So much more than a business centre, Kharkiv sometimes feels like two cities in one, with its ever-present industrial side and its modern entertaining side, filled with museums, a rapidly growing number of restaurants to expand the waistline and nightlife to keep anyone entertained until the wee hours of the morning.
For a truly cosmopolitan weekend, look no further than Kharkiv. Explore its numerous green parks, indulge in some carefree shopping or enjoy a variety of wonderful architectural monuments and cathedrals.
The urban architecture of Kharkiv combines aristocratic mansions of the 19th century, constructivist buildings of the 1920s and post-war Stalinist neoclassicism. It is this mixture of styles that creates the very character of the city’s building design heritage.
Day 1. Classic City Tour
Stroll about the city to take in its modern appearance, characterised by a mix of the old and new. The Protection of the Virgin Monastery is the oldest building in the city and represents a brilliant reflection of the Ukrainian Baroque era of the 17th century, though other well-preserved treasures include the Assumption Cathedral and Catherine's Palace. Among the newer buildings that have withstood the test of more recent times, the University Building stands as a fine example of heady Soviet designs from the 1920s.
Day 2. Day for Art
Art lovers seeking something special will find many museums and galleries to visit in Kharkiv. The History Museum’s collection ranks among the largest in Ukraine and is comprised of archaeological finds, ethnographic and numismatic items, plus paintings, a set of banners, decorations, postcards, photos and historical documents. The Fine Arts Museum houses one of the oldest and richest ensembles in Ukraine and boasts works by famous Ukrainian, Russian and international artists.
Visit a great sample of contemporary art – the Statue of Kissing Lovers in Pushkinskaya Street – listed as one of the strangest and most mysterious statues in the world. Sit back, consider this striking piece and develop a sense of the love surrounding it.
The unique and historic main square of Kharkiv also happens to be the largest square in Europe. Numerous public holidays, concerts, shows, trade fairs, meetings and other large gatherings are usually held here. At one end of the square is an office building occupied by the Department of Industry; built over 1925-1928, it was the first high-rise building in the country.
This original fountain was built in 1947 to commemorate the Soviet victory in the Second World War. The fountain is situated in a beautiful garden and decorated with an elegant rotunda. In the evenings the structure is delicately illuminated. Sumska Street, just opposite the Opera Theatre.
Established in 1804, this is the oldest greenbelt in the city centre. The most beautiful part of the garden is its unique alley of chestnuts running from Taras Shevchenko Monument to the university. More than 15,000 trees and bushes of more than 100 sorts exist in the garden, with a group of giant oaks that are more than 200 years old.
When it was unveiled, the Taras Shevchenko Monument in Kharkiv was the tallest bronze sculpture in the Soviet Union, reaching 16 metres in height.
The platform on which the Taras Shevchenko statue stands shows sixteen smaller statues featuring characters from Shevchenko’s books and paintings representing various periods of his work, from the Ukrainian Cossacks of the Middle Ages to the heroes of the First Russian Revolution of 1905-1907 and of the October Socialist Revolution of 1917. At the end of the line stand a mine worker, a collective farmer and a young girl with a book to illustrate the liberated labour and young life of modern Ukraine. Ukrainian actress Natalya Uzhviy posed during creation of the statue as Catherine, one of the well-known literary characters created by Ukraine’s poet-bard.
The oldest stone building in Kharkiv is also one of the nation’s foremost architectural landmarks. Built in 1689 thanks to donations from the Ukrainian Cossacks residing in nearby Klochkovka, this place of worship initially formed part of the city's defences. The cathedral shines as a brilliant example of the Ukrainian Baroque style.
8 Universitetska Street
This unique building erected in 1896 by Vladimir Nemkin, the architect of the local diocese, is the only church in the city to tastefully combine Roman and Old Ruthenian features in its design. The church was built as a basilica and decorated with thirteen small cupolas. Its name is linked to the miraculous icon of the Mother of God found in the nearby village of Ozerianka in the middle of the 17th century. Only a copy of that famous icon has survived until the present time and now stands on display in the church.
124 Poltava Road
The Annunciation Cathedral, designed to hold 4,000 people, is considered the largest and richest in Kharkiv. Its beautiful interior includes the main altar with iconostasis made of white Carrara marble and icons on zinc plates painted by Danilevski and Mikhailov. Revered relics of St. Athanasius of Constantinople, of the Reverend Meletios and of Martyr Alexander are kept in the cathedral.
1 Karl Marx Square
Kharkiv has a monument to Father Feodor, a character from the famous satirical novel “The Twelve Chairs” written by Ilya Ilf and Eugene Petrov in 1928. The statue now stands at the first platform of the Kharkiv Vokzal (”train station”), its sculptor having created the character exactly as described in the novel: Father Feodor desperately chasing the train with a kettle in his hands.
The statues of three other characters from this book can also be found in the city near Rio Cafe on Petrovski Str. They include Kisa Vorobyaninov, Cannibal Ella and the famous swindler Ostap Bender.
This museum holds examples of forged foreign currency and fake documents made by the “craftsmen” of the criminal world, and even homemade weapons confiscated from gangsters by the local police. The museum collection also includes a British bobby’s police helmet – a gift to the Police Force Museum from their colleagues in the UK. More local exhibits tell the history of the formation and development of law enforcement in the City of Kharkov since the time of its establishment.
13 Sovnarkomovska Street
At 3.5 km in length and named “The Small Southern Rail”, Kharkiv’s Children’s Railroad is a great attraction for tots and their parents. The tracks run from Gorky Park to Forest Park. The Soviet Union boasted nearly 40 such railroads for children, with the one in Kharkiv being the oldest and about to celebrate its 70th anniversary this November! The Small Southern Rail was constructed at the initiative of young members of the local Communist Party in cooperation with the Railroad Engineering Institute shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War.
81 Sumska Street
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