Ancient Relics, Record-Breaking Romance, and Unusual Food — These Are Just a Few of Rivne Region’s Wonders

Rivne region (Ukr. oblast) is a region located in the northwestern part of Ukraine. In peaceful times, it offers a whole range of amusements: one of the most romantic places on the planet, ancient sacred books, ancient fortresses, and unique dishes. During the full-scale war, the region guards the country’s northern borders and adds to the joint victory of both Ukraine and the entire civilized world.

In times of full-scale war, the region guards the northern border

The Most Romantic Railway Track

A railway, a forest, and a wood processing plant — what good can be of them together? One of the most romantic places on the planet, of course!

Every day, a train comes to the factory in the village of Orzhiv and in a way clears the dense forest it passes through, having thus formed a green corridor with a precise arc shape between the trees. Looks pretty much like the Lord of the Rings elves teamed up with Narnia people and created a place in Ukraine to take pictures for one’s magical Instagram.

However, the industrial and natural phenomenon was of little interest to the severe workers of the wood processing plant, so no one knew of it for years. When for the first time some travelers got there and published their pictures on social networks, nobody believed them — so fantastic did the green tunnel in the middle of the forest look.

And when they did believe, they started to take the most lyrical photos of their lives here, make vows of eternal love, or simply brag to their friends: “Heard of the Tunnel of Love? I’ve been there!”

However, riding the very same train is quite unlikely — after all, severe workers remain severe and hardly ever allow others to join them on their working transport. Though it may be worth trying — it’s not only Drezyna universal cargo crane machine, which made a tunnel with its movement, but also love that makes wonders.

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Ancient Sacred Books

Though Christianity was adopted in 988 on the territory of Ukraine, the first translations of the Gospel texts appeared even earlier. They were, however, written in the Church Slavonic language, which was a purely written one and incomprehensible to ordinary people.

It took much time and required the influence of Martin Luther and the Reformation for the idea to translate the Gospel into Old Ukrainian to emerge. Only in the 16th century, in a Rivne region monastery, the Peresopnytsia Gospel was created — a unique fusion of the European Renaissance and the old Ukrainian language.


It took as many as five years to write the nearly 10-kilogram [~22 lb] manuscript. The book was almost lost in the chaos of the World War II, but was later accidentally found in trash. Now it is on this relic that the presidents of Ukraine swear an oath when coming into office.

In several decades, in the same place, at the Ostroh Academy in Rivne region, the first complete printed edition of the Bible in Ukraine was created, being called respectively: the Ostroh Bible. For Ukraine, this edition was no less important than Gutenberg’s Bible for Europe. The unprecedented quality and the huge edition of 1,500–2,000 copies turned this book into a key artifact of Ukrainian culture, which has been referred to for centuries. On its 440th anniversary, the book was digitalized, enabling everyone to flip through the pages of the unique artifact.

Wonders of Nature

Rivne region is rich in nature’s treasures. The planet started to intensively “invest” in the beauty of this region at least 40 million years ago, when the territory of modern Ukraine belonged to a large island on the site of modern Europe. It was at those times that many trees grew here, and their petrified resin eventually formed the deposits of Rivne amber.

Now people dig up these organic minerals, polish them, turn them into jewelry, and look at them, thinking: “How beautiful they are!” Thus, the planet’s ancient “investment” in Ukrainian nature turned out 100% beneficial.

While with amber the man joins in only at the final stage to process the natural beauty, with another Rivne region wonder — basalt pillars — the case is somewhat different. If you’re a geologist, your geological heart will probably skip a beat at the phrase “an igneous rock cracked into columnar joints typical of basalt.” If not, just imagine — while extracting stone, the man dug grandiose quarries, and now whimsical regularly shaped columns arise over the water that filled them.

These pillars form due to peculiar basalt structure, which in practice looks like huge, from 3 to 30 meters high, hexagonal rock columns — a triumphant result of the man-nature union.

A Fortress between the Two Empires

Here, nature is regaining its rights little by little. At the end of the 19th century, on the border between the then Russian and Austrian empires, a powerful fortress was built from flint, quite an unusual material back in the day. Almost 250 meters long walls, long-range guns, a moat, ramparts, underground passages, ventilation, and a garrison of 800 men — it was a truly majestic structure.

Several times the fort had to perform its exact duties while being attacked in various battles and wars. There is even a burial of 200 Austrian soldiers near the fortress — they died here during the World War I.

Still, over the past 100 years, the Tarakan Fort has been rarely used. There were attempts to set up military or economic warehouses here, but the idea was abandoned in the end. The fortress thus lost the battle to its own strength — it turned out to be of just no use to maintain such a majestic structure.

Since then, nature has gradually entwined the fort with its green hair, and the once formidable fortress has turned into a whimsical and picturesque place. It could have been a monument to the old days, when people had not yet realized how senseless wars are. Unfortunately, though, this lesson humanity has not yet learned.

Higher Education with a Half-a-Millennium-Old History

Speaking of “learning lessons” and the thirst for knowledge, Ukrainian higher education is already almost half a millennium old, for as early as 1576, an entire academy was founded in the city of Ostroh in Rivne region. You can read more about its founder and father — a warlord that failed at failing — in our piece about Volyn.

In the meanwhile, just imagine your timetable: grammar, rhetoric, dialectics, arithmetic, geometry, music, astronomy, philosophy, theology, and medicine. Already ready to moan about the too busy schedule? Still, having graduated from the Ostroh Academy, you could moan in as many as five languages, as Slavic, Polish, Ancient Hebrew, Greek, and Latin were also taught here.

Unfortunately, in the mid-17th century the institution was closed. Nonetheless, its influence turned out to be so significant that it was not forgotten for centuries, and in 1994, students returned to the Ostroh Academy again — already after the restoration of Ukraine’s independence.

Now, great teachers teach and students, who are sure to become great in the future, study here. For sure, one of them is already known across the whole world — Valerii Zaluzhnyi, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the man on the Time cover, received his master’s degree at the Academy.

Amazing Food

Food is an important aspect of any culture, with Ukrainian one being no exception. You’ve probably heard of borscht, a soup so outstanding that UNESCO has even included it on the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of the World.

Still, Ukraine has something to feed you even without the famous soup. Varenyky, halushky, Chicken Kyiv (cutlet de volaille), banosh, shpundra, kholodets (meat jelly), kapusnyak (cabbage soup), kruchenyky, and deruny — the menu will definitely surprise you pleasantly.

Ukrainian cuisine has somewhat unusual recipes as well. What would you think, for example, about eating some stomach? That’s about matsyk — a dish recipe from Rivne region. A pork stomach is thoroughly cleaned, salted, and then tightly stuffed with meat and left to hang for up to nine months. Thus you get a raw dried meat dish that both tastes good and can be stored for a very long time. Dishes similar to Matsyk can be found in various countries — Lithuania, Germany, or Italy — but the Ukrainian version is definitely worth paying attention to.

Just like the entire Rivne region with its natural wonders and ancient culture is worthy of attention.

Though, probably, the region is still most impressive with its open and hospitable people — as well as brave: Rivne region has one of the largest shares of those who stood up to defend their Motherland. After all, the Ukrainians have understand well that should they not defend their land and their freedom now, the entire unique culture will simply be destroyed.

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Last updated 24.02.2023

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