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Kharkov Ukraine Information

Kharkiv (Ukrainian: Харків, pronounced [ˈxɑrkiw] ;) or Kharkov (Russian: Харьков) is the second largest city in Ukraine. Founded in 1654, Kharkiv became the first city in Ukraine where the Soviet power was proclaimed and Soviet government was formed. Veiw of Svobody (Freedom) Square Kharkov,UkraineNow it is the administrative centre of the Kharkiv oblast (province), as well as the administrative centre of the surrounding Kharkivskyi Raion (district) within the oblast. The city is located in the northeast of the country. As of 2006, its population is 1,461,300. Kharkiv is a major cultural, scientific, educational, transport and industrial centre of Ukraine, with 60 scientific Institutes, 30 establishments of higher education, 6 museums, 7 theatres and 80 libraries. Its industry specializes mostly in machinery. There are hundreds of industrial companies in the city. Among them are world famous giants like the Morozov Design Bureau and the Malyshev Tank Factory, leaders in tank production since the 1930s; Khartron (aerospace and nuclear electronics); and the Turboatom turbines producer.

There is an underground rapid-transit system (metro) with about 38.1 km (24 mi) of track and 29 stations. A well-known landmark of Kharkiv is the Freedom Square (Maidan Svobody formerly known as Dzerzhinsky Square), which is currently the sixth largest city square in Europe, and the 12th largest square in the world.


Train Station in Kharkov,UkraineArcheological evidence discovered in the area of present-day Kharkiv indicates that a local population has existed in that area since the 2nd millennium BC. Cultural artifacts date back to the Bronze Age, as well as those of later Scythian and Sarmatian settlers. There is also evidence that the Chernyakhov culture flourished in the area from the 2nd to the 6th century.

Founded in the middle of 17th century by the eponymous, near-legendary character called Kharko (a diminutive form of the name Chariton, Ukrainian: Харитон), the settlement became a city in 1654. Kharkiv became the centre of the Sloboda Cossack legion. The city had a fortress with underground passageways.

Within the Russian Empire

Kharkiv University was established in 1805. The streets were first cobbled in the city centre in 1830. RA system of running water was established in 1870. In 1912 the first sewerage system was built. Gas lighting was installed in 1890 and electric lighting in 1898. In 1869 the first railway station was constructed. In 1906 the first tram lines.

From 1800-1917 the population grew 30 times.

Kharkiv became a major industrial centre and with it a centre of Ukrainian culture. In 1812 the first Ukrainian newspaper was published there. One of the first Prosvitas in Eastern Ukraine was established in Kharkiv. A strong political movement was also established there and the concept of an Independent Ukraine was first declared there by the lawyer M. Mykhnovsky in 1900.

Soviet period

Prior to the formation of the Soviet Union, Bolsheviks established Kharkiv as the capital of the Ukrainian Socialist Soviet Republic (from 1919–1934) in opposition to the Ukrainian People's Republic with its capital of Kiev. As the country's capital, it underwent intense expansion with the construction of buildings to house the newly established Ukrainian Soviet government and administration. Derzhprom was the second tallest building in Europe and the tallest in the Soviet Union at the time with a height of 63 m. In the 1920s, a 150 m wooden radio tower was built on top of the building. The radio tower was destroyed in World War II.

In 1928, the SVU (Union for the Freedom of Ukraine) process was initiated and court sessions were staged in the Kharkiv Opera (now the Philharmonic) building. Hundreds of Ukrainian intellectuals were arrested and deported.

Downtown Square Near the Train station in Kharkov,UkraineIn the early 1930s, the Holodomor famine drove many people off the land into the cities and to Kharkiv in particular, in search of food. Many people died and were secretly buried in mass graves in the cemeteries surrounding the city. In 1934 hundreds of Ukrainian writers, intellectuals and cultural workers were arrested and executed in the attempt to eradicate all vestiges of Ukrainian nationalism in Art. The purges continued into 1938. Blind Ukrainian street musicians were also gathered in Kharkiv and murdered by the NKVD. In January 1935 the capital of the Ukrainian SSR was moved from Kharkiv to Kiev. During April and May 1940 about 3,800 Polish prisoners of Starobelsk camp were executed in the Kharkiv NKVD building, later secretly buried on the grounds of an NKVD pansionat in Pyatykhatky forest (part of the Katyn massacre) on the outskirts of Kharkiv. The site also contains the numerous bodies of Ukrainian cultural workers who were arrested and shot in the 1937-38 Stalinist purges.

Nazi occupation

T-72 made by Malyshev in Kharkov,UkraineDuring World War II, Kharkiv was the site of several military engagements. The city was captured and recaptured by Nazi Germany on 24 October 1941; there was a disastrous Red Army offensive that failed to capture the city in May 1942; the city was successfully retaken by the Soviets on 16 February 1943, captured for a second time by the Germans on 16 March 1943 and then finally liberated on 23 August 1943. Seventy percent of the city was destroyed and tens of thousands of the inhabitants were killed. Kharkiv, the third largest city in the Soviet Union, was the most populous city in the Soviet Union captured by Nazis, since in the years preceding World War II, Kiev was by population the smaller of the two.

The significant Jewish population of Kharkiv (Kharkov's Jewish community prided itself with the 2nd largest synagogue in Europe) suffered greatly during the war. Between December 1941 and January 1942, an estimated 30,000 people (slightly more than half Jewish) were killed and buried in a mass grave by the Germans in a ravine outside of town named Drobitsky Yar.

During World War II, four battles took place for control of the city:

First Battle of Kharkov - The 1st Battle of Kharkov so named by Wilhelm Keitel was the 1941 tactical Wehrmacht battle for the city of Kharkiv (Ukrainian SSR) during the final phase of Operation Barbarossa by the German 6th Army of the Army Group South on October 20, 1941. The Soviet 38th Army was ordered to defend the city while its factories were dismantled for relocation farther east. By October 21, all of the factory equipment had been loaded on to rail trains. On this day the Germans closed to within 11 km of the railway yards. The German 6th Army executed a northern envelopment of the city while the 17th Army did the same from the south of the Soviet defensive positions on October 24.

Although the city was taken by German troops on the same day, most of the rail transport was evacuated by the Soviet authorities.

Second Battle of Kharkov - The Second Battle of Kharkov, so named by Wilhelm Keitel, was an Axis counteroffensive against the Red Army Izium bridgehead offensive conducted from May 12 to May 28, 1942, on the Eastern Front during World War II. Its objective was to eliminate the Izium bridgehead (Russian: Изюмский плацдарм) over Seversky Donets, or the "Barvenkovo bulge" (Russian: Барвенковский выступ) which was one of the Soviet offensive's staging areas. After a successful winter counteroffensive that had driven German troops away from Moscow, but also depleted the Red Army's reserves, the Kharkov offensive was a new Soviet attempt to expand upon their strategic initiative, although it failed to secure a significant element of surprise.

On May 12, 1942, Soviet forces under the command of Marshal Semyon Timoshenko launched an offensive against the German 6th Army from a salient established during the winter counteroffensive. After initial promising signs, the offensive was stopped by German counterattacks. Critical errors by several staff officers and by Joseph Stalin himself, who failed to accurately estimate the 6th Army's potential and overestimated their own newly-trained forces, led to a successful German pincer attack cutting off advancing Soviet troops from the rest of the front.

Third Battle of Kharkov - The Third Battle of Kharkov was a series of offensive operations on the Eastern Front of World War II, undertaken by the German Army Group South against the Red Army, around the city of Kharkov (Russian: Харьков; Ukrainian: Харків), between 19 February and 15 March 1943. Known to the Germans as the Donets Campaign, and to the Soviets as the Donbas and Kharkov operations, the German counterstrike led to the destruction of approximately 52 Soviet divisions and the recapture of the cities of Kharkov and Belgorod.

As the German Sixth Army was encircled in Stalingrad, the Red Army undertook a series of wider offensives against the rest of Army Group South. These culminated on 2 January 1943, when the Soviets launched Operation Star, which between January and early February broke German defenses and led to the Soviet recapture of Kharkov, Belgorod and Kursk. The Soviet offensive was successful, but caused participating Soviet units to over-extend themselves. Freed on 2 February by the surrender of the German Sixth Army, the Red Army's Central Front turned its attention west and on 25 February expanded its offensive against both Army Group South and Army Group Center. However, months of continuous operations had taken a heavy toll on the Soviets and some divisions were reduced to 1,000–2,000 combat effective soldiers. On 19 February, Field Marshal Erich von Manstein took the opportunity to launch his Kharkov counterstrike, using the fresh SS Panzer Corps and two panzer armies.

Although the Germans were also under strength, the Wehrmacht successfully flanked, encircled and defeated the Red Army's armored spearheads south of Kharkov. This enabled von Manstein to renew his offensive against the city of Kharkov proper, which began on 7 March. Despite orders to encircle Kharkov from the north, the SS Panzer Corps instead decided to directly engage Kharkov on 11 March. This led to four days of house-to-house fighting before Kharkov was finally recaptured by the 1st SS Panzer ("Leibstandarte") Division on 15 March. Two days later, the Germans also recaptured Belgorod, creating the salient which in July 1943 would lead to the Battle of Kursk. The German offensive cost the Red Army an estimated 70,000 casualties but the house-to-house fighting in Kharkov was also particularly bloody for the German SS Panzer Corps, which had lost approximately 4,300 men by the time operations ended in late March.

Fourth Battle of Kharkov (Operation Polkovodets Rumyantsev) - Operation Polkovodets Rumyantsev (Russian: Полководец Румянцев literally: "Regiment leader Rumyantsev", after 18th-century Field Marshal Peter Rumyantsev) was a code name for the Belgorod-Kharkov Strategic Offensive Operation conducted by the Red Army between 3 August 1943 and 23 August 1943 against the Wehrmacht's 4th Panzer Army and Army Group Kempf during World War II.The operation was conducted by the Voronezh and Steppe Fronts in the Belgorod (southern) sector of the Kursk Bulge. In one German source by Wilhelm Keitel this operation is referred to as the "Fourth Battle of Kharkov" although it is unrelated to the Third Battle of Kharkov.

The operation began in early hours of 3 August, 1943, with the objective of following up the defensive success against German Army Group South's northern flank during the failed Operation Citadel. The operation was immediately successful, pushing back the German defenders and liberating Belgorod and Kharkov. By 12:00 in the morning of August 23, 1943 the Soviet divisions of the Voronezh and Steppe Fronts had successfully liberated the city from German forces, annihilating most of the defending forces. It was the last time that Kharkov changed hands during the Soviet-German War. The operation led to the retreat of the German forces in Ukraine behind the Dnepr River, and it set the stage for the liberation of Kiev in autumn 1943.

The operation included several sub-phases:

  • Belgorod-Bogodukhov Offensive Operation 23 July 1943 - 14 August 1943
  • Belgorod-Kharkov Offensive Operation 12 August 1943 - 23 August 1943
  • Zmiez Offensive Operation 12 August 1943 - 23 August 1943

Russian orthodox Church in Kharkov,UkraineThe Mirgorod direction offensive (Russian: наступление на Миргородском направлении) was part of this operation that resulted in the liberation of Akhtyrka on the 23 August 1943. As part of this offensive a tank battle was fought between the 11 and 17 August by the 1st Tank Army and elements of the 4th Guards Army 10 km south-east of the city in the vicinity of sovkhoz "Udarnik" against three German panzer divisions (from Bogodukhov area) where the 1st Tank Army suffered heavy casualties. A further German counter-attack between 18 and 20 August was directed against the Red Army's 27th Army by the 3rd Panzer and 2nd Motorized divisions from Akhtyrka itself. These were halted by the use of massive air attacks, and commitment of the 4th Guards and 47th Armies from the Stavka Reserve.

Before the occupation, Kharkiv's tank industries were evacuated to the Urals with all their equipment, and became the heart of Red Army's tank programs (particularly, producing the legendary T-34 tank earlier designed in Kharkiv). These enterprises returned to Kharkiv after the war, and continue to produce some of the world's best tanks.

Post War

In the post-war period many of the destroyed homes and factories were rebuilt. Gas lines were installed for heating in government and later private homes. An airport was built in 1954.Following the war Kharkiv was the third largest scientific-industrial centre in the former USSR (after Moscow and Leningrad).

Geography and climate

Downtown Veiw of Kharkov,UkraineKharkiv is located in the northeastern region of Ukraine at around 49°55′0″N 36°19′0″E / 49.916667°N 36.316667°E / 49.916667; 36.316667. Historically, Kharkiv lies in the Sloboda Ukraine region (Slobozhanshchyna also known as Slobidshchyna), in which it is considered the main city. The city rests at the confluence of the Kharkiv, Lopan, and Udy rivers, where they flow into the Seversky Donets watershed.

Kharkiv's climate is humid continental (K?ppen climate classification Dfb), with cold and snowy winters, and hot summers. The seasonal average temperatures are not too cold in winter, not too hot in summer: −6.9 ° C (20 °F) in January and 20.3 °C (68.5 °F) in July. The average rainfall totals 513 mm (20 in) per year, with the most in June and July.


The city of Kharkiv is one of the largest transportation centers in Ukraine, which is connected to numerous cities of the world by air, rail and road traffic. The city has many transportation methods, including: public transport, taxis, railways, and air traffic.

Local transport - Being an important transportation centre of Ukraine, Kharkiv itself contains many different transportation methods. Kharkiv's Metro is the city's rapid transit system, operating since 1975; it includes three different lines with 28 stations in total. The Kharkiv buses carry about 12 million passengers annually, trolleybuses, tramways (which celebrated 100 years of service in 2006), and marshrutkas (private minibuses).

Railways - The first railway connection of Kharkiv was opened in 1869. The first train to arrive in Kharkiv came from the north on 22 May 1869, and on 6 June 1869, traffic was opened on the Kursk–Kharkiv–Azov line. Kharkiv's passenger railway station was reconstructed and expanded in 1901, to be later destroyed in the Second World War. A new railway station was built in 1952.

There are Various railway transportation methods available in the city are the: inter-city railway trains, and elektrichkas (regional electric trains).

Air travel - Kharkiv is served by an international airport which used to have about 200 flights a day, almost all of them being passenger flights. The Kharkiv International Airport was only recently granted international status. The airport itself is not large and is situated within the city boundaries, south from the city centre. Flights to Kiev and Moscow are scheduled daily. There are regular flights to Vienna and Istanbul, and several other destinations. Charter flights are also available. The former largest carrier of the Kharkiv Airport — Aeromost-Kharkiv — is not serving any regular destinations as of 2007. The Kharkiv North Airport is a factory airfield and was a major production facility for Antonov Aircraft Company.

Modern Kharkiv - Of the many attractions of the Kharkiv city are the: Derzhprom building, Memorial Complex, Freedom Square, Taras Shevchenko Monument, Mirror Stream, Dormition Cathedral, Militia Museum, Annunciation Cathedral, T. Shevchenko Gardens, funicular, Children's narrow-gauge railroad and many more.

Tourism Attractions in Kharkov

City Zoo Entrence in Kharkov,UkraineThe Kharkov Zoo - Was founded in 1895 and has already celebrated its centenary. It now has about five thousand animals representing 340 species of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds, and fishes from all continents. Of a great interest is the aquarium with exotic fishes of 80 species. The Zoo occupies an area of 22 hectares. And is located in the wonderful gardens in city center, it is always popular with visitors yearly.

The Mirror Stream fountain - Was built in 1947, to commemorate victory in the Second World War. It is located at Sumska Street, just opposite the Opera Theater. It is situated in a small but very picturesque garden good for taking a stroll or just sitting for a while on a bench, or arranging a date.

Glory Memorial in Kharkov,UkraineGlory Memorial - Was unveiled in the Forest Park in 1977. It immortalizes the undying exploits of the Soviet people fighting the Nazism. At this city's northern boundary, the Hitlerites executed tens of thousands of Soviet war prisoners, partisans, members of underground resistance, and patriots who had not submitted to the enemy. Three memorial steles with lowered cast metal flags tell the story of Kharkivites' contribution in the Soviet people's battle with the hateful enemy. The Kharkivites displayed unprecedented courage and heroism in battles with the Nazis. 230 of our compatriots were given the title of the Hero of the Soviet Union; tens of thousands have been awarded with orders and medals. Inscription on one of the steles reminds about those, whom the present and subsequent generation owe their lives: 186,306 Soviet soldiers died in the battles of Kharkiv. A majestic stele at the center of the Memorial tells about the struggle, suffering, and joy of victory. A symbolic figure of Motherland stands nearby in mournful silence. The Eternal Flame burns at the foot of the sculpture. Gray granite bears gold lettering: "Heroes never die. They become immortal and stay forever in our memories, in our achievements, in great deeds of future generations. The progeny owe life to them".

The Pokrovsky (Protection of the Virgin) Cathedral - Is the oldest city building. It was built in 1689. The Pokrovsky Cathedral is located close to the Constitution Square and is a valuable monument of the Ukrainian architecture of the second half of the 17th century. This is a typical Ukrainian three-domed church. Its exterior decorations have some elements of Russian architecture testifying to links between the Russian and Ukrainian cultures. The cathedral was severely damaged in the years of the Second World War. The restoration of the cathedral began in early 1990s and then it has been returned to the Kharkiv Church Eparchy. Now it is an acting orthodox temple.

childrens Railroad in Kharkov,UkraineSmall Southern Children's Railroad - The Small Southern is 3.6 kilometers long and connects the Gorky Park with the Forest Park. There were about 40 children's railroads in the former USSR. Few of them are still operational. Carriages of the children's railroad are relatively spacious and there is enough space inside both for children and adults. The Small Southern is one of the oldest; it celebrated its 60th anniversary in November 2000. The railroad was built on initiative of Komsomol (Young Communist League) members of the Southern Railroad and the Institute of Railroad Engineers in the years before the Second World War.

Steam Locomotive at Small Southern railroad in Kharkov,UkraineFrom May through November, young railroad enthusiasts and students of Kharkov schools come here to acquire knowledge and practical skills in this industry. They drive locomotives, work as train attendants, switchmen, and yard masters. The Small Southern rolling stock consists of Diesel locomotives, about fifteen passenger carriages, and two steam locomotives in honorary "retirement". However, with the trend for retro-style vehicles, they might return one day to entertain the public who have only seen steam engines in old picture books. The children's railroad is very popular with the Kharkivites and guests and has about 20,000 to 30,000 visitors annually.

In its northern section the Gorky Park borders on the Forest Park, which is a large natural forest tract covering an area of over 2,000 hectares. This is the largest wooded area within the city limits, spread picturesquely on the terrain cut with ravines, which renders it special beauty and makes an excellent location for picnicking and recreation. An absolutely genuine railroad bridge connecting the Gorky Park with the Forest Park gives special charm to the children's railroad.

Kharkov Circus - is still a place loved by residents and guests of Kharkov, because here they find optimism, funny jokes, dizzy acrobatic feats and of course lovely animals. This circus is one of the oldest in Ukraine and almost all the most famous circus actors of USSR visited Kharkov Circus with their great performances. Before and after performance you can take pictures with different animals, clowns, buy souvenirs and eat.(Tickets cost from 20 to 100 hryvnias, children up to 5 years - free.)

Kharkov Dolphinarium "Nemo - is a real gem of the city. It is cultural and sanitary complex that has exciting program of theatrical performances with sea animals. One can also have there dolphin therapy, which is effective method of invigoration and rehabilitation of dynamic diseased children. The performances are conducted by the leading specialists of see mammals' keeping and training. Now dolphinarium is equipped with huge warm cupola.

Kharkov dolphinarium works every day except Mondays. There are tree performances a day: at 12 pm, 3 pm and 6 pm, price is 70-80 UAH and duration is 50 minutes. On weekends at 9 pm there is a wonderful "Night Show", which lasts 80 minutes and costs 120 UAH. Entrance for children up to 5 years is free (with birth-certificate). When buying tickets, make sure you choose a red or white sector to see the performance better. The first raw is preferable :) you can take a picture with a dolphin (at the platform up to 5 people - 60 UAH; in water per person – 120 UAH); swim with them (5 min – 500 UAH, 10 min – 800 UAH).

Kharkov Historical museum - Founded in 1920. Modern museum has 4 departments: primitive society, feudalism, capitalism and soviet period. There is rich collection of archeological findings: from settlements of bronze era, of Saltovskiy catacomb burial grounds dated back to VIII-X centuries, set of objects from Donetsk site of ancient settlement.Moreover, the museum has numismatics, ethnographical collections, weapons and flag collections. Also you will find here rare documents, pictures, samples of domestic and foreign origin, soviet and German insignia and battle awards of different periods and many other interesting things from that period. Outside the museum you will see tank T-34 and four cannons which were used by the Red Army in 1941—1945.

Kharkov planetarium - was established in 1975 and it still remains one of the most unusual and interesting places for residents and guests of the city. At this astronomical centre you will definitely learn something new about our fascinating Universe, Solar system, galaxies, comets and planets. In the Star Hall with the help of special device "Planetarium" you will see incredible starry heaven of both northern and southern hemispheres projected on a dome of the Star Hall. You will also see polar light, lunar landscape, star shower, panorama of Kharkov and many other breathtaking things. At the observatory of the Planetarium you will find a telescope by means of which you will be able to see the Moon, stains on the Sun, planets, comets and other cosmic objects. Moreover, there are numerous exciting lectures for different groups of people about our Universe.

Kharkov Art Museum - one of the oldest museums of Kharkov, and one of the most valuable in Ukraine. The museum collection has more than 20000 works among which are unique masterpieces of Ukrainian and world painting, sculpture, graphics, arts and crafts. The collection of Kharkov Art Museum was founded in 1805 by Vasiliy Karazin.

The constant exhibition has more than 250 works of Ukrainian and Russian art of XIX and XX centuries, where you will find such masterpieces as "Zaporozh kazaks write letter to Turkish sultan" by Ilya Repin, "Istavrian pirates were selling plunder" by Semigradsky.Honorable place in the exposition belongs to famous mariner Ayvazovskiy who lived in Kharkov for several years. Moreover, here you will find works of other world famous artists such as Vasilkovskiy, Berkos, Borovikovskiy, Tropinin and others.

The Kharkov Art Museum is located at Sovnarkomovskaya str.11, not far from metro station "Arhitektora Beketova". Working hours: 10:00-19:00, every day except Monday and Tuesday

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