In the summer of 2007, the citizens of Ukraine were asked to participate in a unique selection process. They had the opportunity to vote for their seven favorite historical and cultural sites in the country. A board of officials made up an initial list of a thousand candidates, and then narrowed it down to 21. From those 21the voters would elect seven sites that would be the official Seven Wonders of Ukraine.
The Seven Wonders of Ukraine are scattered around the country. Most Western visitors who want to see them will first have to travel to Kiev, the nation’s capital and the main Ukrainian destination for most Western airlines. From your accommodations in Kiev you will easily be able to travel around the country.
The first Wonder of Ukraine is Sofiyvsky Park in Uman. This masterpiece of landscaping was founded in 1796 by a Polish nobleman who had it created to honor his beloved Greek wife, Sophie. With its waterfalls, ponds, fountains and gardens, the park blends Italian baroque and English styles, and leaves some areas in their natural state. Many legends are attached to this park.
Next is the Kiev Pecheresk Lavra, an 11th century monastery that incorporates a series of caves in its complex. It includes the underground Church of the Nativity of the Virgin. Among several museums on the site are the Museum of Traditional Decorative Art, and the Museum of Historical Treasures.
The third Wonder, the Kamyanets-Podilsky Historical Complex, is an 11th century fortified town built on a rock in the Smotrych River. It is guarded by a magnificent 16th century castle. Included in the complex are an Ethnographical Museum, two churches, and an 18th century triumphal gate.
Number four is Great Khortytsia Island in the Dnieper River. This island has been inhabited for at least 5,000 years. It was once a major link in the trade route between Kiev and Constantinople. In the 16th century Khortytsia became a Cossack military stronghold. The island is a national park, and has the Zaporozhian Cossack Museum.
Next is Chersonesos, the ruins of an ancient Greek colony on the Crimean Peninsula. This site overlooks the Black Sea, and was one of several Greek colonies in the region. Visitors can see the remains of an amphitheatre, a temple, defensive walls, towers, and other buildings.
Wonder number six is Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kiev. This Greek Orthodox church dates back to the 14th century and took twenty years to build. It is considered to be one of the marvels of Ukrainian baroque architecture. The church was named after the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople.
Finally there is the legendary Khotyn Fortress of Prince Vladimir the Great, one of Ukraine’s most revered heroes. Dating back to the 10th century, this classic example of a medieval castle is the center of many legends.