Ukraine has seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Here are what they are

Ukraine is also a very important land in terms of culture. There are seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites in its territory. Here are what they are.

Always a bridge between East and West,Ukraine is a country rich in centuries-old history and traditions in which different souls and cultures have always coexisted. From the capital, Kiev, to Odessa on the Black Sea or even Lviv its cities are important cultural centers and hold great artistic treasures. However, Ukraine is also a land rich in lush nature that ranges from the Black Sea to the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains and the Danube Delta so much so that it is a complex ecosystem rich in life. Whether it is the vestiges of a rich past, architectural masterpieces or nature oases, Ukraine can boast of no less than seven sites on the UNESCO World Heritage List, among others. Here are what they are.

1. The Cathedral of St. Sophia in Kiev

Its origins are traced as far back as the 11th century, and it was the first Ukrainian monument to be inscribed on the UNESCO list. With its unmistakably deep green domes, it is the most famous symbol of the capital whose many vicissitudes it has silently witnessed. Inside it preserves splendid frescoes and mosaics, the most famous of which is the one dedicated to the Praying Virgin. This great work is very dear to the people of Kiev who, according to tradition, believe that the city will continue to exist as long as the mosaic is preserved inside their cathedral.

The Cathedral of St. Sophia in Kiev. Photo R. Brechko
The Cathedral of St. Sophia in Kiev. Photo R. Brechko

2. The historical center of Lviv

Located in the westernmost part of Ukraine, Lviv is less than a hundred kilometers from the border with Poland to whose history it is so deeply connected that it was even a royal city of the Polish crown. Always a university city and an important cultural center for the entire region, Lviv later experienced Habsburg rule and was the scene of fierce battles and claims before its incorporation into the USSR only at the end of World War II. Today traces of this rich history can be found everywhere as you stroll through the streets and squares of a learned and cosmopolitan city whose historic center has been under UNESCO protection since 1998.

The historical center of Lviv
The historic center of Lviv

3. Struve’s geodesic arch

Well before satellites and computers, scientist Friedrich Georg Wilhelm von Struve devised a certain way to establish the exact shape and size of the Earth using a complex system of triangulations in the years between 1816 and 1855. At that time this geodesic arc spanned only two nations-Sweden-Norway and the Russian Empire; today these have increased to 10 including Ukraine representing those furthest south. Originally the arc consisted of as many as 258 triangles and 265 main fixed points that allowed for precise triangulation.

The southern point of Struve's geodesic arc
The southern point of Struve’s geodesic arc

4. Ancient primeval beech forests of the Carpathians.

Ukraine is also among the 18 European nations that can boast of having on their territory these forests rich in history and, above all, guardians of great biodiversity and for this reason included among the World Heritage Sites since 2007. As far as Ukraine is concerned, there are numerous sites that are among those protected by UNESCO and include the Carpathian Biosphere Reserve, the Eastern Carpathian Biosphere Reserve, and also the Gorgany Nature Reserve, the Roztochya Biosphere Reserve, Podilski Tovtry National Park, Synevyr National Park, and the Enchanted Land National Park.

Ancient primeval beech forests of the Carpathians
Ancient primeval beech forests of the Carpathian

5. Residence of the Bukovinian and Dalmatian metropolitans.

In the city of ÄŒernivci in western Ukraine this majestic palace brings together different architectural styles designed by Czech architect Josef Hlavka from 1864 to 1882. The complex includes the former Residence of the Metropolitans with its adjoining chapel, a former seminary and a former moastery as well as a large garden and natural park. This residence is considered one of the greatest symbols of the cultural identity of the Orthodox Church in the 19th century.

Residence of the Bukovinian and Dalmatian metropolitans
Residence of the Bukovinian and Dalmatian metropolitans

6. The ancient city of Cherson

Located in the heart of Crimea, today this city is known as Sevastopol, but its origins go back as far as the time of the ancient Greeks. In the large archaeological site recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, vestiges of this domination dating as far back as the 5th century B.C. can still be found. The colony of Cherson was later conquered by the Romans and experienced Byzantine rule. Today all this history can be relived by walking through the remains of the city divided into six rectangular plots of equal size from which stand out the remains of public buildings, entire neighborhoods and even early Christian monuments.

The ancient city of Cherson. Photo by Andrew Butki
The ancient city of Cherson. Photo by Andrew Butki

7. Wooden Tserkvas of the Carpathian region.

Straddling Poland and Ukraine are sixteen tserkvas (churches) built of horizontal wooden logs between the 16th and 19th centuries by communities of the Orthodox and Greek Catholic faiths. These are examples of unique architecture that combines typical Orthodox elements with local tradition. All tserkvas are built on a tripartite plan surmounted by circular, quadrilateral or octagonal domes.

Wooden tserkvas from the Carpathian region

Ukraine has seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Here are what they are
Ukraine has seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Here are what they are

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