Unique Ukraine

Alushta is the greenest city of the Crimea

Alushta is one of the largest and best-known Crimean resorts. Because of its close proximity to the mainland, it is often called the gateway to Crimea’s southern coast. Splendid landscapes, picturesque mountains, tender seas, and the curative air are not the only merits Alushta has to offer – on its outskirts lay many interesting landmarks. Alushta is famous for its unique climate, which enables the city to flourish as a first-rate health resort, and places it as a near equal to better-known resorts like Yalta and Sochi. The finest sanatoriums exist here, and they treat respiratory, nerve, and cardio-vascular problems. The history of the city started in the 6th century, when Byzantine Emperor Justinian ordered the Aluston fortress to be built on the peninsula’s southern coast. Subsequently, it turned into an important trade centre for two centuries. In the Middle Ages, Alushta was captured by the Genoese, who built a new fortress on top of the ruins of the sacked town; you can see the remains of their fortress in the city center today. Only in the 19th century - after Russians took control of the land – did Alushta start to develop as a resort. Today, it is a popular getaway with comfortable beaches and a warm sea. Its numerous guests like to spend their time on the busy boardwalk, where you can admire the breathtaking mountain and sea landscapes, sit in a cozy café, or take a boat ride along the coast. Alushta is also famous for its innumerable parks and public gardens, for which it earned the name “the greenest city of the Crimea.” If you are planning to travel to the south of Crimea to rest and relax, admire nature’s beauty, and go on interesting excursions, Alushta is an ideal place you!

Genoese Fortress

The mighty Genoese Fortress is Sudak's main decoration and one of the most interesting historic and architectural monuments in Crimea. It has perfectly preserved not just its outer look, but also an inimitable medieval spirit and romance. Occupying 30 hectares of land, this unique fortification complex is situated at the ancient coral reef - Krepostnaya Gora (Fortress's Mountain) - that soars in a steep mighty rock over the emerald Sudak's bay. Due to fortunate location and powerful defensive facilities, the Genoese Fortress remained virtually impregnable for enemies without over long time. First fortifications were built here by Byzantines in 6th-7th centuries, but the greater part of preserved buildings refers to the Genoese period. That were the Genoese, who came to Sudak several years later, made it their military base and built a majestic fortress, which castellated turrets later became town's symbol. The Genoese Fortress, built in 1371 - 1469 years in the best traditions of West European fortification, was quite a powerful construction for its times. It had two separate lines of defensive facilities: outer and inner. Encircling mountain's northern slopes, the outer one was a complex of 14 towers connected with solid walls and the Main Gates. Each tower possessed the name of the consul who financed it: this is recorded by cast-in slabs with heraldic symbols and relevant inscriptions that remained on some towers. In recent years the Genoese Fortress with its amazing atmosphere has become a backdrop for the festivals of historical reconstruction and knightly skills. Each summer it turns into true medieval coaching inn, where stiddies clatter, swards clang and armored warriors fight.

The Market Square and Town Hall in Lviv

Market Square is the central square in Lviv and the heart of its historic center. It appeared in the 14th century, and its look is typical of the squares that all medieval Polish and German towns possess. Its unique architectural ensemble, added in 1998 onto the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites, was shaped over the almost seven centuries that it has been around. Throughout this time, numerous fires and reconstructions changed the square’s appearance. Yet despite the centuries of architectural modifications, it still looks elegant and harmonious. In the center of the square stands the 65-meter (213 feet) tall, Viennese baroque town hall, built in the 19th century. One of its predecessors – a wooden building – burned down in 1381. Another one – built out of stone in the 16th century to replace the wooden one – collapsed 200 years later. In medieval times, the town hall was not only the center of state power, but also a place that hosted banquettes of prominent residents and international meetings with foreign dignitaries, including kings. After the Russian Tsar Peter the Great’s carriage got stuck in mud during a visit to Lviv, the square was covered with wood. Today, the town council is located in the town hall building. Its clock tower is equipped with an observation deck, from which one can get a breathtaking view on the unique architectural ensemble of Lviv’s historical center. Two stone lions guard the entrance to the town hall, with the town’s coat of arms on their shields. The square owes its unique appearance to over 40 buildings – the so-called ‘kamenitsas’ – that were built in the 14th – 18th centuries. In those times, the land in the center of the town was very expensive; only noblemen and wealthy merchants could afford the luxury of having a house on the square. Moreover, there was a ‘law of equal opportunities’ that forbade building houses larger than three windows wide and three stories high. It was this law that led to the square’s unique, almost geometrical look. Another of the square’s gems is the late Renaissance Bandinelli Palace, built in the 16th century. Its name honors one of its past owners, the Italian merchant Roberto Bandinelli, who opened the first post office in Lviv. The building’s doorframe, decorated with pillars, attracts special attention, as do the stone dolphins on its façade – a symbol of successful trade.

St. Andrew's Church

Rare in its beauty and grace, the St. Andrew's Church, stands on a hill in the historic center of Kiev. It is one of the most famous Orthodox temples in the Ukrainian capital. This amazing construction, rightfully considered to be a real work of art, is among the most remarkable of the city’s landmarks. The St. Andrew's Church owes its origin to the Russian empress Elizabeth who, intending to have a summerhouse in Kiev, ordered a temple to be built. It was erected in 1754, at the place, where, according to legend, St. Andrew the Apostle made a cross during his travels to the Scythian country. Famous architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli designed this five-domed church with one cupola in baroque style. It is still called Rastelli’s 'swan song.’ The temple is in the form of a cross, and its edges are decorated with fancy ornamental towers. As any baroque object, the St. Andrew's Church is notable for its unusual elegance, luxurious decor, exquisite refinement, and airiness of form. But even more impressive is the church’s interior – suited for a luxurious palace – which was also designed by the great Rastrelli. Its key decoration is the original bright-red iconostasis, made of linden wood and covered with gold. Today, the St. Andrew's Church is a working temple, and services are conducted here. It also houses a museum, whose collection tells the difficult history of this architectural masterpiece.

Demerdzhi Peninsula

Local residents call Demerdzhi the peninsula’s most valuable treasure. And no wonder: it is one of the most attractive and mysterious mountains in Crimea. The mountain gets its mystery from the unyielding haze that changes its colors like chameleon, dressing up Demerdzhi in multi-colored ‘clothes.’ In the Middle Ages, the mountain was named Funa, which means ‘fuming.’ There are many interesting objects on the Demerdzhi. The ruins of medieval Funa fortress are at its foot, and on its slopes lays one of Crimea’s greatest natural miracles - the famous Valley of the Ghosts. It is a mound of amazing stone sculptures, frozen in the forms of mysterious portraits and fantastic creatures. They tend to change their shape in different lightings, showing new and new images to the spellbound tourists. The haze wrapping around Demerdzhi only adds mystery to these figures.

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