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Kharkiv in 3 hours

  • 29.04.2020

Kharkiv is one of those cities you’d usually only visit for business with just around 3 hours to check out the sights and other landmarks. Is it possible to understand Kharkiv in such a small time? That’s what we discussed with some of the interesting people that live there.

Volodymyr Snigurchenko
Director, actor, playwright and lead singer of Chetvertiy Reactor rock band. Volodymyr directed an art-rock show called “No Time. Behind the Glass” for Dakh theater based on his own work and his other play called Northern Lights was directed by Vlad Troyitskiy. Snigurchenko is currently working with a local theater called Kotelok. Volodymyr first came to Kharkiv in 2003 to study directing at The Academy of Culture.

While I was taking the entry exams, I rememberstrolling around The Academy and OperaTheater looking around wide-eyed and takingin the world around me. I even flipped a coininto a fountain hoping to come back. I know it’scheesy, but I did come back to study here andhave since been living in Kharkiv.If one only has 3 hours to see Kharkiv, I’drecommend taking the route I loved to walkwhen I was a student.Start “under the thermometer” on the corner ofSumska Street which is the central street in thecity (Editor’s Note: The building with a thermometeris one of the first multi-storey buildingsin Kharkiv. It used to house the NorthernBank and medical courses for women and nowit’s all offices and shops. Most Kharkiv citizensconsider “the thermometer” to be their favoritemeeting spot).From there you can walk to The Opera Theaterand then go to The House of Actor.Generally speaking, Sumska Street and the locationsaround it are the most famous spots onKharkiv map. You can’t get to truly know Kharkivwithout visiting those places.

Kostyantyn Tykhonovskiy
Development Manager at Kharkiv office of DataArt, an international IT company. Bornand raised in Kharkiv. He’s a professional Vogue dancer and considers Kharkiv to be aplain grey industrial city.

I spent my whole life here, but I find it hard talking about Kharkiv. There are some places I visit frequently or places I like to go for a coffee, but I never looked at the city from the tourist’s point of view. The historical center is quite small, so 3 hours is just about enough. It’ better to start in Gorkiy Park – it’s a large and great place to walk around. After that, I’d recommend going down Sumska Street through Shevchenko Park. Sumska is the central street where you can have a great meal or grab a drink. Two best bars in town – Benedict and Protagonist – are located there. Kharkiv has always been great. You can find old mansions and merchant houses here. They are, unfortunately, in a horrible condition. Still, it might be an interesting thing to see on a walk. To see this side of Kharkiv, I recommend walking around Plotavskiy Shlyakh Street, Darwin and Sadovaya streets or move away from Pushkinska Street to explore the yards around some houses. You can find some interesting and beautiful architecture there. Some of those houses were home to famous writers, poets, and artists. Today, the cultural side of Kharkiv is developing at a great pace. We have all kinds of exhibitions, expos, biennales, etc. There are small galleries where you can find art by young artists and sometimes even classic art and sculpture. Vovatanya Gallery and AC Gallery are both worth your attention. There’s a community center called Arteria in the basement under the gallery where you can catch some cool concerts.

Polina Karpova
Artist, photographer and costume designer at Kharkiv independent theater Neft’. Born in 1992 in Kharkiv. Graduated Kharkiv Academy of Design and Art. Member of UPA (Ukrainian Photography Alternative). In 2013 she received A. Ivanytsky photography scholarship.

I usually like to spend time in the city alone exploring some fragments of architecture that tend to be very eclectic. We begin our journey at Railway Station Square next to Pivdenniy station. There’s an old Central Post Office building here that was built in 1929 in the style of constructivism. From there we move on to the old circus (National Circus) that’s definitely seen better days. A few years ago the city people even gathered signatures for a petition to restore it. It’s a fantastic building that was the training grounds for many Soviet circus legends. In 2015 I was lucky enough to get inside and even hold a photoshoot there. Our next stop is the Palace of Labor. Before the Soviet Union, this was a tenement building that belonged to the Russian Insurance Company called Rossiya. It was built in 1916 in the style of neo-classicism. This building is one of many examples of how in Kharkiv tenement houses used to combine living and trade functions. The most interesting part of this Palace is the inside yard – it’s a transition between Constitution Square and Kvitky-Osnovyanenka Street as well as Roza Luksemburg Square. I love walking through here. And now we’re next to the Opera Theater. It’s a massive building that during the evenings attracts the lovers of opera and ballet to see the premieres and during the day there are many skateboarders around the entrance. Behind the right-wing of the theater is a place where free parties are held by Yama on Mondays as Monday is a day-off at the theater. The parties are seasonal and are usually held in summer and early autumn. I liked this building ever since I was a Next up is the Freedom Square. It’s the main square in the city that’s considered to be the largest in Europe. In 2011 it gathered over a quarter of a million Kharkiv citizens to see a charity concert by Queen. Here is where we find the main landmark of the city reminding us that during the ’20s this city was the first capital of Ukraine. Derzhprom (The House of Nationalized Industry) is the first 13-floor Soviet building as well as an architectural landmark built in the style of constructivism. We get into the subway and take a ride to Botanichniy Sad station. We’re here to seeм Sarzhyn Yar - a small oasis where some hard-tempered people of the city can enjoy a swim during all seasons. The next stop is the Kharkiv bicycle track. It’s kind of a chill place that’s rarely crowded. It’s a place where cyclists usually come to train. We’re finishing our trip at the Park for Recreation and Leisure – the favorite place of anyone who lives in Kharkiv. It’s a great place to wind down after a long day.

Anna Voitenko
Sales and Marketing Specialist at Premier Hotel Aurora. Anna’s history with Kharkiv began 15 years ago when she came here to study at National Academy of Urban Economy. She graduated as Manager of Hotel Service and met her destiny here.

It is, of course, impossible to see everything Kharkiv has to offer in one day, but just seeing the most known landmarks is absolutely doable in that time. I’d start at Freedom Square. It’s huge, paved, has a great atmosphere and surrounded by beautiful old buildings. From there I’d go to the recently renovated Shevchenko park. This park has all kinds of places to take pictures, gorgeous alleys, it’s green and awesome. Walking down the main street — Sumska — we’d reach the main attraction of the city: The Mirror Stream. Just across from it we have the first-ever Ukrainian stationary opera house: Kharkiv National Academic Opera and Ballet Theater named after M.V. Lysenko. A monumental, monolith and even a little bit brutal building. My advice is to take your time to walk around it to see the details. It’s time to move further down Sumska Street. Cathedral Square is where you can find the works of local artists as well as comfy spots to take a rest. And in spring it’s full of blooming syringa.Our goal is to see one of the most romantic spots in Kharkiv — Netechenska waterfront and Strilka square. Here you should rent a boat and travel along the waterfront. Then we walk down Pushkinska Street to look at the architecture until we reach Petrovskogo Street. I suggest we end our tour at Gorkiy Park. It’s our shining star. An amazing park divided into five themed sections with various installations. The Ferris wheel is its pride and honor. I can assure you that this park would be a great positive note to end the tour.