Known as the Heart of Europe, Ukraine is fast becoming a must-visit tourist destination. After Russia, Ukraine is the largest country in Europe. Although the country has only been independent for 30 years, it has a rich history and many incredible natural landmarks. Ukraine’s history precedes its independence. The Yalta Conference of 1945 saw Churchill, Stalin and Roosevelt discuss how Europe would move on following WWII.
Perhaps the most famous part of Ukraine’s history is the Chernobyl disaster. The northern town is now a ghost town, only visited by brave tourists and those involved in the lengthy and challenging clean up efforts. The exclusion zone around the nuclear power plant incorporates many now abandoned towns.
Following its independence from the Soviet Union, Ukraine outlawed the use of Communist symbols and street names. Some statues and memorials, such as Mother Motherland, were allowed to remain. Independence has also lead Ukrainians to reclaim traditions such as painting elaborate eggs for Easter celebrations, summer solstice celebration Ivana Kupala, where people jump over bonfires, and a week-long celebration involving the eating of pancakes.
Ukraine is a budget-friendly country that sees vast numbers of tourists choosing to take a city break in Kiev. There are, however, many more towns, cities and natural locations to explore, making a weekend away too short to take in the country’s beauty and heritage. With mountain ranges, 20 national parks and nature reserves, ski resorts to rival the Alps, and beautiful and relaxing bodies of water, there are incredible natural and historical landmarks in Ukraine. So, add the Heart of Europe to your travel bucket list and tick these Ukraine landmarks off your wishlist.
- 20 Ukraine Landmarks
- Natural Landmarks in Ukraine
- Historical Landmarks in Ukraine
20 Ukraine Landmarks
Natural Landmarks in Ukraine
1- Lake Svityaz
Lake Svityaz is the deepest, 58m (190ft), and the second largest lake in Ukraine, covering 9.7 square miles (25.2 square kilometres).
The lake is part of a collection of lakes in Polissya named the Shatsky Lakes.
All of the lakes are filled with crystal clear waters and surrounded by dense primeval woodland.
Vityaz gets its clear waters from springs, making it a beautiful site to see and giving it inviting and warm waters.
The edges of the lake are covered in light sand, which makes it a desirable summer destination.
Boating is also popular here, which allows visitors to access the large island in the lake’s centre.
Lake Svityaz is at Shatsky National Natural Park. Shatsk Raion, Volyn Oblast.
Askania-Nova is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and is one of the oldest and largest biosphere reserves in Europe.
Baron Friedrich Falz-Fein established the preserve in the late 19th century to support wildlife both local to the country and more exotic.
Over time the non-native species became settled and began to thrive in their new environment.
Within the reserve are 450 species of exotic animals, including six extinct species in their native homelands.
You can find zebras, wild horses and Indian antelopes within the reserve as well as cranes and flamingos.
Askania-Nova is at Kherson Oblast.
3- Probiy Waterfall
Probiy Waterfall is a spectacular 8m (26ft) high waterfall on the Prut River.
It is one of the country’s most famous waterfalls and a must-visit national landmark in Ukraine.
During the 19th century, the waterfall was higher than it is now.
Due to erosion causing the channel to be deepened, it lost some of its height.
The waterfall and Prut River are popular for kayaking and rafting due to the rugged terrain and fast-moving water.
For those seeking a more peaceful experience at the waterfall, there is a bridge crossing the ravine where you can enjoy views over the river and waterfall.
Numerous food trucks, stalls and cafes can be found nearby, all selling local foods and produce.
Probiy Waterfall is at Yaremche, Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast, 78500.
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4- Carpathian Mountains
The Carpathian Mountains run through several Balkan and Eastern European countries: Ukraine, Romania, Serbia, Hungary, Slovakia, Austria, Poland and the Czech Republic.
Each country offers visitors a different and unique experience with this range and should be included in any Balkan itinerary.
In Ukraine, this natural landmark is considered a place of power.
The range here is filled with mountain lakes, thick forest, and villages dotted on the hillsides.
Head to the small village of Dzembronya, a mountain settlement at 898m (2946ft) to see traditional Ukrainian customs still practised today.
For a more unique and natural experience, visit the daffodil valley.
The valley, which is filled with daffodils in bloom during May, is the only place in the world where daffodils have successfully grown at 200m (656ft) above sea level.
The Carpathian Mountains is at Zakarpattia Oblast, Southwestern Lviv Oblast, Southern Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast and Western Chernivtsi Oblast.
5- Alexandria Dendropark
Alexandria Dendropark has been welcoming visitors for more than 200 years. Count Francis Xavier Branicki created the park during the late 18th century.
The park spans 200 ha, making it an excellent spot for a day out.
There are over 2500 species of plants and trees, including those native to Europe and from various locations worldwide.
Scattered throughout the park are many statues, bridges and small temples.
There are also small ponds, waterfalls and streams filled with koi carp, swans and ducks. Dotted along the banks are houses for the ducks and swans to live in.
Alexandria Dendropark is at Alexandria Park, Bila Tserkva, Kyiv Region, 09100.
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6- Dniester Canyon
Dniester Canyon is considered one of the seven natural wonders of Ukraine and is a must-visit natural landmark.
The canyon follows the Dniester River and stretches for 250 kilometres (155 miles) of steep rocky walls, waterfalls, thick forests and caves.
The canyon cliffs feature fossilised plants and flowers among the rocks dating back more than 500 million years.
The best way to discover the canyon’s beauty is by going on one of many walking tours that take in small sections of the canyon or by boat on a catamaran tour.
The canyon is also a popular location for white water rafting.
Dniester Canyon is at Bridok, Chernivtsi Oblast, 59430.
7- Oleshky Sands
Oleshky Sands is a unique and unusual feature of Ukraine’s natural landscape.
North of the Black Sea, the thick woodland is broken up by a sizeable oval-shaped patch of sand covering 161 square kilometres (62 square miles).
The sands are the second-largest expanse of sands in Europe.
Within the area are dunes of up to 5m (16ft) high that often change with the winds.
To prevent the sands from expanding further and potentially harming agricultural areas, the edge of the Oleshky Sands was replanted with pine trees in a dense formation to act as a barrier.
Oleshky Sands is at Kherson Oblast.
8- Lake Synevir
Lake Synevir is a true treasure of the Ukrainian Carpathian Mountains and known as the ‘Pearl of the Carpathians’.
It is the largest lake in the Ukrainian Carpathians and one of the seven natural wonders of Ukraine.
The lake is framed by spectacular natural beauty, however, one of its biggest draws comes from the legend attached to it.
Ukrainian legend tells of Syn, the daughter of a duke, who had bright, blue eyes.
On a trip into the forest with her father, she heard a flute played by Vir, a musician.
The pair fell in love and began to meet in secret, but when the duke found out, he was furious and killed Vir in a rage.
Syn went to Vir’s grave in grief and began to cry.
The lake then appeared in the same bright blue shade as her eyes and is named after the lovers.
In the centre of the lake sits a small island with Vir’s gravestone and a wooden sculpture of Vir and Syn.
Lake Synevir is at Mizhhirs’kyi District.
Chornohora is the highest mountain group in the Ukrainian Carpathians.
The mountain is in two parts, separated by a deep pass.
The highest peak of Chornohora is Petros at 2020m (6627ft), with its other peaks all reaching above 1900m (6233ft).
The slopes are covered in thick forests of beech, spruce and juniper.
Chornohora is a fascinating natural landmark to explore on foot and is a perfect location for keen hikers looking for a challenge.
Chornohora is at Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast.
10- Dzharylhach Island
Dzharylhach Island is in the Black Sea Gulf and is the largest island in the Black Sea, covering 56 square kilometres (21.6 square miles).
The island has more than 200 estuary lakes and is well-known for its mud and salt lakes.
Its unique natural landscape has made for a perfect habitat for deer, wild boar and foxes.
The island also supports endangered plants from the mainland, including Dniper Stipa and sword-grass.
On the coast, it is possible to see many species of crab, shrimp, dolphins and porpoises.
Dzharylhach Island is at Kherson Oblast.
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Historical Landmarks in Ukraine
11- Annunciation Cathedral
Annunciation Cathedral was completed in 1888 and designed by Mikhail Lovotsov, a local architect, in the Neo-Byzantine style.
The cathedral features an 80m (262ft) bell tower and many smaller domed towers.
The cathedral’s exterior is adorned with stripes of red and cream, with the domes finished in bronze which has over time oxidised into green.
The cathedral was closed for a time during the 1930s but was reopened during the German occupation of Ukraine.
Following the war, it became a school, church and warehouse before being returned to an Orthodox Church and bishops residence.
Annunciation Cathedral is at 1 Blagovischenska Street, Kholodnohirs’kyi District Kharkiv, Kharkivs’ka Oblast, 61000.
12- Potemkin Stairs
Potemkin Stairs are amongst the most famous landmarks in Ukraine.
The stairs are a symbol of Odessa, built initially to serve as the entrance to the port.
Francisco Boffo, an Italian architect, and Avraam Melnikov and Pot’s, Russian architects, designed the 192 steps which were completed in the mid-1800s.
The stairs get their names from a famous scene in the silent film Battleship Potemkin, in which soldiers massacred the citizens of Odessa. While the movie dramatised the scene, it was based on a real battle in 1905, 20 years before the film was released.
Potemkin Stairs is at Odesa, Odessa Oblast, 65000.
13- Lubart’s Castle
Lubart’s Castle is such a famous landmark in Ukraine that it is printed on the 200 UAH banknote.
In 2011, the castle received first place in the Seven Wonders of Ukraine contest.
Lithuanian Prince Lubart built the castle in the 14th century and made it his residence.
The castle is famous for being the location of the Congress of European Monarchs in 1429, where Prince Vitovt and other figures discussed how to unite against the Turkish threat to Europe.
Within the castle is an armoury, a collection of bells, and an exhibition on ceramics.
Lubart’s Castle is at Kafedralna St, 1A, Lutsk, Volyn Oblast, 43000.
14- Holy Dormition Pochayiv Lavra
Holy Dormition Pochayiv Lavra was founded in 1240 on a mountain overlooking the town of Pochayiv.
The monastery is 56m (183ft) high.
Despite its dispute about its origins, it is widely thought that the church was built during the early 1500s.
The first record of its name being used was found from the time, although some believe it was founded 300 years prior during the Mongol invasions.
The Dormition Cathedral is the main building in the Lavra.
Gottfried Hoffmann designed the cathedral in the baroque and neoclassical style.
The interior is adorned with paintings restored by Vasilyev following a fire in 1974 and sculptures by Poliyevsky.
Holy Dormition Pochayviv Lavra is at Pochaiv, Ternopil Oblast, 47026.
15- Pidhirtsi Castle
Andrea dell’Aqua built Pidhirtsi Castle between 1635 and 1640 for the Hetman of the Polish crown.
Unlike many others in Ukraine, the castle was built purely as a home and not as a fortress or defensive seat.
Surrounding the castle are landscaped gardens in both the French and English styles from the time.
Within the grounds are two small churches.
The castle was vandalised and badly damaged during the Polish-Soviet War, and was turned into a sanatorium following WWII.
A lightning strike caused a fire in 1956 and yet more damage to the once beautiful castle.
The castle today shows levels of damage from these events, however, the castle’s parkland continued to thrive and be maintained.
Important relics from the castle, including an incredible collection of paintings and sculptures, are cared for by the Museum of Fine Arts in L’viv.
Pidhirtsi Castle is at Pidhirtsi, Brody District, L’viv Region, 80660.
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The site of the worlds worst nuclear disaster, the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant and the surrounding area is a landmark of Ukrainian history and is starting to become a popular location for tourists to visit.
On April 26th 1986, reactor 4 exploded during a safety test.
Radioactive dust was sent into the air affection people across Europe and the world.
Following the explosion, the town of Pripyat and all areas within a 10 km (6.21 mile) radius were evacuated.
Despite the ongoing dangers and radiation, it is possible to visit Chernobyl on a guided tour.
Tours are limited to one day, where visitors are shown areas of the now-abandoned town.
Visitors are provided with protective clothing and are given an instrument to track the radiation they are exposed to, which is now considered to be safe over a short period.
Chernobyl is at Pryp’yat’, Kyiv Oblast.
17- Khotyn Fortress
Another of Ukraine’s Seven Wonders is the landmark Khotyn Fortress, which was built during the 15th century.
To keep the fortress protected a 6m (19.6ft) thick wall that was 40m (131ft) high stopped cannon fire from causing too much damage.
The fortress’ exterior walls are decorated with symbols from Christianity and include symbols of wisdom and the Holy Mountain.
It is believed that by including these symbols on the walls, the fortress was protected by a higher power allowing it to withstand attack.
Khotyn Fortress is at Khotyn, Chernivtsi Oblast.
18- Kremenchuk Reservoir
Kremenchuk Reservoir, or the Artificial Sea, is the largest reservoir on the Dnipro River.
Three rivers flow into the reservoir.
The reservoir was built in 1959 as part of the Krenenchuck Hydroelectric Power Plant and took almost a year to fill.
The reservoir is deserving of its nickname, the Artificial Sea, as its opposite bank is hidden beyond the horizon.
It stretches across 2250 square kilometres (868.7 miles) with a depth of 6m (19.6ft).
Kremenchuk Reservoir is at Cherkasy Oblast.
19- Batkivshchyna Maty
Batkivshchyna Maty, or The Motherland Monument, is one of the only remaining Soviet monuments in Ukraine following their independence.
The statue sits in the hills of Pechersk and is 102m (334.6ft) tall, making it one of the highest monuments in the world, outranking the Statue of Liberty in New York and Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer.
The monument is constructed from stainless steel and was originally funded to be covered in gold leaf.
Motherland has two observation decks: the first is at the foot of the statue, and the second is inside the shield.
Batkivshchyna Maty is at Slavy St, 20, Cherkasy, Cherkasy Oblast, 18000.
20- Panteleimon The Persian Cat
The statue to Panteleymon the Persian Cat appeared in the 1990s outside the Zoloti Vorota metro station.
The cat is beloved within the city due to its story.
Serhii Husovskyi, a famous restauranteur, opened a fine dining restaurant.
Soon after the restaurant opened, Panteleymon the Persian Cat began frequenting the restaurant and made it his home.
He was popular with the staff and the diners but sadly, during a fire at the restaurant, Panteleymon died.
The statue depicting this beloved cat was designed and cast from bronze in his memory.
The statue initially featured a small bird that was stolen in the early 2000s.
The tail of Panteleimon is the shiniest part of the statue, as tourists and locals alike believe that rubbing it will bring good luck.
Panteleimon The Persian Cat is at Zolotovorits’kyi Passage, 3, Kyiv, 01034.
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