Even mentioning the words Eastern Ukraine brings up associations with Russia’s war against Ukraine. And indeed, parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts are still occupied by pro-Russian separatists. Nevertheless, the conflict is frozen for the moment, and Eastern Ukraine includes Kharkiv oblast, where there has been no fighting. In all three oblasts, however, there are many East Ukraine sights that are worth a visit. Today we would like to give you an overview of the 10 most important sights of Eastern Ukraine. Ee will present you only the sights that you can safely visit.
East Ukraine Sights in Kharkiv Oblast
Kharkiv is not only the second largest city in Ukraine, but also the most underestimated. With the Dershprom, the first skyscraper built in the Soviet Union in the twenties is located here. There are also countless other buildings from all eras of the Soviet time. In Gorkipark you can ride the largest ferris wheel in Ukraine and the longest cable car in the country. The city’s churches and monasteries are unique too. Kharkiv’s nightlife is also among the best in Ukraine with its bars, pubs and nightclubs. With direct flight connections to several European countries, the city is not only a Ukraine secret, but also a perfect base for exploring the other East Ukraine sights.
The neo-Gothic palace of Sharivka is one of the most beautiful East Ukraine sights. At the end of the 19th century a family of rich landowners had it built. Unfortunately, the interiors are only partially preserved. However, the whole ensemble with its many outbuildings is still impressive today. The third owner of the site was a German sugar manufacturer named Leopold Koenig. He expanded the area and had many of the buildings that still exist today built and continued to cultivate the park. The landscape park is one of the most beautiful parks in Eastern Ukraine.
Completely isolated in the middle of nowhere is the church of Volodymyriwka, which is unique for me in Ukraine. It stands next to an estate complex that a rich industrialist had built here during the time of the Russian Tsarist Empire. Sugar baron Pavel Kharitonenko named the estate after his daughter Nataliyivka. He had a palace, several manor houses, a riding hall, a stable and a water tower built. In the church he wanted to keep collected relics. During the Soviet period the church was used as a warehouse. Today it shines again in its old splendor and you can admire the detailed stories from the Bible on the facade.
The landscape park of Krasnokutsk Arboretum is one of the oldest landscape parks in Ukraine. It was founded as early as 1793 by Ivan Karasin, the founder of Kharkiv University. The park is not only home to many protected plant species. There are also several healing springs from which you can take mineral water. In the park there are many pavilions from which you can enjoy the peace and quiet. Everywhere in the park there are sculptures, some of which are from the park in Nataliyivka. The park is also close to the Slobozhansky National Park.
East Ukraine sights in Donetsk oblast
Sviatohirsk monastery is one of the largest monasteries in Ukraine. It is believed to have existed since the 13th century and was closed several times. In Soviet times, on the limestone hill after which the monastery is named, a huge statue was erected. It honors Fyodor Andreyevich Sergeev, who was also called Artyom. The statue from 1927 still looks down on the monastery. There are now more than 100 monks and civilian employees living in the monastery and it continues to grow. The services in the churches are impressive experiences. From here you can also make trips to the Sviatohirsk National Park or a boat trip on the Seversky Donetsk.
During the War in Ukraine, Sloviansk was occupied by pro-Russian separatists. However, the Ukrainian army managed to liberate the city. Therefore, you can learn more about the conflict in the city’s museum. However, the city is best known for its salt lakes, which have a salt content similar to that of the Dead Sea. In summer, the beaches are frequented not only by health-conscious spa guests, but also by locals who simply want to take a cool dip in the salt lakes.
Until the Ukrainian War, Bakhmut was called Artemivsk, also named after the Bolshevik, like the statue in Sviatohirsk. The city was already known in Soviet times, especially for the local sparkling wine cellars in which Crimean sparkling wine and other brands are produced. Even today this “Ukrainian champagne” comes from here. In the wine press houses you can taste the sparkling wine during visits. In the city, which is pleasantly maintained, there are also some beautiful buildings from the time of the Russian Tsarist Empire.
Soledar Salt Mine
Just a few kilometers from Bakhmut is Soledar, the salt town named after the German communist Karl Liebknecht from 1964 until the end of the Soviet Union. The local salt mine is the largest in Ukraine and one of the most famous Eastern Ukraine sights. It functions both as a industrial and as a visitor mine. Underground, similar to the Polish salt mine Wieliczka, there are whole halls. In one of them there is even a soccer field. This hall is 100 meters long and 40 meters wide and high. Visitors even enter here for a cure and can spend the night, especially in case of lung diseases. Also some works of art have been carved into the walls of the salt mine.
East Ukraine Sights in the Luhansk Oblast
Luhansk Nature Reserve
In Luhansk oblast there are four individual national parks, which together form the Luhansk Nature Reserve. In these protected landscape zones there are still extensive steppe landscapes, typical for the south and east of Ukraine. There are also forests here. The steppe here is especially famous for a large population of European marmots, which can be observed quite easily.
Lysychansk and Severodonetsk
The two largest cities in Luhansk oblast, which are under Ukrainian control, were once even one city. Today, the two cities go separate ways administratively, but are still very close. Severodonetsk is home to the Luhansk Oblast administration after it was forced to flee the oblast capital Luhansk. In Lysychansk, on the other hand, there are impressive lost places, such as a former quarry and the dumps of a local coal mine. Both cities are typical industrial towns of the Donbas, but that is exactly what makes them so interesting.