One of the oldest cities in the world, Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, lies astride the two banks of the mighty Dnipro River. Today, Kyiv is on the rise once more as the cultural, administrative and financial heart of Ukraine, in addition to being one of the most beautiful capital in Eastern Europe. It’s truly worth seeing with your own eyes the harmonious combination of antiquity and modernity, of classic artisanry with cutting-edge technology, of thousand year-old churches and monasteries whose gleaming domes reflect the most contemporary architectural complexes. On weekends and holidays, when the street is closed to cars, Kharshchatyk takes n the air of a festival as people strolland children chase each other down the avenue, watching mimes and musicians, eating fabulous “plombir” ice cream, sipping freshly-brewed coffee at an outdoor café, checking out the latest fashions in upscale boutiques, or buying a good book from a street stand.
Andriyivskiy Uzviz is a winding, cobbled street from the upper administrative center to the lower historic commercial center, Podil. The street used to be called Montmartre of Kyiv also. At the very top of street hill is the priceless Andriyivska Tserkva – St. Andrew Church – a lovely teal-blue, white and gold confection designed in the baroque style by the famed Italian architect, Bartolomeo Rastrelli. Kyiv is becoming an artistic hot spot in Eastern Europe. Arts offer townspeople and city guests the opportunity to enjoy the very best of international and Ukrainian contemporary arts. If you are shopping for art explore Kyiv’s many art galleries and studios to find the original artworks that will become family heirlooms.
Kharkiv has had the ambition to stand out from the rest and it has been quite successful at that. One famous demonstration of Kharkiv’s unbridled ambition can found in the city’s Uspensky Cathedral bell tower. It is said that the tower was built to be taller than the Moscow Kremlin – a shocking departure from the imperial etiquette of the time. Today Kharkiv stands out as one of Ukraine’s leading intellectual, cultural and industrial centers.
As the first capital of Soviet Ukraine in the 1920-1930 the city was the lab for constructivism and innovation in urban planning and the site for development projects which transformed Kharkiv from a merchant town into the industrial, intellectual and infrastructure hub for the whole country. The Derzhprom Building in downtown Kharkiv known for innovative construction methods and seminal design features in the first Soviet skyscraper and famous constructivist landmark in the city. The city building stands on the vast Ploshcha Svobody, one of the largest public squares in the world.
Kharkiv is one of the largest centers of learning in Ukraine and Eastern Europe in terms of the number of post-secondary institutions of education and the sheer number of students. For that reason it is also called the Student Capital. The city’s first educational institution, opened in 1805, was the Imperial University, known today as Kharkiv Karazin National University. Currently some 200000 students are studying in technical, legal, creative, medical and other specialties in Kharkiv. There are about 12000 international students which presence creates a unique atmosphere of student community in the city. Kharkiv has always felt itself to be young and loves to be in the center of events, to choose untraditional approaches, to be first in everything.
Dnipropetrovsk is spread across both banks of the great Dnieper River, and is one the most colorful and interesting cities of eastern Ukraine. In addition to being the largest industrial and economic center, it has the status of being Ukraine’s space capital, and it is an extremely charming city, attracting visitors with its beautiful architecture, numerous parks, picturesque boardwalks, and precious historical memorials.
Modern Dnipropetrovsk easily weaves together the rhythm of a fast-paced business center with the peaceful atmosphere of countless parks, in which local residents like to spend their time. But the most popular place to walk and rest is the beautiful Lenin Boardwalk, which happens to be the longest in Europe. It leads to most one of the most interesting of the city’s landmarks, the legendary Monastyrsky Island. It is well established that in the 9th century, a Byzantine monastery stood here (which explains the island’s name). At that time, a famous trade route between the Varangians and the Greeks passed through the Dnieper River, and the island was often used as a stopping point. The Old Russian princess Olga once waited for a storm to pass in a local monastery; and shortly after that, the prince Vladimir the Great rested within its walls. Today, Monastyrsky Island is part of the largest park of Dnipropetrovsk – Shevchenko Park. In the park is a cableway, from which you can get amazing views of the city and the splendid St. Nickolay Church. The park is so splendid, that even the pedestrian bridge leading to the island is considered to be a landmark of its own.
Dnipropetrovsk main road, the Karl Marx Avenue, beckons visitors with its beautiful structures that have survived since the 19th century. Among them, the most notable are the buildings of the National University, the City Duma (Parliament) and the English Club, as well as the famous History Museum – one of the oldest in Ukraine. It is famous all over Ukraine for its impressive collection of antiquities and artifacts, which number over seven thousand. In the museum, a diorama called “Battle of Dnieper,” which recounts the events of World War II, will attract your attention, as will the collection of ancient stone sculptures, one of the largest and most impressive in the world. The age of some of sculptures goes back up to five thousand years!
The architectural pride of Dnipropetrovsk is rightly considered to be the Transfiguration Cathedral, the same one that has been there since the beginning of the city’s history. The architect wanted for Dnepropetrovsk’s church to exceed Rome’s St. Peter’s Cathedral in size. Even though the idea was not fulfilled, the Transfiguration Cathedral is still an incredible sight to see, due to its stern splendor and understated beauty. Today, it is not only one of the most breathtaking cultural buildings in the city, but is also its spiritual center.
Odessa is a non-stop port city on the shores of the Black Sea will bring a smile to your face the minute you see it. The best thing about Odessa is the people of Odessa who genuinely consider themselves a nation onto their own, a place where people speak every possible language at the same time – without an interpreter.
Founded in 1794 as a seaport, Odessa was named the “Window on Europe”. The city was born and grew up under the influence of European culture and, what’s more, its flowering was fostered by famous European governors. Many years have passed since the time, but Odessa has kept its French delicacy and energy.
The burbling of fountains, the heavenly scent of the acacia tree, the fresh sea breeze and Odessa artists at their traditional improvised open air exhibition in the City Gardens – altogether like a scene from an old movie. Odessa is home to the longest stairway in Ukraine, the 19th century Potemkin Stairs. Its 192 steps are a unique architectural marvel and take visitors down from the heights of the city to Prymorskiy Boulevard, from which you can see amazing panorama of the grand architectural complex and the country’s largest port.
Main streets of the city, such as Deribasivska, grand Richelievska and elegant Hretska lead to the world-renowed Odesa State Academic Opear and Ballet Theater. This is one of the most impressive buildings in Europe and here you can catch some of the greatest performances, not only in Odessa, but in the entire country.
But the best gift of all that Odessa has for you is the chance to really laugh. This is the Motherland of comedy, great jokes and humorous tales that are known far beyond the borders of this country – the reason why Odessa has been called the “First City of Humor” for many decades.