Monday, February 26, 2007

The Holy Dormition Kiev-Pechersk Lavra

This amazing historical, architecture and religious complex is one of the most outstanding sacred places in Orthodox world. Its churches' golden domes shine brightly in the sunlight, its ancient temples compel admiration, its unique underground caves strike with awe. The complex includes 144 buildings on the territory of 233600 square meters.

The history of the Holy Dormition Kiev-Pechersk Lavra starts about one thousand years ago. It was founded in 1051 by monk Anthony in a cave of the hill. His ascetic way of life made him popular about all the Kiev Rus and the monastery grew very fast. Soon the Lavra became not only religious but also a cultural center: the first Ukrainian chronography, typography and icon painting works were made here, the first hospital was build here and the first university was based on Lavra's gymnasium.

The Holy Dormition Kiev-Pechersk Lavra is the biggest museum complex of Western Europe. In 1990 it was included to the "List of UNESCO World Culture Heritage". Here you can see a lot of ancient jewelry and icons from the Lavra's collection funds that count more than 70000 items. More than 100 thousand tourists from all around the world visit the Holy Dormition Kiev-Pechersk Lavra each year.

Monday, February 19, 2007


Belgorod-dnestrovski was founded in 502 BC (in 1998 it celebrated its 2500 birthday) by ancient Greeks on the cross of trade routes from the West to the East. Since that time the city had about 20 names: one of the first names was Tira, one of the last – Akkerman. According to UNESCO, it is one of the 10 ancient cities of the world that had permanent existence.

During its long history Belgorod-dnestrovski has seen a lot. It was under the reign of Rome, was a part of Kiev Rus, was conquered by Tatar-Mongols, was suffering from Turkish yoke for 300 years. In different times it belonged to Venetians, Genoese, Hungarians, Poles, Russians, Moldavians and Romanians. Only since 1944 it became a Ukrainian city.

Now the population of Belgorod-dnestrovski is 70 thousand. The city and its region are declared to be an ecologically clean zone. Near the city there are many sanatoriums, rest homes and health resorts along by the Dnestrovski liman and the Black Sea, though foreign tourists are mainly interested in visiting Belgorod-dnestrovski fortress and Tira diggings.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Fortress in Belgorod-dnestrovski

The fortress on the high rocky bank of Dnestrovski liman is an outstanding monument of Middle Age architecture. It has a form of irregular polygon with the size of 90000 square meters. The length of its walls is about 2500 meters, average height is 5 meters and average width is 2 meters. Tree sides of the fortress are surrounded by the ditch of 14 meters depth. The main entrance is closed by a wooden suspension bridge that weights 3 tons (in fact haven't seen it closed yet, it is always opened for tourists ;-).

The building of the fortress was started by Genoese in the XII century, continued by Moldavians and finished by Turks in the XV century. In general, it was used for the defense of Belgorod from multiple attacks of various enemies. So each time any aggressor state made an attempt to take under control the trade route from the West to the East, the citizens of Belgorod found shelter in the fortress.

In spite of many historical events that took place in the fortress, it is one of the few historical monuments in Ukraine that preserved its original structure from Middle Ages. The fortress attracts a lot of foreign tourists: the charge is only a couple of dollars per person, though local kids know how to get inside free of charge.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Catacombs in Odessa

Catacombs in Odessa are much younger than catacombs in Rome or Paris, though much longer than both together: the size of Odessa 'underground' is more than 2500 km. At present only 1700 km are studied. The average height is 1.5 - 3.5 m, width 2 - 4.5 m. The depth can reach 50 m below sea level.

About 95% of catacombs in Odessa are quarries. Since XIX century more than 100 quarries with more than 1000 entries were used to draw limestones for building Odessa. Besides quarries, under Odessa there are many other caves: old cellars, secret passages, and the most interesting - natural caves that are 2.5 - 3 million years old. All these cavities joined in various ways form an incredible underground network.

In different times catacombs in Odessa were used for different proposes and by different people. In the end of XIX century and beginning of XX century criminals hid there from police and contrabandists hid there their goods from tax police. During the Second World War partisans hid there from fascists. Now it is a magnetic place for speleologists, diggers and tourists.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Ukraine? Where is it?

If you are still not sure where Ukraine is, it means that you don't know where the very heart of Europe is, as the geographical center of Europe is on the territory of Ukraine, not far from town Rakhov near Carpathian Mountains.

Ukraine is the biggest country in Europe (603 628 square km), bigger than France. Our neighbors are Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Moldova, Russia and Belarus. Sometimes some of them were good neighbors, sometimes not :-)

How to get to Ukraine? If you live on the border with us, you can walk. If you live within a thousand kilometers it is better to take a bus or a train. If more than a thousand, I would advise you to take a plane. In case you don't like planes, trains or buses, you can travel to Ukraine by ship as the south of Ukraine is washed by the Azov Sea and the Black Sea which flows into the Mediterranean Sea.