Must see attractions in Eastern Ukraine

  • Top ChoiceSights in Kharkiv

    Kharkiv Art Museum

    Kharkiv's most famous museum owns one of many versions of Ilya Repin's Zaporizhsky Cossacks Writing a Letter to the Turkish Sultan, which is found in a room full of Repin paintings in the museum's permanent collection. The entire collection of romantic paintings here is of a high standard for Ukraine, but the neighbouring exhibit hall is hit or miss.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Kharkiv

    Ploshcha Svobody

    Locals claim that this enormous expanse of cobbles is the second largest in the world after Beijing's Tiananmen Sq. At 750m long it's indisputably huge and is certainly Kharkiv's most unique sight. Planned as an ensemble of Ukrainian government buildings when Kharkiv was the republican capital, it was laid out between 1925 and 1935. A Lenin statue, which stood in the middle, was toppled by the revolutionary mob in 2014, leaving a comically lonely granite shoe on the podium. The area was obscured from view at the time of research due to ongoing reconstruction. At the western end of the square, a geometric series of concrete and glass blocks and bridges, the late-1920s Derzhprom building is an example of early Soviet-era constructivist architecture. On the southern side, the Karazin university (early 1930s), formerly the Ministry of Planning, displays classic Soviet aesthetics.

  • Sights in Kharkiv

    Kharkiv History Museum

    The city's history museum found itself encased in a giant glassy structure as the result of an unfinished reconstruction, which hasn't touched upon the building itself. But the changing wind of history can be felt in the musty halls, where exhibitions have been updated to reflect the Maidan revolution and the war in the east. Outside the museum, which looms over the vast pl Konstitutsiyi, you'll find a rare British WWI tank which took part in the Russian Civil War (1918–21). On the other side of the building, a winged statue officially known as Flying Ukraine has replaced a Soviet-era revolutionary monument, which tongue-in-cheek Kharkivites used to call ‘five men carrying a fridge’.

  • Sights in Kharkiv

    Pokrovsky Monastery

    Just west of pl Konstytutsiyi, the gleaming domes of the Pokrovsky Monastery (Intercession of the Virgin) are visible from miles away. The predictably peaceful grounds (enter from pl Konstytutsiyi) have two attractive churches. The smaller and more important of the two is the blue, three-domed Pokrovska Church (1689). As in all Orthodox churches, the altar is under the east-pointing dome, and there's another altar hidden in the basement, which the attendant may show you if you ask. The church is almost always open for services. The yellow church next to it is the Ozeyansky Church.

  • Sights in Kharkiv

    Shevchenko Park

    Central Shevchenko Park is one of those post-Soviet parks where you can sit for hours watching families boarding the kiddie train, listening to some remarkably talented buskers, and pondering the shortness of some skirts and height of most heels. Not sure what the national poet might have made of all that flesh on show – from the expression on the face of the Taras Shevchenko statue it doesn't look as though he approves.

  • Sights in Kharkiv

    Derzhprom

    At the western end of pl Svobody, this late-1920s building is an example of early Soviet-era constructivist architecture: a geometric series of concrete and glass blocks and bridges. The building is not accessible for tourists, except for a smallish and low-key museum of local government located in the premises.

  • Sights in Kharkiv

    Blahoveshchensky Cathedral

    The park across the street from Uspensky Cathedral offers the best vantage point of the striking red-and-cream striped cathedral down in the valley, built 1881–1901. Based on Istanbul's Hagia Sophia, it has a beautifully proportioned bell tower resembling a stick of candy.

  • Sights in Kharkiv

    Taras Shevchenko Statue

    Locals are perhaps overly proud of this statue. Yes, it’s big and it does portray the heroic poet surrounded by 16 peasants, Cossacks and other Ukrainians representing the national history. However, it’s also rather brutalist and is only softened by Shevchenko Park.

  • Sights in Kharkiv

    Uspensky Cathedral

    This cathedral with its landmark mid-19th-century bell tower (89.5m tall) is now used only as a concert hall. The ticket office in the entrance is open in the afternoons only. Schedules available at http://filarmonia.kh.ua.