The summer of 2012 will be quite a popular one in Ukraine since the historic nation will be co-hosting the European Soccer Championships (Euro 2012) along with Poland. However, you don’t need to wait for a major soccer tournament to visit this fascinating country of about 47 million. In fact, you could easily spend a week in the famous capital of Kiev.

Ukraine is about 233,000 square miles in size and some of the languages you’ll hear there include Ukrainian, Romanian, Russian, Hungarian, and Polish. The country, which is just a little bigger than France and formerly belonged to the Soviet Union, is bordered to the west by the Carpathian Mountains and the south features the majestic Crimean Mountains.

However, the most famous region of the nation is known as the steppe, which is quite flat and stretches for about a thousand miles.

golden monastery ukraine

There’s a lot of history in Ukraine as Russian Orthodoxy was born here. The land was ruled in the 13thcentury by the Mongols, followed the next century by the Lithuanians, and then the Polish in the mid 1500s. The Cossacks, who were peasant rebels, revolted and in 1649 created their own state. However, 5 years later they joined forces with Russia and soon came under Russian rule.

Russia controlled about 85% Ukraine, with Austria/Hungary in charge of the rest of it. The nation became independent for a period following the Russian Revolution.

However, it was invaded by the Red Army and by 1920 the majority of the nation was again ruled by the Russians. During World War II, Ukraine was in the hands of the Nazis and millions of people, lost their lives while about two million others were sent to Germany to become laborers.

The Soviet again took control following the war. However, in 1991 about 90% of Ukraine voted for its independence and the Soviet regime was toppled. These are some of the most fascinating destination to explore on a visit to Ukraine.

1. Belgorod-Dnestrovsky


This ancient, small city has been around as long as Athens, Rome, and Jerusalem, making it one of the oldest in the world. Greek merchants inhabited it in the 6th century and started to grow.

In the 13th century, a fortress was built and protected by a deep moat. It was a medieval architectural masterpiece and was constructed with secret passages and towers.

2. Kyiv


Known in English as Kiev, this city is home to about 3,000,000 people and is the capital of the country. It’s a bustling metropolis that features some amazing arts and cultural venues such as the National Opera House, St. Sophia Cathedral, and the Church of St. Andrew. Art performances are very common and the city is overflowing with historical sites.

3. Odessa


This picturesque city is often referred to as the Pearl of the Sea. It’s quite vibrant and kisses the shores of the Black Sea. The city is about 200 years old, making it quite young by Ukrainian standards.

However, it’s still filled with attractions and history such as Deribasovskaya Street, Odessa Opera House, Arcadia beach, and the Potemkin Steps.

4. Lviv


This city was popular in medieval times due to its strategic location on the trade route between the Black and Baltic Seas. It’s currently a World Heritage Site and a former Soviet community.

There are numerous architectural styles in the city due to all of the historic influences of the nations that occupied it over the years. Fortunately, Lviv didn’t suffer serious bombing damage during the Second World War.

Some of the most popular and historic sites include Castle Hill, the Kornyakt Museum, and the Pid Synioyu Pliashkoyu Café.


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