St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery
The St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery is one of the oldest monasteries in the city of Kiev and is one of the most sough-after religious sites in the world for its historical, cultural, and aesthetic values. This historical attraction was named after the archangel Michael, who is revered as the saint guardian of Ukraine’s capital.
The awe-inspiring monastery was established after the death of Saint Michael, the first metropolitan of Kiev. It has since captured the admiration of spectators, with its magnificent ancient architecture and enormous gold-coated dome, striking façade, elaborate parapet walls, historical mosaics and paintings displayed inside the church, and carillon.
As an active Soviet republic during the chaotic periods of constant conflict, Ukraine hosted small settlements for Cossacks, or USSR cavalrymen. The most famous replica of these Cossack villages in Ukraine is the open-air village-museum, the Mamajeva Sloboda, located at the city of Kiev near St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery.
The 9.2-hectare site sits at the heart of an isolated cherry plantation protected by interwoven pole fences. Built in 2009, this museum is a breathing record of ethnic Ukrainian culture, ways of life, traditions, expertise trade, art, and architecture.
The village-museum houses ancient military buildings such as legation offices, Cossack force stations, lodging and feeding buildings, cellars, cart houses, and even a marketplace. Along twin water lily-laden lakes are figures depicting the order of Cossack village personnel: from the potter, blacksmith, soothsayer churchwarden, Cossack-dzhura or armor carrier to the Sotnuk or troop superior.
At the heart of the village stands a magnificent wooden church established in honor of the Intercession of the Holy Virgin.
Apart from the unusual church, the ancient settlement also features a Scythian monument of Mamaj, which greets guests at the main entrance to the site. Moreover, a windmill representing serene crop growing, a watermill, and a small beekeeping house are major tourist attractions in Mamajeva Sloboda.
Museum of National Architecture and Life
The Museum of National Architecture and Life is one of the most famous and heavily visited attractions in Ukraine, as it showcases actual architectural buildings depicting the life of Ukrainian people since the 17th century.
Established in Pirogovo in 1969 and eventually opened to the public in 1976, this unique outdoor museum features over 200 unique structures representing different Ukrainian regions, ethnicities, and historical time periods. The site is also teeming with authentic appliances used by Ukrainians over the course of their long and proud history.
To even more accentuate the museum’s distinctness, the site offers theatrical performances presented in Ukrainian indigenous music and colorful national costumes. During festivals and special holidays, carnivals are set up inside the museum and campfire rituals and dances are executed.
Bakhchisaray Palace, or Khan’s Palace
Khan’s Palace, or the Palace of the Crimean Khanate, is the prime and sacred shrine of the Crimean Tatar people.
Boasting of traditional Crimean royal architecture, it is one of the three revered palaces that symbolize the settlement of the ancient Middle Eastern civilization in the European continent. The other two are in Turkey and Spain.
Established in 1532, this palace located in Bakhchisaray in the autonomous Crimea served as the central residence of the Giray dynasty, which governed the land for 342 years. During their reign, the ancient palace remained at the heart of the Crimean culture, politics, and spirituality.
Presently, Khan’s Palace is valued as the greatest testament of the Crimean Khanate’s contribution to the history of Ukraine. The palace’s historical value is cemented after being listed in the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The old castle in the Pidhirtsi village was constructed in the late 1630s. The palace featured a moat and drawbridge, iron cannons, marble floors and fireplaces, trout pond, apiary, vineyard, and hundreds of paintings.
During the 1900s, the castle suffered much damage from the Polish-Soviet War and, later, a fire that lasted for three weeks.
The fire consumed many of the paintings and nearly everything else inside the castle. Only the walls were left standing. Many of the artifacts that could be salvaged are now in the Lviv Art Gallery and the Lviv Historical Museum. Others are in museums in Krakow and Tarnow.
Today, the castle is under the custody of the Lviv Museum of Fine Arts. It is still badly in need of restoration, as funds for such a project are still lacking.
Nonetheless, it remains a interesting architectural object and a popular site to visit, as some of its former glory can still be seen from the features it has retained.
Occupying a spot in the elite Seven Natural Wonders of Ukraine is the mysterious Marble Cave in Chatyr-Dag Mountain Range. Since 1985, the cave has been one of the most intriguing and baffling natural attractions due to its strange formations reminiscent of mystical creatures such as dragons, mammoths, and fairies.
Peculiar stalactite and stalagmite formations line the many passageways of the cave, with one plummeting as deep as 60 meters. However, only a limited area of the Marble Cave is open for spelunking adventures, a factor adding up to its mysterious appeal.
Marble Cave’s fascinating interior formations and enigmatic appeal earned for itself the recognition of being one of the five most scenic natural cavities in the world.
Apart from being a major tourist hotspot in Ukraine, Marble Cave now attracts more visitors than most of the other caves in its region. Recently, Marble Cave has been hailed as the second most visited cave in the entire European continent.
Ancient Ruins of Chersonesus Taurica
Lake Synevyr, the largest lake in Ukraine, is safely protected within the roughs of the Carpathian Mountains.
Formed through a geological depression 10,000 years ago, Lake Synevyr is stunning with crystal clear waters coming from four mountain streams. The lake, which features a striking surface reflecting the majestic Ukrainian skies, lives up to its name that means “blue whirlpool.”
Lake Synevyr is 989 meters above sea level. The water is freezing with a temperature of 4 °C to 5 °C (40 °F) all year round, summer included. The lake has an average depth of 8.2 meters and plunges 20 meters at the deepest portion.
The famous lake is otherwise known as the Blue Eye due to the sole islet floating at the center of the water surface.
To enjoy a 360-degree view of the magnificent lake at the heart of the mountains, it is best to hike up the 1,496-meter Mount Ozrnya beside the Carpathians by following a tourist path in the forest.
Cave Town of Eski-Kermen
The Crimean Peninsula at the south of Ukraine is internationally known for its beautiful cave towns. The most prominent in the country is the early Medieval European town of Eski-Kermen in the village of Krasni Mak.
The town of Eski-Kermen, situated atop a mountain tableland, began as a prime military fortress during the 6th century. The cave town is enclosed with enormous stone defensive walls and steep mountain boulders.
Natural caves sit at the right side of the complex, serving different military purposes. Some caves served as temporary living quarters, hiding shelters, or secret passages.
Apart from the intriguing cave complex, the town also features the Three Riders Church, a sharp contrast to the military nature of the site. The ancient religious structure was carved from an enormous mountain rock protruding from the southern face.
The 12th century religious site is named after an ancient portrait of three riders, which has a Greek writing below it and is displayed inside the church. The original floorings of the church are said to have ancient crypts.
Another sacred site within the cave town is the old temple of Assumption, where a 13th century painting of God’s Mother Assumption is on display.
The Khotin Fortress is situated in the southeastern part of the town of Khotin in the region of Chernivtsi. This ancient fortress is not only a surviving remnant of Ukraine’s military history, but also an existing witness to Ukraine’s political past.
Originally constructed by Polish forces in the 16th century, the Khotin Fortress served as the arena for unrelenting tension between ancient European forces and empires. In the course of its existence, the fortress has witnessed major political and social events such as the Turkish forces’ capture of the Polish fortress on October 1620 and Polish King Ladislaus IV’s supremacy over Turkey in 1621.
Presently, Khotin Fortress is preserved to perpetuate the memory of the Ukrainian military of the 16th to 18th century. Part of the remaining complex fragments is the Church of Good News as well as small factories of stone bricks, liquor, wax, and leather.
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