Where to travel in Ukraine after the war?
People are currently going to Ukraine for a specific reason: to help, so the aggressor state loses, and innocent people suffer as little as possible. Visitors can witness and experience the beauty of the land that Ukrainians are defending.
Cherkasy, a city along the Dnieper River, has the potential to become an incredible riverside resort. Right now, tourism is mostly limited to local residents. The hotel, nestled among tall pine trees, resembles a cozy resort rather than a Soviet-era establishment. If it weren't for sandbags covering the basement windows, you might mistake the whole area for a place like Laulasmaa. It's fragrant, peaceful, and beautiful.
While this writer was in the city to deliver humanitarian aid, there was some time to show local attractions. These sights left quite an impression, to say the least! Let's put it this way, when peacetime comes, there will be plenty to visit, and you'll definitely want to return.
Cherkasy Oblast is the cradle of Ukrainian Cossacks. Sixty kilometers downstream from the regional capital, along the Dnieper's banks, lies Chyhyryn, where the legendary Ukrainian hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky studied and lived. To preserve the memory and heritage of this famous and accomplished hetman, a national historical and cultural reserve has been established in Chyhyryn. It also includes a replica of the residential complex where Khmelnytsky lived. Nearby, there's Castle Hill, which once had a mighty fortress. Currently, one of its bastions has been restored, giving an idea of the entire structure's immense scale. It's truly astonishing to think about how the Turks managed to conquer it.
Sweets, Coffee, and Ice Cream
A dignified history, which the Russians try to destroy and deny, is visible, learnable, and tangible at every turn. At some point, it might even become overwhelming. That's when it's time to take a little break. Just a couple of streets away, there's a charming little café called Dvi Tshashku, offering coffee, candies, and ice cream. Later, when you study the map, you'll discover that Chyhyryn is full of such delightful places. It seems that locals enjoy taking little coffee breaks in such places, and tourists would surely enjoy them too.
Driving a few dozen kilometers inland, you'll continue to encounter churches and monuments that remind you of Ukraine's grand history. Eventually, hunger sets in, and Ukrainians have just the remedy for that!
A 1,100-Year-Old Oak
Near a village called Buda, there's a complex named Dikii Hutir. There, you can stay overnight, eat, or even host summer events with a larger group. Everything is built with the traditional Ukrainian village in mind. The phenomenon of Ukrainian village coziness comes to life when you're presented with clay dishes filled with increasingly delightful dishes. The dumplings filled with forest mushrooms are another historical achievement worth noting!
In the same village, just a short walk away, you'll find something so fascinating that many major world cities might envy such attractions. In the nearby forest, there's an oak tree dedicated to the formidable Cossack Maxim Zalizniak. In 2010, this tree ranked third in the national competition for "Ukraine's national tree." Being over 1,100 years old, it is one of Ukraine's and Europe's oldest and largest trees.
Decades as an Unyielding Political Prisoner
From the same restaurant, walking across the road, you can find a casemate where the last hetman of Ukraine, Petro Kalnyshevsky, was imprisoned by the Russian tsar. With an unshakable spirit, the hetman spent decades in captivity, often wallowing in his own filth. When he was finally released, he had gone blind, but his resilience endured, as he lived well over a century.
This is what the Ukrainian countryside is like—a land filled with astonishing history, yet simple and cozy, somehow homely and unbreakably resilient when needed.
The writer is the former head of the project to help rescuers in Ukraine.