The second largest city in the Ukraine, Karkiv (also known as Kharkov) is situated in the northeast of the country and serves as one of the main industrial, cultural and educational centers in the country. The country’s industry and research has been focused on arms production and machinery for many years.
Today the city is home to such mega-companies as the Morozov Design Bureau, the Malyshev Tank Factory, Hartron and Turboatom. These companies specialize in fields such as tank and turbine production, and aerospace and nuclear electronic research.
Kharkiv was founded during the 17th century and has had a university since 1805. From 1917 – 1934 it served as capital of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. Perhaps Karkiv’s most notable increase was during the Holodomor famine of the 1930s which saw many people arriving at the cities in search of food.
It was a sad time and many lost their lives and were secretly buried by surviving relatives. It went on to suffer further tragedy when, during World War II, it was not only the sight of several battles but was captured by Nazi Germany. The Nazis and the Red Army continually struggled for control over the city until August 1943 when it was liberated. During this period of struggle many tens of thousands lost their lives and the city suffered extensive damage.
Today Kharkiv has a lot of attractions to be enjoyed by the average visitor. Kharkov’s Freedom Square is the largest city square in Europe and is second in the world only to the Tiananmen Square. It is a great place to start your sight seeing. After that, you may wish to visit the Gosprom, the Mirror Stream, the Militia Museum, the Memorial Complex, the Shevchenko Monument and the Shevchenko Gardens.
The Uspensky Cathedral and the Pokriv Cathedral are quite dramatic and look great in photographs. If you manage to fit that all into your trip, the Cable Road is another interesting place to stop. Make Kharkiv one of your stops while visiting the Ukraine and take the opportunity to learn more about the country’s turbulent history.