European cities #1: Zaporozhye, Ukraine

In this series I will be talking about all the European cities I have been to or had the pleasure of passing. I am a “Euro hopper” and the majority of the places that I go on holiday too are in Europe, some are the generic tourist places, but some are more off the beaten track and wild.

I will be starting off in a place that is close to my heart. The city of Zaporozhye (zah-pah-roe-zsh-ya) in the east of The Ukraine.I go there occasionally to visit my grandparents, but this is the only reason I would consider going to such a godforsaken city. It is a mainly industrial town, so it does have it has huge flaws. You can’t walk anywhere without being able to catch sight of some ghastly tower chimneys, belching out smoke all day into the polluted sky. The majority of the large industrial wealth of the city is located in one small area to the west. Any wary eyed traveler can spot the rancid smoke mushroom clouding up the view into the overlooking countryside. Not very enjoyable that is to say the least.

About 99 percent of the housing is dilapidated old flats. It really adds a vibe of poverty to the region which, if it’s your kind of thing, can be an attraction to come here. The flats are all soviet era breeze block monstrosity’s that pop up anywhere and everywhere across the skyline, housing sixty years of low income and the struggle of living. Of course the locals try to add some shine to their own houses; adding some new furniture here and there, personalising it. But it can’t make up for the drab and depressing exterior which every flat possess, row on row.

Fortunately there are some upsides to this city. There are major tourist attractions. An example of this is the Dnieper dam. This is a soviet style hydroelectric plant turned tourist zone that no longer produces power. It is a beautiful sight; 600 meters of chiseled concrete skimming along the bright cyan river below. It is a marvel to behold. The dam is also home to the highest river lock in Europe. All you water transportation fans will love it.

You can take a tourist boat that travels from the Dam to the heartland of Zaporozhye: Khortytsia (whor-tea-t-sa), home of the infamous cossacks. They were a semi military group formed in the 14th century. You would probably recognise them from their dancing  and horseback skills. Zaporozhye has various attractions dedicated to these warriors. The re constructed forts are well worth a look at as they are beautifully recreated and they provide a deep insight into cossack life.

Zaporozhye is famous for them

Zaporozhye is famous for them

Also an important part of the city is Lenin prospect. This the main street and is a straight road for a couple of miles that goes right through the city. This is the longest prospect of its kind at a staggering 10.8km long.

It takes about 40 minutes to walk down the main stretch of it and that is at a brisk pace! You can find the new age shopping malls here, which sell a range of goods at cheap prices. The malls are weaved in with the soviet buildings, many of which stand regal and proud in the dusty atmosphere of the city and once were focal points of the communist party. Another place you can visit here is the multitude of squares that dot the route, each on offering a different view of the city. Some are green and lush, while others are large with stone structures adorning it.

So my overall advice is if you are a fan of niche tourist locations like I am, you will get a sense of enjoyment from this city. If you are a sun and sea kind of person, don’t go here. only for the well traveled people that are among you.

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