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Through the Revolution of Dignity, the Euromaidan, Ukraine has come back into the world’s focus. After all, it was here where citizens took to the streets against corruption and through protest brought down the corrupt regime of Viktor Yanukovych. This was followed by an invasion by Russia, which annexed Crimea and started a war in the Donbas that continues to cost lives to this day, now almost unnoticed though.
But even without the developments of recent years, Ukraine is one of the most exciting countries in Eastern Europe. As one of the states that only received its final independence with the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ukraine nevertheless has a centuries-old culture and many traditions. Thus, it was divided for a long time and after the disintegration of Kyiv Rus, parts of the country temporarily belonged to Poland, Russia, Austria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia or Romania. To this day, there are many minorities in the country that contribute to Ukraine’s unique culture.
Ukraine’s landscapes are very diverse, which makes it a great country for deeper explorations. In Ukraine’s cities, you can experience the country’s centuries-old history and culture. In Lviv (Ukrainian: Lviv), you feel like you’re in a museum for the imperial and royal monarchy. Kyiv, on the other hand, offers modern life with a great bar and club culture. Due to the HBO series, trips to the restricted area around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident are becoming increasingly popular. Kharkiv offers unique insights into Ukraine’s Soviet history. Dnipro and the surrounding major cities are an exceptional destination for industrial heritage tourists. And Odessa has always been the famous pearl on the Black Sea and offers not only beaches, but also an insight into the Jewish history of this metropolis.
Besides the major cities of Kyiv, Lviv, Kharkiv or Dnipro, the Ukrainians also have unique natural landscapes to offer. The Ukrainian Carpathians are one of the most pristine mountains in Europe and there are many places where time seems to stand still. In summer, the beaches on the Black Sea are filled mainly with local tourists, so you still feel a little further away from Western Europe than in Bulgaria or Croatia, for example. The landscapes in the south of the country, give an idea of how the Cossack horsemen once ruled the steppe and gradually reclaimed this wild land. The swamps of Pripyat are not only home to the ghost town of the same name. There are narrow-gauge railroads and real village life as it has been lived for centuries. Everywhere people can be seen doing their handicrafts, whose skills have been inherited for generations.
Thanks to bands like Dakha Brakha or Okean Elzy, Ukraine’s cultural life has also become better known in the world. In many places of the country you can experience unique live music. Festivals take place throughout the year and some of them, such as the Jazz Festival of Lviv, have world rank.
Not least the cuisine, however, is what gives Ukraine a special charm. Because of the different cultural influences from all centuries, the food culture is also extremely diverse and offers more than just borsch and vareniki.
Kyiv is the lively capital of Ukraine and offers not only many sights, but also a cosmopolitan cultural life and a very interesting culinary scene. Even without a trip to the Chernobyl exclusion zone, a visit to Kyiv is worthwhile.
Lemberg, Lwow, Lvov, Lemberik, Leopolis – Lviv has many names. The center of Western Ukraine with its old town is not only a Unesco World Heritage Site, but also a unique cultural treasure and virtually an open-air museum of the Austrian history of Galicia. But besides Lviv, there are many other interesting places in Western Ukraine.
The Ukrainian Carpathians are among the most pristine natural regions in Eastern Europe. Many people still live here the way their ancestors did. The remote mountain peaks are perfect for hiking far from civilization. In the mountain villages you can get to know authentic Ukrainian culture.
Odessa has been a fashionable coastal town and a multi-ethnic melting pot since its founding. Today it is less cosmopolitan but it still feels international and like a port town in the streets. The city’s Jewish heritage is the most vibrant in Ukraine, and its beaches and bars are inviting you to visit.
Charkiv was the capital of the Ukrainian Soviet Republic for a few years and a hotspot of Ukrainian culture. The city reflects the whole history of Soviet Ukraine. However, the city is now livelier than ever, with many bars and clubs. From here it is easy to explore the rest of eastern Ukraine.
The southeast of Ukraine is the industrial heart of the country with mines, steel and aluminum smelters. But besides all the industrial culture, there are also many historical sites, such as the Cossack fortress of Hortitsa. The cultural life in Dnipro, Zaporizhia and other cities is also becoming more and more interesting.
Chernivtsi, also known as Little Vienna, is not only home to a world heritage site – the university. In the city, you can also learn more about the history of this melting pot that is often perceived as being on the edge of Europe. Also famous poets like Paul Celan and Rose Ausländer have made Chernivtsi almost a legendary.
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