"A Land of Golden Wheat" Top 5 Page for this destination Ukraine by hunterV
Ukraine Travel Guide: 7,103 reviews and 26,261 photos
If you were asked to name the second largest country in Europe, your answer most likely would be France or Germany. You might be surprised to find out, however, that neither answer is correct. The country in that position is Ukraine, a populous Central European state, but one about which most of the world knows little. Six European countries: Austria, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Portugal and Switzerland could be located on the territory of Ukraine.
The name Ukraine itself which appeared first in the chronicles of the 12th century means settled virgin land and Ukrainians were the people who "ukrayaly", that is, took plots of virgin land and settled them.
Ukraine is known for its hospitable people, its magnificent architectural and cultural heritage and kilometers of gently rolling steppe.
The Ukrainian capital, the regional centers and other big cities have a lot to offer a foreign tourist: a stay in good hotels, visits to museums, theaters and other places of interest. Outside the cities there are lots of villages surrounded by beautiful landscapes consisting mainly of plains.
Only 5% of the territory of the republic is mountainous. The highest elevation in Ukraine occurs in the Carpathian Mountain range in the southwest of the country. Greatly beloved by the Ukrainian people, the Carpathians are extremely picturesque. The highest peak in the Ukrainian Carpathians is Mount Hoverla that reaches the elevation of 2,061 meters (6,762 feet).
Another region where the elevations rise over 600 m (1,900 ft) is the Crimean Mountains in the south of the Crimean peninsula.
There are thousands of big and small rivers and streams (they say there are 22,400 all in all), hundreds of lakes and ponds. The biggest of the Ukrainian rivers is the Dnipro, the third largest river in Europe, that runs almost through the middle of Ukraine and divides the country into two parts: Left-bank and Right-bank territories. Most of the streams, tributaries and rivers empty into the few main rivers and flow southward into the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.
The territory of Ukraine stretches for 900 km (560 miles) from the north to the south and for 1,316 km (818 miles) from the west to the east.
Ukraine is famous for its mild climate with summer temperature of more than 30 degrees centigrade and winter temperature seldom falling below 20 degrees frost. The climate is alpine in the Carpathians whereas it is similar to that of the Mediterranean along the coast of Crimea.
One of the well-known aspects of the Ukrainian art is that of church architecture. Some of the churches erected in the 17th and 18th centuries represent the unique style known as Cossack Baroque which shows how Ukrainian artists asserted their originality and dedication to their native traditions. Many Ukrainian churches and cathedrals are adorned with splendid murals and mosaics, which are especially admired today.
Since the introduction of Byzantine Christianity in 988 most Ukrainians have belonged to the Orthodox Church. In 1596 the Ukrainian Catholic Church was formed. A number of Ukrainian bishops faithfully joined in a union with Rome while retaining their traditional Eastern rituals. Like the Orthodox clergy, the Ukrainian Catholic clergymen were allowed to marry.
At present there are three Orthodox Churches in Ukraine:
- the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) - the only canonical Orthodox Church in Ukraine internationally recognized by all the Orthodox Churches;
- the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the self-proclaimed "Kiev Patriarchate" whose head was anathemized for his schism;
- the Ukrainian Autocephaly Orthodox Church (since 1920), a non-canonical church independent from Moscow Patriarchate and expressing the interests of Ukrainian nationalists.
Lots of old churches and cathedrals have been restored or replicas constructed and dozens of new churches have been built all over Ukraine. More and more people come to churches, especially on Christian holidays.
Ukraine possesses the world's most fertile soil known as black earth. The country has often been called "A Land of Golden Wheat and A Land of White Gold (that is, sugar).
Ukraine has rich flora and fauna. Different kinds of trees are represented in the forests and steppe regions of the country: oak, birch, pine-tree, ash-tree, linden, poplar, maple, willow-tree and many others.
Snowball tree is considered to be an ancient symbol of Ukraine.
Mallow is another old symbol of the Ukrainian countryside.
The Ukrainian fauna includes foxes, hares, elks, roe deer and other wild animals. Plenty of birds can be seen and heard in Ukraine: swans, seagulls, pheasants, larks and, of course, nightingales which brought fame to Ukraine.
Representatives of about 120 nationalities live in Ukraine. The pride of Ukraine is its people: hard working and full of courage, persistence and keenness. The Ukrainian people have inherited a legacy of folk customs, rituals and rites for every occasion and time of the year. These customs and rites have traces of medieval and pre-Christian influences, which make them especially attractive and memorable.
Ukraine has five cities with the population over a million inhabitants: Kiev, Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk, Kharkiv and Odessa.
The Ukrainian capital and the regional centers are cities of museums and theaters having a lot of other attractions, among them centuries-old cathedrals adorned with exquisite mosaics, murals and ancient icons.
The historic struggle of the Ukrainian Cossacks is known all over the world. The word Cossack means free warrior. Cossacks were adventurous freedom-loving serfs who had fled their masters and banded together in Southern Ukrainian steppes and on the islands of the Dnipro and undertook the defense of the Ukrainian people. They lived in strict military brotherhood in their permanent fortress called Zaporizhya Sich, which was described by scientists as the first Christian republic.
The Ukrainian language is an independent Slavic language. Although all Slavic languages have much in common, they are just as distinct from each other as, say, German is from Swedish or Dutch. They say the Ukrainian language is the world's second melodic language after Italian. Ukraine is also famous for its unique songs and melodies. Music has always been an essential part of the Ukrainian folk culture. Ukrainians have songs for every occasion and will break into song at the slightest opportunity. Today numerous professional and amateur folk dance groups and choirs popularize Ukrainian folk dancing and singing.
Folk handicraft arts in Ukraine are especially well developed, varied and colorful. Visitors of Ukraine usually take home lots of souvenirs: the famous Ukrainian decorated Easter eggs, ceramics, embroidery and weaving, wood carvings, inlays and other specimens of decorative arts. Ukrainians especially love to embroider and use embroidery not only in the native dress, but also in adorning other clothing, pillowcases, tablecloths, curtains and altar cloths. The designs are done in bright-colored thread, often with colors of red and black predominating.
Kiev, the capital of Ukraine situated on the banks of the Dnipro, has a spacious open-air museum of folk architecture located on its outskirts, a cave monastery called Laura and other religious shrines. He who visited Kiev once will never forget its picturesque hills, splendid architectural monuments, shadowy streets and hospitable people. You have to be a poet to be able to describe everything you have seen in Kiev.
Each city has a growing number of cafes and restaurants where you can order different exquisite dishes to your taste. You can find Greek, Chinese, Mexican, Italian and other restaurants and cafes. You can also listen to unique folk instruments and modern pop-groups.
So the visit to this country can offer you a lot and I do hope the things you will find here will all be attractive, relaxing and inspiring.
Attending the meetings of the East-Ukrainian English Club at Shevchenko National University in Luhansk I met some Americans who lived and worked in Luhansk either as Peace Corps volunteers or as businessmen. This is what they told us about their impressions:
"Ukrainians are the most hospitable and unselfish people..."
"I belong here in Ukraine."
"To be honest with you, Ukraine has taught me to have patience. Life will go on after a cold shower..."
"I do love Ukraine because of the nice friends I've met here"...
"I'll remember the good hearts of the people"...
"I believe in the future of Ukraine"...
Sites of Ukraine
- Pros:Reasonable market prices, wonderful views of the countryside, hospitable people and beautiful young ladies
- Cons:Expensive hotels, terrible quality of many roads and sidewalks, low wages of the working people
- In a nutshell:Hospitable People Everywhere You Go and Inspiring Stories of the Glorious Past
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