The Biggest Ukrainian Cities
Kyiv, now the capital of Ukraine, stretcheson the high hills along the Dnieper, rivaling the oldest and most charming cities of Europe. Every epoch left mark here. Even the great Tatar invasion that shook the civilized world in the 13th century was unable to wipe it off the face of the earth. Beginning in the 17th century, Kyiv once again turned into a leading spiritual and cultural centre. Glorious pages of the past and staggering current realities seem to have merged into a single, inimitable whole of this ancient, yet ever so youthful city.
Lviv — a scenic city in the west of Ukraine was founded by Prince Daniel of Halych (Danylo Halytsky). Historically, it is first mentioned in 1256. For centuries it was repeatedly sacked by foreign aggressors, but time and again it was rebuilt and its treasures restored by craftsmen, plowmen, architects, and men of arts and letters. The population of Lviv is 806 thousand people.
Kharkiv, Ukraine's leading power engineering, agricultural machinery, transport and instrument-making centre. Founded in the early 1650s, it was the capital of Ukraine since 1919 till 1934. Today it is the country's second largest city. Its population is 1575 thousand people.
Dnipropetrovsk (prior to 1926, Yekaterinoslav), a large industrial center in Ukraine. Founded 1776, today this city is known for developed ferrous metallurgy, complex machine-building, metalworkingand chemical industries. It is the venueof "Pivdenmash/KB Pivdenne" (Southern Machine-building plant) Europe's biggest aerospace manufacturing and developing complex.
Odesa, a very special city is a true gem on the Black Sea coast. Founded in 1794 it received its current name in 1795. It is now an administrative regional centre operating advanced machinebuilding, metalworking, chemical, petrochemical and other industries. Odesa is also known as a large seaport. Since 1978 a ferry line linking the port of Illichivsk (not tar from Odesa) with Varna in Bulgaria has been operational.
Well known balneological resorts (Arkadia, Kuyalnyk, etc.) are located in the city and outskirts. Its population is 1060 thousand people.
Kyiv is one the oldest cities in Europe. Its monuments of past are perfectly integratedwith modern buildings, attractive hotels, cinemas, TV tower, Metro stations, banks and administrative buildings.
As one takes a bus ride through Kreshchatic or strolls in the shade of trees it is difficult to believe that ages ago this was the sight of a deep valleycovered with primeval forests and numerous ravines. Actually it was the valley called Kreshchataya, which later became Kreshchatic, the main street of the capital.
The valley first began to resemble a street at the beginning of the last century when one-storeyed wooden houses were built, later on stone buildings were erected. During the Great Patriotic war Kreshchatic was completely destroyed by the Nazis. As soon as the city was liberated (November 6, 1943) the restoration of the main street was begun.
The entire architectural conception envisaged a combination of decorative facades with an abundance of trees and shrubs, sunlight and space.
In 1037 St. Sophia Cathedral, an outstanding monument of ancient Rus and world culture, was built on the site of the 1036 battle against the Pechenegs in which the Kyiv warriorswere victorious. It was founded during the reign of Yaroslav the Wise.
For centuries this remarkablebuilding, the embodiment of the talent and assiduityof hundreds of thousands of its nameless builders, has astonished the vision with its magnificenceand splendour. Its appearance has changed many times as the result of reconstruction. The interior decorations of the Cathedral are exceptionally valuable and add its unique architectural forms. Numerous mosaics and frescoes have been discovered under the coating of later ornamentation and restored to their former beauty. The extensive use of fresco painting in decorative works show the great skillof the painters of the time.
Leaving St. Sophia Cathedral through the gateway that is right under the Belfry, one comes out into Sophiyivsky Square. It is bordered to the right by a strip of trees and shrubs while in the centre of the square there is the monument to Bohdan Khmelnytsky, the 17th century outstanding Ukrainian statesman and military leader. Being a far-sighted statesman, Bohdan Khmelnytsky sought reunification with the Russian state, which was the Ukraine's only ally at that time. At the end of 1653 the Zemsky Sobor adopted a decision to reunite the two countries. This decision was ratified in 1654 at the historical Pereyaslav Rada. That's why Bohdan Khmelnytsky is considered to be a national hero of the Ukrainian people. The monument to Bohdan Khmelnytsky was built in 1888 by sculptor Mukhailo Mikeshin. It shows the eminent statesman and soldier on horse-back pointing his mace towards Moscow.
As Kyiv's history is full of dramatic events and heroic deeds, there are many other places of interest in it such as the Golden Gates, Andryevskaya Church, the monument to Prince Volodymyr, the Kyiv-Pechersky Monastery, Vydubetsky Monastery, Askold's Grave and others.