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This is a city for the lovers to kiss under a bizarre monument of two "flying" statues symbolizing eternal love. If you are alone I suppose you could always grab the nearest stranger and make out. It is not a city that is over run with tourists and the infrastructure speaks volumes of this fact. Ukraine's former capital and its second largest city sits in the far east of Ukraine. It is famous for its historical past and industrial present.
You can easily navigate the city via pedal power on a bicycle or on foot, meandering around rivers with an abundance of kayaking spots to take advantage of, lush green parks to laze in and the usual abundance of odd monuments. Basically the city is a monument to the glory of the Soviet era and the historical center has been reduced to a little triangle of late 19th Century buildings. The ambience is more pleasant than charming, sterile rather than exciting. With more than 60 scientific institutes, 30 higher learning establishments, 6 museums, 7 theaters and 80 libraries, it is definitely an educational center. The city's economy is based predominantly in machinery and electronics with hundreds of industrial companies calling it home.
If by some chance you have the time before arriving on the city's doorstep, learn some Cyrillic letters, as it will make it a lot easier to get around. Only a few of the younger generation do speak English. Most of the locals speak Russian, but probably not that from a traveler's phrasebook.
The city's most popular spot to hang out is the green place of Shevchenko Park where you will find alleys, a botanical garden and local zoo. The main attraction here is the Monument to the 50th Parallel that passes though 12 countries. Kharkiv is the largest city in the world sitting on this parallel. If you are in need of some good luck, then stand on the bronze globe. One night make sure you check out the UNESCO listed Mirror Stream Fountain of rainbow water where you can linger on benches to people watch. You can say a prayer or two at one of the many religious sites throughout the cityscape; from the 17th Century 3 domed Pokrovsky Cathedral to the main Orthodox Church or the Annunciation Cathedral of Neo-Byzantine architecture topped with an 80m bell tower. Take a stroll around the impressive Freedom Square of over 11,000 sq mt in size complete with the de rigueur Lenin statue. Jump on board the cable railway for the thrill of being up to 26 m in the sky with views over Horky Park and the Botanical Garden. If you are craving some outdoor adventure then go kayaking on the Vorskla River and stop in at a local village for some home-made bread to munch on or mouth-watering borsch, whilst admiring a babushka wrapped in her colorful shawl.
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