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Introducing Poltava

Quaint and leafy Poltava is all about one particular turning point in history. Had Russian Tsar Peter I lost the decisive battle on the town's outskirts in 1709, he wouldn't have become Peter the Great and Ukraine could have celebrated the 300th anniversary of its independence in 2009. But the Russians defeated a joint Swedish and Cossack force, marking this event a century later by rebuilding the city's centre as a mini St Petersburg imitation. As if avenging the lost battle and architecture imposed from the north, Poltava became a centre of Ukrainian cultural renaissance in the 19th century, .