Chernivtsi region: motherland of the first astronaut of modern Ukraine, a lake with unknown depth, and a mystical holiday.

The Chernivtsi region (Ukr. oblast) is in the west of Ukraine, which borders Hungary and Moldova. Since the Trypillia culture, it has been united by a shared history, a variety of cultures, and natural attractions. The spirit of the forefathers coexists peacefully with the university community. Secret military objects and the nature of the Carpathian Mountains.

One of the most powerful hydroelectric power stations and an ancient fortress that once protected Europe from incursions and ready to do it now.

The Jewish past of the city

Before the beginning of the Second World War, Chernivtsi had an unofficial name—”Yudenshtadt,” the Jewish city. Of the 120,000 population, 50,000 were Jews.

At the end of the nineteenth century, there was the largest synagogue in Eastern Europe, an important religious and cultural city center. There were two attempts to destroy it, but it survived—twice. In July 1941, Romanian troops set fire to it inside—as ideological allies of Germany. And the Soviet authorities tried to explode it in 1955—because the destruction or depreciation of religious monuments was part of the state policy of the USSR. But they managed to demolish only the dome. They recognized that the building could not be defeated—they just waved their hands and turned it into a cinema.

In Chernivtsi, there is also the largest Jewish cemetery in Europe. The area is more than 14 hectares, and almost 50 thousand representatives of the Jewish community are buried there. In the depths is a mass grave from the time of the Holocaust. And here we should mention another phenomenon—Chernivtsi bunkers, former passage yards between buildings and entrances of residential buildings in the old part of the city. It was here that non-Jewish residents of Chernivtsi hid Jews. Ukrainians have always been able to unite in the face of a common enemy.

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A residence worth 260,000 horses

Each brick was measured, and eggs were added to the construction mortar. What kind of magic is this? The residence of the Metropolitan of Bukovyna and Dalmatia was built like this. Carefully—and for good reason, the building is now included on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

It was designed by a Vienna Opera author, Czech architect Yosef Hlavka. The best craftsmen from Austria-Hungary’s various regions were invited to work on the project, and two brick factories and one tile factory were purposefully opened in the city. 

A little in terms of numbers: it was built for 18 years, and 1 750 000 guldens (the Austrian currency of those times) were stolen. In these times, you could buy 260 hundred houses for this money!

Chernivtsi National University, one of Ukraine’s oldest and most recognizable higher educational institutions, is now located here. Initially, the university had three faculties: theological, law, and philosophical. They studied for four years, and the tuition was paid. At different times, the then writers, opinion leaders, and public figures were Ivan Franko, Mykhailo Drahomanov, Lesia Ukrainka, and Volodymyr Vynnychenko.

Nowadays, the university and the territory have become not only spaces of education and science but also a real tourist center of Bukovyna, so you can directly go on an excursion.

A secret European capital of culture

Chernowitz—an Austrian name of Chernivtsi in the 1774–1918 years. The city is considered like a secret capital of literature in Europe. Is anyone surprised by the appearance of the Meridian Czernowitz Poetry Festival? To be sure, let us present some arguments. 

Olha Kobylianska–one of the first feminists in Europe, used to live and create in Chernivtsi. Yurii Fedkovych was the first to start writing in Ukrainian in the Bukovyna region. At first, he didn’t even know Cyrillic (because the region was then part of Austria-Hungary). He also used the alias “Hutsul-nevir” (Hutsul the Unbeliever).

What about Paul Tselan? The most mysterious poet of post-war Europe. “It was a place where people and books lived.” And they live!

The national anthem, Tryzub, and the blue and yellow flag in space

On April 12, 1961, a boy was watching for the first human flight to space. He will fly solo 36 years later. 

Leonid Kadeniuk—the first astronaut of modern Ukraine—was born in the Chernivtsi region. Thanks to him, the Ukrainian national anthem was heard in space for the first time. He also took Tryzub (the Ukrainian coat of arms, also known as the “Trident”) and the Ukrainian flag with him. 

“What is the secret of my success?” I answer, “There is no secret. Everything is simple: you have to have a goal and work hard. That’s the secret.”

A difficult and very beautiful burden

Do you remember Poltava’s embroidery shirt? Actually, each region of Ukraine can brag about its own type of embroidery. How to recognize an embroidery from Bukovyna? Easy. But that’s not what we can say about its weight—12.2 lbs! All because of the floral pattern and beads with which it is abundantly embroidered.

A holiday on the edge of dimensions

Every year on January 14 and 15, there is a holiday in the Frankivsk and Chernivtsi regions—New Year’s parade-rites with dressed-up people.

The biggest and most well-known Bukovyna celebrations of Malanka folk holiday take place in the village of Krasnoilsk. Thousands of people celebrate the arrival of the New Year in incredible costumes, with performances, dances, and shchedrivky (Christmas carols).

Characters–pot-bellied grandparents, a doctor, a soldier, a bear, and others.

Unmarried men play the role of the bear. There are two types of bear costumes: “winged” and “haystack-like”. Both are made from hay or straw.

Now imagine that you can’t take off your “winged” costume! Once you get into it, you can’t get off till the end of the celebration. Wings can grow to be 20 feet long and weigh up to 110 pounds. Not for the weak! 

Authentic masks for Malanka are made by craftsmen, and for more modern characters, they are bought. A plan is written to the tiniest details. During the whole night, characters of Malanka will be walking around the streets and entertaining hosts at their houses. Some houses provide rest areas so you don’t fall asleep because you’re tired. 

“Malanka walks to chase an evil spirit from houses. She sings carols so that the New Year can begin brightly—this is how local people see the meaning of the performances.

The Soviet Union officially prohibited this celebration, attempting to destroy tradition, just as Russia is currently destroying Ukrainian traditions in temporarily occupied territories. 

Nobody can tell exactly when Malanka started. But it lives, adapting to modern life and bringing joy to people year after year. And if you have ever heard about Kukeri in Bulgaria, Busójárás in Hungary, Fastnacht in Germany, Kurentovanje in Slovenia, or Zvončari in Croatia, you definitely have to see Malanka.

In transit

After such intense events, one wants to return to nature. Shurdyn is the highest mountain pass in Ukraine; its elevation of 1173 meters (3848.5 feet) above sea level will fit. Here are harsh, high mountains with steep cliffs—it takes your breath away! All the Carpathian Mountains of Bukovyna are in front of your eyes. The main thing is not to get into the car rally competition, racers love the pass—it is 20 kilometers (12 miles) long with 21 sharp turns.

It wasn’t impossible to get here before. Now tourist routes pass through these paths. So what happened here? Hidden in the Carpathians there are five white domes called “Pamir”—a secret object from the times of Soviet Ukraine earlier, where there was an airspace surveillance system. Since 1960, this monitoring has lasted for almost 30 years.

And a few more unusual stones. Protiati Kameni Rocks have this name because of through holes. Kamiana Bahachka Rock, which a folk legend connected with a petrified, greedy old woman who did not help a poor woman. 

And Chornyi Dil rocks became home to the rarest flower in Ukraine—edelweiss. They say that the one who sees it will find happiness. The rocks are formed by limestones from the Jurassic period and covered with a fir forest, and this is also an interesting combination.


We went wading in the water

There are two places in the Chernivtsi region with the biggest quantities of water. The first is the Dniester Hydroelectric Station, one of the most powerful in Europe. During peak loads, it can use the energy accumulated at night.

The second is Seliatyn, the stormiest place in Ukraine. There are thunderstorms here 45 days a year, and once in 2008, a storm raged for 37 hours.

Probably Bukovynske or Hirske Oko lake would like to join the company—it has such a name because of its oval shape. It’s interesting that no one knows how deep the lake can go; reaching the bottom is impossible due to the flooded massive trees. Scuba divers simply cannot descend. However, it is assumed that it is 6 meters (20 feet). 

There are also the Bukovyna waterfalls—eight waterfalls of different heights and powers, ranging from 3 to 19 meters (10 to 61 feet), which are unique to the phenomenon of the Ukrainian Carpathians.

Fortress, treasure, and battle

One of the oldest defense structures in Ukraine. For centuries, the Khotyn Fortress defended an important trade and customs point above the Dniester River. And earlier, there was a fort here, created in the 10th century for Prince Volodymyr. 

Once, a treasure was unexpectedly found near the Khotyn fortress in 1890. More than 1000 ancient coins have been found from Saxony, Thuringia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and other countries. 

But let’s rewind a little because we will miss the famous battle. In 1621, there was the Battle of Khotyn, in which the Cossacks saved Europe from the Turkish invasion. Hetman Petro Konashevych-Sahaidachnyi and the nearly 45,000-strong Viisko Zaporizke (Eng. Army of Zaporizhzhia) restored geopolitical balance to all of Eastern Europe.

It is not the first time that Ukraine has deterred evil on its territory

Not only to protect itself but also to protect the entire West. Chernivtsi region: names, history, and many events that occurred there. Cultural background and the whole Carpathian Mountains behind. From the beginning of the full-scale invasion, men and women from the Chernivtsi region went to defend the country at the front. The whole Ukraine is fighting to protect its borders and its people. And will not concede anything.

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Last updated 29.03.2024

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