Population: 1,449,000 – Established: 17th Century AD - Area: 310.00 km2
A BRIEF HISTORY
Despite evidence that the area has been populated since the 2nd Millennium B.C., the present-day city of Kharkiv (Харків) was only established in in the mid-17th century.
Whilst part of the Russian Empire, Kharkiv flourished extremely quickly. The city’s university was established in 1805, whilst the arrival of the first Ukrainian newspaper in 1812 put the city firmly on the map as a cultural and industrial centre.
Between 1800 and 1917, Kharkiv was connected to the railway system (1869), running water supply (1870), electric lighting (1898) and the sewer system (1912). During this period, the city’s population increased 30-fold.
The city became the first in Ukraine to proclaim the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1917, and became the Ukrainian SSR’s capital. It stayed this way until 1934, when the administrative capital was moved to Kyiv.
October 1941 saw the Nazis gain control of Kharkiv, making it the largest Soviet city to be occupied during the Second World War. After a disastrous attempt to reclaim the city in 1942, the Red Army finally return to the city in February 1943; before going on to lose control again just a month later. After finally liberating Kharkiv for good in August, almost three-quarters of the city had been destroyed; whilst tens of thousands of the population had been killed.
Boris Mikhailov: Allowed to work as a photographer by the KGB, who found photographs of his wife; he became one of Eastern Europe’s most famous photographers. He was famed for capturing on film the rise of Capitalism in the Soviet Union.
Adolphe Mouron Cassandre: Ukrainian-French poster and typeface designer; his most well-known design being the Yves Saint-Laurent logo.
Nikolai P. Barabashov: Famed astronomer, and co-author of the publication of the first images from the dark side of the moon.
Irina and Tamara Press: Kharkiv-born sisters, who between them won five Olympic Golds during the 1960 and 1964 Olympics; Irina in 80m Hurdles and Pentathlon, and Tamara in Shot-put and Discus.
FIVE THINGS TO DO IN KHARKIV
1. Ploscha Svobody (Площа Свободи)
The sixth-largest city square in Europe, and 12th-biggest in the world; Kharkiv’s “Freedom Square” regularly plays host to many concerts and shows. Whilst the huge statue of Lenin dominates the plaza, the most famous landmark in the area is the 108m tall Derzhprom building. Built in the 1920s, it was then the most spacious single structure in the world.
2. Shevchenko Park
Not named after the footballer Andriy (rather the 19th Century Ukrainian poet, Taras), the park sits at the southern end of Freedom Square. Once you’ve visited the imposing Shevchenko Monument close to the Sums’ka Street (Сумская улица) entrance, head into the park to play the arcade games which reside there throughout the summer. The National Opera and Ballet house are also worth a look, as is the fantastic “Mirror Stream” fountain.
3. Blahovischenskyi Sobor (Благовещенский собор)
On the Western Bank of the Lopan River sits the 80-metre tall “Annunciation Cathedral” of Kharkiv. Completed in 1901, the red and white striped, Byzantine-style cathedral is the main Orthodox church of the city.
4. Barabashka Market
Just a short walk from the Akademika Barabashova (Академіка Барабашова) Metro station is the varied collection of stalls which make up the country’s largest marketplace. Billed as being “a market with something for everyone”; there are stalls dedicated to everything from new clothing to car parts.
5. Kharkiv Zoo and Nemo Dolphinarium
Tucked away at the rear of Shevchenko Park lies the city of Kharkiv’s Zoo and Dolphinarium; home to a number different species. Take a few hours away from the hustle and bustle to visit one of Ukraine’s biggest zoos; or if you want to get involved, take along your swimming costume and take a plunge with the dolphins!
Ukraine’s second city sits just 30 kilometres south of the Russian border, and is the capital of the Kharkiv Oblast.
Kharkiv International Airport is approximately 9km southeast of the city centre in the Kominternovskij district of Kharkiv; and can be accessed from the city by public transport.
There are currently no direct flights from the UK and Ireland to Kharkiv Airport; however you can fly to either Kyiv or Vienna and transfer from there.
Aerosvit, Dniproavia and Ukraine International Airlines allfly to Kyiv-Boryspil, whilst UM Airlines and KhorsAir both fly to Kyiv’s second airport, Zhuliany. From Kyiv flights are available to all over Ukraine, as well as Polish cities including Warsaw and Kraków.
ARRIVING IN KHARKIV
A number of buses and trolleybuses serve Kharkiv Airport, and head in the direction of the city centre. Both the number 5 trolleybus and the 119 bus join up with the Metro at Prospekt Haharina (Проспект Гагаріна) Station, with the Number 5 heading on towards Universytets’ka Street (Університетська вулиця). Both the number 152 and 255 buses also leave the airport heading in the direction of the Akademika Barabashova (Академіка Барабашова) Metro station, in the north of Kharkiv. The buses all cost between 2.50UAH and 3UAH (20-25p), whilst the trolley bus is 1.50UAH.
As with most airports, taxis are available outside of the main terminal. To get to the city centre it should cost anywhere between 70 and 100UAH (£5.50 - £8); just look for official taxis (they usually have the company name and number displayed), and try to agree to a price beforehand as some drivers may be happy to try to rip you off.
Kharkiv’s main railway station is located in the west of the city, approximately 2km from the centre. It is served by the Pivdenny Vozkal (Пiвденний вокзал) Metro Station on the red-coloured Kholodnohirsko–Zavodska Line.
From Kharkiv, direct services to both Kyiv and Donetsk both clock-in at around 5-6 hours; whilst an overnight sleeper train is recommended to Lviv and further afield (20+ hours).
Kharkiv’s main bus station – Tsentralny Avtovokzal (Central Bus Station) – is situated in the south-east of the city, close to the Prospekt Haharina Metro station.
From the Central station, services to all corners of Ukraine are available; including Donetsk (6 hours), and an overnight service to Kyiv.
IN THE CITY
Kharkiv’s extensive service of buses, trams, trolleybuses and marshrutkas are readily available and easy to use to get around the city. However, the Kharkiv Metro is definitely the easiest way to travel.
The three underground lines which cross Kharkiv intersect at three points before heading off in their respective directions. Whilst the red-coloured Kholodnohirsko–Zavodska line is the service most used; both the green Oleksiivska line and the blue Saltivska line will take you in the direction of Ploscha Svobody.
To enter the Metro, you will have to buy a token from the either the machines or the desks in the station entrances. A single token costs 2UAH (16p), and has to be entered into the turnstile allowing you to pass.
The prices for both the trolleybus and tram networks are 1.50UAH (12p); whilst the bus service can vary depending on the route, with most costing between 0.50UAH (4p) and 3UAH (25p).
Although it translates roughly to “little pigeons”, there is no bird meat included in the dish. Holubtsi are cabbage rolls stuffed with meat and rice or buckwheat, and then coated in a tomato sauce.
Small bread buns, which can be filled with a number of ingredients – in Ukraine it is usually potato. They are then baked in a thickened rich cream, mixed with dill.
Similar to a crepe – although unlike a crepe, it contains yeast – Nalysnyky will be filled with cottage cheese, meat, cabbage, fruits, or a combination of ingredients, before being lightly re-fried and served with sour cream.
Cured slabs of pig fatback, prepared either with or without the skin. Usually salted or brine fermented, the dish is then treated with paprika or other spices. Salo can be eaten raw, fried, or chopped with garlic.
A sweet Ukrainian cookie, made from a non-yeast dough which includes flour, butter, eggs, sugar and an obligatory alcohol – such as vodka, rum or brandy.
Advertised by Andriy Shevchenko, the Rohan Brewery is now part of the massive Anheuser-Busch InBev Brewery group.
First brewed way-back in 1847, the popular “Traditional” pale lager is the easiest to find, and weighs in at 5.1% ABV. It is known for its tender taste.
Translated as “Old City”, Stargorod is a brewery, pub and restaurant all in one. Located on Lermontovs’ka Street (Лермонтовская улица), just a short walk from the Pushkins’ka (Пушкінська) Metro station, the venue shows live sport whilst you sup on your unique brew.
METALIST STADIUM, KHARKIV
Kharkiv’s 38,863-capacity Metalist Stadium (Стадіон Металіст) was originally built in 1929; whilst its most recent renovation was completed at the end of 2009. The stadium is nicknamed ”The Spider” due to the support beams which stick out from the stands.
The third-biggest stadium in the country is also a business and commercial hub, with numerous offices and a three-storey shopping mall located in the South Stand.
The home games of Ukrainian club Metalist Kharkiv are played at the stadium; and since its renovation it has held two games of the Ukrainian national team and the 2012 Ukrainian Cup Final.
Although the stadium continued to host Metalist Kharkiv games throughout its reconstruction, the first official game following completion was a Premier League tie between Metalist and Obolon Kyiv on 5th December 2009.
Despite it being Metalist’s big night, the side from Kyiv came to spoil the party – and did so with a second-half strike from Belarus striker Andrey Varankov.
GAMES DURING THE TOURNAMENT
Kharkiv will host a total of three games during Euro 2012; all of them in Group B (all times local).
Netherlands v Denmark – 9th June 2012 (19:00)
Netherlands v Germany – 13th June 2012 (21:45)
Portugal v Netherlands – 17th June 2012 (21:45)
GETTING TO THE STADIUM
The Metalist Stadium is located approximately 2.5 kilometres to the south-east of the city centre; just off of Plekhanivs’ka Street (Плеханівська вулиця), and not too far from Yuriy Haharina Avenue (Проспект Юрія Гагаріна).
Both the red and green Metro lines head past the stadium; with both the red line Station Sportyvna (Спортивна), and the green line station Metrobudivnykiv im H.I. Vashchenka (Метробудівників імені Г.І. Ващенка) right outside the ground.
The projected 50,000 capacity Fan Park in Kharkiv will be located in Ploscha Svobody (Площа Свободи). A number of large screens, football games, refreshments and live music will all be available for the duration of the competition.
Again, metro is the easiest way to get to the Fan Park; with both the blue and green lines running close by. The blue line Universytet (Університет) and the green line Derzhprom (Держпром) stations are the closest to the square.
METALIST KHARKIV (ФК Металіст Харків)
Nickname: Zhovto-Syni (Yellow-Blue)
USSR Cup: 1988.
Coach: Myron Markevych
Captain: Cleiton Xavier
Despite being the major club in Ukraine’s second city, Metalist has an honours list which can fit on the back of a postage stamp.
Formed in the mid-20’s under the guise of KhPZ – a local train manufacturer – the club played in the local leagues, until a three-year stint in the Soviet Second League just after the war.
Three promotions in five years during the late-50’s/early-60’s meant that the club (now called “Avanguard”, after a 9-year spell as “Dzerzhinets”) could play in the Soviet Top League for the first time.
After a period of decline, the now-named “Metallist” returned to the top-flight in 1981; and saw out the final ten years of Soviet rule there. This period brought the club’s only major piece of silverware – the Soviet Cup – after a 2-0 win over Torpedo Moscow.
After removing an “L” from their name during the dissolution of the USSR, Metalist floundered being relegated from the top-tier twice – only to return again.
Since the 2006-07 season, the club has finished in third-place for five consecutive season – giving them a regular place in European competition.
The club recently adopted a mascot named “Jorge” – a type of ferret which lives in the city’s zoo.
FC HELIOS (ФК "Геліос")
Nickname: Sonyachni (Sunny)
Ukraine Druha Liha (3rd tier) Champions: 2005.
Coach: Roman Pokora
Captain: Serhiy Borzenko
Although only formed ten years ago, Kharkiv’s second club now compete in the second tier of Ukrainian football.
Starting out life in the third-level, Helios won promotion in 2005; and a number of mid-table/bottom-half finishes have ensured that they remain there for the time being.
Playing in the city’s 2,300 capacity Helios Arena after brief spells elsewhere; Helios have only managed to progress past the Ukrainian Cup’s Round-of-64 on two occasions, only to be eliminated in the next round both times.
7 Ploscha Svobody
Distance to Stadium: 3.4km
Distance to Airport: 10.0km
Distance to Train Station: 2.7km
Distance to Fan Park: 0.0km
27 Lenin Avenue
Distance to Stadium: 5.8km
Distance to Airport: 12.4km
Distance to Train Station: 4.2km
Distance to Fan Park: 2.5km
Hotel Complex Mercury,
Kharkiv Divisions Street
Distance to Stadium: 6.1km
Distance to Airport: 4.6km
Distance to Train Station: 10.1km
Distance to Fan Park: 9.4km
City Club Hotel,
145 Gagarina Avenue
Distance to Stadium: 2.3km
Distance to Airport: 4.6km
Distance to Train Station: 5.2km
Distance to Fan Park: 5.3km
10/2 Gagarine Avenue
Distance to Stadium: 1.2km
Distance to Airport: 7.4km
Distance to Train Station: 3.0km
Distance to Fan Park: 2.5km
10/12 Artyoma Street
Distance to Stadium: 2.8km
Distance to Airport: 9.5km
Distance to Train Station: 2.9km
Distance to Fan Park: 0.5km
6/8 Gogola Street
Distance to Stadium: 2.6km
Distance to Airport: 9.1km
Distance to Train Station: 2.4km
Distance to Fan Park: 0.8km
1 Ak. Proskuri Street
Distance to Stadium: 7.2km
Distance to Airport: 13.8km
Distance to Train Station: 8.1km
Distance to Fan Park: 5.5km