Ivano-Frankivsk region: Ukrainian statehood, Hutsuls, and magic

The Ivano-Frankivsk region (Ukr. oblast) is located in the west of Ukraine. Its lands were part of the Galicia-Volhynia. This is where the capital of the West Ukrainian People’s Republic was moved to continue the creation of the Ukrainian state. Here, they not only develop the tourist power of the region but also open the door for everyone who was forced to leave home by the war unleashed by Russia.

It is here, in the Carpathians, that you can truly feel the spirit of freedom, close and understandable to people on all continents.

The place where the weather is made

Mount Hoverla is the highest peak of the Ukrainian Carpathians and the highest point in Ukraine, with a height of 2,061 m (1.28 mi).

The first tourist route here was opened in 1880, and the mountain already has its own tradition: starting from July 16, 1990, when the Declaration on State Sovereignty of Ukraine was signed, at the top of the mountain the national flag is raised every year. This is a reminder to everyone who looks at our land with malicious intent.

In June 2018, Dmytro Kotov, a veteran of the war in the east of Ukraine, became the first person to conquer the peak of Hoverla on two prosthetic legs, because nothing is impossible for Ukrainian heroes.

Do you know how a lake can affect the weather? This is one of the highest lakes in the Ukrainian Carpathians, Nesamovyte, located 1750 m (1.09 mi) above sea level. If you bathe or throw a stone into the lake, you can cause terrible rain. But don’t do that. In general, it is better to behave quietly and politely in the mountains.

Although there is a place in the Ukrainian Carpathians that lives as a real ski resort – Bukovel, at the foot of the Bukovets mountain. Visitors sometimes make noise here, but still, it is better to behave quietly and politely in the mountains. Believe me, they will thank you.

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The big role of a small town

There was a time when the government of the West Ukrainian People’s Republic continued to create a Ukrainian state from the Ivano-Frankivsk region. To be more precise, in Ivano-Frankivsk city, then under the name of Stanislav. It was here that a united Ukraine was created. The Ukrainian People’s Republic, with its capital in Kyiv, controlled the territories of the center, east, and south of Ukraine. Initially, the West Ukrainian People’s Republic, with its capital in Lviv, controlled eastern Galicia, Bukovyna, and Transcarpathia.

It was on the premises of the current regional library that the council passed the decision on the unification with the Ukrainian People’s Republic. On January 22, 1919, the Act on the Unification of both parts of Ukraine was signed. This is the significant contribution of Frankivsk residents to our history.

A hundred years later, about the residents of the Ivano-Frankivsk region, it will be said:

“They have a relatively high level of entrepreneurship and public activity, and are moderate supporters of innovations in the social sphere.”

And they will not be mistaken: now Promprylad. Renovation is a place for people who want to reveal the economic potential of the city and the region. It was opened on the premises of an old factory, where the new economy, urbanism, modern art, and education intersected.

In 2014, the public restaurant Urban Space appeared in Ivano-Frankivsk — a successful example of uniting the community around a common idea. The project is unique, 80% of the restaurant’s profit goes exclusively toward the implementation of public projects.

Or how do you like this public consciousness? Public activist Mariia Kozakevych undertook the restoration of ancient entrance doors to historical buildings. In a few years, she gathered a team of restorers, including carpenters, blacksmiths, stained-glass artists, and activists who spread the idea. Together, they capture the beauty of the city, which people often forget — facade stucco, forged elements, carvings, etc. The most interesting thing is that people are starting to “wake up” and notice the beauty around them.

Heritage crafts

The Ivano-Frankivsk region (Ukr. oblast) is a place where folk crafts and cultural heritage are preserved. One of the key places of this type is Kosiv, a center of the Galician Hutsulshchyna. The city was founded in 1424, and the main occupations of the locals were salt making, handicrafts, gardening, and trade.

By the way, regarding trade, Kosiv is famous for its fair, where you can buy various and authentic Hutsul products. There are many of them, but we will say a few words.

Can a blanket “bite”? Sure. Especially if it is a Hutsul blanket made of sheep’s wool and also has an incredible pattern and fluffy pile on one or two sides. A bedspread is a common thing in everyday life. It is used to cover beds, benches, and blankets in winter. And he “bites” only at first, out of habit.

Green, yellow, brown, and a drop of blue. The code of Hutsul painted ceramics, which has been reproduced by craftsmen in Kosіv for centuries. Painted ceramics from Kosіv were added to UNESCO’s list of intangible cultural heritage in December 2019.

A few details of the process. Two types of clay were used for production: brownish-reddish for the base and white as a background for painting. First, a form was created, dried, painted, fired, covered with water, and fired again. The peculiarity of Kosіv ceramics is the technique of sgraffito, or “scratching” of drawings. Traditional subjects are scenes of everyday life, religious and ritual symbols (crosses, Christmas stars, etc.), plants, and animals. Attention is at a maximum, but the result is a work of art!


If the embroidery has many colors and the most recognizable figure is a rhombus, then you have a Hutsul “nyzynka” in front of you. One of the 12 Hutsul embroidery techniques, thick, tight, tightly covering the field of the canvas. The geometric pattern contains simple motifs and complex-shaped elements. The kosmak shirt is generally a local phenomenon of Hutsul art. Yellow-hot and orange tones give the embroidery a sunny character and enhance its festivity and solemnity.

It’s no use trying to fit everything here. You have to see for yourself: carved, inlaid, and burnt wood products, trembites, painted dishes and tiles, embroidered and woven shirts, towels, carpets, belt-cheres, zgarda, Easter eggs.

By the way, in the city of Kolomyia, there is the only museum of Easter egg paintings in the world. You surely remember from childhood the magical time of painting eggs before Easter, and there are as many as 12,000 Easter eggs and decorative eggs from different regions of Ukraine and countries around the world.

You just don’t taste it like that

After such a good “walk” you want to have a snack. But it sounds easier than it really is.

Here, for example, are traditional cheese horses. A craftswoman or master can mold 200 of these in a day.

But for this, the cheese is first placed in a vessel with boiling water to soften it. They create the required shape. They put it in salt water for a while so that the cheese horse would be fixed. You can eat later. But if you want to take such a cheese horse with you and give it to someone or keep it as a souvenir, then you need to dry it for several weeks.

And this is something that not all Frankivsk residents know about: kreplyky. Kreplyky are herring dumplings authentic to this region. They serve kreplyky with lean borscht on Christmas Eve. Taste it, it’s a real miracle.


Pink Panama: This is where it all started

Rap-folk group from Kalush, in the Ivano-Frankivsk region, and possibly the most talked-about Eurovision 2022 participant. The song “Stefaniia” became a hit and is considered in social networks to be very symbolic for the country, which is fighting for its independence.

And although the song is dedicated to the mother of the Kalush Orchestra soloist, the words “I will always come to you through twisted roads” are about returning home to Ukraine.

At a time when Russia wanted to destroy Ukrainian culture, the guys kindly broke their plans: they went to Eurovision and showed how alive our music is. Alive and beautiful.

There is another important point. Eurovision organizers have always emphasized that the contest is outside of politics. But knowing that they were taking a risk, the Kalush Orchestra called from the stage to help Ukraine, Mariupol, and Azovstal. And the whole world definitely heard them.

Fortress House

Grazhda is a typical Hutsul dwelling, a kind of economic complex. Fortress!

There were practically no villages, houses were scattered across the mountains and valleys far from each other. And although the enemy was different then, the desire to feel safe is the same. This led to the appearance of a barn – a closed building with a house, outbuildings, and a high fence around the yard.

Oleksa Dovbush, a Ukrainian opryshky and the most famous of the Carpathians’ opryshky leaders, added confidence in the locals in addition to grazhda. As Robin Hood fought for justice in Sherwood Forest near Nottingham, Dovbush was active in the forests of the Carpathians.

Hutsul magic

Magic is indispensable when it comes to people from the mountains. “Intricate” – that’s how magicians are called in the Carpathians. This is due to their history of conflict with others; the locals either feared or adored them. Each “intricate” had his own totem stone, which was passed down as a legacy along with strength.

“The fire must burn until autumn, and if it goes out before then, wait for trouble,” say shepherds in May, when they take their sheep out to pasture.

“No one will tell you how many sheep are in captivity — a bad omen,” they believe. Here, everything is seasoned with at least a tiny bit of something magical.

As well as the art of cheesemaking. In the main building, there are flocks, and a fire is burning. A prayer sounds, and the shepherds prepare for work. Milk is brought and poured into the cauldron through cheesecloth, and needles are placed on the cheesecloth so that the future cheese acquires a “spruce smell”. The milk is heated to 26–28ºC (78.8-82.4°F) and a special enzyme called “hlek” is added. But each family has its own secret in the cheese recipe.

The Ivano-Frankivsk region is a place where you can feel the true spirit of Christmas. There is definitely still a place for a miracle on this earth. At least once in a lifetime, you have to hear a carol. To understand the Christmas carol is to understand Ukrainians.

And the magic doesn’t end there. Koliada was the embodiment of ancestral spirits, part of the genetic code. Therefore, neither with the advent of Christianity nor during the Soviet period was it possible to ban the carol. Christmas in Kryvorivnia is alive. This is the strength that should be learned: to be able to do something for yourself, to be inspired by the spirit of the holiday, to get into the essence.

Previously, people came to the Ivano-Frankivsk region for peace.

After the noisy metropolises, there was a place to stop and see life as it is. In close connection with nature, traditions, and the desire to preserve all this. Since the start of the full-scale invasion, the region has turned into a beehive. This, however, did not frighten small towns. On the contrary, next to local businesses, there was room for more than 50 enterprises. And this is already a victory on another important front for Ukraine — the economic one.

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Last updated 18.06.2024

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