Posted on November 6, 2012 in Cities
For years Lviv has been the home for people of different nationalities and religions. Cultures of different peoples, enriching one another, got harmoniously combined in the city. The brightest manifestation of this fact is the city’s architecture. And Lviv’s traditional patois — “balak” — is a combination of German, Jewish and Hungarian words, and it’s considered native by both Ukrainians and Poles.
The Latin Cathedral. of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary was constructed in 1344 by King Kazimir the Great. Its constructors were Mykolaj Nychko, Mykolaj Hanseke, Joahim Grom, Ambrozy Rubish and Hans Belcher. In 1361, on the king’s request, pope Urban allowed the foundation of a Latin Archeparchy in Lviv.
Posted on September 6, 2012 in Cities
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 Karazin National University of Kharkiv. It has given the world three Nobel Prize winners: Illya Mechnikov, for medicine in 1908, Lev Landau for physics in 1962, and Simon Kuznets for economics in 1971.
Posted on August 30, 2012 in Cities
Kharkiv is the kind of city that has always wanted to be different from others — and it has succeeded remarkably well. This is a city that constantly reinvents itself — rebuilding, revising, renewing — and the enormity of the changes is particularly noticeable when you compare the past with the present.
In 1919, the capital of Ukraine was moved from Kyiv to Kharkiv by the new soviet government and remained so until 1934. To reflect its status as the New Capital of the New Man, it became the center of constructivism in urban planning and the country’s platform for innovative projects, turning Kharkiv itself from a mere trading hub into the industrial and intellectual capital of Ukraine.
Kharkiv’s calling card and one of its most interesting buildings is the Derzhprom Building or state industry building. When it was originally erected, it was the first skyscraper in the Soviet Union and is located on Ploshcha Svobody or Freedom Square, one of the largest urban squares in the world, at nearly 12 hectares or 30 acres. In shape, the “square” looks like a bulb that ends in a straight cut where it meets vulytsia Sumska. The rounded upper part ends in front of a monument to Lenin while the central part is a forested park.
Vul. Sumska is the city’s cultural heart. Here you fill find two main theaters: the Shevchenko State Academic Drama Theater and the Lysenko Opera and Ballet Theater.
Posted on August 22, 2012 in Cities
The best observation point in Lviv is Vysokiy Zamok, the High Castle. Old trees line its paths, providing shade from the hot summer sun or a view to snow-covered hills in winter. At the end of this park is the legendary Znesinnia Park. The two parks are separated by a mound in honor of the Union of Lublin that offers a perfect panorama of the entire city. At the foot of this artificial mound proudly stands the oldest Lorentsovych lion. The sculpture is nearly a ruin, with only the outline of an animal evident, but it is under restoration.
A little further from the City center is one of the most unique museums in Ukraine, the Lychakiv Cemetery. Dating from the 18th century, this marvelous necropolis is a huge park with enormous trees, chimeras and angels — and the tombs of prominent Ukrainians like composer Stanyslav Liudkevych, poet and prose writer Ivan Franko, opera singer Solomiya Krushelnytska, singer and songwriter Volodymyr Ivasiuk. The graves of prominent Poles, Armenians, Germans and Austrians are also here. There are even nighttime excursions to Lychakiv Cemetery, offering a very romantic, if a touch spooky, walk along winding paths among ivy-covered mausoleums, tilted but elegant gravestones, some of which are over 200 years old!
Posted on August 20, 2012 in Cities
For visitors from Rome or Athens, Lviv might seem like a young upstart. But those from modern conurbations will be delighted by its intimate cobbled streets and its centuries-old buildings and churches, some of which are nearly a milennium old.
The city was first mentioned in chronicles in the 13th century. The name of the city, Lviv, is derived from Prince Lev, who got the city as a gift from his father, King Danylo Halytskiy. And “Lev,” of course, means “lion,” its English version being “Leo.”
Situated close to Ukraine’s border with Western Europe, Lviv has welcomed many peoples and religions over the centuries, giving it a more cosmopolitan air than other cities in Ukraine that are far larger. These immigrants originally settled here to trade between East and West, bringing Lviv considerable wealth and a major role in the history of Eastern Europe. But its convenient location also made Lviv the target of invaders. Today, Lviv is still a veritable Babylon, with its mix of Ukrainian, Polish, German, Greek, Russian, Armenian, and Jewish influences — all of which have left their mark on the local culture, cuisine and language.
Posted on August 17, 2012 in Cities
Every nation has its shrines that are the heart of the people’s spiritual life. For Ukraine, first place is taken by St. Sofia, known as Sofia Kyivska, begun in 1011 in the very center of Kyiv by Prince Volodymyr Velykiy, the Great, as a monument to his conversion of the great state of Kyivan Rus in 988. Completed two decades later by Yaroslav Mudriy, the Wise, its unique interior is filled with dozens of original frescos and gleaming golden mosaics — first among which is the magnificent Oranta, the Virgin Mary Protectress. St. Sofia is a marvel that people from around the world come to see for themselves. Today, Sofia is one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.
The other must-see UNESCO shrine in Kyiv is the Pecherska Lavra or Monastery of the Caves. It rose on the high banks of the Dnipro starting in 1051, built over a series of remarkable caves that today contain the relics of holy monks whose bodies have not deteriorated over hundreds of years in this unique, sandy, dry environment.
Posted on August 15, 2012 in Cities
One of the oldest cities in the world, Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, lies astride the two banks of the mighty Dnipro River. Legend has it that it was founded in the late 5th century BC by three brothers, Kiy, Shchek and Khoryv, and their sister Lybid, and named after the eldest. Barely a millennium later, Kyivan Rus was one of the most powerful states in Europe and marrying into the family of the Kyivan Prince was considered an honor among European monarchs. The onslaught of the Mongol hordes over two centuries eventually destroyed the beautiful city and more modern hordes razed it once more during WWII. But Kyiv the Golden-Domed rose up again and again.
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 capitals 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.