Tunnel of Love

Tunnel of Love

Tunnel of Love is a beautiful spot in Klevan, Ukraine. A three kilometer railway section leads to the fibreboard factory.

The train goes three times a day and delivers wood to the factory. However, the trees make a green corridor, which attracts many couples, as well as photographers for its eye catching avenue.

It is said that if you and your beloved come to the Tunnel of Love and sincerely make a wish, it will come true. This might be a new romantic place to discover.

Located near the town of Kleven, this luscious green tunnel provides passage for a private train that provides wood to a local factory. Measuring 1.8 miles long, the unusual rail route in Eastern Europe is also a popular spot for lovers’ promises.

We love seeing natural architecture here at Inhabitat, and the leafy green Kleven train tunnel is a beautiful example of what happens when nature is allowed to grow freely around manmade infrastructure.

The tunnel was made over many years as the passing train molded the trees’ lines. The train turned a luscious piece of woodland into a unique passageway as it traveled back and forth 3 times a day over several years.

In addition to serving as a train route, the tunnel is used by lovers to make a wish – it is said that if they are sincere in their love, their wishes will come true. If you are out and about Ukraine, don’t miss this fantastic green passageway – whether you are with a loved one, or on your own.

Tunnel of Love

romantic place


romantic place to discoverbeautiful spot in Klevan, Ukraine

“Ukrainian Venice”


Vilkovo is a place of merge of waters of Danube and the Black Sea, it is a pearl of Danube lower reaches, Vilkovo is also called “Ukrainian Venice”, which is located directly at the sea and borders with Romania. The unusual feature of the town that its old part is on the water.

There are channels instead of streets, inhabitants use special boats the so called “gondolas” which are made here and motor boats to move from one street to another. A person in the boat moves standing on the aft of the boat and making start a pole. During the moving along the channel you may see white pure small houses, small kitchen gardens which are fertilized by silt, small bridges with the width of 1-2 meters which are made of wood . These channels are called “erilki” and there are beautiful small brigs across these channels. The top of these brigs isn’t fixed. If the bulky goods are transported by a boat, the top of the brig is removed and when the boat passes, the top is installed back. It turns out that these brigs are leaf bridges.

Vilkovo is an original and picturesque place, here you may face with lipovanic settlements with their unusual dialects and the town of fishermen and wine makers. The town stands on the water, therefore all the ground was strewed by inhabitants. The most part of kitchen gardens is on the islands so inhabitants get where by boats. Standing in the water people get silt from the water, then dry it on the coast and then get it to the necessary place by wheelbarrows or stretchers. Fertilizers are almost not used here.

Silt grants force to any plant. Probably therefore the strawberry here is the most tasty and fragrant, but there is also a special kind of grapes which is called “Novak”, it is absolutely unique kind of grapes, it grows only in this place. A wonderful wine is made of this kind of grapes and you also have a chance to buy this wine. Here there is a joke that the drunk inhabitant may be easily recognized by his giant, he is unsteady not from the left to the right side but forward-back side.

In Vilkovo almost in each family there are fishermen, therefore there is a lot of fresh fish. People fish going to Danube or on the islands. Fans of fishing will estimate all advantages of silent coasts of Danube and its channels which have been grown with willows.

You will see lots of exotic birds which live in overflow lands, among them you may see pink pelicans, brents, striped hawks, and well-known sea eagles.

If you come to Vilkovo you will love this place forever! It is the place where the nature and people live absolutely nearby, and you may enjoy your evening just sitting on the river bank with the bottle of wine. It is incomparable feeling when sitting in the garden near the cottage and enjoying tasty home-made wine you hear the sound not after the car or motorcycle, but after the motorboat. Unusual thing for city inhabitant here is to see the way how people of Vilkovo carry the cows by boats to the pasture and in the evenings, they carry them back. It is really exotic!

The visitors of Ukrainian Venice will be pleasing by numerous sights. Here the visitors may see the monument of Lipovan, and three finest churches — Christmas Church, Svjatokolnitskaya Church and Nikolaev Church, and many other things. However, the most popular of Vilkovo sights are the museum of local lore “Fisherman House”, the Danube biosphere Reserve and “Zero” kilometer of Danube.

Tourists may also make an excursion and enjoy the nature of the Danube Biosphere Reserve, one part of which is located on the territory of Rumania, and the other in Ukraine. Just imagine — 276 species of birds, 43 species of mammals, 106 species of fish, 800 species of insects and 11 species of amphibian shape the diversity of the fauna here.

The flora is also varied and includes 1557 species.

A lot of plants and animals are inscribed in the Red Data List of Ukraine and some of them are also inscribed in the Red Data List of EU.

The area of Vilkovo is about 460 hectares. Local residents here speak old Russian language till pre-Petrov times. Nevertheless, Vilkovo still remains silent and lurking place, hidden in Danube cane thickets place.

This town is small. It is very difficult to lose the way here, and there are very benevolent and affable people around. The greatest Christian faith of a city is orthodox Old Believers (lipovans), the others are believers of Ukrainian Orthodox church. In the town, there are three temples: two of them belong to the Old Believers and one of them belong to orthodox.

Tourists may also make an excursion and enjoy the nature of the Danube Biosphere Reserve, one part of which is located on the territory of Rumania, and the other in Ukraine. Just imagine — 276 species of birds, 43 species of mammals, 106 species of fish, 800 species of insects and 11 species of amphibian shape the diversity of the fauna here.

Askania-Nova – one of the Seven Wonders of Ukraine!


‘Askania-Nova’ is one of the oldest and largest biosphere reserves in Europe, located in a remote part of the Kherson steppe. Nowadays, this unique island of primordial nature, where live many rare animal species and exotic plants, is recognized as one of the Seven Wonders of Ukraine and is a part of the world network of UNESCO’s biosphere reserves.


A lover of nature, baron Friedrich Falz-Fein, established this wildlife preserve at the end of 19th century. He gave up his lands in order to save the unique steppe and its inhabitants. Later, having traveled to zoos and botanical gardens all over the world, the environmentalist began to bring to ‘Askania-Nova’ exotic animals, birds, and plants that seemed unfit to live on a steppe. But some animal species not only adapted to their new habitat, but even began to flourish. Just two years later, almost two thousand species of mammals were living on the reserve.

one of the Seven Wonders of Ukraine

In 1914, emperor Nicholas II visited these lands. Later, impressed by what he saw, he wrote to his mother: ‘All year ‘round different deer, goats, antelopes, gnus, kangaroos, and ostriches live together under the open sky. It is an amazing sight, a scene from the Bible when all animals left Noah’s ark.’

Askania Nova

After the end of the Civil War, during which Cossacks and soldiers saved ‘Askania-Nova’ from destruction, Friedrich Falz-Fein thought of nationalizing the wildlife preserve. So, in 1921, the preserve turned from a private to a state-owned one.

Nowadays, ‘Askania-Nova’ is a real outdoor museum and the gem of the Tavrian steppes. On its territory, which takes up 11,000 hectares, stands a unique arboretum. There, you can find many kinds of trees, numerous ornamental plants from all corners of the world, and over 500 species of plants, many of which are endangered. In the reserve’s zoo live 450 species of exotic animals and birds. By the way, six species are extinct in their homelands and remain only in Askania.

exotic animals and birds

The zoo’s unique collection includes of Indian and African antelopes, zebras, Scottish ponies, wild Przewalski’s horses, saigas, and many more. The variety of birds in ‘Askania-Nova’ is impressive as well: these are white and black swans, cranes, flamingos, bustards, emus, parrots, and many other rare species.

exotic animals

On top of that, you will see many ancient burial mounds, from which one can get a breathtaking view of the steppe, and ancient stone figures, created either by Scythians or by Polovtsians, during your visit.

The best way to enjoy picturesque landscapes of the wildlife preserve and its unique inhabitants is to go on a safari by car or horseback. A horseback safari costs 400 grivnas for a group of four people. Larger groups are offered a trip in a minivan. If you are planning to visit ‘Askania-Nova’ in the summer, you should keep in mind that at this time, the preserve often restricts the number of visitors or even cancels the safari, because of high risk of fires.

Hours of operation: 8 a.m. – 5p.m. from mid-April until mid-November.

Important! The majority of excursions to ‘Askania-Nova’ from Crimea or Kherson offered by tourist agencies is a standard three-hour walking tour through the zoo and botanical garden and does not include the safari. Therefore, you should be careful when choosing the tour and ask precisely about safari.

Getting here: It is not very easy to get to the preserve on public transport. The best way is to go to Nova Khahovka, which is located 75 kilometers (47 miles) from Askania, and take a taxi from there to the preserve (it will cost 200 grivnas and take one hour). To get to Nova Khahovka, you can take a bus. There are two busses early in the morning and two around afternoon (1.5 hours, 16 grivnas), but the tickets sell out quickly.

There is also a bus between Nova Khahovka and Kyiv (13 hours ride, 130 grivnas) and Kherson (1.5 hours, 22 grivnas).





Some people immediately hit up the must-see tourist sites when they visit a new city, but I enjoy exploring new-to-me cities via aimless wandering.

City Art

Even better? Purposeful wandering.

From Basel and Reykjavik to London and Amsterdam, I wander with a purpose to find street art.

In fact, the sides and backs of buildings that most people just walk by are common places for large mural pieces.

So imagine my very pleasant discovery just days after moving to Kyiv that, over the last two years, artists from around the world have been descending on the city in droves to beautify downtown.

the street art

Kyiv is a curiously strange but lovely city, with an eclectic mix of intricately detailed, old buildings and Soviet-era blocks standing next to each other street block after street block. Its street art is punctuated throughout the city, blending in seamlessly with this mix of new and old architecture.

With a little research, I was able to uncover a local organization called City Art, which originally initiated the project. For awhile it was looking for investors and international artists to support and create these murals, but it’s hard to tell if City Art still exists – the website is bare bones, at best, with no information, and the organization’s social media accounts appear to have been abandoned.


Nonetheless, the street art lives on in Kyiv. And some of the people I’ve met in our first couple weeks here tell me there are new pieces popping up all the time.

Notice I said first, because my art-hunting buddy and I found several pieces, but there are so many more to discover.

the street art in Kyiv.old buildings and Soviet-era blocks


artists from around the world


Museum of corruption

Museum of corruption

The Mezhyhirya Residence is the former residence of Yanukovych, the president at the root of the Euromaidan Revolution. The property, located just a bit outside Kyiv’s city center on the Kyiv Reservoir, is a symbol of Yanukovych’s opulent and extravagant lifestyle for which the people of Ukraine paid, quite literally. Construction began in 2010 and commenced rapidly, resulting in a mind-blowing compound built with excessive detail in only a year’s time.


It is massive property, encompassing about 140 hectares of beautifully manicured grounds and a huge house. At its peak, the residence staffed approximately 2,000 people with daily maintenance costs of around $75,000. Regardless of a country’s prosperity, that is a lot of money, and knowing tax payers funded this without their knowledge is simply maddening.

The house, known as Honka because of the Finnish construction company that built it, is three stories on one side and five stories on the other. It is a testament to detail with luxe chandeliers (some costing more than $10,000), in-laid gold decor at every turn and large rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows where the sun floods in. The wooden mosaic floor and ornamental elevator demonstrate that nothing was overlooked when it came to creating the finest, most excessive home possible.

Yanukovych knew he was swindling the people of Ukraine, so he didn’t tell anyone about this home that he lived in with his mistress.

If asked, he said he lived in a smaller house on the grounds, and no one else ever stepped foot in the palatial estate.

The huge dining room table that would have been suitable for state dinners? Never used for such an event. The fully functioning spa, well-equipped health center and full-sized tennis court? Perhaps used by Yanukovych … but then again, maybe not. The media room with approximately a dozen lounge chairs, and the bowling alley and poker room? Since no more than a few people ever went inside the house, no, no and no.

Beyond the house, the grounds are actually incredibly stunning (in fact, it’s where I took many of my favorite photos from this fall). There are lovely flower beds, man-made lakes, fountains, sculptures and walking paths. Additionally, the Mezhyhirya property houses a zoo, helicopter pad, professional golf course and a large garage, where Yanukovych stored a collection of rare cars and motorcycles he received as gifts.

collection of rare cars

As such, Mezhyhirya is controversial and currently an active investigation site. Ukraine’s government is hesitant to touch the property so right now a non-profit organization is running the day-to-day operations. Apparently, some items, such as famous artwork and ancient manuscripts that were taken by Yanukovych for himself, have been removed from the residence and returned to their rightful owners. Other than those things, however, it looks like someone could be living in it today.

The compound was very well guarded while Yanukovych lived there, and former staff members have been hesitant to come forward and speak about working on the property. Therefore, much of what is known about the construction, costs and goings-on at Mezhyhirya have been unearthed from piles of documentation.

The grounds at Mezhyhirya are open and available to the public for only a couple dollars, which is fairly accessible for the average person here. Tours of the home and auto collection are available for an additional fee.

But there’s more than enough to do just by visiting the general property. People are welcome to wander the grounds and take advantage of the many walking trails and bike paths. We visited in fall, and there were lots of families out enjoying picnics, reading books by the lakes and just generally enjoying this beautiful place.

The Mezhyhirya Residence

Hold fundraisers in the bowling alley. Open the spa to the public. Rent out parts of the building for holiday parties, weddings and reunions.

Let Ukrainians fully use it. They funded it, after all.

For now, though, it remains relatively untouched as Ukraine decides what the next appropriate step is during this tumultuous but hopeful period of time in its history.


The Mezhyhirya Residence - Museum of corruption

Museum of corruption

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