Sep 19

KIEV, BETWEEN THE GLORY OF THE PAST AND THE PROMISE OF THE FUTURE (КИ́ЕВ)

The former spiritual center of Russian Orthodoxy and the current capital city of Ukraine is a complex and contradictory metropolis.

Founded around 832 A.D., Kiev was originally an outpost of the Khazar Empire (writer Milorad Pavic had celebrated its memory in his famous Dictionary of the Khazars), an assimilation of Turkic nomadic tribes that created an empire between the Northern part of Caucasus and Pontic steppe. In 882, the city is taken into possession by Prince Oleg’s successor, Riurik, from a Scandinavian dynasty. Oleg unifies under the name of Orthodoxy all the Russian-speaking state formations state, founding the Kievan Russia. And so begins the great glory of the pious city, which focuses and strengthens for three and a half centuries, under the direct political, administrative and religious factor maneuvered by Russia.

Here, for example, during the first half of the eleventh century, the basis of Pecearska Lavra are beginning to raise up – the oldest monastery in Russian space. But the year 1240 brings the most terrible era of in the history of the place: the Mongol invasion of Batu Khan, which had destroyed Kiev literally, by fire. Rebuilt on the old foundations, it will be conquered again in 1321 by Gediminas, who will hand Kiev over to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. In 1569, throughout a century, Kiev goes under Polish administration, as the residence of a semi-autonomous principality. Then it joins the Tsarist Russia, undergoing through a period of prosperity, especially in the nineteenth century, when, under the stimulus of the Industrial Revolution, it become the third city of the empire after St. Petersburg and Moscow. Between 1918 and 1920 the city has changes the ruling regime for about twenty times, its suzerainty being given, one by one, to White Russia, Red Russia, Poland and even transience first Ukrainian state. Finally, in 1921 it became the administrative center of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, one of the most oppressive entities of the USSR.

World War II triggered massive damage, but the postwar period brought Kiev back on the podium of the most important Soviet cities, and in 1991, the city gained the status of the capital of an independent state. Very recently, the tents of the Orange Revolution in Kiev dominated the Independence Square from November 2004 to January 2005, bringing it to power the right-wing candidate Victor Yushchenko who was later defeated in the electoral competition.

The fifteen centuries of political turmoil have not damaged the spirit of Kiev, though, and the city began its development and rebirth, despite periodic historical tragedy which it has been forced to face. Pecearska Lavra – the Monastery of the Grote (1015), the current headquarters of the Metropolitan Ukraine and Saint Sophia Cathedral, a genuine national sanctuary, whose construction began in 1037, are two sites on the list of monuments protected by UNESCO, and represent some of the most prestigious touristic sites. The entry into the old town is made through a Golden Gate, a replica of the one in Constantinople, partially destroyed by the Mongols in 1240.

Next to former Imperial Palace, there rises a Neoclassical building that houses the parliament – Rada. On the right bank of the Dnieper River, the impressive Museum of the Great Patriotic War dominates the panorama, guarded by giant Mother Country allegorical statue of 102 meters height and 530 tons. Other impressive statues evoke the personality of famous heroes of the nation, among who, Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky and King Vladimir the Great, canonized for his contribution in Orthodoxy among Ukrainians, Byelorussians and Russians.

The traditional protector spirit of the city is a pagan Slavic deity, Berehynia, a kind of Rusalka endowed with magical powers, while the modern spirit is embodied by … the legendary football coach Valeriy Lobanovskyi, creator of the great team Dinamo Kiev (winner of the Winners’ Cup in 1986 and defeated the following year in the European Super Cup Stars final), whose statue was erected at the entrance of the stadium that now bears his name.

Kiev was not only a metropolis dedicated to Eastern Orthodoxy, but also a renowned cultural center, whose fame is continued in modern times by institutions like the famous State Opera (with a ballet troupe often compared to that of the Opera in Saint Petersburg), several museums dedicated to traditional art but also parts of western art, a prestigious drama theater named “Ivan Franko” after the national poet who lived between 1856 and 1916, and also a famous puppet theater and a circus. On one of the many islands on the Dnieper there is built a water park with a Venetian theme, and in the southern part of Pirogovo city, there is an impressive museum of folk architecture of the Ukrainian village, dominated by a group of traditional windmills.

The beautiful secular chestnuts planted along the central boulevards are living emblems of a special relationship with nature, transforming the area into a fishing and water sports paradise, regardless of the season (if summer temperature reaches 30-34 degrees Celsius, during winter time, the river is covered by a layer of ice several meters thick – hence the ice fishing and skating performed as leisure time activities).

There are plenty of things to do and discover on a trip to Kiev. And nevertheless, you will fall in love with this wonderful city and its amazing everlasting spirit.

Photo source:

Picture 1: thousandwonders.net; Picture 2: commons.wikimedia.org; Picture 3: cqmsjt.com; Picture 4: bogdankijanica.com; Picture 5: ; Picture 6: commons.wikimedia.org; Picture 7: primetour.ua
Jun 01

ODESSA, ONE OF THE MOST POPULAR BLACK SEA RESORTS (ODESSA)

What can be said about Odessa except for nice words?! The town is charming, located in the north-west of the Black Sea and is the capital of Odessa district, one of the largest in Ukraine. It is an important commercial, tourist, industrial and cultural center and one of the biggest Russian ports. It was founded two centuries ago, and only a century after the founding, it became the third largest center of Russian Empire after St. Petersburg and Moscow. Empress Catherine the Great honored the city with the status of Porto Franco – meaning free port. During the communist period, Odessa was the most important trading spot in the USSR. It has a population of over one million inhabitants and nowadays it is increasingly visited by tourists from all over the world.

The city is easy to roam thanks to its wide generous boulevards, many of them on one way, which greatly facilitates the traffic flow. The streets are arranged like a chessboard, being parallel and perpendicular to each other. Avenues and streets are “guarded” on both sides by tall, thick trees that provide shade all day, giving a cool, fresh air all the time. So it is a pleasure to walk on the famous Primorsky, Richelievskaya, Panteleymonivskaya boulevards or Pedestrian Deribasovskaya. All are animated, with many restaurants of different culinary styles (Ukrainian, Georgian, Indian, Japanese, Chinese, etc.), very chic cafés, pubs and shops, ultramodern malls, such as Europe or Athena, historical monuments, museums, theaters where you can enjoy opera and ballet performances, the Vorontov Palace – a true architectural gem -, the City Hall, the statue of Pushkin standing with the back towards the building as in an act of defiance. You can see many other buildings with a wonderful architecture (for instance the Passage), the Variety Theater, the Russian Drama Theater, the railway station (beautiful both on the outside and on the inside) with a huge chandelier decorated with gold hanging under the dome that dominates the entire building, the Orthodox Cathedral, the Synagogue, the Mosque, and several renowned nightclubs: Ibiza, Europarty Club, YO Club, Vis-a-Vis etc.

An important attraction are the famous Potemkin Stairs that took their name after the famous Soviet silent film “Battleship Potemkin” where a group of civilians were massacred by tsarist troops. These steps seen above, give you an optical illusion that gives you the impression that only the first step of each group is visible, when they are actually 192 steps. You can either climb all the steps by foot, or take the funicular. The steps lead to the port, where encounter the passengers’ terminal, a modern naval station.

Here we the magnificent four stars Odessa Hotes is awaiting. Constructed on a strip of land that was imbedded into the sea, the Odessa Hotel is offering its guests a wonderful scenery consisting in the infinite horizon of the Black Sea. In front of the terminal, there is a futuristic bronze sculpture named “Golden Children”.

Odessa also has beautiful parks with ancient trees that are suitable for visits during any season; however, the fall offers an amazing scenery doe to the change of the leaves colors, which, beginning from late September, they turn from green to yellow, orange or rust and the autumn flowers are in bloom.

Odessa is known as the most popular seaside resort, and has two important beaches: Arkadia, with a wide and smooth entry into the sea, an amusement park, and the largest dolphinarium in Eastern Europe, called Nemo.

Odessa is delightful and has many beautiful and interesting places waiting for you to visit; afterwards, you will leave with great memories and beautiful pictures.

Photo source:
Picture 1: turnul.blogspot.ro; Picture 2: commons.wikimedia.org; Picture 3: ua-travels.com; 
Picture 4: ua-travels.com; Picture 5:visittoukraine.com; Picture 6: nektony.com; Picture 7: visittoukraine.com
May 23

KIEV, SLAVIC ELEGANCE AND WONDERFUL CUISINE

Kiev, the capital of Ukraine is a lovely city, full of parks and green areas, which give it an aerated and clean looks, with wide boulevards and imposing architecture.

http://www.entourism.com/

http://www.entourism.com/

As you enter the city from Zytomir via central area, there is a wide avenue of about 5 lanes, where traffic is very fluent. You can drive through the city with a speed of 80-90 km per hour, which is very convenient for a capital of over 3 million inhabitants, whereas on the large boulevards there are hardly any traffic lights and pedestrian crossings; the pedestrians pass through underground passages – some of these passages is true malls that are worth being checked.

http://www.travel-europe.info/

http://www.travel-europe.info/

The best way to enjoy Kiev is step by step, but since it’s so wide, expect your feet to get tired at one point. On the path you will visit the most important edifices and landmarks, such as the Holy Sophia Cathedral – an astounding building and the first patromony on the territory of Ukraine; Lavra Pechersk; Military Museum or the Botanic Garden. The Saint Andrew Church – imposing and beautiful on the outside – is at least twice as spectacular on the inside. You can also visit the Podil area placed on the shore of the Dnieper River, the Euromaidan district, which has gained an unwanted notoriety during the recent Russian-Ukrainian conflicts, the House of the Chimeras and some of the many beautiful parks in the city.

http://www.tourist-destinations.com/

http://www.tourist-destinations.com/

Kiev is a very wide and large city, with an eclectic architectural style and buildings from the interwar or Soviet period, which are very beautiful and well preserved, but you will also find modern sky scrapers and glass buildings of 30-40 storeys high, mostly on the other side of the Dnieper.

One of the beautiful parts of Kiev is that its locals stand out through elegance and style, and walking downtown in your best suit is something very common here.

http://ukrainetrek.com/

http://ukrainetrek.com/

Another plus of Kiev are the restaurants, which are plenty and varied, for all tastes, for all nations and all budgets. You can try at least one a day and you can choose from Georgian, Tartar or traditional Ukrainian, as the prices are low and the quality is amazing. One of great characteristics is that, in this part of the world, food is still natural and healthy, as the “standards” imposed by E.U. and other organisms have not reached this area so far.

Accommodation in Kiev is, just like in the restaurants’ case, affordable and very high quality.

http://ukraineallaboutu.com/

http://ukraineallaboutu.com/

In conclusion as evidence that we liked the city very much, we are already planning another trip to Kiev soon and we gladly advise you to do the same and discover a touristic gem of Eastern Europe, which is too little known, unfortunately.

Jan 31

Museum of the Great Patriotic War

When it comes to our historical past, there is a lot of information which fails to reach people over generations, especially since history, as it has been pointed out numerous times, is written by the winners. Even if it has always been underlined that history offers an objective look over the events which have changed the face of the world in time, it is worth mentioning once more that subjectivity is forever present in the history books, especially since we have only one side of the story presented to us.

http://enjoykiev.com/entertainment-in-kiev/museums-kiev/the-national-museum-of-the-great-patriotic-war-in-kiev/

http://enjoykiev.com/entertainment-in-kiev/museums-kiev/the-national-museum-of-the-great-patriotic-war-in-kiev/

But nevertheless the accounts historians provide individuals with are of extreme value as they recall the past events which would have otherwise fallen into forgetfulness.

But since the purpose of this website is to allow readers to get as much information as possible about the tourist attractions available throughout Eastern Europe, we are going to do just that.

The subject matter of today’s article is the Museum of Great Patriotic War, or as it is officially known: ‘The National Museum of History of the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945 years.’

http://www.panoramio.com/photo/45892560

Even without knowing too much historical facts, it is quite simple for everyone to determine that the Great Patriotic War is an obvious allusion to WWII and to the Nazi invasion. It is not the purpose of this piece of article to give insight into the conflagration itself, so we are going to focus our attention on the memorial complex which has been developed as a means to commemorate the heroic souls which have perished while protecting their country. The idea to create the Museum of the Great Patriotic War emerged almost immediately, but it was not put into effect as there were other matters more urgent for the government to attend to, such as developing strong plans of reconstructing the nation and building the economy from scraps.

http://www.ratestogo.com/blog/10-must-see-attractions-in-kiev/

It was not until 1974 that the museum came into being and it was initially housed by the former Klovsky Palace. Even though it drew attention since its inauguration, in time it gained even more importance and it became a national icon. This is actually the largest museum located on the Ukrainian territory and even more, the most prominent one. The exhibits contain more than 300 displays and the museum constantly unveils new additions to the exhibitions, keeping the history alive.

The museum houses exhibits which portray the heroic acts of Ukrainian soldiers in battles carried in different parts of the world and what is more, it focuses on enriching the military history of the country by carrying research in the domain, by gathering scientific facts and by cataloguing the developments of the Ukrainian army.

http://pictures-photos.ukraine-photo.com/Ukraine-photos

The impressive expositions have been gazed upon by almost 25 million tourists that have come from all over the world to admire the exhibits the museum has to offer.

The Motherland Monument is part of the National Museum of History and it is a highly recognizable monument throughout the world. This item is a statement for the battle carried and for the bravery with which the soldiers have defended their motherland. This being said, it is no wonder why the monument is named the way it is. In order to best capture the significance of the monument, the architects behind it have developed it at a large scale, in as much as one can spot the immense sculpture from either corner of the Ukrainian capital.

http://resobscura.blogspot.ro/2011/04/worlds-tallest-statues.html

http://resobscura.blogspot.ro/2011/04/worlds-tallest-statues.html

It is erected on a platform which measures 40 meters, reaching 102 meters in height and weighting more or less 500 tons. Standing tall with its sword high above her head, the statue seems to be a guardian of the Ukrainian nation, always being on the lookout for possible dangers and always prepared to take them head on.

The sculpture, as many other monuments which are part of the National Museum of History of the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945 years are unique – most of them due to the intelligently developed mechanisms behind them. The bottom line is that this specific museum preserves a considerable piece of the Ukrainian history and it is worth your time if you ever visit Kiev.