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Wonders of Ukraine

Akkerman Fortress, Ukraine
Akkerman Fortress / Q-lieb-in, Wikimedia Commons. CC BY-SA 4.0

WorldBlue  Highlights

Thus far the amazing wonders of Ukraine are too little known abroad. This enormous country has incredible wealth and diversity of heritage. Most interesting landmarks here are:

  • Churches and monasteries of the Kievan Rus’ – living testimony of the ancient times more than millenia ago when the contemporary Ukraine became a part of European realm. Most important is the complex of Kiev Pechersk Lavra but notable are also Saint Sophia Cathedral and Church of the Saviour at Berestove.
  • Prehistoric settlements – few know that in Ukraine have been found some of world’s oldest man made structures – some 15,000 years old huts from bones of mammoths in Mezhyrich and Neolithic metropolis in Talianki where in 3,850 – 3,700 BC lived some 15,000 people.
  • Caves – in Ukraine are some of world’s longest caves – world’s longest caves in gypsum. These unusual caves have beautiful crystals, stalactites and other cave formations. The longest is Optymistychna Cave, 240.5 km long.

Map with the described wonders

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WorldViolet Top 25 wonders of Ukraine

Geological wonders

Optymistychna Cave


The fifth longest cave in the world and the longest gypsum cave in world. Total length: 257 km.

Unsighty entrance in Optymistychna Cave

Biological wonders

Askania Nova steppe


The last pristine steppe in Europe, 110 km² large. Here grow some 600 species of plants.

Askania Nova steppe - the last steppe in Europe
Askania Nova steppe – the last steppe in Europe. / Nataliya Shestakova, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

Archaeological wonders

Panticapaeum (Taurica)

Autonomous Republic of Crimea

Remnants of an ancient Greek city, founded in the late 7th century or the early 6th century BC. It was an influential center of trade until destroyed by the Huns in roughly 370 AD. Near the city is a necropolis with burial mounds.

Royal Kurgan

Autonomous Republic of Crimea

Enormous burial mound – tumulus that is located near the ancient Greek colony Panticapaeum. The mound is almost 20 m high and has a circumference of some 250 m. It has a very impressive burial chamber with a tall false vault and can be accessed through a very impressive, 37 m long passage. Most likely here was buried a ruler of the Bosporan Kingdom.

Architecture wonders

Kyiv Pechersk Lavra

City of Kyiv

Outstanding Orthodox monastery that started as a cave monastery in 1015, and developed as a center of the Eastern Orthodox church. Numerous valuable buildings and artwork. The monastery is protected with massive fortification walls. Contains such outstanding structures as the Great Lavra Bell Tower – a 96.5 m tall bell tower, constructed in 1745 in Neo-Classical style, Gate Church of the Trinity (1108), a network of monastic caves (in use since 1057) with murals and burials of monks and saints.

Kyiv Pechersk Lavra
Kyiv Pechersk Lavra. / Tim Adams, Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Swallow’s Nest

Autonomous Republic of Crimea

Folly of a castle – Neo-Gothic villa perched on a 40 m tall cliff over the Black Sea. Constructed in 1911 – 1912.

Swallow's Nest, Crimea
Pochayiv Lavra


An important and interesting Orthodox monastery, founded in 1527 or earlier. In the monastery is located the beautiful Dormition Cathedral (1771 – 1783), built in Baroque and Neo-Classicism style, 65 m tall bell tower, and two cave churches built in 1774 – 1860.

Palanok Castle (Mukachevo Castle)


Large, well preserved castle on the top of an extinct volcano. Constructed by Hungarians in the 14th century. Castle has some 140 rooms with numerous underground passages.

Palanok Castle (Mukachevo Castle)
Palanok Castle (Mukachevo Castle). / Adam Jones, Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Adziogol Lighthouse


Unusual hyperboloid structure on an artificial island in Dnieper Estuary. It is 64 m tall, designed by V.Shukhov and built in 1911.

Saint Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery

City of Kyiv

Medieval monastery. It was founded in 1108-1113 and had the first golden domes in Kievan Rus. Most construction activities took place in the 18th century in Baroque style, much was renovated after the damage by Russians in the 1930ies.

Saint Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery
Saint Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery / David Holt, Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0
Anthony Caves


A complex of monastic caves was created at the site of a pagan shrine in the 11th century and was in use until the 19th century. The cave complex is extensive, on four floors (two floors have not been explored yet). Currently explored 350 m of caves. Inside the caves are also three churches that are lined with bricks. The largest of these underground churches is Theodosius Totemsky Сhurch which is shaped in the Baroque style. Caves contain the remains of monks who were killed during the invasion of Mongols in 1239. Frequently here are observed weird apparitions.

Kamianets-Podilskyi Castle


Large, well preserved castle that protects the narrow road towards the medieval center of Kamianets-Podilskyi. Construction of the castle started at the end of the 12th century. Castle has 12 towers and a very impressive bridge towards the medieval town.

Leaving Kamianets-Podilskyi towards the medieval castle, Ukraine
Leaving Kamianets-Podilskyi towards the medieval castle / Wadco2, Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 4.0
Khotyn Fortress


Large, well preserved fortress, built in the 1325 – 1460is.

Khotyn Fortress, Ukraine
Khotyn Fortress / Neovitaha777, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0
Lviv Old Town


Well preserved late medieval center of Lviv with numerous buildings in Renaissance and Baroque styles. Architecture in the city shows the influence of diverse cultures – Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran, Jewish, and others.

Centre of Lviv, cathedral
Centre of Lviv, cathedral. / Rbrechko, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0
Gate Church of the Trinity, Kyiv Pechersk Lavra

City of Kyiv

Ancient church in Kiyv Pechersk Lavra, built in 1108.

Church of the Saviour at Berestove

City of Kyiv

One of the oldest churches in Ukraine, built in the early 12th century. Church has beautiful murals.

Saviour Cathedral of Chernihiv


The oldest active church in Ukraine. Its construction started in the 1030s and the church was completed some decades later.

Vorontsov Palace and park

Autonomous Republic of Crimea

Sumptuous structure, built in 1828 – 1848. The northern facade is designed in the English Renaissance style, but the southern facade resembles Mughal architecture. Palace is surrounded by lush gardens and a park.

Bakhchisaray Palace

Autonomous Republic of Crimea

Palace of Crimean Khans, built in the 16th century. The palace complex includes a mosque – Big Khan Mosque (1532), a harem, gardens, a cemetery, and a residential part. Valuable interiors – a monument of Crimean Tatar art from the 16th century.

Bakhchisaray Palace
Bakhchisaray Palace. / Jean & Nathalie, Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Saint George’s Church in Drohobych


One of the oldest wooden churches in this region, built around 1500. In the late 17th – early 18th century interior was covered with frescoes.

Saint George's Church in Drohobych
Saint George’s Church in Drohobych. / Bo&Ko, Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0
Saint Cyril’s Monastery

City of Kyiv

An important monastery that contains Saint Cyril’s Church, an important monument of architecture of Kievan Rus that was built in the 12th century and rebuilt in Baroque style in the 18th century. Inside the church are beautiful murals, some made also by Mikhail Vrubel.

Assumption Cathedral in Volodymyr-Volynskyi


The oldest church in Volyn, built in 1156-1160, in the times of Kievan Rus. Final resting place of local rulers.

Assumption Cathedral in Volodymyr-Volynskyi, Ukraine
Assumption Cathedral in Volodymyr-Volynskyi / Viacheslav Galievskyi, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0
Pidhirtsi Castle


Large Renaissance castle, built in 1635 – 1640. Around the unusual castle are set beautiful gardens with smaller buildings. Stories about ghosts.

Pidhirtsi Castle
Pidhirtsi Castle. / Marco Verch Professional Photographer, Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Mariyinsky Palace

City of Kyiv

Ornate palace in Baroque style, built in 1744 – 1752 for Elizabeth of Russia. It was designed by Bartolomeo Rastrelli. Reconstructed in 1870.

Mariyinsky Palace, Kyiv
Mariyinsky Palace, Kyiv. / Roman Naumov, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0
Sudak Fortress

Autonomous Republic of Crimea

Enormous Genoese fortress with a fortification wall surrounding a plateau that rises over the sea. First fortifications were built here in the 8th century but the present enormous walls with 14 towers were built by the Genoese.

Sudak Fortress
Sudak Fortress. / Alexxx Malev, Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

WorldYellow Recommended books

Ukraine, 4th Edition

Ukraine is the largest country in Europe. Evolving rapidly, the country offers visitors an unrivaled combination of old and new. Updated throughout, Ukraine highlights towns and villages well off the beaten track and goes into greater depth than its competitors, with more detail on the history, culture, and sights, and more entertaining reviews of hotels and restaurants. The practical information highlights how to get there by bus, rail, and boat.

Ukraine: Europe’s Best-Kept Secret: An Insider’s Guide

Having lived in Ukraine for almost 10 years, the author offers a concise, easy-to-read insider’s travel and living guide with practical advice for enhancing your stay. Part I introduces you to many of the delights the country has to offer and Part II contains city guides for Lviv and Kyiv, with helpful information on tourist attractions, entertainment options, places to eat, unique Ukrainian experiences, and family-friendly activities.

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