Most interesting wonders of Ukraine
Below are listed the most amazing natural and man made landmarks of Ukraine.
- Big Canyon of Crimea – Autonomous Republic of Crimea. 3 km long and up to 300 m deep canyon which in some places is just 3 – 5 m wide. Auzun-Uzen river flows through it forming several waterfalls. Includes several springs with a discharge reaching 370 l/s (Paniya Spring).
- Devil’s Gate near Kara Dag – Autonomous Republic of Crimea. 15 m tall natural arch in the sea with interesting form. Height of cliff – 50 m.
- Optymistychna Cave – Ternopil. Fifth longest cave in the world and the longest gypsum cave in world. Total length: 240.5 km.
- Ozerna Cave (Priest’s Grotto, Popova Jama) – Ternopil. 134 km long cave, the 15th longest in the world and second longest gypsum cave. Beautiful cave formations and deep blue lakes.
- Popeliushka (Zolushka) – Chernivtsi and Moldova, Briceni. 91.05 km long cave, the 25th longest in the world. Cave has gorgeous speleothems.
Other natural landmarks
- Askania Nova steppe – Kherson. The last pristine steppe in Europe, 110 km² large. Here grow some 600 species of plants.
- Bieberstein’s Pistachio – Autonomous Republic of Crimea. Largest tree in Ukraine by circumference, a pistachio (Pistacia vera) which has a circumference of 10.32 m, 12 m high. Grows in Nikitsky Botanican Garden.
- Bulganatsk mud volcanoes – Autonomous Republic of Crimea. Group of mud volcanoes which are up to 65 m tall. Mud volcanoes are often active. Largest volcano is Central Lake which can emit some 100 m³ of hot gases during its eruption.
- Volodarsk – Volynsk heliodor finds – Zhytomyr. Here are found some of the best heliodores (yellow beryl) in the world. Many crystals have interesting "solution" structures.
Man made landmarks
- Chokurcha – Autonomous Republic of Crimea. Large grotto – settlement of Neanderthals (50 000 years old). There are reports about unique cave paintings of this human species which showed Sun, mammoth, fish. Unfortunately cave has been demolished and its cultural heritage to a large extent is lost. Remains of extinct animals.
- Kiik-Kobe Cave – Autonomous Republic of Crimea. Cave – settlement of Early Paleolithic. In this cave stayed Neanderthals, here have been found remnants of Neanderthal women and child as well as remains of cave bear, Irish elk, red deer, tarpan, wild ass and other animals.
- Mezhyrich – Cherkasy. Remnants of some 15,000 years old settlement of prehistoric people. Here they built at least 4 huts from the bones of mammoths – the oldest known huts built by man. Here has been found also a map, etched on a bone and other interesting artifacts.
- Talianki – Cherkasy. Largest known Neolithic settlement in Europe. This large proto-city of Cucuteni-Trypillian culture flourished in 3,850 – 3,700 BC and here have been found up to two floors high buildings, decorated with murals. Total area of settlement was around 335 – 450 ha and here were living some 15,000 people.
- Bakla Caves – Autonomous Republic of Crimea. System of man made caves which served for settlement and also as a fortress. Caves were made in the late 3rd – 9th century AD and include a rock cut church and monastery with murals.
- Bilhorod Kyivsky – Kiev Oblast. Former fortified royal city of Kievan Rus, first mentioned in 980. Castle was built here in 991 and capital of Kievan Rus in the early 13th century. Area – 110 ha. Destroyed by Mongols in the 13th century. The biggest fortress from this epoch in Kievan Rus.
- Chersonesus – City of Sevastopol. Ruins of ancient Greek colony, founded in the 6th – 5th century BC and abandoned around 1400 AD. City was walled and had amphitheater, Greek temple and also basilica from the 6th century AD.
- Chufut-Kale – Autonomous Republic of Crimea. Medieval city-fortress, now abandoned and in ruins. This was an early center in Crimea, shaped in the cliffs since the 10th – 11th centuries or earlier. Later nearby was established Bakhchisarai – new capital of Crimean Tatars but Chufut-Kale now was the main center of Crimean Karaites. Numerous structures are hewn in the cliff, but there are also common structures and fortification walls.
- Panticapaeum (Taurica) – Autonomous Republic of Crimea. Remnants of ancient Greek city, founded in the late 7th century or the early 6th century BC. It was influential centere of trade until destroyed by Huns roughly at 370 AD. Near the city is necropolis with burial mounds.
Medieval cities and towns
- Kamianets-Podilskyi Old Town – Khmelnytskyi. Medieval city built in impressive natural setting – a cliff almost totally surrounded by the canyon of Smotrich River. Old town was built in the 14th – 18th centuries and many buildings are perched on the cliffs of canyon.
- Lviv Old Town – Lviv. 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.
Castles and fortresses
- Kamianets-Podilskyi Castle – Khmelnytskyi. Large, well preserved castle which protects the narrow road towards the medieval center of Kamianets-Podilskyi. Construction of castle started at the end of the 12th century. Castle has 12 towers and very impressive bridge towards the medieval town.
- Khotyn Fortress – Chernivtsi. Large, well preserved fortress, built in the 1325 – 1460is.
- Palanok Castle (Mukachevo Castle) – Zakarpattia. Large, well preserved castle on the tom of extinct volcano. Constructed by Hungarians in the 14th century. Castle has some 140 rooms with numerous underground passages.
- Pidhirtsi Castle – Lviv. Large Renaissance castle, built in 1635 – 1640. Around the unusual castle are set beautiful gardens with smaller buildings. Stories about ghosts.
- Sudak Fortress – Autonomous Republic of Crimea. Enormous Genoese fortress, with a fortification wall surrounding a plateau rising over the sea. First fortifications were built here in the 8th century but the present enormous walls with 14 towers were built by Genoese.
- Bakhchisaray Palace – Autonomous Republic of Crimea. Palace of Crimean Khans, built in the 16th century. Palace complex includes a mosque – Big Khan Mosque (1532), harem, gardens, cemetery and residential part. Valuable interiors – monument of Crimean Tatar art from the 16th century.
- Livadia Palace – Autonomous Republic of Crimea. Large palace – summer retreat of Russian tsar Nicholas II. Constructed in 1860 in Neo-Renaissance style, with 116 rooms. Site of important historical events including the Yalta Conference in 1945.
- Mariyinsky Palace – City of Kiev. Ornate palace in Baroque style, built in 1744 – 1752 for Elizabeth of Russia, designed by Bartolomeo Rastrelli. Reconstructed in 1870.
- Potocki Palace – Lviv. Magnificent palace in Beaux-Arts (mainly Neo-Renaissance) style, built in the 1880ies as a residence of Austrian minister-president.
- Vorontsov Palace and park – Autonomous Republic of Crimea. Sumptuous structure, built in 1828 – 1848. Northern facade is designed in English Renaissance style, but southern facade resembles Mughal architecture. Palace is surrounded by lush gardens and park.
Cave churches and monasteries
- Anthony Caves – Chernihiv. Complex of monastic caves which were created in the site of pagan shrine in the 11th century and were in use until the 19th century. Cave complex is extensive, in four floors (two floors have not been explored yet). Currently explored 350 m of caves. Inside the caves are also three churches, lined with bricks. Largest of these underground churches is Theodosius Totemsky Сhurch which is shaped in Baroque style. Caves contain remains of monks who were killed during the invasion of Mongols in 1239. Frequently here are observed weird apparitions.
- Bakhchisaray Cave Monastery (Assumption Monastery of the Caves) – Autonomous Republic of Crimea. Impressive, old cave monastery, possibly created since the 8th century and hewn into enormous, overhanging cliff. After the collapse of Byzantium abandoned but since the 15th century monastery returned here.
- Kiev Pechersk Lavra – City of Kiev. Outstanding Orthodox monastery, started as a cave monastery in 1015, developed as a center of Eastern Orthodox church. Numerous valuable buildings and artwork. Monastery is protected with massive fortification walls. Contains such outstanding structures as Great Lavra Bell Tower – 96.5 m tall belltower, built in 1745 in Neo-Classical style, Gate Church of the Trinity (1108), network of monastic caves (in use since 1057) with murals and burials of monks and saints.
- Zymne Monastery – Volyn. Cave monastery, first mentioned in 1458 although might be much older. Monastery is enclosed within defensive walls (the 15th – 16th centuries) and inside is Assumption Cathedral, built in 1495 in Gothic style as well as Trinity Church (1475).
- Chersonesos Basilica – City of Sevastopol. Ruins of large basilica, built around the 6th century AD in the site of earlier synagogue and temple.
- Church of St John the Baptist in Kerch – Autonomous Republic of Crimea. Byzantine church, built in 717 AD, one of the oldest churches in this part of Europe. Constructed during the Khazar era, early example of Byzantine architecture.
- Descent of the Holy Spirit Church in Potelych – Lviv. Old wooden church, built in 1502.
- Holy Trinity Church in Zhovkva – Lviv. Wooden church, built in 1720. In the church is located beautiful iconostasis with some 50 icons.
- Saint George’s Church in Drohobych – Lviv. One of the oldest wooden churches in this region, built around 1500. In the late 17th – early 18th century interior was covered with frescoes.
- Annunciation (Blagoveschensk) Cathedral – Kharkiv. Enormous Orthodox cathedral, built in Neo-Byzantine style in 1888. Church has an 80 m tall bell tower. Enormous building looks unusual due to its horizontal stripes of red brick and light plaster.
- Assumption Cathedral in Volodymyr-Volynskyi (Cathedral of the Dormition of the Theotokos) – Volyn. Oldest church in Volyn, built in 1156-1160, in the times of Kievan Rus. Final resting place of local rulers.
- Church of the Saviour at Berestove – City of Kiev. One of the oldest churches in Ukraine, built in the early 12th century. Church has beautiful murals.
- Pyatnytska Church – Chernihiv. Early medieval church, originally built at the end of the 12th century – early 13th century. Carefully restored after the 2nd World War and now serves as an example of special style of local architecture.
- Saint Andrew’s Church – City of Kiev. Ornate Baroque church, built in 1747 – 1754, designed by Bartolomeo Rastrelli.
- Saint Sophia Cathedral – City of Kiev. Outstanding church, initially built in 1011. Originally served as a burial site for the rulers of Kiev. Outer part was rebuilt in Baroque style in the 17th century. Contains murals from the 11th century.
- Saint Volodymyr’s Cathedral – City of Kiev. Major church building in Neo-Byzantine style, built in 1882. Especially impressive is the interior, covered with murals made by Viktor Vasnetsov, Mikhail Vrubel and other outstanding painters.
- Saviour Cathedral of Chernihiv – Chernihiv. The oldest active church in Ukraine. Its construction started in the 1030s and church was completed some decades later.
Other Christian monasteries
- Pochayiv Lavra – Ternopil. Important and interesting Orthodox monastery, founded in 1527 or earlier. In 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.
- Residence of Bukovinian and Dalmatian Metropolitans – Chernivtsi. Huge complex of beautiful buildings in Neo-Byzantine, Moorish and Neo-Gothic styles. Built in 1864 – 1882. Buildings served as a seat of Orthodox bishops and included palace, chapel, seminary and monastery, now here is university.
- Saint Cyril’s Monastery – City of Kiev. Important monastery which contains Saint Cyril’s Church, important monument of architecture of Kievan Rus, 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.
- Saint Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery – City of Kiev. Medieval monastery, founded in 1108-1113 and with the first golden domes in Kievan Rus. Most of construction took place in the 18th century in Baroque style, much was renovated after the damage by Russians in the 1930ies.
Mosques and kenesas
- Karaite Kenesa – City of Kiev. Ornate kenesa – shrine of Karaims, designed by Vladislav Gorodetsky in Pseudo-Moorish style and built in 1902.
- Ozbek Han Mosque – Autonomous Republic of Crimea. Oldest mosque in Crimea, built in 1314 in the former capital of Crimean Khans.
Prehistoric and ancient shrines and burials
- Black Grave – Chernihiv. Largest burial mound in Ukraine, with a height over 10 meters and circumference of 170 metres. Most likely it was burial of Norse warriors – princes of Chernihiv together with their slaves, weapons, idol of Thor.
- Kamyana Mohyla – Zaporizhia. Group of sandstone outcrops in steppe with prehistoric burials and numerous rock shelters with more than 1000 petroglyphs in them, there are also faint traces of red color. Most likely this was an important sacred place. Burials were made in the time period spanning from the 20th century BC to the 17th century AD. Site includes also a petroglyph of mammoth.
- Merheleva Ridge – Luhansk. Complex of shrines and burials from the Eneolithic Age, approximately 4000 BC, Yamna Culture. This complex of shrines was in use for millenia long until around the 5th century BC. Sacred hills were reshaped – their sides were sculpted.
- Royal Kurgan – Autonomous Republic of Crimea. Enormous burial mound – tumuli, located near the ancient Greek colony Panticapaeum. Mound is almost 20 m high and has a circumference of some 250 m. It has very impressive burial chamber with tall false vault and can be accessed through very impressive, 37 m long passage. Most likely here was buried a ruler of the Bosporan Kingdom.
Other man made landmarks
- Adziogol Lighthouse – Kherson. Unusual hyperboloid structure, built on artificial island in Dnieper Estuary. 64 m tall, designed by V.Shukhov and built in 1911.
- Derzhprom (Gosprom) – Kharkiv. Outstanding example of Constructivist style in architecture, built in 1928 when it for a short while became world’s largest building. Building is 63 m tall and has many innovations for its time including several airbridges.
- House with Chimaeras (Gorodetsky House) – City of Kiev. Residential building, constructed in Eclecticism and Art Nouveau style in 1902. House is adorned with numerous sculptures of animals.
- Korniakt Palace – Lviv. Renaissance palazzo, built in 1580. Magnificent, large residential house with fine interiors.
- Mother Motherland – City of Kiev. Enormous statue – 62 m tall figure of standing women with 16 m long sword, made from stainless steel. Statue was built in 1981 and devoted to the soldiers of World War II.
- Odessa catacombs – Odessa. Extensive labyrinth of former mines, total length of passages is estimated at 2500 km. Developed since the 19th century, mining continues up to this day. There are known more than 1000 entrances in catacombs.
- Odessa Opera and Ballet Theater – Odessa. Very ornate building in Neo-Baroque style, built in 1887. Interior of the main hall is in Rococo style.
- Sofiyivsky Park – Cherkasy. Large, picturesque park – English garden. Large park (179 ha) with more than 2,000 species and types of trees and brush and 108 monuments of park architecture. Park was set in 1796 and its planning and monuments illustrate Homer’s poems Odyssey and Iliad.
- 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.
Described wonders of Ukraine
Thus far the amazing heritage of Ukraine is 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.
Not too far from the Polish borders is located one of the oldest extant buildings in Ukraine – Assumption Cathedral in Volodymyr-Volynskyi. This is a resurrected monument from the times before the Mongol invasions, the westernmost cathedral of Kievan Rus.
Ukraine is the largest country in Europe. Evolving rapidly, the country offers visitors an unrivalled 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.
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.