Ukraine is the second largest country in Europe. Its neighboring countries include Russia, Romania, and Poland. Additionally, it borders the Azov Sea and the Black Sea. Sitting near the crossroads of Asia and Europe, Ukraine is known for many things including its history and natural landmarks.
What is Ukraine Famous For?
Ukraine is famous for its historical cathedrals, beautiful beaches, and Orthodox traditions. There is a huge importance on loyalty and devotion to the culture, making it the perfect family-friendly country to visit. Ukraine is known for its delectable cuisine, which has been preserved since its origin and adds to its identity.
History, Culture, And Traditions Ukraine Is Known For
Maslenitsa, known also as Butter Week, is a Slavic tradition. It is celebrated in the week commencing Great Lent and lasts seven days. Although the purpose is generally to welcome spring, it is a religious holiday celebrated by members of Orthodox Christianity.
Ukraine is famous for its devout Christianity! Christians enjoy a week of partying and eating before Lent starts, and they are forbidden certain foods.
During the Maslenitsa, there are many carnival-like activities. This includes singing and dancing, as well as rides and sledding. Additionally, lots of food is enjoyed such as pancakes and crepes. They can be topped with a variety of garnishes both sweet and sour.
Malanka is a holiday that is celebrated both in Ukraine and Belarus. This is held on the 13th of January in the Gregorian calendar, which is believed to be New Year’s Eve on the Julian calendar.
It is a supernatural day, as tales state that spirits descend to Earth on this date. Due to this, lots of spells are cast and neighbors carol to drive them away. Those celebrating also wear outlandish costumes and masks during the parades.
Shows are held in the largest towns such as Kyiv and Kharkiv, which Ukraine is known for.
Ivana Kupala is held in Ukraine on the 6th – 7th of July, the shortest days of the year. Many other countries celebrate this tradition, such as Poland, Albania, and Sweden.
‘Ivan’ refers to John the Baptist, who has a birthday on this date. Additionally, the sun is termed ‘kupalo’, and marks the birth of summer.
During Ivana Kupala, Ukrainians search for luck and aim to drive away evil spirits. This is done by dancing around a Kupala tree, jumping over a bonfire, and hunting for the fem flower. During the night there is a large feast and drinking.
Khreshchennia is known as the Epiphany Bath, celebrated on 19th January. It marks the day of the Baptism of Jesus Christ, which took place in the Jordan River. As the principal religion of Ukraine is Christianity, more specifically Eastern Orthodox, Khreshchennia is celebrated by the majority of the country.
On this day, the population of Ukraine runs into freezing waters such as lakes. Although this seems like a health hazard or an accident waiting to happen, it is widely believed that you cannot become ill from this activity. This is because it is a holy day.
The most popular place to partake in this tradition is the River Dnipro in Kyiv, a famous natural landmark in Ukraine.
Dissolution of the USSR
As the older generation will undoubtedly remember, the dissolution of the Soviet Union took place in December 1991. Ukraine is known for gaining full independence on this date.
The USSR was a culmination of 14 countries including Ukraine which started in 1922. There were many heads of state, the last being Mikhail Gorbachev. After its collapse, the countries became independent nations.
After a referendum, Ukraine became self-governing with its laws and regulations. The majority of the population voted for this, hence why it is an important part of the country’s history.
The Ukrainian language is considered to be one of the most elegant languages in the world. Almost three-quarters of the country speak it as their first language. Other popular tongues include Russian and Yiddish.
Originally, Ukrainian has roots dating back to the 10th century. However, this has been controversial over the years. The language was banned twice by Imperial Russia during the dictatorship, yet has remained prominent and almost entirely unchanged. Because of this, it is important to preserve and keep the dialect Ukraine is known for.
There are several folk dances in Ukraine. Often, these are performed at weddings, national celebrations, and festive holidays. The main dance is called Hopak; it is the national dance Ukraine is famous for.
Furthermore, there is a traditional costume that is worn during these dances. For women, it is a white blouse paired with a dark vest and a graceful long skirt. The men’s uniform is similar but includes red pants. Many of the dancers also opt for decorative hats.
Cities And Travel Destinations Ukraine Is Known For
Ukraine is most known for its captivating capital city, Kyiv.
There are many famous landmarks here, such as the Golden Gate and Kyiv Pechersk. It is also north-central along the Dnieper River, hence why there are many natural botanical parks and reserves. An example of this is Navodnitsky Park.
Kyiv is also one of the most significant capital cities in terms of religion, because of its abundance of cathedrals. This includes Saint Sophia Cathedral and Saint Michael’s Cathedral.
Kharkiv is the second-largest city in Ukraine after the capital.
One of the most famous churches that Ukraine is known for – the Annunciation Cathedral, is in Kharkiv. There is also the Assumption Cathedral and Pokrovsky Cathedral.
Kharkiv is ideal for strolling around, especially with children. It is renowned for its natural attractions and parks. The Mirror Stream fountain is a beautiful monument established after the end of World War II, thanks to their contribution. It is found next to the Opera House.
Shevchenko City Garden is another example of the charming scenery in Kharkiv, which has lots of flora as well as local cafes.
Lviv is a large city nearing the border of Poland on the west side. Because of its proximity to this neighboring country, it has previously fallen under its rule before the formation of the USSR.
Ukraine is famous for its baroque architecture. Interestingly, Lviv has blended this with an Eastern European twist and features buildings with a mixture of styles. This reinforces its reputation for being a cultural hub.
An example of its modern buildings is Insomnia. This is a haunted house where teams are immersed in a scary ‘game’ and forced to compete against each other. If you are traveling with friends, this is a perfect attraction to visit.
Odesa is one of the largest and most popular cities in Ukraine.
One of the main natural attractions Ukraine is famous for is the Black Sea, which Odesa borders. This makes it a port city. Odesa is ideal for family holidays in affordable all-inclusive resorts or a romantic trip away in luxury hotels. The nightlife here is incredibly dynamic, and there is a restaurant or bar for everyone!
The Potemkin Stairs are also located here, which are an important structural and historical landmark.
Chernihiv is a lesser-known city, and is often regarded as a hidden gem.
Due to its rich culture, Ukraine is famous for its historical landmarks, many of which are found in Chernihiv. The vast majority of these are churches.
Pyatnytska Church is a site you must visit. It is found in Red Square, hence explaining its cherry red color! The Church of the Archangel Michael is another picturesque building.
Dytynets Park is a charming park that combines history with nature; it is located on the Desna River. Here, you can find cathedrals, monuments, and lots of flora.
Landmarks And Architecture Ukraine Is Famous For
Annunciation Cathedral is one of Ukraine’s famous landmarks located in Kharkiv. It is an Orthodox Church built in the 19th century and is the main cathedral of the city. The church is also globally recognized for being the largest cathedral in eastern Europe.
Annunciation cathedral is notable for its best feature, a bell tower that is over 80 meters tall. However, it has been demolished several times due to natural disasters such as a tornado and a fire. There have also been political conflicts surrounding the church.
Lubart’s Castle is the main travel destination in Lutsk. The castle was built in the 14th century by Demetrius of Liubar, who reigned over Volhynia for over four decades.
Despite its age, the castle has been relatively well-preserved. There is a gate and three main towers, all of which you can explore freely or with a guide. Inside are several artifacts such as manuscripts and books. There is also a museum.
The castle overlooks the Styr River, which supplied the old moat.
Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant
Chornobyl is undoubtedly one of the most recognized landmarks in Ukraine. With that being said, it is also one of the riskiest due to radiation sickness.
This nuclear disaster took place near Pripyat, a region in the Kyiv oblast. In 1986, there was a flaw in the reactor of the power plant. Subsequently, this caused uranium to disperse its way through the protective barriers and cause a massive explosion and emit radioactive substances spanning 500 kilometers. This contaminated the air and caused deaths as well as structural damage and human defects.
Nowadays, you can visit Chornobyl safely. However, you must first apply for a permit to enter.
The Potemkin Stairs are located in Odesa. From a structural viewpoint, they are a significant landmark in Ukraine.
There are 192 steps designed by Boffo and Melnikov. They span from the Black Sea to Primorsky Boulevard. Because of its proximity to the boulevard, there are many attractions to visit in the area. This includes exciting nightlife and unique local stores.
Additionally, there is a park at the bottom of the hill, which is ideal for children to play in.
The Golden Gate is an important landmark that Ukraine is known for. You can find this stunning structure in Kyiv.
Construction started as early as the 10th century and has been restored and renovated several times since. Initially, it was built by Yaroslav the Wise, The Grand Prince of Kyiv.
Once known as The Great Gate of Kyiv, it is an impressive fortification that resembles the Golden Gate of Constantinople. It is made of brick and stone, making up a tower and passageway.
There is also a chapel, which is ideal for visiting at night with friends or on a romantic walk.
Some of Ukraine’s famous landmarks are monasteries, and Pechersk Lavra is no exception. It is an Orthodox monastery found in the capital city, Kyiv, on the Dnieper River.
The Pechersk Lavra is an interesting structure because it was built in 1051. It is the first and oldest monastery in the country. On the architectural project were Theodosius and Anthony of Kyiv, who styled the religious landmark with Ukrainian Baroque in mind.
Notable features include the stunning golden domes, the eminent bell tower, and striking crucifixes.
Food Ukraine Is Known For
When deliberating about famous traditional Ukrainian food, borsch is undoubtedly one of the most recognized worldwide. This is probably due to its global presence, mainly in countries such as Ukraine, Austria, Germany, and Russia.
The principal ingredient in borsch is beetroot, which gives the soup its sour flavor. Other red vegetables are also added such as peppers and kidney beans. The classic version has chicken; however, a meatless alternative can eliminate this and use vegetable broth instead.
Chicken Kyiv is named after the capital, Kyiv. This makes it one of the main foods Ukraine is famous for. Although there are many variations, mainly in Russian and French gastronomy, the original recipe remains the same.
Essentially, chicken is coated with egg and breadcrumbs, then fried until golden. The inside is stuffed with butter and spices such as oregano, parsley, and garlic.
Chicken Kyiv is a main dish and is therefore served with several sides. This can include a mixed salad, mashed or roasted potatoes, and or rice.
However, one of the fun facts about Ukraine is the Chicken Kyiv is actually not from Kyiv!
Banosh is the Ukrainian version of porridge, which was originally made over a contained open fire in a cauldron. Whilst we typically think of porridge as a breakfast food, it is typically eaten as a light lunch.
This dish is made from corn grits which are cooked with two main ingredients. These are Bryndza cheese, which comes from sheep, and sour cream. According to taste, fried onions and mushrooms can also be added. Sour cream is garnished on top for aesthetic as well as to cool down the food.
Many of Ukraine’s famous foods are often European with a traditional twist. In this case, we are talking about varenyky, otherwise known as Polish pierogi. The word ‘varenyky’ simply means ‘to boil’, which is how these delicious dumplings are made.
Traditionally, the dumplings are stuffed with potatoes and topped with fried onions. On the side you can dip them into sour cream, to counteract the heat from the dumplings when they are fresh out of the oven. However, more recent developments for the filling include mince or even cherries for dessert.
Holubtsi is a classic dish, also known as ‘sarma’ or ‘golumpki’ in other European countries.
They are simple cabbage rolls that are made as a side or starter. Traditionally the cabbage leaves are stuffed with a minced meat mixture with added rice. This is then seasoned plainly with salt and pepper. Subsequently, we bake these until they are cooked, and serve them.
Like many other traditional foods in Ukraine, they are usually dipped in sour cream!
A festive favorite is paska. It is a Ukrainian sweet bread that is served during Easter and enjoyed by the whole family.
Paska is a simple mixture of flour, milk, eggs, and lots of sugar. The mixture is then poured into a tin and baked. Often, this tin has an intricate design that shows when the cake is removed. A sugar glaze is then poured on top.
It serves great as dessert in Ukraine.
Deruni are also commonly known as potato pancakes. Ukraine is known for this dish because it can be served in an array of ways: plain, sweet, and savory.
Deruni is made by grating potatoes and mixing them with eggs and flour. They are then fried and garnished with your chosen topping. Frequently this is chives and sour cream, but you could opt for jams and marmalades if you have a sweet tooth.
Famous People From Ukraine
Mila Kunis is one of the most famous Ukraine people. Although living in America, she was born in Chernivtsi. Kunis is recognized by all generations, as her acting career has spanned almost her entire life!
Older generations will know Kunis from ‘That 70s Show’, a 1998 sitcom starring Ashton Kutcher and Laura Prepon. Kunis famously met her now-husband on the set of the show, but they did not get married until decades later.
Other popular movies she has starred in include ‘Ted’ and ‘Bad Moms.’
Milla Jovovich is an actress, supermodel, and singer. Because of her multi-faceted role as a celebrity, she has become an internationally-known public figure. Her most iconic movie titles include ‘Zoolander 2’ and ‘Resident Evil: Afterlife.’
Jovovich was born in Kyiv, Ukraine, but lived in Russia until she was five. Consequently, her family migrated to London. Despite this, she consistently shows support towards the country she was born in and speaks publicly about her adoration for it.
Of all the famous people in Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky is undoubtedly the pinnacle. His valiant transition from comedian to president is admired by people of all nations.
Zelensky was born in Kryvyi Rih, a large city in the heart of Ukraine. Initially, he gained momentum in his acting career and become recognized for his role in movies and shows.
However, in 2019, Zelensky decided an abrupt career change and inspired millions with his presidential campaign. As he led Ukraine through a dramatic and unforeseen war against Russia, Zelensky became one of the most influential and famous Ukrainian people.
Ukraine is known for its athletes, especially those involved in boxing. Vladimir Klitschko is a former heavyweight boxer, alongside his brother Vitali. Klitschko is most famous for his record of the longest collective heavyweight title reign, which is twelve years.
Klitshcko is renowned for his charitable efforts in Ukraine. He sold his 1996 Olympic gold medal to the highest bidder and donated the proceeds to help disadvantaged children living under the poverty line. He also fought for Ukraine during the Russian invasion., like many other Ukraine famous people.
Andriy Shevchenko is a former footballer who played professionally for Dynamo Kyiv, AC Milan, and Chelsea. He also had the honor of playing for the national Ukrainian football team.
He is also the head coach of the football team Genoa, based in Italy. Shevchenko speaks fluent Italian as well as Ukrainian, which he learned thanks to his wife.
Aside from football, Shevchenko is also prominently known in the political world. In 2012 he was a candidate in the general election of Ukraine. Unfortunately, his party failed to qualify.
Discovering More Things Ukraine Is Known For
These just scratch the surface of all that Ukraine is famous for. The wide array of attractions offers plenty to discover for any visitors.
From historical landmarks such as the Annunciation Cathedral and Pokrovsky Cathedral to natural landmarks such as the Dnipro River and the Black Sea, there are many activities you can indulge in.
Furthermore, Ukraine is famous for its rich culture. There are many traditional foods, such as Chicken Kyiv, and plenty of traditions both Pagan and Christian. This is certainly a destination worth visiting.