Kharkiv is one of the biggest Eastern Ukrainian cities. This city has rich history and cultural heritage. It used to be the center of Ukrainian cultural life and home of prominent Ukrainian science and engineering schools. Sadly, Kharkiv suffered heavily during WW 2, so it has fairly little to show architecturally-wise. In our days it is a city of soviet monumentalism and rejuvenating Ukrainian traditions. «Destinations» rounds up best places to visit in Kharkiv.
This Ukrainian city has a unique and rather tragic history. Kharkiv used to be the center of Ukrainian culture and education, home of Ukrainian intelligentsia. Due to that fact severe purges that eventually led to the Holodomor (Ukrainian famine) were launched by Stalin in Kharkiv. The majority of city’s authentic population died during morbid years of famine and World War II. After that Kharkiv was inhabited by immigrants from all over Soviet Union, turning this city into classic soviet metropolis.
Wars and Soviet development have reduced city’s historical center. What once has been the center of Ukrainian authentic architecture now is a narrow triangle of old architectural complex between Sumska and Pushkinska streets. The rest of the city is Soviet monumentalism in all its glory, including one of the world's widest squares.
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One of the busiest areas of the city and top tourist attraction of Kharkiv is Ploshcha Konstytutsiyi (Constitutional Square). Just west of the square, the gleaming domes of the Pokrovsky Monastery are visible from miles away. The grounds of the spacious square house two attractive churches. The smaller and more important of the two is the blue, three-domed 1689 Pokrovska Church. The yellow church next to it is the Ozeryansky Church.
Among other best places to visit in Kharkiv is beautiful architectural landmark, the Uspensky Cathedral. This cathedral with its landmark mid-19th-century bell tower (89.5m tall) is now used as a concert hall. This tall building awes tourists with its architectural elegance.
Kharkiv History Museum is another popular sightseeing destination of the city due to its outstanding architecture. It occupies the big red-brick building and is surrounded by the large granite sculptural ensemble commemorating Kharkiv’s designation as the first capital of Soviet Ukraine on 24 December 1917 and several anti-aircraft guns and tanks. The exposition of the museum is mostly dedicated to the history of Ukraine during WW 1 and WW 2.
The Art Museum of Kharkiv owns one of many versions of Ilya Repin's Zaporizhsky Cossacks Writing a Letter to the Turkish Sultan, which could be found in a room full of Repin paintings in the museum's permanent collection. The museum also boasts a rich collection of art from Romanticism era.
Central Shevchenko Park is one of those post-Soviet parks where you can sit for hours watching families taking their leisurely strolls, people walking dogs and couples holding hands or drinking their to-go coffees. The park cannot boast an interesting landscape design, however it is considered to be the best one in Kharkiv and is mostly known by its huge Ferris wheel, which is nicely illumined at night.
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Kharkiv was lucky enough to escape the gruesome fate of Donetsk and Lugansk, now controlled by pro-Russian rebels. Despite of the fact that the majority of Kharkiv population speaks Russian, the city is considered to be home of Ukrainian intelligentsia - scientists, engineers and IT-experts. These days Kharkiv can boast a vibrant hipster culture, vibrant Ukrainian art and musical scene. The list of best places to visit in Kharkiv may not be overly extensive, however this city in the Eastern Ukraine can pleasantly surprise its guests.