9 amazing Ukrainian things you may like

A large part of our team consists of Ukrainians who love their country and know a lot about it. We've listed 9 interesting things about Ukraine to introduce to you.

9 amazing Ukrainian things you may like

Ukraine remains in the headlines because of the war. In the last three months, we’ve learned almost everything about the country’s politics, history, economy, etc. Before, you mightn’t have known where Ukraine is; now everyone knows where the Obolon district in Kyiv is. But Ukraine has much more to offer than just war stories.

A large part of our team is made up of Ukrainians who love their country and know a lot about it. Ukraine is a cradle of unique culture and traditions, the motherland of many famous people, and a place of many historical events. That’s why we decided to list 9 interesting facts about Ukraine, which will show the country from a different point of view.

After our victory, you’re all welcome to see our beautiful, strong, and inspiring motherland.

Ukraine has an area of 900 000 km², making it the largest European country with 40 million inhabitants. The capital Kyiv was founded in the 5th century AD.

Borscht

This national dish deserves the #1 spot in our hearts and in this list.

Borscht is a traditional beetroot soup with potatoes and cabbage. There are about 70 recipes for this dish, and everyone has secrets and tips on how to make it. It’s hard to say which version is the right one because each region brings its own ingredients. For example, in the Western part of Ukraine, people like to add white beans or mushrooms.

In Ukraine, the Borsch index, an analog of the Big Mac index, is used as an informal method of measuring purchasing power parity. This index consists of the average price of the products needed to cook borscht on a given day.

Scythians

Scythians are ancient nomadic people who lived in the southern part of Ukraine between the 8th century BC and the 3rd century AD.

The Scythians were excellent warriors, skilled horsemen, and archers. Usually, men and women fought together on the battlefields against their enemies.

Many things make this tribe unique, for example, its burial sites. The Scythians built kurgan tombs up to 20 meters high. Kurgan tombs were used to store personal belongings of the dead that could be useful to people in the afterlife: clothes, jewelry, weapons, pottery, etc.

Another very Scythian thing is jewelry: gold, bronze, silver, iron, etc. The most famous piece is a necklace called “Pectoral” – pure 24-karat gold. It’s the shape of a crescent moon and consists of three parts: the upper part shows the daily life of the Scythians, the second is dedicated to nature and the last represents the Scythian mythology.

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Hoverla

Hoverla with its 2061 m is the highest mountain in Ukraine and is located in the Carpathians.

The pleasant thing about Hoverla is that you don’t need much training to reach the top. That’s why many people are willing to conquer the mountain (yes, we’ll give you a destination point here: the view is worth it).

The name of the mountain is derived from the Hungarian “hóvár”, which means “snow mountain”. There are only a few months without snow there – usually from the end of June to the middle of September.

On the top, there’s a niche containing capsules with soil from all regions of Ukraine.

Sunflower

Even though the sunflower originated in what’s now Arkansas and Tennessee (USA), this flower is much loved and respected in Ukraine.

Sunflower fields are one of the most famous symbols of Ukrainian summer. The country is the world’s largest producer and supplier of sunflower seeds and oil for foreign markets.

For Ukrainians, the sunflower is one of the symbols of the Motherland. It’s said that a person in a foreign land fades and misses the motherland, just as a sunflower without the sun fades and mourns. During the Cossack times, people often used sunflower ornaments to decorate interiors and household items.

Sunflowers reach for the sun, even on a cloudy day. There’s a scientific explanation for this behavior: the phytohormone auxin, which regulates growth, accumulates in their stems. The increasing amount of auxin in the part of the stem that’s not illuminated by sunlight makes the plant reach for the light.

Trembita

The trembita is a type of alphorn made of wood that produces a sound that can be heard from far away. The Carpathian shepherds used the trembita for communication: informing about birth, death, marriage, etc. Even today in the Carpathians many folk festivals are dedicated to this instrument.

Trembita is made from 120-160 years old trees, preferably those that have been struck by lightning. It takes more than a year to make trembita: the wood should be super dry to produce a loud and pure sound.

The classical instrument is 3,1 m long and weighs 1,5 kg. The Trembita is 8.5 m long and is in the Guinness World Record Book as the longest musical instrument in the world.

Old winter traditions of singing Christmas carols and playing on traditional trembita horn in the Carpathian mountains.

Kateryna Bilokur

Kateryna Bilokur is one of the most famous Ukrainian folk artists. She was born in 1900 in a small village and received no education because her parents didn’t think it was necessary to waste time. Moreover, they forbade her to paint because it wasn’t a “useful” activity.

A bouquet of flowers by Kateryna Bilokur

Kateryna tried to hide her hobby from everyone but was still bullied by her neighbors because she did stupid things and not real work. The artist used handmade brushes from cat hair and cherry branches, house paint, and old fabrics to create her paintings. She loved flowers and painted them in her garden and from her memory: that’s why a still life often features plants from different seasons. A prolific stitcher, she depicted every tiny detail of the flowers on canvas. Today her technique is known as “embroidery on canvas”.

She was “discovered” by chance and in a few years became a famous artist. Three of her works traveled to be exhibited in Paris, where Pablo Picasso praised her.

Despite her growing popularity, Kateryna remained in her native village: a simple USSR peasant woman, she had no passport and, accordingly, no rights.

“This is a genius who lives in conditions that make self-realization impossible: she had no passport and is actually “tied” to her collective farm, and she was a woman – so she had no chance. And here’s this woman with her incredible, simply insane pride and stubbornness, which was directed against the system, the community, and the family, with which she also had to fight for the right to be herself”, – says modern Ukrainian writer Oksana Zabuzhko about Bilokur.

Gorodetskiy architecture

Vladyslav Gorodetskiy (1863-1930) was a great Ukrainian-Polish architect known for his unique projects.

Gorodetskiy Monument in the city center of Kyiv

In the 1980-es Gorodetskiy realized several projects in Kyiv: a building for the Museum of Antiquities and Art (now the National Art Museum of Ukraine).

In his next project – the Cathedral of St. Nicholas – the architect paid tribute to Gothic architecture, which was very close to his heart.

His most famous project is probably The House with Chimeras (1901-1903). The Art Nouveau building got its name from the exterior decoration, which depicts exotic animals: elephants, rhinos, dolphins, etc.

All these decorations were made of cement – the most advanced material of the century. The artists imagined this building as a “perfect house”: comfortable apartments, a common refrigerator, its own laundry room, and even a cowshed (so that the residents could enjoy coffee with fresh cream).

The house became an elite building immediately after its construction. The rent here was the highest in the city. Gorodetskiy himself lived in one of the apartments (with 13 rooms – not bad at all).

Nowadays the House with Chimeras is a national building used for meetings with international delegations and for ceremonial events. In addition to his fame in architecture, Gorodetskiy was an absolutely extraordinary person in daily life. He walked the streets with a monkey on his shoulder, achieved a sports category in shooting, and owned the first car in the city.

Kryvyi Rih

Yes, we know it’s not the most famous Ukrainian city, like Kyiv or Lviv, but it’s still fascinating.

The name Kryvyi Rih literally means “Crooked Horn”. Legend has it that the city was named after the Cossack Rih, who was missing an eye (that’s why he was “crooked”) and lived here in the 17th century. Nowadays it’s a large industrial city (> 600,000 inhabitants). The interesting thing is that the city stretches for 126 km. This shape is due to the mines and large factories that were built on the sites of mineral deposits. Later, the vacant areas were built with apartments and public squares.

Although the city is so large, there’s no subway. However, there’s an underground streetcar line. In Soviet times, the city was denied permission to build a subway.

Kryvyi Rih is a city with industrial landscapes and huge quarries. It’s also the hometown of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s press conference during the Russian-Ukrainian war at the Kyiv metro station to protect against airstrikes.

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