Even for those who love everything about busy Kyiv city life, taking a break and visiting other parts of Ukraine can bring a much-needed change. the amazing natural scenery combined with the opportunity to learn more about Ukrainian history at Kholodniy Yar is a no brainer
Only two hours away from Kyiv, the mountainous terrain of Kholodniy Yar is deeply authentic; whether you’re an adventurer, history lover or obsessed with nature, Ukraine’s “Cold Ravine” has plenty to offer.
Take it in
There are many different trails to explore the uniqueness, but the best way to cover all the highlights, including memorial and historical sites as well as natural marvels, is by following the main road starting from the village of Melniki and heading up to the village of Buda. On this trip, wheels beat feet so taking bicycles is more adventurous and appealing compared to hiking.
In Melniki, like a ritual devoted to nature, the flavoursome healthy water from one of the many wells in this village should be tasted. Apparently, the water comes from one of three underground lakes formed under the Kholodniy Yar due to volcanic activity two million years ago.
From Melniki village through the main road, Kholodniy Yar offers outstanding and pristine nature composed of woodland with many gullies, ponds, water streams, and springs. Dense forest slopes interchange with the picturesque meadows and creates an astonishing and fascinating landscape rare to find in the flat and steppe region of central Ukraine.
On the way up, an impressive range of the remnants of different epochs, cultures, and events are widespread throughout Kholodniy Yar. It occupies a primary place in Ukraine with numerous unique archaeological, cultural, historical, and valuable natural sites. It has played host to several major historical events – among them the first Ukrainian Kozak state lead by Ukrainian Hetman Bohdan Khmelnitskyi, and the Kholodnoyar republic, during the chaotic final years of World War I. The well-known and indelible image of the Ukrainian flag with the words “Free Ukraine or Death” and the phrase “Glory to Ukraine” were born in the ravines of Kholodniy Yar.
This territory became one of the most popular Ukrainian landmarks, an essential spot for reinventing Ukrainian national identity. This is explicitly expressed through the numbers of heritage sites memorialising people and moments of these great historical events. All of them are situated along the main road giving an opportunity for visitors to feel the history of Kholodniy Yar.
One of the most important sites on the road is Gaydamackiy Stav pond. Once a place where hetmans of Ukrainian Kozak states sanctified knives while uprising against foreign oppressors, today it is the perfect place to stop and have a break. Nearby, on a beautiful and scenic meadow surrounded by forest is the Holy Trinity Motronynske Convent, another site of historical significance and architectural importance. Open to visitors; it is a great source for history buffs who want to learn more about Ukrainian history. Next to the convent is a large ancient settlement of Scythian tribes, nowadays the most important archaeological site in Europe for exploring this famous pre-Slavic nomad people.
At the very end of the excursion, near the village of Buda, another outstanding site is waiting to be seen. The millennium oak: this is more than 1 000-year old and one of the oldest trees in Europe it stands on the slope of the Kyrykivsky ravine. Its breath-taking appearance brings to mind the Ents, the talking trees from the movie spectacle Lord of the Rings.
Not far away from the oak is a compound-like hotel, the only accommodation in Kholodniy Yar. It offers local Ukrainian dishes sure to satisfy post-bike/hike appetites. For those who plan to stay more than one day, visiting the nearby historical sites in the village of Subotiv or the district centre of Chyhyryn with its historical park and museum dedicated to Bohdan Khmelnitskyi, the founder of the first Ukrainian state, is recommended. Or, you can simply relax in the surroundings of beautiful landscape which instantly places you in a laid-back vibe, a feeling all too familiar once you indulge in the nature of Kholodniy Yar.
The rest we leave up to you to discover.
Kholodniy Yar is just a 275 km drive east from Kyiv and a great option for a weekend day-trip!