Aug 30

Kamyanets-Podilsky (Orasul Kamyanets-Podilsky)

Whenever a majestic town, monument or item necessitates an accurate description, words seem to fail us. Because there are certain things that cannot be put into words, either because the striking beauty of that specific thing cannot find its way into our vocabulary, or because the way in which something presents itself before us instills a certain feeling, a certain emotion which cannot be expressed.

This is the situation one will find himself/herself in if ever visiting the town Kamyanets-Podilsky. The Ukrainian poet Lesya Ukrayinka had find the perfect simile to describe the ancient fortress that reigns over the city with the same name : “a stone flower on the rock,” thus alluding to the position the citadel occupies but also to the immense beauty of the edifice which seems to have sprung from the ground.

The Kamyanets-Podilsky fortress had been constructed in the 12th century, but the original edifice was not preserved as such, but was enhanced in time, having eventually been trasformed into the impressive stronghold that appears before us today. Thus it can accurately be said that the keep evolved in the same way as society. Imediately as a new form of defence mechanism was developed, the fortress was equiped with it.

What is it that draws us near to Kamyanets-Podilsky? Could it be the mysterious feel of it, as if something hidden to the eye dwells beneath the shadows of the fortified walls of the citadel or does it have something to do with the sensation one gets, that of transcending the present, and traveling back in time and space? It is as if entering a different world and it is precisely this aspect that attracts tourists from all over the world. The medieval town is endowed with an ancient Roman bridge which has been constructed more than 200 years ago, a Gothic city hall, towers and various churches. There is one tower which might capture your attention, probably because you have never seen such a turret anywhere else in the world. This fortification is adorned with the sculptural representation of the Virgo, which is placed right at the top of the tower.


With such decorative elements, it is no wonder that you feel transposed into the medieval times. In fact, Kamyanets-Podilsky is among the oldest cities in Ukraine. There are no actual historical accounts which accurately retrace the formation of the fortified city. This could only mean one thing: that there was room for interpretation, based on the scarce official information found in archieves.  For instance, there is one legend which says that 4 brothers had gone hunting and that, after spotting a deer, they had followed it until reaching the site of present-day Kamyanets-Podilsky.


Legend has it that the four brothers were so mesmerized by the beauty of the landscape that they had decided to put the basis of a city in that exact location. The legend is connected to the historical past in the sense that the four characters mentioned were said to have been the nephews of the Grand Duke Olgerd of Lithuania. But if we were to analyze the accuracy of this story, we would soon discover that there are several discrepancies, and thus we can draw a line between fact and fiction. The Grand Duke was in fact a historical figure, but the archeological diggings concluded that the medieval town of Kamyanets was built much earlier, before the period in which the duke lived.

There are several other legends which circulate in respect to the foundation of the city, but none can be taken for granted entirely. It would be nice to know how did Kamyanets came into being, but maybe this lack of information is another aspect which contributes to the mystery that revolves around the town, maintaing the enigmatic, yet authentic feel it conveys.

Aug 06

The House with Chimeras (Casa cu himere)

The House with Chimeras is an edifice constructed in the Art Nouveau style in the historical neighborhood Lypky – which is located in Kiev. The area is filled with official edifices, such as the Presidential Administration Building, which is located right across the street from the House with Chimeras. Because of this, the region has been transformed into a pedestrian one, no cars being allowed to drive along and security guards patrol the street 24/7.

From 2005 onward the house has been used for official events such as ceremonies, diplomatic meetings, and the like.


The house is truly an architectural wonder, the person behind the design, architect Vladislav Gorodetsky, had built the edifice for his own personal use at the beginning of the 20th century. However, the upkeep of such a monumental construction was a bit too much for Gorodetsky to handle so he found himself with no other alternative but to estrange the building. The House with Chimeras has changed several hands throughout the 20th century until it was transformed into a healthcare facility under the ruling of the Communist Party.

The restoration work conducted to the edifice did not change the original plan designed by Gorodetsky, the edifice which presents itself before us having maintained its appearance throughout the years.


The first thing that intrigued me upon coming across this Ukrainian tourist attraction was the name it bears. But as I was to find out, the name is directly connected to the elements of decorations which were used in designing the building. The ornaments were a direct reflection of Gorodetsky in the sense that he was extremely keen on hunting and the sculptures used on the house illustrate various exotic animals and hunting scenes. The most frequent mistake is the assumption that the name is allusive of the mythological chimera, when in fact it simply alludes to a specific architectural technique in which animal representations are used to adorn an edifice – this being exactly what Emilio Sala, an Italian architect, had done in this case.

The construction work of the edifice was underway by 1902. Gorodetsky’s plan was to create an apartment building which had one apartment per floor. While his dream did came true, the owner did not manage to see it through as his dire financial situation obliged him to renounce the beautiful house.


It is quite interesting how the municipality managed to restore the house. As it has been mentioned previously, a polyclinic was established inside the edifice and this institution functioned here until the end of the 20th century. There was no maintenance work conducted for more than a century and the results were beginning to show extensively. In fact, the edifice was close to split in half, not to mention that the ornamentation work was almost unrecognizable, that is how much the building had deteriorated.

But even so, the occupants of the polyclinic were unwilling to relocate.  The situation took quite a turn as the workers in charge of the restoration work covered the windows with panels and were on the verge of bolting the doors. It took an intervention from the president to evacuate the building completely.


When the refurbishing was completed, the House of Chimeras regained its former beauty. Restoration work was also conducted in the courtyard where a small garden, a lake and several fountains embellished the setting – just as Gorodetsky intended it.

The architectural design of the monument comprises curved and loosely patterns in combination with floral motifs, representations of mythical beings and game animals.

The site chosen for the edifice was inclined and this posed some issues in the building process. However, the foundation was set properly so that the edifice was finally erected. In fact, if you regard the façade of the building, you get the impression that there House with Chimeras does not have more than 3 storeys. But getting around the building and seeing it from behind will reveal the actual structure of the edifice – which in fact consists of 6 floors.

The reason for which this edifice is listed among the most important tourist attractions in Kiev is obvious – because the House with Chimeras is an architectural jewel.

Jul 27

Kiev Pechersk Lavra (Manastirea Pesterilor din Kiev)

Kiev Pechersk Lavra, which also goes by the name of Monastery of the Caves, is a monastery located in Kiev, Ukraine, founded in 1051. The beauty and historical weight it carries has made it possible for the monastery to be included in UNESCO’s Program of World Heritages. More so, the building has gained immense popularity with its inclusion among the seven wonders of Ukraine, a title which was conveyed on the 21st of August, 2007.

Even though it is one of the main attractions of the city, the edifice is not used solely as a touristic site, but continues to hold regular sermons within its walls.


The monastic complex is formed of a multitude of structure. On the one hand there are the belfries, cathedrals and fortified walls – elements specific to monasteries, and on the other hand, there are the underground caves, which make the site stand out from the rest of its kind.

One of the noteworthy monuments of the complex is the Great Lavra Bell Tower. This specific construction was the tallest of its kind when it was erected back in the 18th century (1731-1745). The architect in charge of the project, Johann Gottfried Schädel, designed the tower in the Classical architectural style, by means of layers. The finishing touch for the 96.5 m bell tower was a golden dome which is easily depicted on the Ukrainina skyline.


The Church of Trinity replaced the ancient stone church which was still standing at the time when the plan for the new house of worship was put into action. The church suffered immense damaged in 1718 when it caught fire. The reconstruction work brought to light a mezmerising work of art. The façade, as well as the interior of the church, were covered in lavish adornments. The stucco work did not limit solely to the interior walls but included the exterior as well. The church was completed by means of a gilded cupola.


The All Saints Church, built at the end of the 17th century (1676-1698), consists of artistically crafted decorations, being a beautiful example of the Ukranian Baroque architecture. The Church of the Savior, built in the 11th century by the order of Prince Volodymyr Monomakh, is situated in the northern part of the Monastery of the Caves. The architectural style used in the construction work is representative of the Classical period, having been conveyed by the architect  Andrei Melenskyi.

The Kiev Pechersk Lavra consists of a complex system of caverns. These include contracted corridors, chapels and even accomodation rooms, all designed in the underground.


This system dates from 1051, when the monk Anthony had established into a cavern located in the nearby hills. In time, the cave expended to comprise several passages and even a church.

The caves were also used as burial places and at present one can run across the tombs of famous figures, such as members of the royal family, intelectuals, and saints.


While still being an active monastery, the Kiev Pechersk Lavra also fulfils the role of museum. In fact, it is one of the principal museums located in Kiev, encompasing various collections which are representative for the upper and lower regions of Lavra. The items on display are portraits of the ordained  priests, photographs illustrating church representatives, books and objects made out of precious metals. The main exhibit includes goblets and crucifixes dating from the 16th century, up until de 20th century, and various exemples of needlework, artistically crafted.

Tourists who are interested in discovering the catacombs, will be pleased to hear that tours are organized with regularity to the undergorund where they can behold the mummies of Orthodox saints or their vestiges.

Jul 18

Odessa beach resorts (Sejur la plaja in Odessa)

Whoever said that the beach is the beach regardless of the state you find yourself in was badly mistaken. Even if we are considering the states that are opened to the same sea, the differences between them are noticeable. And we are not referring solely to the clarity of the water or the delicacy of the sand, but also to the accommodation and services you are bound to find while on vacation.

This article is dedicated to the beaches in Odessa and will analyze both the beach resorts available in the third largest Ukrainian city, but also the points of interest located throughout the city, which might attract the tourists who want to gain some insight into the cultural and historical aspects al Ukraine.


First and foremost, it is worth mentioning that Odessa is one of the largest ports found in the southern part of the state. Dedicated mostly to industrial activities, Odessa has a powerful economy which is stirred by the labor of about 1 million inhabitants. But aside from its economic tendencies, the city is also renowned as a resort, where tourists from different part of the world come to experience, even if for a short period of time, the way of life that Odessa has to offer.

Besides the Sunny Beaches which indulge both locals and foreigners with a warm sea and a relaxing atmosphere, Odessa is also a tourist magnet due to the historical sites located here. Upon entering the city, it is impossible not to notice the wide streets and the imposing buildings with their beautiful architectural design. It is a clear example of civilization at its very best, emphasizing the affluence of the city.


The high season is quite long, lasting from May until October, and you do not have to worry that the weather might spoil the perfect vacation you have planned. On the contrary, the possibility of seeing a cloud on the sky is quite remote, the sunlight being always by your side. It is no wonder that the city bears the name of “Pearl of the Black Sea.”

When it comes to accommodation, you should rest assured that there are numerous hotels spread along the coastline. Even if you do not call in advance in order to make a reservation, chances are that you will find a vacant room.


But because you want to be certain that nothing can harm your vacation, you should book a room beforehand. From a monetary point of view, it is advisable to look into private apartments, especially if you come as a group. This is practiced a lot in Odessa so you will have no problem in finding a real estate agent to show you flats located at the seaside.
The temperate climate is usually characterized by sunny days, but the air does not become irrespirable due to the sea breeze which makes the heat bearable, and quite pleasant. So it seems that nothing can stop tourist from coming to a place which offers them a resort area which extends over 20 km and consists of warm sea and well-maintained beaches.


One of the most popular beaches along the coastline is Arcadia Beach where the majority of the night clubs are located – this being the reason for which many young people choose this specific area. Arcadia consist of numerous bars, clubs, restaurants, spas and hotels so it is no wonder that it has become known as the epicenter of summer nightlife.

The hotels are located in close proximity of the sandy beaches and have numerous services to offer, depending on the guests’ needs and wants, as well as on their financial possibilities. But regardless of the type of room you choose, be it in a 5 star or a 3 star hotel, the services provided will be impeccable.


In terms of other tourist attractions, you can visit the Opera and Ballet House, which has one of the most impressive architectural designs in all of Ukraine and has come to be known as one of the most beautiful theaters in the world. The monument combines elemens of the Italian Baroque architecture with those of the Renaissance. Statues representing allegorical scenes adorn the façade of the building together with the busts of famous writers and poets.

The Archeological Museum, which took form in the 19th century (1825), has more than 160.000 items on display, among which one can find remnants of Ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt, items belonging to the primitive and classical culture, as well as a numismatics collection.

So if you are looking to spend some quality time in a beach resort, Odessa is the answer for you.

Jul 11

St. Sophia Cathedral (Catedrala Sf. Sofia)

St. Sophia Cathedral is one of the most impressive cathedrals in Kiev. Tourists from all over the world who come to Kiev do not miss their chance to visit the most renowned landmarks of the city. There is a fee which has to be covered when entering the cathedral, but it is all worth it. The architectural design is outstanding.

The cathedral is actually the first edifice of its kind on the Ukrainian territory to have been included in the World Heritage List. This goes to prove just how valuable this construction is.

In addition to the main building which is actually the cathedral under discussion, there are other constructions which are a part of the monastic ensemble (the bell tower, the House of Metropolitan, etc.). The cathedral has been administered by the Ministry of Regional Development up until 2010, but afterwards, it came under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Culture.


The explanation is more of a practical nature. The fact is that UNESCO World Heritage Program considers both this cathedral and the Monastery of the Caves (also located in Kiev) as being part of a sole ensemble. But the edifices were under different jurisdictions. So the contradiction had to be resolved in a way, and the obvious solution was to have them both be administered by the same Ministry.

St. Sophia’s Cathedral has been erected in 1037 by Prince Yaroslav the Wise. The construction consists of 5 apses, 5 naves and 13 cupolas, and while the exterior decorations are no longer noticeable, tourists still have the possibility to gaze on beautiful frescos and mosaic works which have been wonderfully preserved at the interior of the cathedral since the 11th century.


By 1240, the cathedral was in a bad condition, but renovations were by no means initiated. Thus for 4 centuries, the construction was left to chance. It was not until 1633 that restoration work on the cathedral began. The architect behind the project was Octaviano Mancini, of Italian origin, who preserved the interior of the church unchanged, but added a new architectural design on the exterior – elements representative for the Baroque style.

The cathedral was finally restored to the fullest in the 18th century (1740). In the years to come, the complex was extended to comprise the Bell Tower (1744-1752). But while the building work occurred in the specified timeframe, additional elements were added much later. The golden cupola was actually added in mid-19th century (1852).


The Dining Hall which dates from the 18th century was later on changed to host a museum. At present, exhibitions found here present various models of the city prior to the Mongol invasion (which occurred in 1240), as well as from the 10th up until the 12th century.

The name of the cathedral is given after the edifice which was actually used as inspiration for the construction: the Hagia Sophia Cathedral, located in Constantinople. The name conveyed does not make reference to a specific saint. Hagia Sophia translates into ‘holy wisdom’ and this is the connotation of the name.

In terms of structure, the cathedral is encompassed by galleries on three sides, and the exterior reaches 37 to 55 m.


Initially, the cathedral had quite a different purpose: the rulers of Kiev used it as their burial place. While the catacombs of the majority of them did not survive the passage of time, there is one tomb still standing: that of the founder of the cathedral, Yaroslav the Wise.

The cathedral, as well as the adjacent buildings, has been used for various ceremonies and official events. The wonderful architecture and the historical weight it carries make the St. Sophia Cathedral a must-see touristic attraction.

Jun 28

Dnepropetrovsk (Orasul Dnepropetrovsk)

Dnepropetrovsk is the third largest city in on the Ukrainian territory in terms of population size. The reason for which this city is the topic of one of the articles on this website is that it situates itself among the most beautiful towns of this state. Just as a parenthesis, it should be known that the city under discussion is an important industrial center – this is where metallurgical products, equipment, aircrafts and rockets are produced.    

But while this aspect might be less relevant for tourists, it is a factor that determines the structure of the city. Dnepropetrovsk is a mixture of old buildings and new edifices, more accurately skyscrapers. While this combination leads to a dent in the unity of the overall design, there is something fascinating about this city.


In terms of old edifices, we should mention 3 fortresses which date from the 17th century (Kodakskaia, Novobogorodizkaia and New Kaidaky) and Potemkin Palace from 1786. But the municipality has showed interest in preserving these remnants of the past, in as much that these were restored and today attract many tourists to the area.

There are also numerous houses of culture, including theaters and museums, which are bound to raise interest among tourists, at which a variety of parks, cafés, restaurants and beaches can be added.

Museum of History -


The city has decided to honor the Marxist heroes of the Soviet period, so the main streets of the city bear their names. Right through the center of the city stretches a beautiful and wide boulevard, Karla Marksa Prospekt, which was constructed in the 18th century. The epicenter of the city, so to speak, is October Square where tourists can visit an impressive 1787 cathedral whose construction was demanded by the Empress of Russia, Catherine the Great. The same square comprises several other buildings which are deemed tourist attractions, such as the Museum of History or the Potemkin Palace.

Potemkin Palace -


As it has been previously mentioned, Dnepropetrovsk is a dual city as it preserves an authentic feel to it (due to the old edifices that are still maintained in several parts of the city) and because skyscrapers have sprung from the ground every here and there, thus conferring a modern touch to the city.

But many of the old constructions have perished at the hands of the Soviet army – the majority of them being churches, as some of the ideological beliefs conflicted with the Soviet ones. But among the areas which preserve their historical character, Central Avenue, the area near Globa and Shevchenko parks are worth mentioning, as these have not been interfered with for 150 years.

Shevchenko Park -


Dnepropetrovsk is also known for having been the home of many famous people. Among these, we will mention the prominent Russian writer Alexander Pushkin who had come to this Ukrainian town in May, 1820, after he was exiled from Sankt Petersburg.

Another important tourist attraction in this area is the Monastic (Konsomol) Island, considered the most romantic place in Dnepropetrovsk. There are many legends which revolve around this island. Some believe that St. Andrew, on his journey to spread the teaching of Christ, had reached the island. Komsomol Island initially bore the name of Monastic Island and the explanation lies in the fact that a Byzantine monastery used to reign over the island. The name was later on changed to Komsomol, only to be endowed with its original name in 1999.

Monastic Island -


In 1990, the Church of St. Nicholas was built in the northern part of the island and while it did seem out of place in the park due to the fact that it broke away from the architectural design used initially, it blended well into the scenery. In time, the white church with a gilded dome has become an iconic edifice of Dnepropetrovsk.

May 22

Vladimirsky Cathedral (Catedrala Vladimirsky )

If the name Vladimirsky Cathedral does not ring a bell, then you might be familiar with one of the following names which are also attached to the edifice under discussion: St. Volodymyr’s Cathedral, St. Vladimir’s Cathedral, or Volodymyrsky Cathedral.

The cathedral is situated in Kiev, right in the center of the city and it is actually an important symbol of the Ukrainian capital city .



We owe the construction of the cathedral to the Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow who had put forth the idea that an immense house of worship should be erected in the honor of the Keivan Rus state which was formed under Prince Vladimir the Great. This idea came with the celebration of the 900 years which had gone by since the state had been formed (in 1852). Everyone was enticed by the prospect of having a cathedral dedicated to this event so donations coming from all over the Russian Empire started to pour.

In 1859, the fund started for the construction work managed to raise as much as 100,000 rubles and the constructors would soon build the cathedral. Help also came from the Kiev Pecherk Lavra which donated 1 million bricks to the cause. The original architectural style was neo-Byzantine and was developed by a group of 5 architects:  I. Schtrom, P. Sparro, R. Bemhardt, K. Mayevsky, V. Nikolayev.


But as it turned out, this was not the structural design which would be used for the cathedral. Instead, the edifice would be constructed in a traditional way. The architect behind the final version of the cathedral was Alexander Vikentievich Beretti who designed an edifice with 3 apses and 7 domes.


The cathedral is beautifully adorned with mosaics, which bear the mark of Venetian artists, and with frescoes, performed by renowned artists, such as S. Kostenko, V. Kotarbinsky, Mikhail Nesterov, M. Pymonenko, Viktor Vasnetsov, Mikhail Vrubel, and many others.

The wonderful coloration of the interior design is impressive, and among all the works of art decorating the cathedral, we have to mention the painting found in the altar apse which depicts the Virgin Mary. This paining, done by Vasnetsov, attracts tourists due to the somber way in which the Mother of Christ is illustrated.


Vladimirsky cathedral stands out due to a multitude of reasons, all reflective of the impressive architectural and decorative design conveyed. But just to create an outline of the cathedral, we are going to point out some of the most relevant elements of the construction.

The cross situated on the main steeple measures 49 m in height. The iconostasis is made out Carrara white marble, while at the entrance of the cathedral one can admire relief sculptural works made out of bronze. These are actually representations of Princess Olga of Kiev (who has been canonized – St. Olga) and of St. Vladimir. The first sculpture was created by R. Bakh, while the second bears the mark of H. Zaieman. The construction work was completed in 1882, but it took another 14 years until the painting work was finished (in 1896).

Vladimirsky Cathedral experienced several threats, meaning that it was prone to suffering considerable damages. The first occurrence of this kind was in 1920 during the Polish-Soviet War. The soviet period was again rather difficult in the “life” of the edifice as it was close to being demolished. But while it managed to survive, its purpose was shifted in as much as until WWII it had been a museum of religion and atheism.


At present, the cathedral holds within its walls the relics of St. Barbara. These were initially found at St. Michael’s Monastery, but they had been transferred to Vladimirsky Cathedral prior to the Bolsheviks destruction of the monastery.

The end of the war marked the “beginning” for the cathedral as it had been reopened and had stayed as such ever since. Vladimirsky Cathedral was among the few locations in the USSR which could be visited by tourists even when the religious services were under way. The cathedral became once more the “home” of the Orthodox religion in 1988.

At present, the cathedral is still used for praying and religious services and the language used in these ceremonies is Ukrainian.

May 11

Yuriy Fedkovych National University (Universitatea Nationala Yuriy Fedkovych din Cernauti )

Cernauti University, also known as “Yuriy Fedkovych National University,” is one of the most important universities located in the northern part of Bucovina. Cernauti, the city in which the edifice is located, used to belong to Romania, but it had become a part of the Ukrainian territory after Bucovina was invaded by the Soviet troops.


The university under discussion was constructed on the 4th of October 1875 by the Austro-Hungarian King Franz Josef, on the site of the former Orthodox Theological Seminary.  The university was renowned in all the Austro-Hungarian Empire and in the beginning it went under the name of “Franz Josef University,” after its founder.

But the name constantly changed according to specific historical or cultural events.  When Romania and Bucovina were united, the name of the building was changed to “King Carol I University” – after the ruler of that time.


The actual edifice which can be seen today in Ukraine dates fro 1920-1922, when the Romanian Government took it upon itself to erect the building. But the region came under Ukrainian rule once more in 1940. In 1989, the name of the university was changed to “Yuriy Fedkovych National University,” after a famous writer, representative of the Ukrainian National Renaissance period.

While the information provided up to now reflects solely the historical evolution of the edifice, it is not suggestive of its beauty. The architecture and the décor are the ones that transformed the university into the renowned tourist attraction it has become. In fact, the complex of edifices is listed as part of the UNESCO patrimony.


The magnitude of the construction is impressive. Several quarries, two brick plants and a ceramic factory all worked so as to provide the main materials used in the construction project. The architect who designed the complex was Joseph Glavka, of Czech origin, who had supervised the project throughout the 18 years it took to complete it. But other great artists made their contribution, such as I. Klein and K.Yobst from Vienna, or the local E. Bychevski. The sculptures were artistically molded by the Viennese artist K. Hoffman.

The construction work took such a long time due to the fact that the builders were doing everything to make sure that the materials used were adequate and that these were accurately placed in their designated place. This meant that only close to 100 bricks were added to the construction on a daily basis as each was thoroughly inspected beforehand.


The complex is divided into three sections. The first section, which is located in the left side of the complex, consists of the lecture-halls, the library, the seminary and the dormitory. The second section is made out of the Metropolitan Building (in the middle), whereas the third and final section is formed of a monastery, a museum, a candle factory and the priest’s school (located to the right).

It is really hard to think of another university which impresses through its beauty. And the reason is that different architectural styles have formed a synergy at the Yuriy Fedkovych National University, blending together elements pertaining to different cultures that have dwelt in this region.


Thus, tourists can admire how Byzantine and Roman elements combine with pieces of decoration specific for the Bucovina region.  The interior design, consisting of marble floors, luxurious chandeliers, alabaster columns and beautiful frescoes, is remarkable, setting the university aside from any other centers of higher education in the world.