Remembering The Beautiful Destinations Of Ukraine
This is an article “Remembering The Beautiful Destinations Of Ukraine” by Marc Pulisci
Recent reports that are coming out about Russia's invasion of Ukraine mostly paint unfathomable devastation and human anguish. For avid travelers, no one can deny the majestic landscapes of Eastern Europe's largest country before its cities were torn to shreds by an unprovoked war. And despite how millions of refugees are fleeing for safety in friendly neighboring countries, those who have had the chance to visit or live in glorious Ukraine before the conflict can attest to just how heartbreaking it is to see its current state.
Before Russian forces invaded Ukraine in late February this year, some tourists were already wary of visiting the country due to rising military concerns, regardless of how previous visitors had deemed it safe for travel. Aside from its many incredible sights, including seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and the friendly locals you can find and meet all over Ukraine, tourists from Europe and the West could get more bang for the buck back in the day.
At the rate the war is going, it will probably take years or even decades to rebuild Ukraine. However, everyone will never forget its culture, enthralling history, and its people's inspiring resilience and resistance throughout history.
From its Orthodox cathedrals and churches, verdant forests, and Black Sea shores, here are five beautiful Ukrainian destinations that we hope we can all visit again some day:
At the heart of the country, by the banks of the Umanka River, sits Uman. The city used to be a Polish bulwark from the Tatar raids during the 16th century. Being between the two busy locations of Odesa and the country's center, Kyiv, Uman provided tourists with relaxing sights and walkthroughs of great Ukrainian historical value.
Uman was a popular site for Hasidic Jews who wanted a historical tour of the Haidamak rebellions during the 17th century, highlighted by the well-preserved tomb of Rabbi Nachman Sofiyivka, the founder of the Breslov Hasidic movement and a descendant of the Baal Shem Tov. Other worthy sites in Uman were the Pearl of Love fountain show, the Basilian Monastery, and a nature tour at Sofiyivka Park.
This Ukrainian capital boasts captivating structures, monasteries, and ancient churches without the crowds. As one of the country's best kept tourism hotspots, Kyiv stands as one of the oldest cities in Europe, with so much history to tell both from its Russian and German occupations. But make no mistake about it. The capital is exclusively Ukrainian, which is why the West and its European allies are trying their best to protect it from Russia's current invasion.
Kyiv is busier than other destinations in Ukraine. After all, it is a famous Eastern Slavic tourist site, with bars and cafes sprawled all over the city and where the magnificent Maidan Nezalezhnosti at the central square of the town still stands. The city also offers cultural tours at the al fresco Museum of Folk Architecture and Ethnography and the majestic Kyiv Pechersk Lavra monastery. Tourists used to enjoy quiet walks through the cobbled streets of Andriyivskyy Descent with gargoyle-adorned contemporary houses.
Perhaps, what captures every traveler's attention when visiting Kyiv is its rich historical and cultural sites, including its theaters, opera houses, and architecture.
The southwestern port city of Odesa is rich with Greek influence as Ottomans occupied it before the Russians invaded it From 1819 to 1858. During its occupation, Russia considered Odesa the fourth largest city in its empire, and its underground and commercial museums tell the city's history well.
However, Odesa has more to offer than just history. Art Nouveau architecture is very prominent throughout the city and relaxing beaches, including what many labeled the 'Pearl of the Black Sea.' Retail shops were plentiful during the day for tourists who wanted to go shopping, while clubs used to light up the city nights, making the city a great summer holiday stopover when in Europe. Tourists would have had plenty to explore in the town before all the war's horrors. From its mysterious catacombs to its theater shows, what was once a lively place filled with outstanding sights and sounds is now diminished into nothing but an ominous war zone torn in a senseless conflict.
In the current war, Lviv is another highly contested military site in the western part of the country but was once a thriving tourist destination. Built back in 1240 and occupied by Polish and Russian forces in the past, the city claimed its independence only in 1991. Lviv is rich with museums, monuments, and art galleries that tell the story of its colorful history with archaeological treasures in its ancient structures that go as far back as the 5th century.
Lviv was home to Ukraine's National Art Gallery, which housed over 50,000 art pieces and was bustling with cultural tours, opera and ballet performances, as well as knaipas, or local bars that complement its exciting modern cafe scene.
Relatively considered safe in the initial stages of Russia's invasion, Lviv now serves as the passageway for Ukrainian refugees seeking safety in neighboring Poland.
Located in the southwestern part of Ukraine, Chernivtsi lies at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains, where tourists could have spotted some fine Austrian architecture. The city was built way back during the Neolithic era and destroyed by the Mongols in the 13th century.
Most call Chernivtsi today 'Little Vienna' owing to its rich Ango-Hungarian roots, with cobbled streets, baroque architecture, parks, and cafes without the crowds. Ukraine's National University, the country's largest, was also a worthy visit for tourists before Russia's invasion.
Today, most people can say that the city is safer than the rest of the country and serves as a temporary home for fleeing survivors from other areas of Ukraine or as a gateway to neighboring Romania.
According to World Vision, a humanitarian charity NGO, over 70,000 Ukrainians have sought refuge in Chernivtsi which have surpassed more than 25% of its current population. Despite being far away from war torn areas of the country, nobody feels safe in the city but has no other recourse but to register with local authorities at the moment and for most, take up arms against Russian forces.
While the city is slowly becoming overwhelmed with humanitarian challenges, with its historical resilience, Chernivtsi is just one of the many parts of the country that remains one of Ukraine’s strongholds in the current war.