catacombs where once a refuge for Soviet Partisans during World War II, but has become a local underground museum nowadays.
Its huge network of tunnels provide a rare view on Ukraine’s history and ingenuity in surviving the ruthlessness of the German Nazis. Climb aboard a museum submarine on the Memorial for Heroic Defense of Odessa during the World War II. Explore what it was like for the men and women of Ukraine’s military in fighting off the German invasion of Eastern Europe.
You could also explore the cafes along Derybasivska Street. Derybasivska Street is a known area in Odessa as it is right stack in the middle of the city and it has a lot of exquisite cafes, ancient landmarks, shops, restaurants and bars. It is a busy thoroughfare indeed!
Recommended sights to see in Odessa:
Lviv, a city of rich history and culture
Lviv was named after the eldest son of King Daniel of Ruthenia, Prince Leo, and it was the capital city of the Kingdom of Ruthenia (also called the Kingdom of Galicia–Volhynia) between 1272 to 1349 AD before it fell to the hands of King Casimir III the Great.
Between 1944 – 1946 Lviv as well as the rest of Ukraine became part of the Soviet Union and it was only after the collapse of the USSR in 1991 Ukraine became an independent country.
Most people – both locals and foreigners alike – consider Lviv as Ukraine’s little Paris as the city has synonymous themes and ambience as Paris City in France. In November of 1998 Lviv became a UNESCO heritage site due to its historical significance and grand aesthetic appeal.
Lviv is the largest city in western Ukraine and is one of the most populous cities in the country as well with an average of 10,380 people/sq km; this city is quite crowded. Lviv is roughly 50 – 60 kms from the border next to Ukraine’s neighbor Poland.
A fun fact about Lviv is that there are actually native Polish people living in it, but is now Ukrainian citizen. While Ukraine was under the Soviet Union just after WWII a population exchanged happened between Poland and Ukraine. This means that there are also native Ukrainians from Lviv who are now Polish citizens!
Fun things to do while in Lviv:
Lviv is as lively and fun to visit as any other big Ukrainian cities and to show you just how fun things can get there, try the flaming coffee at the Lviv Coffee Mining Manufacture Rynok Square.
This café’ isn’t actually built over an abandon mining facility as the name would have you believe, but the’ll hand you a hardhat complete with helmet-mounted flashlight which will make you look like a miner, of course. And if that’s not enough, then the barista will come to your table and serve you hot – as in really hot 1,500° Celcius hot – as the barista will literally use blowtorch to make your coffee! You’ll be both shocked and in awe after your first cup. It’s up to you if you want a second cup, I mean, if you can handle that kind of show.
Another amazing place to wander off to is Rynok Square. I highly recommend that you spend oen afternoon in this place as the sunlight hits the beautiful architecture perfectly at just the right angles.
The colorful buildings and European facades that you’d normally expect to see in the old towns of Italy and France comes alive in Lviv to give you an experience like no other!
Watch to your delight some very talented Ukrainian street performers, or try salsa dancing in front of Cafe Diana during the summer months, and go ice skating in the square in winter time. Lviv is a great place to visit and staying for a week here would not be enough to catch all the fun and excitement. Stay longer if you really want to feel the beat of this town.
Recommended sights to see in Lviv:
Kharkov, a capital of the Ukrainian marriage industry
Kharkov (Kharkiv) is the largest city of the Slobozhanshchyna historical region and is the second largest city in all of Ukraine. The city is 350 km2 and has 1,439,036 people living in it as of 2017.
Much like other major cities in Ukraine, Kharkov was also originally built as a simple fortress and military installation, but have become a booming town since its foundation back in 1654. Presently, Kharkov is a major cultural, scientific, educational, transport and industrial center of Ukraine, with 6 museums, 7 theatres and 80 libraries.
The city is home to the world renowned Malyshev Tank Factory and the Morozov Design Bureauwhich designs armoured vehicles and main battle tanks (MBT). Khartron Corp. that specializes in aerospace, automation electronics and nuclear power plants also has its headquarters in this city.
Another important company that ranks among the top ten turbine production companies in the world – Turboatom is also located in Kharkov, as well as the famous Antonov multipurpose aircraft manufacturing plant. The name of the city is believed to have derived from the Hunnic name for swan which is “kharka;” however, other sources also that it was conferred from its founder, Kharko.
But even if the country may not agree on the origins of the city’s name the Ukrainian government is fine with whichever of the two primary sources they will use when referring to how Kharkov got its name.
Recommended sights to see in Kharkov:
Kiev, the most beautiful city of Ukraine
Kiev is the capital of Ukraine and is its largest city too. It is an important industrial, scientific, educational, and cultural center of Eastern Europe that beautifully sits between the Dneper River (one could say that the Dneper River cuts right through the heart of the city dividing it into two halves). Establishing this fact one needs only do a Google search to find out how aesthetically pleasing Kiev is to the eyes of the beholder.
It is a scenic city with a rich history going as far back as 50,000 years ago to the late paleolithic period (Stone Age), to the Tripillians (its inhabitants during before common era times BCE), to the Magyar and Khazar kingdoms in the 6th century AD, to its conquest by the Lithuanians in the 12th century AD, and all the way to its liberation from the Soviet Union in the 20th century; Kiev is packed with majestic architectures and fairytale-like landscapes.
The developers of the video game Ace Combat, Bandai Namco Studios and Access Games got their inspiration from Eastern European countries like Ukraine, Romania and other states to create their fictional world that’s very similar to our own and one that has a predominantly Eastern European/Russian settings. The statues, monuments and architectures in the game is distinctly similar to those found in Kiev City which is a testament to the city’s grandeur.
Fun things to do while in Kiev:
Visiting Kiev would not be complete without dropping by the Ukraine State Aviation Museum which is considered as one of the most impressive and largest museums of its kind!
Feast your eyes at some of Ukraine’s best cargo planes, bomber aircraft, nuclear missile carriers, helicopters and drones.
Another recommended stopover is the Museum of Miniatures. This museum contains the smallest of the small objects in the world! One of them is a pyramid with a palm tree and camels beside it – all of these fit inside the eye of a needle. The effort to do something like this is incredible. It is a work of art that can only be found in Kiev and nowhere else.
Recommended sights to see in Kiev:
Guys, have you been in these 4 cities in Ukraine? Please share your experience below.
Many thanks in advance! Спасибо! Spasibo! Дякую!
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About the author: Krystyna is a Russian and Ukrainian dating blogger and writer. Here you find more than 500 articles on dating Russian and Ukrainian ladies. In her regularly updated blog posts, Krys has shown a keen eye for online dating issues, dating scam and cross-cultural relationships.
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