Ukraine has been developing its own original culture since very early times of its history. There were some periods when the Ukrainian culture experienced a considerable influence of other cultures such as those of Byzantium and the Vikings (in the Medieval times of the Kyivan Rus), but, basically, it preserved its original and unique nature.
Ukrainian architecture has a rich history and plays an important role in the history of European art. The existing architectural monuments display their originality, functional construction and focus on forms. While assimilating the engineering and artistic principles of antiquity, old Ukrainian builders refined and enriched them with local characteristics.
Ivano-Frankivsk in winter - photo: Roman Bolharov
Today, architecture of Ukraine is ranging from buildings dating back hundreds of years to modern structures.
There is no doubt that churches are of great importance in the Ukrainian architecture. And it is no wonder why. The church was not only a spiritual sanctuary for worshipping and mediation, but also played a focal part in public life. The oldest types of stone churches were adopted from Byzantium. The best samples of stone churches that could be found in Ukraine, are marvelous buildings of the St. Sophia’s Cathedral and the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra in Kyiv which were built a thousand years ago.
Ukrainian wooden architecture of the 16th-20th centuries is another example of the unique Ukrainian architecture. Among its enduring masterpieces are large cathedrals and small chapels, parish churches and belfries, fences, gates and towers. By the way, the first wooden churches in Ukraine had been built long before Christianity was officially introduced there. The wooden buildings and unique artifacts from ancient times until the beginning of the 20th century are displayed in the large open-air Ukrainian Museums of Folk Architecture and Rural Life in Pyrohovo (Kyiv) and in Pereiaslav-Khmelnytskyi.
Windmills at the Museum of Folk Architecture and Folkways of Ukraine - photo: Maksym Starepravo
The severe Gothic style that came to Ukraine from Europe, found its reflection in the rocky fortification of Kamianets-Podilsky, the Fortress of Khotyn, the Palanok Castle dating back to the 14th-17th centuries.
Kamianets-Podilskyi castle at night - photo: Maksym Starepravo
Modern architecture is also well-developed in Ukraine. The first Ukrainian sky-scraper – the Derzhprom building of 1928 in Kharkiv City is a fine example of constructivism.
Derzhprom, Kharkiv - photo: Ivan Ponomarenko
As for the newest architecture, numerous business-centers, office buildings, shopping malls and apartment houses demonstrate the recent developments in the Ukrainian architecture.
Ukrainian Folk Art
Generous natural endowment of the Ukrainian people has been always noted by researchers who identified the Ukrainians’ well-developed feeling of the beautiful. Obviously, it was stipulated by wonderful natural environment and the life style with a plenty of rituals and rites closely connected with nature and seasons of the year.
In fact, Ukrainian folk art is a combination of different forms of spiritual, functional and decorative arts. Various folk motifs are widely used in making and decorating of household appliances, clothes, art and ritual objects.
Ukrainian ornaments have preserved some elements of primeval symbolism and the images of old gods. Ornaments became the most popular in embroidery, Easter egg-painting and carpet-weaving. Triangles, spirals, circles were the signs of different rituals linked with the cult of the Sun or sacred numbers. The famous Ukrainian embroidered shirts (vyshyvanka), towels (rushnyk) and carpets remain an inexhaustible shrine of folk fantasy. Even today, symbolic meaning of embroidered towels is to bless and protect, to keep the nearest and dearest ones in memory. By tradition, the bread and salt of welcome are placed on rushnyk. It is also a must when entering a new home, greeting a new-wed couple or swaddling a baby.
Before the wedding ceremony in Verkhovyna commences, the groom is lifted along with his saddle and carried to the banquet hall_Alina Kondratenko - photo by: Ukraїner
Along with geometrical figures, the naturalistic motifs and flora are widely applied in the folk decorative art painting. Petrykivka painting style is among the most famous and popular ones. Its name originated from the village of Petrykivka (Dnipropetrovsk region), where it was traditionally used to decorate house walls, musical instruments and household items. Though the earliest known examples of this style date from the 17th century, it continues to thrive and develop as a modern art. Petrykivka has become one of the famous symbols of Ukraine in the world. Its basis is garden flowers like dahlias, asters, roses and tulips, plants, berries and birds. Main colors are red, green and blue. In 2013, Petrykivka painting was included in the Lists of UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Ukrainian Cuisine – Flavors and Colors of Ukrainian Culture
Traditional Christmas table in Ukraine, twelve meatless dishes - photo: kovalnadiya.ukr.net - Depositphotos
Food is an important part of Ukrainian culture. Ukrainian cuisine has developed over many centuries. It was mainly based on the products obtained from farming. Since olden days, Ukrainians have been growing rye, wheat, barley, buckwheat and oats. Thus, a respectful attitude to bread has been passed down through generations. It has become an important element in many Ukrainian customs and rituals, symbolizing prosperity, hospitality and kindness: Ukrainians have been meeting their relatives and guests with bread and salt; bread has been brought to the house with the newborn; new-weds have been blessed by parents with bread and salt.
Actually, some of the best Ukrainian cuisine is very simple. Popular ingredients are meat, mushrooms, vegetables, berries, fruit and herbs. Many ingredients are used in a way that it looks like a strange combination thus creating a unique and sumptuous dish.
Those who visit Ukraine once can hardly forget the delicious taste of borsch or varenyky. Borsch is a soup cooked of fresh vegetables: cabbage, beet, tomato, carrot, onion with addition of pounded lard, garlic and parsley. The combination of all these groceries gives the borsch its piquancy, aroma and unforgettable taste. There are at least 30 traditional recipes of Ukrainian borsch (Poltava borsch, Kyiv borsch, Lviv borsch, Volyn borsch and others). It is also a tradition to enjoy borsch with Ukrainian Horilka – a famous alcoholic drink. Varenyky may follow borsch, they may have many kinds of fillings, including cherries, cottage cheese, potatoes and meat. Holubsti,kruchenyky, deruny, nalysnyky are also very popular among Ukrainian lovers of tasty food.
Ukrainian varenyky with potatoes and onion - photo: Yevhen Kudriavtsev
Traditional Ukrainian beet soup - photo: timolina - Depositphotos
Ukrainian national traditions, customs and oral folk literature reflect old Ukrainian pre-Christian and Christian cultures. The rituals derive from the folk calendar and religious celebrations like Christmas, Easter, Ivana Kupala (St.John's Eve), Whitsunday and New Year; the autumn folk festivals are dedicated to the end of the agricultural work.
Participants of the Christmas procession with the stars in Kyiv, January 7, 2018 This day in the capital hosted a Christmas procession with the stars and the Joint Carol - photo: fotos123 - Depositphotos
Midsummer. Young people in Slavic clothes revolve around a fire in the Midsummer - photo: davit85 - Depositphotos
As one the largest countries in Europe, Ukraine offers many attractions for tourists, including festivals celebrating its rich culture and an exclusive selection ofcenturies-old architecture.
Visiting Ukraine, you will find an undiscovered Eastern European gem. With a history full of folk traditions and diverse cultural influences, Ukraine offers travelers breathtaking landscapes, vibrant cities, stunning countryside, ancient castles, UNESCO World Heritage sites and a heartfelt welcome.
Here are some places that will make you fall in love with this beautiful country. First of all it’s worth while discovering the best sights of the Ukrainian largest cities.
Golden domes of superb churches, a long and rich history, eclectic architecture and nonstop city life make Kyiv a go-to spot for all travelers visiting Ukraine.
Kyiv is one of the most prominent cities in Eastern Europe. It has two UNESCO World Heritage sites - the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra (Monastery of the Caves) and the St. Sophia’s Cathedral. There is also the Andriyivskyy Descent -- a steep and historic street paved with cobblestones -- and the awe-inspiring and gargoyle-smothered Art Nouveau-style House with Chimaeras. There is a wide range of museums to choose from in Kyiv in order to learn more about the local history or culture. Being the capital of Ukraine, it is also an extremely green city featuring two botanical gardens that are perfect for strolling around under the iconic horse chestnut trees that also line the roads of Kyiv.
Uspensky Cathedral of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, 11th century - photo: Stas Buryak
Once the capital of Ukraine and now its second largest city, Kharkiv is called a city of students. There are also enough museums and culture to make Kharkiv an interesting eastern Ukrainian destination. Freedom Square is one of the largest squares in Europe, while the Derzhprom building is one of the most famous examples of constructivist architecture. Completed in 1928, it was the most spacious single structure in the world at the time.
Poltavsky Shliakh, Kharkiv - photo: Ivan Ponomarenko
As one of Ukraine's largest seaports and trade hubs with a beautiful historic district, Odesa has plenty of treasures waiting to be discovered. The central part of the city is packed with sights, while architecture lovers can admire the splendid palaces and unique blend of building styles. For sea enthusiasts, Odesa offers kilometers of the Black Sea beaches and resorts.
Old Opera Theatre Building in Odesa - photo: artfotoss - Depositphotos
Seen as Ukraine's cultural capital, Lviv has the most western architecture of all the country's cities. It boasts a splendid UNESCO-protected Old Town renowned for beautiful narrow streets, magnificent churches, fascinating museums and charming atmosphere.
It's cozy and welcoming, offering a wide range of themed restaurants, cool pubs and authentic cafe shops. No matter the season, it's popular with Ukrainians who come here for a weekend to feel the Old Town vibes.
Lviv, Ukraine - photo: Yevhenii Khaustov
National parks and reserves
Ukraine has a great diversity of natural landscapes and wildlife. Some areas of Ukraine have been declared as protected areas, nature reserves or national parks.
in Ukraine, national parks are vital for preserving nature and developing ecotourism. All Ukrainian national parks are different but once you see them you will fall in love.
Autumn nature, forest and river - photo: Iryna Palok
Sofiyivsky Park in Uman
One of the most prominent examples of European gardening design dating back to the early 19th century,Sofiyivsky Park is a unique Ukrainian natural attraction. It was founded by Polish noble Stanisław Potocki as a birthday gift to his wife Sofia. The extensive park is a home to waterfalls, lakes, statues, fountains, antique grottoes and artificial ruins, and a perfect place to enjoy a relaxing walk surrounded by natural beauty.
Uman, Cherkassy region - photo by: Yevhen Samuchenko
Askaniya-Nova Biosphere Reserve
Established in the 19th century, it is the oldest protected area in Ukraine. In 1984 it was declared as the UNESCO biosphere reserve. It is, really, a unique reserve on the territory of Ukraine. For every visitor, Askania-Nova offers a chance to see arboretum, zoo and even virgin steppe. It preserved its original wildness. Here you can find animals in their natural habitat.
Wild antelope in the Askania-Nova reserve, Kherson region, Ukraine - photo: vzmaze - Depositphotos
Trostianets Dendrological Park
A dendrological park in Trostianets (Chernihiv region) is a magical corner of garden and park art, and a living museum, known far beyond Ukraine. It was built by a descendant of Hetman Skoropadskyy in the 19th century. Today, approximately 520 types of trees and plants grow there. The park hosts a research center.
National Historic and Cultural Reserve Kachanivka
The Kachanivka palace and garden complex, located in Chernihiv region on the picturesque Smosh River, is a perfect example of the noble architecture typical for the 18th-19th centuries. This complex is one of the few manors that has survived turbulent times of the 20th century and has remained completely unshattered.
Kachanivka Palace, Chernihiv region - photo: Oleksandr Zherskyi
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