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The Ukraine... Truly a country like no other.
With no Visa requirements for residents of EU member countries,
isn't it time for you to discover it's secrets?

Introduction

For seventy years hidden behind the Iron Curtain this Sleeping Beauty suddenly arose with a new breath of life, throwing off the tyranny of her past oppressors and proudly proclaiming herself as the worlds newest democracy. Ukraine's example of determination against all odds has indeed served as an inspiration to freedom seeking peoples around the world.    

For the tourist, the openness and warmth of the Ukrainian people is unmistakable.  The cultural diversity is refreshing, leaving your senses of life, of humanity, broadened and enlightened.  Ukraine's people are as curious about you, as you are about them.  After all, it's been in near total isolation for a very long time. 

For the Traveler there has been no better time to experience first hand the impact that Soviet style communism has left on this Nation of 48 million, and at the same time witness a most profound moment in history.  Michael Gorbachev likened Ukraine's Orange Revolution as equal in importance to the fall of the Berlin Wall in the emergenceof democracy in the former Soviet Union.

Of the Worlds great capital cities, Kyiv (Kiev) ranks second to none in her livability. Known in the past as the "Mother" of former USSR strongholds, Kyiv has a rich history in its importance as a vital part of Europe. With a population of nearly 3 million 'registered' residents, the city is actually estimated to be much larger, with an abundance of parks, theaters, beaches, and nightlife that beg for exploration in a seemingly endless trail of discoveries that continually surprise and delight.

Top tourist cities/ areas of the Ukraine

KYIV/ KIEV

The capital of Ukraine is the third-largest city in the CIS. It is also the cradle of Russian civilization, the origin of the Kyiv Rus State founded in the eighth and ninth centuries and the city from which the Orthodox faith spread throughout Eastern Europe.

Even though many of its buildings were destroyed in World War II, Kyiv still has much to offer. The Caves Monastery in the city center is the focal point of the early Orthodox church. Visitors have to carry candles to see the church relics, which are set in a maze of catacombs. It is the headquarters of the pro-Russian Orthodox church. The 11th-century St Sofia Cathedral contains splendid icons and frescoes and is situated in beautiful grounds. The Golden Gate of Kyiv is the last remnant of the 10th-century walls built to defend the city. Other attractions include the Cathedral of St Vladimir (the headquarters of the rival pro-Ukrainian church), the Opera House, the Museum of Ukrainian Art (with its collection of the work of regional artists from the 16th century to the present) and the Historical Museum of Ukraine. Andreyev Hill is a restored cobbled street in central Kyiv now used by artists to sell their wares. There are a lot of cafes and restaurants in this area. Khreshchatik Street and Independence Square are Kyiv’s main thoroughfares. The square is particularly elegant with its chestnut trees and fountains. Martinsky Palace and Parliament is the official residence of Ukraine’s President. The nearby Park of Glory is a war memorial, with a vast and controversial monument of a woman with a sword and shield overlooking the river. Locals go swimming in summer in the Dnieper River and climb onto its ice in winter to fish. It is possible to take boat trips on the river. There is a park and a beach on Trukhaniv Island.


LVIV

A city of striking Baroque and Renaissance architecture, Lviv is the focal point of Ukrainian national culture. It was the center of Ukrainian nationalist ambition at the beginning of the Soviet era. The City Castle was the first building to fly Ukraine’s blue-and-yellow national flag. Lviv is also the headquarters of Ukraine’s Greek Orthodox church.

Located by the foothills of the picturesque Carpathians, it is one of the oldest and most unusual cities in Europe. Lviv is ‘the city of lions’ – the heart and soul of Western Ukraine with a population of over 900,000. Lviv was mentioned in the Volyn chronicle in 1256 when Galycian King Danylo Galytsky founded the city and named it after his son Leo. Thanks to its advantageous location, many important trades and cultures meet in Lviv. Busy trade led to a dramatic increase in prosperity. Secular and religious gentry, rich merchants, artisans and craftspeople lived within the narrow ring of the city walls. As early as the 15th century, the city had its own mint, water supply system and regular international post. The streets were paved with cobbled stones and many new houses were built.

As the centuries passed, the varied heritage led to a wide variety of museum artifacts. The National Museum, Museum of History, Art Gallery, Antique Armoury (City Arsenal) and Museum of Ethnography and Crafts are famous for their collections. Development of the pharmaceutical trade in Ukraine is represented by the collection of the Pharmaceutical Museum – the oldest functioning pharmacy of Lviv (established in 1735). The interiors of these fabulous buildings evoke the atmosphere of times past.

The city itself is often called ‘the open-air museum’. The highlight of its architecture is doubtlessly Market Square, connected for more than 600 years with local history. The Market Square of the old city performed the function of an economic, political and administrative center up to the end of the 19th century. The area housed members of the urban nobility and wealthy merchant class, building many mansions and commercial properties. Today, Market Square is the core of the historical and architectural preservation area, consisting of 45 buildings. They reflect elements of many architectural traditions, such as Gothic, Baroque, Renaissance and Rococo.
Several theater companies perform in Lviv. The Opera House of Ivan Franko is a source of great pride to locals. Extravagantly built, with richly decorated façade and interior, its architecture leads Lviv Opera to be classed among the best theaters in Europe.

ODESSA

Odessa is simply enchanting with its marvelous architecture. Odessa's history as a thriving enterprise has left the city with some splendid architecture from the 18th and 19th centuries and a multifaceted, irrepressible spirit. Some buildings display a carious mixture of different styles, such as distinct French architecture with a distinct Russian flavor, and some are built in the Art Nouveau Style which was in vogue at the turn of the century. Its stately 19th century classical architecture is set on orderly planned streets that are surrounded with green space, giving the city an air of elegance.

Strikingly ornate buildings of the late 19th and early 20th century are reminiscent of Right Bank Paris.  Most buildings in Odessa were built with white stone consisting of calcareous materials imbedded with seashells, which appears to be saturated with hot sunshine. This gives many of the city's buildings a whitewashed appearance. The extracted limestone resulted in the formation of an entire labyrinth of underground galleries.

One of the few planned cities in Ukraine, Odessa's central core is laid out in a grid. The first city plan designed by the engineer F. Devollan in the late 18th century was executed by the generations of Odessa architects that followed. As early as the first half of the 19th century, the numerous landowners who had moved to Odessa attracted by the profitable grain trade, started constructing their private residences. As a rule, they would build palace compounds: two-storied mansions with forecourts, wrought iron grilles and porticos indicating the entrance. Even today, the formal halls of these palaces are strikingly opulent. The mansions of wealthy merchants and factory-owners built to the designs of the best Odessa architects were concealed in the verdure of Frantsuzsky Boulevard.

Alexander Kuprin, the prominent Russian author, wrote of Odessa in his "Autumnal Flowers"


THE CRIMEA

The Crimean coast lies on the far side of the Black Sea from Turkey. Stunning mountain scenery, warm sea and a long season of summer sunshine have made the Crimean coastline the riviera for Ukrainians and Russians since the time of the tsars.

The russian and ukrainian name for Crimea is Krym - pronounced like `cream' with a rolled letter `r'. And it really is the cream as a holiday destination.

Steeped in history, Crimea is a fascinating region to explore, as well as a great place to relax. Across the centuries it has attracted settlers such as the Greeks, the Venetians and the Genoese - all of whom founded cities along the coast and inter-married with the local people. The western terminus of the Great Silk Road was on the Crimean coast. After a long period as part of the Byzantine empire, it was overrun by Chingiz Khan's Golden Horde and remained a Tatar Khanate until annexed by Imperial Russia in the eighteenth century. This rich history is still alive today in its fabulous palaces and historic sites, and in the culture and way of life of today's Crimean people.


Now an autonomous republic within Ukraine, Crimea is busy re-inventing itself after the ending of the old soviet union. Private enterprise is flourishing and well-stocked shops and good restaurants are the norm. Transport and accommodation are cheaper than the mediterranean resorts but the weather is better and the sightseeing amazing!Visitors from western europe and further afield are welcomed in a country which has opened its doors to foreign tourists by reducing visa requirements to a minimum.

Whether you want wine-tasting or scuba diving, mountains or sea, to visit the Byzantine ruins of Khersoness, or the fabulous Livadia Palace near Yalta, home of the last of the Russian Tsars - or if you just want to relax on the beach and then while away a warm summer evening in a gourmet restaurant, Crimea has something for you.

There is more to say about the Crimea than can be described on this web site. Indeed it is best experienced and seen than to be read about. Our Crimea page describes the area in more detail and it is a location where Join my Heart can offer it's services to you. We have vast experience in arranging tours, guides, meetings and holidays in this area.


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