The Stryi Park is the largest one in the city and is reckoned among the oldest and the most picturesque parks not only in Lviv but in the whole Ukraine. Rightfully recognized as one of the best samples of landscape art, it is the most visited place in the city. Park’s neat lanes are always crowded by people willing to rest from urban fuss and admire magnificent sceneries.
The Stryi Park was designed by the prominent European architect, renowned master of the landscape art, and was laid out in the late 19th century. It occupied the territory of the namesake cemetery that was closed fifty years earlier. After construction’s end, the park was immediately equipped with necessary amenities. More than 40 thousand bushes and trees, including both usual for these latitudes and exotic ones (ginkgo, red oak, tulip tree, and Japanese lilac), were planted there. The Stryi Park is famous for its very rich collection of rare and valuable trees; more than 200 species of plants grow there, greenhouse and rock garden are equipped, and lime and plane alleys are laid out.
The park, occupying almost 60 hectares, consists of three landscape parts: Lower Parquet Area, Woodland Park Area and Upper Terrace. The lower and the upper parts are linked by pedestrian path running along deep valley, where a creek used to flow. Picturesque swan lake is situated not far from the main entrance, decorated with an elegant arch.
The Stryi Park was formerly called Kilinsky Park. It got this name after the monument to the Polish colonel, one of the participants in the Warsaw uprising against the Russian army, Jan Kilinsky was installed in the center of the lower terrace near the pond, in 1894. Locals still use park’s old name from time to time.
The Stryi Park is also known as the place where the first football match in Ukraine was held. Lviv and Krakiv teams took part in it. The memorial “Lviv – the birthplace of Ukrainian football,” depicting a falcon sitting on a football, was installed there to celebrate the 110th anniversary of this event.Lviv, Ukraine
The Holy Trinity Cathedral, towering above the city center, is the main Orthodox temple in Dnipropetrovsk. Its majestic light building, crowned with green cupolas, is reckoned among the city most valuable historical and architectural monuments.
In 1837, the cathedral was laid on the place of the city first wooden church that was built in the late 18th century and then fell into decay. Temple’s project was designed by well-known architects from St. Petersburg, but its implementation was long postponed because of lack of money: the city just finished building the Transfiguration Cathedral and was working on the new Assumption Church. The construction of the Trinity Church started eight years after laying its foundation stone, when local industrialist took over its financing and allocated a solid sum of money.
At first, the Holy Trinity Cathedral looked very modest and differed considerably from the modern one. The temple was small and had no belfry, no service buildings and no forged fence. The bell tower, which is city’s tallest structure now, was built only in 1860s. Soon, a special corridor linked the bell tower and the church building, thereby almost doubling its area.
In the first third of the 20th century, the Trinity Cathedral was closed by Soviet authorities. At the same time, it lost its bells and cupolas, and numerous shops, workshops and storehouses were situated behind church’s fencing. Its walls were cut through and the temple was turned into a storehouse. Cathedral’s interior, in particular its magnificent paintings, was severely damaged at those times.
The Trinity Cathedral was reopened only with the outbreak of the World War II. The damaged building was gradually restored: bells were returned on the belfry, walls were plastered and whitewashed, cupolas were painted in green, and golden crosses began to shine atop of them again. Later, restoration works continued inside the cathedral, with a result that valuable paintings that escaped destruction were restored.Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine
The Intercession Monastery is adjoined to the Kharkiv oldest square, located in its very center. Its architectural ensemble is a complex of priceless antique structures that adorn modern city. The monastery was founded on the territory of the Kharkiv Fortress, in 1726, and used to be a part of the city fortifications system. Situated on the bank of the Lopan River in close proximity to the main trade square, it had a status of downtown’s key constituent.
The cloister got its name later, when an older Intercession Church was added to it. Raised on the place of the namesake wooden church, in 1689, it is Kharkiv’s oldest building that survived until now. The magnificent temple, whose elegant architecture combined the best traits of Ukrainian Baroque, is monastic complex’s gem, the outstanding architectural monument that is recognized as one of the Seven Wonders of Kharkiv.
Built by Cossacks near the medieval city’s ramparts, the Intercession Cathedral was crowned with three cupolas. It was raised above the so called winter temple, in accordance with then traditions of Slavic church architecture. Being harmonic and elegant, it produced an impression of volumes, rising up from each other: the monumental austerity of the lower cathedral was contrasted with airy ornamentality of the upper one. Simultaneously with the Intercession Church, the bell tower, which, being a part of the city fortifications system, had rough forms and resembled a harsh fortress tower, was erected.
In the 18th century, the Kharkiv Collegium, which was the first educational institution in the Eastern Ukraine, was opened on Intercession Monastery’s territory. It became famous in particular for the fact that the well-known Ukrainian philosopher Grigory Skovoroda used to teach there. Today a stone stele is installed in cloister’s center in his memory. Collegium’s library kept an impressive collection of rare books, and the neighboring monastic premises housed a large collection of antique church utensils.
Intercession Monastery’s true adornment is the Ozeryanskaya Church, built in the late 19th century. Designed in Russian Byzantine style and topped with twelve bulbous cupolas, it favorably contrasts with the Intercession Cathedral. Bishop's house, a building of cells with refectory, and deanery also survived on monastery’s territory.
In 1920s, the monastery was closed, and its premises were given to third parties. As a result old buildings went to ruin. After the war, there was an attempt to restore valuable buildings, but an extensive renovation started only in the late 20th century, when it was returned to believers. Today revived monastic complex adorns Kharkiv’s downtown, being one of its most interesting architectural sights.Kharkiv, Ukraine
The picturesque Dniester Canyon, stretching over three regions of the Western Ukraine, is rightly called one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Ukraine. Being 250-kilometer-long, it is one of the longest ravines in Europe. The Dniester Canyon impresses not only with its immensity, but also with breathtaking natural beauties: fantastic landscapes, rocky cliffs, overgrown with deciduous forests, numerous caves and grottoes, peculiar islands and waterfalls.
The Dniester Canyon is a picturesque area of the Dniester River Valley, which is located between the mouth of Zolota Lypa River and the mouth of Zbruch River. Framed with steep slopes hanging over it, the Dniester River makes peculiar twists in this place and creates multitude of fantastic curves. Its width in the valley is 100 – 200 meters. The long wall of cliffs, stretching along the left bank of the river, features unique natural formations: about 500-million-year-old fossilized remains of flora and fauna and ancient deposits of rocks. Some cliffs resemble cheese, due to large number of mysterious caves and grottos, piercing them. According to legend, pagan altars were placed there in ancient times, and later hermit monks lived in them.
Amazingly beautiful waterfalls make the Dniester Canyon inimitably charming. They are mountain streams, falling down into the river. Due to resemblance with bitter tears, the numerous droplets of water rushing down the moss-grown banks are often called ‘maidenly tears.’ In the vicinity of the Dniester Canyon – not far from the river – the 16-meter-high Dzhurin Waterfall is situated. It is Ukraine’s largest plain waterfall, near which one can see the ruins of a water mill that once stood on this place.
Its unique natural conditions provide the canyon with special and unusually warm for this area climate. And therefore, it is nicknamed as Galych subtropics. The stone walls lining along the Dniester River banks can halt sun heat, there is almost no rainfall in summer, and nature wakes up a few weeks earlier than in the rest of the western region in spring. Thus, it is not surprising that many species of animals, birds and fish, including rare ones, listed in the Red Book, chose this paradisiacal area as their habitat.
Natural riches are not the only attractions of the Dniester Canyon, though. The area, adjacent to the valley, houses an impressive number of amazing historical, cultural and architectural monuments. One can find antique temples and remnants of medieval palaces and fortresses in the villages, stretching along the Dniester River cliffs.
You can discover the canyon on a walking tour along its picturesque banks or on a trip down the Dniester River on a boat or catamaran. People who are fond of extreme recreation often organize white water rafting there.Ternopil, Ukraine
The regional landscape park Granite-steppe Lands of Buh, spread over the north-west of Mykolaiv Oblast, is one of South Ukraine’s most beautiful corners, which vividly illustrates its unbelievable natural wonders. Stretching out for 70 kilometers, it includes the most picturesque part of Southern Buh’s river valley and deep canyon-like hollows. They were cut in the old crystalline rocks millions of years ago by its tributaries, with the result that majestic, breathtaking landscapes emerged.
Granite-steppe Lands of Buh are remains of old mountains’ spur that used to stretch out for almost thousand kilometers. Over time, as a result of natural development, only hard crystalline base remained from the mountains. Passing these steep rapids, the Southern Buh’s smooth and steady flow turns into a swift mountain stream. River’s waters overcome numerous granite obstacles and flow between impressive rocky banks whose height is up to 50 meters. They form narrow deep canyons, reminiscent of wounds on the earth surface, small waterfalls and picturesque islands.
Granite-steppe Lands of Buh’s nature is inimitable: it charms with its beauty and variety. About 900 species of plants grow there, both typical for this area steppe, meadow, forest and rock species and rare relict ones. Having unique climatic conditions, the landscape park is a home to hundreds of animal and insect species, many of which are listed in the Red Book. In addition, many birds of the most amazing colors nestle on the picturesque river islands.
However, Granite-steppe Lands of Buh feature not only splendid sceneries: its surroundings (the Southern Buh’s valley between the villages Migiya and Aleksandrovka) house about a hundred valuable archeological monuments from different historical periods. Some of them are tens of thousands years old. The remains of ancient peoples’ tombs (Cimmerians Trypillians, Sarmatians, ancient Slavs and Romans) are of particular interest.
Granite-steppe Lands of Buh are a true paradise for fans of active recreation. Buh’s steep rapids are perfect for white-water rafting and the Protich Hole, situated in the park, offers one of the best natural water slalom routes in Europe. Southern Buh’s valley is very popular among kayak and catamaran riders, and local canyon cliffs have long become favorite training place for mountain climbers.
In addition, given significant reserves of healing radon sources and steppe air, saturated with medicinal herbs’ scent, the landscape park Granite-steppe Lands of Buh has a great potential as medicinal and health-improving tourist resort.Mykolaiv, Ukraine
A small town Khmelnik is situated on Southern Buh’s bank, in the picturesque hilly area, surrounded by woodlands (70 km from Vinnytsia). It has the status of one of Ukraine’s most renowned balneotherapeutic resorts. Radon water springs, found in its surroundings, made this town very popular in Ukraine and abroad. Healing quality of this water has no analogues among all know mineral waters. The combination of this treasure with mild climate, air, saturated with ether oils and resins, and a great number of sunny days made Khmelnik a popular health improvement and recreation area. Yearly tens of thousands of people come there from all over Ukraine and the near abroad in order to get rid of illnesses or just to have a vacation amongst splendid nature.
According to a legend, the healing mineral water sources near Khmelnik were known several centuries ago. The legend says that once a Polish magnate who owned the town used water from the well, situated in the forest near Khmelnik, to cure his hopelessly sick daughter who suffered from rheumatism. Afterwards, he ordered to block it up with stones, so that nobody would find out about water’s wonder-working qualities.
There was a speculation that town’s outskirts house a unique spring up to the early 20th century. Then, geologists, who were looking for drinkable water, drilled a well. Its water wasn’t tasty, but, according to research, it contained radon and a huge number of healthy microelements: nitrogen, calcium, sodium, potassium, magnesium, manganese, iron, iodine and bromine. Somewhat later, curative peat mud was found not far from Khmelnik. Thanks to this unique natural ‘kit’ the town soon became a well-known balneotherapeutic resort.
More than forty Khmelnik’s radon springs successfully treat hypertension, rheumatism, musculoskeletal, respiratory, cardiovascular and central nervous system conditions, help to normalize metabolism and to decrease blood sugar, increase body defenses. Today, the famous resort houses dozens of modern health resorts and holiday hotels that have everything you need for a comfortable treatment and recreation.
Khmelnik allows for convenient combination of health-improving tourism and informative recreation. It has preserved several interesting historical and architectural monuments, including Count Ksido Palace, built in the early 20th century on the medieval defensive castle’s base. Octahedral fortress tower with gloomy loopholes remained of the castle. During Turkish reign it was rebuilt into minaret of the neighboring mosque. Now, it houses Khmelnik Museum of History. Another interesting attraction is the baroque building of the Catholic Church of St. John the Baptist, built in the early 17th century.Vinnytsya, Ukraine
Menacingly towering over the twenty-meter-high hill in the age-old town of Ostroh not far from Rivne, the Ostroh Castle is seen as a token sample of the Ukrainian fortification architecture and is recognized as one of the Volyn’s most interesting historical and architectural monuments. In the 14th century, the castle complex was raised on the place of the Old Russian town, which was destroyed by Mongolian Tatars in 1241. It remained Ostroh princes’ residence for more than three centuries. They were the richest and the most powerful magnates, who owned a lot of lands on the territory of the modern Ukraine.
Consisting of stone and wooden buildings, the castle was well fortified: it was protected by the steep from two sides and by the deep ditch, dug in place of the former ravine, from the other two. The Ostroh Castle was repeatedly rebuilt and modernized during its centuries-long existence. Two towers – Stone and Round – Epiphany Cathedral with gate belfry, and fragments of defensive walls survived until now.
Castle’s oldest construction is the Stone Tower, built on the southeastern part of the hill, in the second half of the 14th century. The three-tier tower with three-meter-thick stone walls was first built as a donjon and had two functions at the same time: dwelling and defensive. The lower tier served for storing supplies of food and drinking water, and the two upper tiers were occupied by small cozy rooms. The upper levels were rebuilt in the 19th-20th centuries. Today, the premises of the Stone Tower house the exposition of the Ostroh Museum of Local Lore with multitude of very interesting exhibits, including archaeological artifacts, furniture from princely times, collections of painting and icon painting, porcelain and earthenware. Museum collection’s highlight is the famous Ostroh Bible, published by the first printer Ivan Fyodorov, in 1681.
The New Tower (also called the Round Tower) is situated not far from the Stone Tower. It is built of stone and brick and has three tiers too. The last one is marked by the line of loopholes and is adorned by figured merlons. Thanks to this peculiarity, the Round Tower is seen as a worthy sample of the Ukrainian Renaissance architecture.
The Ostroh Castle’s complex includes the elegant Epiphany Cathedral, raised in the 15th-16th century. It used to be a part of the castle’s fortification system: adjoined to the complex’s fortification walls, cathedral’s northern wall was consolidated and was almost three-meter-thick; it had loopholes and a wide ledge for sentries. The Epiphany Cathedral was abandoned for almost two hundred years, until it was reconstructed in the late 19th century. As a result, the building lost its original Renaissance and Gothic traits and acquired forms that were typical for the Old Russian architecture. A little later, the gate belfry appeared near the temple. Now it is also a part of the castle complex.Rivne, Ukraine
The national historical and memorial reserve ‘Field of the Battle of Berestechko’ is one of the most meaningful places at Volyn, having a huge historical value. Its attractiveness is based on the amazing combination of perfectly preserved historical landscape, symbolic architecture and multitude of very interesting artifacts. The reserve is situated on the Zhuravlykha Island, not far from the town of Berestechko. The Battle of Berestechko took place in its outskirts, in the summer of 1651. It was one of the largest battles in Ukraine’s history.
The fight, which lasted about two weeks, occurred on the huge territory between several villages, amongst swamps, shallow rivers and coppices. Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky’s troops consisting of peasants and Cossacks fought against the army of the Polish King John II Casimir there. Being betrayed by their allies, the Tatars, Ukrainian Cossacks suffered a fatal defeat. As a result, Khmelnytsky had to conclude the unprofitable Treaty of Bila Tserkva with his enemy. The Battle of Berestechko was the largest battle of the National Liberation War of Ukrainian people and remained the largest one in Europe’s history until the middle of the 19th century.
In the early 20th century, it was decided to create a memorial complex to commemorate killed warriors on the place of the token battle. First of all, the unusual temple-monument – the St. George Church – was raised there. It is notable for original architecture. Its eastern facade is shaped as an iconostasis with valuable paintings, and the glass sarcophagus juts out of the ground in front of it. Ashes of dead Cossacks are kept there.
And a little later, the St. Michael Church was brought there from the neighboring village Ostriv. It is rightly reckoned among the best samples of the Ukrainian wooden architecture of the mid-17th century. According to legend, it is in this temple that Bohdan Khmelnytsky prayed before the tragic battle. The underground passage runs from the St. Michael Church to the St. George Church. It leads to the burial vault chapel, where the sarcophagus with Cossacks’ remains is located.
In addition to these two temples, the historical and memorial reserve includes the Museum of the Battle of Berestechko, which is situated in the two-storey building of the former monastic cells. Its exposition features more than five thousand unique artifacts, found on the battlefield by archeologists. There are samples of weapons, including the fighting scythes, muskets, swords, spears, as well as personal belongings of the battle’s participants – items of clothing and footwear, tobacco pipes, spoons, rings, alloy pectoral crosses and icons, purses with coins and bullets, copper pots for cooking, medical supplies, musical instruments, dice.
Walking through the reserve, one can also see the locations of Cossacks’ and Poles’ camps, and the crossing, which was paved with carts and saddles by order of Bohdan Khmelnytsky’s associate Ivan Bohun. It was done to withdraw Cossack troops from the siege. In addition, there is the lake Cossack Pit, where, as commonly believed, the last Cossack shot back from a boat, and the cemetery with heavy stone crosses, where people from surrounding villages buried the bodies of the killed.Rivne, Ukraine
The Dubno Caste stands on the steep cape near the Ikva River, in the city very center. It is one of the Ukraine’s oldest fortification complexes. Impressing with its majestic beauty and huge historical value, it is a part of the Dubno historical and cultural reserve and is recognized as a true gem of Ukraine’s castle architecture.
The Prince Konstantin of Ostroh built the castle on the place of the Old Russian fortifications, in the late 15th century. The defensive complex consisted of wooden constructions, surrounded by earthen wall, which was fortified with wooden paling. However, frequent fires that regularly destroyed the majority of castle buildings forced prince’s descendants to rebuild the fortification complex in stone one and a half centuries later. Thus, a fierce castle and two powerful brick-and-stone casemate bastions with towers appeared there. The castle was erected in the Renaissance style. Fortress’s outer defense was a deep ditch.
At that time, the Dubno Castle was seen as probably the richest one in Europe. Dozens of chests with gold, silver and precious stones, as well as knightly armour, weapon, including personalized one, valuable jewelry, expensive clothes and a large storage of food were kept there. Rumors about castle’s unbelievable riches attracted many conquerors: Tatars and Cossacks repeatedly attempted to take the castle by storm, but its walls withstood all the sieges. The Dubno Castle remained impregnable for almost five hundred years. It was due to both, its fortification system and fortunate strategic location. Castle’s territory was securely protected by Ikva River’s waters and swampy valley – marshy swamps made storm attempts much more difficult: it was impossible to deliver heavy artillery to castle’s walls, and light guns couldn’t destroy fortress’s mighty walls.
During several centuries, the Dubno Castle changed its owners: as a gift, inheritance or through marriage. In the 18th century, the fortress passed into ownership of the Polish Lubomirski Family. They decided to rebuild the castle fundamentally, turning it into a real palatial complex. They invited famous Italian architect to Dubno. As a result of the reconstruction, the fortress lost its fierce look and acquired a character of a gala palatial residence. The only thing that still reminded of the former castle was the main entrance with a portal, decorated with the coat of arms of Ostroh Family.
Today, one can see two palaces on the territory of the Dubno Castle – the Ostroh Palace, where the archives of the princely families were stored, and the Lubomirski Palace, which is notable for coats of arms of its former owners and elegant bas-relief frieze, made by an Italian master. It adorns the big hall, which used to serve for crowded feasts. There is a system of vaults and underground galleries under the palaces. Local residents used to hide there during numerous sieges, and supplies of water and food were stored. Nikolay Gogol described the dungeons of the Dubno Castle in his immortal work “Taras Bulba.” Nowadays, one of the vaults houses an exhibition of torture tools and hosts theatre performances.Rivne, Ukraine
The National Environmental Park “Podilski Tovtry” is situated in Khmelnytsky region not far from well-known Kamianets-Podilskyi. It is one of the country’s most attractive corners, which is famous for its fabulously beautiful landscapes. This unique reserve has long acquired and secured the status of one of the Seven Wonders of Ukraine. This status is guaranteed by amazing combination of inimitable nature and rare historical monuments.
Park’s main fascination is picturesque Tovtry – a chain of peculiarly shaped hills covered with velvet verdure. They tower above blue surface of the powerful Dniester River like waves. Tovtry are a truly beautiful phenomenon. It is the only mountain ridge in the world that was formed not as a result of tectonic processes, but as a result of vital activity of living organisms. Its formation occurred along the coastal line of the ancient ocean about 20 million years ago. Over time the algae and mollusks that lived in the ocean turned into limestone ridges, which now rise up above the water surface for more than 400 meters. Podilski Tovtry’s geological structure has no analogues in the world. Somewhat similar rocky hills can be found only in Great Britain and in America.
Environmental park’s inimitably beautiful landscapes form deep canyon-like valleys, which are especially numerous in Tovtry’s Transdniestrian part. Wind and water erosion of the valleys’ limestone slopes creates fantastic rock formations that resemble either giant pillars, or huge columns, or chaotic piles of blocks and boulders. Thanks to the unique microclimate, rare species of plants, most of which can be found only there, survived on the territory of “Podilski Tovtry.”
Park’s natural gems include numerous caves. The most famous one is Atlantis. It is located not far from Zavalne village. This two-kilometer-long underground labyrinth with three tiers is famous for amazingly beautiful crystals and “stone flowers” that grow there. Another noteworthy cave is situated nearby. It is 250-meter-long Mala Kyianka.
However, the most magnetic place in “Podilski Tovtry” is the picturesque Bakotska Valley. It has got its name from Bakota village, which was flooded together with its neighboring settlements during hydropower plant construction, in the late 20th century. One of environmental park’s main historical sights – the ancient cave monastery, which is considered to be the first Christian center of the Kyivan Rus – is situated there. Several hand-made caves, which were used as cells by monks, praying and burial places survived on the 120-meter-high rock until now. The Bakotska Valley is an ideal place for beach recreation in summer: it is very warm there, the water is clean and the pebble beach is at visitors’ disposal. Thanks to the large reserve of natural mineral waters, “Podilski Tovtry” is also a great place for health-improvement.Kamianets-podilskyi, Ukraine