|Country Information & Lifestyle|
The Meadow Of Fairy Tales
Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union, or USSR, until its break-up in 1991. The Ukraine is situated in the south-eastern part of Central Europe and borders Russia, Belarus, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Moldova.
Ukraine maintains close economic, political, cultural and linguistic ties to Russia, but is a separate country with its own political system and geopolitical strategy.
Ukraine is a mostly flat or rolling country with fertile plains called steppes, which are heavily farmed and some forests in the north. There are low mountain ranges in Crimea and in the Carpathians. Mixed forests of pine and fir trees, beeches, limes, oaks and elms cover the mountains, but the thickest woods can still be found in the northern part of the republic in Volyn.
The climate of the country is moderate. Winter is rather mild, with no severe frosts but with regular snowfalls everywhere except the south. The rivers and lakes freeze in winter. Summer is quite dry and not, with occasional showers and thunderstorms.
Due to favourable climatic conditions, Ukraine is traditionally an agricultural area. It grows wheat, maize, buckwheat and other corn, red and green vegetables, all kinds of fruit, melons and berries. Ukraine is one of the world's main centres of sugar production. It produces sugar both for her own needs and for export. The country is rich in natural resources, such as iron ore, coal, colour metal, oil, gas, mineral salts, clay and potential water power.
Ukrainians are known for their hospitality and enjoyment of conversations, eating, and drinking. In the cities you will see a lot of people with European mentality side by side with Soviet influences. Much of Ukraine is agrarian, and people in villages often live in old-fashioned houses and ride horse carts around.
Ukrainian cuisine is very much a part of the population's culture, lifestyle and customs. Well-known for its great diversity and amazing flavors, some of the best dishes are actually very simple. Popular ingredients in the cuisine of Ukraine are meat, mushrooms, vegetables, berries, fruit and herbs. Considered the "breadbasket of Europe", it follows that bread is a staple in Ukraine. There are dozens of methods used in preparing breads, which are often used in rituals and customs.
For aperitifs try Borscht beetroot soup, Oseledets pickled herring salad, Kapustianvi sauerkraut salad or Ukha fish soup made typically with carp. For main course Varenyky boiled dumplings stuffed with fruit, potatoes, cheese and cabbage or Holubsti cabbage rolls stuffed with millet or minced meat with rice are delicious. Or maybe Pechenya roast pork, lamb, beef or veal or Derenu potato fritters served with sour cream or cottage cheese, just a few of the dishes to tempt your palette.
Travellers have many choices of attractions and destinations to explore such as castles, palaces, ancient cathedrals, and stunningly beautiful national parks and reserves. Castles have their special place in Ukrainian history with such international favourites as the majestic Lviv High Castle, Olyka Castle, and Bakhchisaray Palace, which served at the core of the political and spiritual life of the Crimean Tartar people.
For those who enjoy cultural attractions, Ukraine has some of the finest acting troupes in Europe. With its world-class theatrical and performing arts centres, the cities offer numerous venues to enjoy original Ukrainian productions.
Ukraine is a place of culture, history and natural beauty. For centuries the people who lived here worked to create masterful homes and residences that complemented the beauty around them and reflected the culture of their people. By and large they were very successful in this regard and as a result there are many beautiful castles and palaces in Ukraine today.
Can you picture horse-drawn wagons loaded with hay dragging along bumpy dirt roads and wooden home shacks that look as though they are about to crumble. This is the town of Dubno, one of the most ancient towns of Volyn. One of the oldest structures in Dubno is a medieval castle and fortress that has survived through the generations and stands today as a charming Ukrainian museum containing a valuable archive, artefacts and documents.
Due to several generations of the Ostrozkyi princes, Dubno developed into an impressive and charming town. Still today you will be fascinated by the history and ancient traditions that have carried on and are very much part of the inhabitants lives. This quaint town is also a lovely destination in Ukraine for those who appreciate a slower pace of life and enjoy viewing the many charming ancient buildings, where the chimes of the monastery bells ringing that can't but help take you back in time.
Discover the beautiful, majestic city of Kiev, capital of Ukraine. This charming city has an interesting array of old and new buildings and whilst it has a somewhat cosmopolitan feel the Ukrainians who live here still cling proudly to tradition. Known as the Green City for its many botanical gardens, parks and beautiful trees, the city is a wonder to behold in summer and spring. The nearby river provides hours of leisure activity such as swimming and boat rides, and in the winter when the lake freezes over it makes way for ice fishermen and ice-skaters.
The many theatres and opera houses provide indoor entertainment, and craft markets selling an abundance of traditional Ukrainian goods can be found in various city squares. There are art galleries, beautiful old buildings and even catacombs to see, along with the Kiev Zoo.
Kiev, which is considered to be the religious hub of Ukraine, is home to many churches, monasteries and theological attractions. The historical Vydubchi Monastery stands on a hill in the city and is among the oldest sacred sites in the country. The monastery dates from the 11th century and over the years was supported by various clerical leaders and nobles.
Toward the end of the 18th century a hospital and cemetery were included in the monastery complex. When the region came under soviet rule the monks were ousted from the monastery and it was no longer used for worship. Once the soviet rule ended the monastery was able to operate again, although over the years many buildings have been damaged.
Odessa is the largest city along the entire Black Sea, and is one of the major ports and an important centre of industry, science and culture. Odessa also has a naval base and several fishing fleets. The mild climate, warm waters and sunlit beaches attract thousands of tourists year around. Its shady streets, gorgeous buildings and pleasant squares give the city a certain manner of closeness and understanding.
Odessa is simply charming with its stunning architecture and is beautifully situated on green rolling hills, overlooking a small picturesque harbour. The best time to visit Odessa is during summer, when everything is in bloom and absolutely beautiful.
The dramatically handsome resort town of Yalta is situated on the southern tip of Crimea and will always be a favoured destination with its mild climate, lush green landscape and rugged beaches. Yalta is in a shallow bay facing south towards the Black Sea, on the site of an ancient Greek colony. It is said that Yalta was found by some Greek sailors many years ago who were looking for a safe shore to land on. Yalta is surrounded by many beautiful woody mountains. It enjoys a spectacular Mediterranean climate with many vineyards and orchards in its vicinity.
There are many activities in Yalta, especially in the summer months. There are many restaurants, cafes, bars and night clubs, and the main promenade is always full of people strolling back and forth past the works of the artists, singers and performers. There are many stalls selling souvenirs and all sorts of art works from clothing to bead-works to handmade jewellery.
The fascinating city of Kharkiv is the second largest city in the Ukraine situated in the northeast of the country and serves as one of the main industrial, cultural and educational centres of the country. Kharkiv was founded during the 17th century and has had a university since 1805.
The city has many attractions to be enjoyed. Freedom Square is the largest city square in Europe and the second largest in the world only to the Tiananmen Square. Take the opportunity to learn more about the country's turbulent history in Kharkiv. Visit the Gosprom, the Mirror Stream, the Militia Museum and the Sheychenko Monument, just some of the places to visit.
Lviv was founded in 1256, and has long been an important centre of commerce. Lviv is one of the leading cultural centres in Ukraine and boasts a number of theatres and museums. Lviv is known as the City of Lions and is the largest city in Western Ukraine. Take a trip to the historical city centre which is on the UNESCO World Heritage List and is fascinating to see. It includes the Ploscha Rynok Market Square with its Black House, the Armenian cathedral, the Greek cathedral, the Latin Cathedral, the Dominican Abbey ad the Boim Chapel. Walk to the top of the Vysoky Zamok hill which overlooks the historical centre this is where the Union of Lublin mound is situated.
Lviv High Castle is a pure pleasure experience. The castle was a garrison, treasury and prison dungeon for centuries and is believed to have many tunnels which still exist today deep underground. The filthy dungeons were used to hold prisoners for ransom for a few years during the Battle of Grunwald. The entrance park is reached by a steep road and the entrance is surrounded with small trees. To reach the castle you have to climb over 300 rusty old steps on a winding metal staircase and the climb includes a walk on a narrow path which winds its way around the steep hill and takes you to the top of the High Castle, Lviv's highest point.
Several miles outside of Lviv in the small village of Olesko is a fascinating castle built on top of a hill. Dating back to the 13th and 18th centuries the castle served primarily as a protective fortress during the 15th and 18th centuries, now it serves as an exhibition site for the Lviv Gallery of Arts. Surrounding the castle are beautiful parks and amazing sculptures. The castle museum is a unique treasure-house and near the castle is the town's cemetery which has many interesting ancient monuments.
Crimea, in southern Ukraine, has changed rulers and occupiers so many times, but the continuous fight for Crimea has led to this peninsula having the richest and most diverse history of any other destination in Ukraine. Here visitors will hear the stories of the Goths, Cimmerians, Mongols, Greeks, Huns and Iranians, who have all left their mark on Crimea. Even the Nazi's tried their hand at ruling Crimea during World War II. To be surrounded in history, nostalgia and breathtaking sights, Crimea in Ukraine is the ideal destination.
Dzhankov is a significant railway city and Eupatoria takes on the diverse role of resort, railway connection and a major port city. Yalta is one of the busiest tourist destinations, while Bakhchisaray is steeped in historical importance. Tourist destinations such as Sudak, Noviy Svet, Alushta, Feodosiya and Staryi Kym are important to the economy. Tourism is not the only industry in Crimea, as it produces various products such as fruit, livestock, metal, fertilisers, fish, tobacco and leather.
Crimea is known as the most favoured destination in Ukraine for rock climbing, hiking, sightseeing, mountain biking, windsurfing, horseback riding and many other outdoor activities. Sightseeing enthusiasts can look forward to the Lastochkino, also known as the Swallow's Nest, a medieval castle that looms over a rocky cliff and was constructed in the years 1911 to 1912. The Meadow of Fairy Tales (Polyana Kazok) near Yalta, is a popular attraction filled with approximately 200 different sculptures created by local artists. It also has many charming restaurants, picturesque beaches and a vibrant nightlife.
The beautiful Livadia palace was a favourite summer refuge of the last remaining Russian Tsar, Nicholas II. During 1945 Franklin Delano Roosevelt and many other American delegates were housed within the 116 rooms inside the Livadia Palace, that was later also host to the Yalta Conference. Today, however, the role of the Livadia Palace has changed drastically and is not much more than memoirs of the past housed within a museum.
Hidden away at the base of the Crimean Mountains lies the little town of Alupka. It is here that the beautiful and historical Vorontsovsky Palace is found. There are many historic fortresses in the Ukraine which are fascinating to explore. The Yenikale Fortress is in the city of Kerch in the northeast part of Crimea. Apart from the main fortress there is a bathhouse, mosque and quarters for the men. In 1774 Yenikale was abandoned and it was only used again in the 19th century as a military hospital. Today it is a historical site.
There are only six extremely well preserved castles in Europe at present and one of the is Mukachevsky Palanok Castle. It stands on a hill known as Zamkova and from here the castle presents a formidable image to the surrounding landscape. The castle is the pride of the province. It has seen many occupants come and go, creating many legends and fascinating tales along the way.
The castle is first documented in the 11th century and with each new resident the castle was renovated to suit the needs of the new owner. It has 130 rooms, each with their own unique use, as with many ancient and mysterious castles there are underground passages that connect all the rooms in the castle. The castle has a moat and 164 cannons. The castle has been a home, fortress, prison headquarters during the war a barracks and agricultural college. Today it serves as a museum.
The Bakhchisaray Palace is one of the most charming palaces in the world. The palace is known to be one of three rare architectural structures representing Middle East and Europe, the others are the Alhambra and Top Kapi palaces in Spain and Turkey respectively. Probably the most fascinating part of the palace is the harem residence. There is very little known about the life in the harem in the Bakhchisaray Palace, as the inhabitants lived a very secret life.
Crimea is a destination filled with adventure, history, excitement and honour. It is part of Ukraine that has a pleasant surprise waiting around each corner.
Situated amidst the beauty of the Carpathian Mountains, Khust is a city in the Zakarpattia Oblast region. Khust began as a fortified Rus town in the 10th century. There is much to see and do in the city and surrounding district. The castle ruins sit atop a hill where there is a stunning view of the valley. There are various monasteries located in the villages throughout the Khust Raion. The Valley of Narcissus becomes a carpet of delicate flowers in early May and the volcanic lakes are worth a visit.
Take a ride on the Carpathian Tram as it winds its way along the Carpathian foothills, a unique way to explore this picturesque region of Ukraine. The narrow-gauge train was opened in 1860 as a means for transporting timber between the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Ukraine�s Boykivschina region. The train has been renovated and re-opened as a tourist attraction.
The tram departs from Vygoda village in the Dolyna district and follows a route alongside the sparking River Mizunky and the Shyrkovets nature reserve. Passengers have the opportunity to pick berries, drink the therapeutic mineral waters of the region and swim in the crystal clear waterfalls. Along the route are historical landmaks such as the ancient Goshiv monastery on Jasna Hill and a quaint church in the village of Patsykiv.
Ivano-Frankivsk, is the capital city of the Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast which lies to the west in Ukraine. Ivano-Frankivsk started life as a fortress and is a pretty city with both a victorious and sad history which is interesting to explore.
Ukraine is very rich in traditions, beliefs and legends. Throughout the history of development, with each event, with every image a legend was created. There is the tale of Oleksa Dovbush, a Ukrainian Robin Hood who lived in the Carpathian Mountains who stole from the rich to give to the poor. A number of different sites in the Carpathians are named after him.
Ukraine is one of the most fascinating and beautiful countries with so much to see and do. With a favourable climate, hospitable people, fascinating folklore you will certainly find plenty to do in this gorgeous country.