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Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine

Khortytsia is the heart of Zaporizhzhia, rightfully attracting the most people to the region. It is the biggest island on the Dnieper River and the subject of many myths and legends. The island is famous for its unique nature and interesting archeological findings. The traces of many cultures and epochs are interwoven here: in the past, Khortytsia was a home for Scythians, Sarmates, Pechenegs, and many others. But the most vivid scenes of the island’s history are undoubtedly connected to the Zaporizhian Cossacks, who founded the Cossacks' Republic here in the 16th century.

Today, Khortytsia is a beautiful national historical and natural reserve, where many types of rare plants and animals can be found. The territory of the reserve includes (along with the main island) numerous other boulders and islands, some of which have very unusual names. For example, one of the rocks is called Catherine's Couch. Legend tells it that the Russian Empress Catherine the Great stayed nearby on her way to Kherson. Historians have their own version: the form of the rock is really reminiscent of a couch, but the Empress has nothing to do with it.

One of the most interesting islands of the reserve, besides Khortytsia, is Baida. It was here that the Cossacks built their first fortifications, which became a prototype for the Zaporizhian Sich. Later on, a wharf appeared on the island, and its remains can be seen even today. On the territory of Baida, a lot of interesting artifacts from the Cossack times were found: axes, guns and sabres, as well as gold, silver and copper coins.

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