Uzhgorod, which has recently celebrated its 1112 anniversary, is the administrative, cultural, industrial and scientific center of Transcarpathia. It is the smallest and the westernmost of 23 regional capitals within Ukraine. According to the Ukrainian 2001 census, the 120,000 population of the city included: the Ukrainians - 77.8%, the Russians-9.6%, the Hungarians-6.9%, the Slovaks-2.2%, the Roumanians - 1.5%.
Uzhgorod is one of the oldest towns of the Kievan Rus. In the 8th century the town appeared around Zanchishche , the center of Principality of White Croatians.
During several centuries of its history Uzhgorod streets have seen many rulers who used to own the city. During this period Uzhgorod has become the city, which has a very attractive architecture with diverse antique styles, modern buildings and a picturesque landscape united as a unique ensemble. The city always deeply impresses its visitors with natural richness and freshness.
The city is located much closer to Europe, than to the center of Ukraine. There are 480 km from Uzhgorod to Bratislava, 320 km to Budapest, 570 km to Vienna, and 806 km to Kiev. This city strikes you out with its intimate character, refinement, specific climate, and multi-ethnic culture.
The original name of the town is unknown.But people say that the city gets its name from the Uzh River, which divides the city into two halves (the old and new sections). “Uzh” means ringed snake, and “gorod” is Russian for city, coming from Old Slavonic “grad”. However, this name is a recent construction, and has been used only since the beginning of the 20th century. Before then, the city was known as Ungvar, also spelled Ongvar, Hungvar, and Unguyvar. In the 10th century the town was captured by the nomadic Hungarian feudal lords and got the name of Ungvar from the Uzh River and "var" - a town. The Slav name of the town was Uzhgorod.
The town joined Ukraine in 1945 and became the capital of Transcarpathian Region in 1946.
How to get to Uzhgorod:
Uzhhorod has a very small airport (IATA code - UDJ). There are flights only to or from Kiev, Simferopol and Moscow. There are plans to close the airport in a few years.
Uzhgorod has one bidirectional line, which heads the north towards Lviv, and the south towards Chop. There are no direct lines to Slovakia. The junction of the railway transportation in Transcarpathia (and thus Uzhgorod) is Chop; it has dual-gauge rails for trains coming from Slovakia and Hungary, a line going towards the southern Transcarpathia, and the main line going towards Stryi/Lviv that connects one with the rest of Ukraine, Moldova, Russia, and Belarus.
The recently renovated M06 highway connects Kiev with Budapest and runs through Uzhhorod. Driving from the direction of Budapest (Chop) you need to go straight after Rizivka through Mynay. If you drive from the direction of Kiev (Mukachevo), you need to turn right after Rizivka. The road from Rizivka-Mynay will take you as far as Zakarpattia Hotel (the city's largest hotel) and then Petofi Square in downtown.
There are daily buses from the Hungarian Nyiregyhaza, Slovakian Kosice, Michalovce, Polish Krakow and Ukrainian Kiev and Lviv.
Strolling the city's streets you may suddenly realize that the time here has a different rhythm than in Kiev or even Lviv. No one is in a hurry. You feel a general internal peace, spiritual harmony and balance in people. The city is extremely hospitable and warm. It has its own unique look, energetics and aura.
The city is located on the crossroad of different historical cultures, languages, types of thinking, customs and traditions. This combination developed in a local people’s willingness to accept people of many different cultures, making them opened-minded, and awarding them with the rare ability to tolerate others and created that special hospitality which you will find here.
Uzhgorod is a small city according to European standards. You can easily explore the entire city during one day walk. But you will never think of it as of a forgotten provincial place. It is always full of life. There are a lot of people chatting at the coffee tables along the Uzh River, numerous small and cosy restaurants with tasty and inexpensive food and desserts, millions of shops and offices along the streets to keep you busy.
Places in Uzhgorod that are certainly worth visiting:
• First of all, you should walk the streets of old downtown. They are the city's heart, spirit, most favorite place of visit for locals and tourists. They are great for the shopping, rest, and opportunity to relax with a cup of excellent coffee or have a good meal.
• On the hill of the volcanic origin you will see an impressive Castle/Fortress. It was built in the 10th century and has been rebuilt many times after. Today it belongs to the Tranthcarpathian Museum of Local Lore and is open for public. It has an impressive exposition: secret passes, catacombs, thick walls, the internal yard, warehouses and prison - everything to stay protected in case of a long siege.
• In front of the Castle the Transcarpathian Architecture and Lifestyle Museum is located. Well-preserved old wooden churches, village houses, home utensils, and wood carvings demonstrate the lifestyle people of the west Ukraine had many years ago.
• Don't miss local cathedrals and churches, The Transcarpathian Bokshai Museum of Art and the St. Michael’s Church, which is one of the biggest in Europe. Nowadays it serves as the large philharmonic hall with one of the best organs in Ukraine.
• Goranska Rotunda is the oldest building in the city; it was included on the UNESCO's World Heritage List. This is the second oldest after the Sophia Kievska church, which has unique mural paintings made by the Italian artists 700 years ago.
• Just 5 miles away from the city you can visit well-preserved ruins of the Nevitsky Castle, which was built in the XIII century. This archaeological monument as well as many of Ukrainian heritage treasures is still waiting for better times to come.
• The Uzhgorod Children Railway starts from the Theatre Square of the city; it goes through the Botanic gardens and ends in the city park. Between the Theatre Square and Petefy Square there is the stone Pedestrian Bridge, which joins the old and the new parts of the city. Crumbling some bread from the bridge one can observe the shoal of trout and other fish, which is included to the Red Book register and inhabit only in the clear water. From the right bank of the river Uzh one can see the longest linden alley in Europe, which stretches 2,2 km along the Uzh.
• Due to the bid number of parks Uzhgorod looks like the real Botanic garden. The city is especially beautiful when the cherry trees are in blossom. The Botanic garden astonishes with its beauty, being one of the best gardens in Ukraine, created in 1946 and placing 3 800 kinds of plants on the square of 4,5 ha. The oldest park of Uzhgorod –Podzamkovyi Park – was founded in the beginning of the 17th century for the purpose of breeding the wild animals for the royal hunting. There is the 600 years old plane tree in the park, brought there from the northern Italy.
• Not far from Uzhgorod in the Vinogradovski District the “Village” is situated, which represents the miniature version of Zakarpattya. This museum of the folk architecture and mode was built in 1970. The square of the museum is 5,5 ha and disposes small houses, the mill, church and numerous fruit trees.
One can talk a lot about this city, but the best way to know it and to feel its special aura is to visit it.
Where to stay
The Uzhgorod Hotel stands directly across the bridge from the central old city. This newly refurbished hotel has a sleek glass and steel exterior, housing a range of rooms with good value for money. An army of multilingual staff are always at hand to help with anything including pick-ups from any border crossing point.
The Atlant Hotel is probably the most European among Uzhgorod’s hotels, although it is also worth noting that it is probably not the best value for money. The Atlant boasts about a dozen immaculate and modern rooms, and is located right in the city centre. Some rooms have kitchenettes and they also offer good deals for families with children. There are a few rooms on the top floor which are somewhat smaller but which feel slightly more romantic with their skylight windows that allow you to peer out over the rooftops of the city. A very nice sauna and a mini-pool are also located up on the top floor and the hotel’s restaurant is a cut above the rest.
The Zakarpattya Hotel is comfortably located close to the train station on the southern side of the city and it takes a small walk from the centre to get there. As the city’s former Intourist venue – the Sovietera brand of hotels was designed to accommodate (and impress!) visiting foreign guests, this venue has plenty of facilities although few have been updated since Gorbachev’s time. Probably the in-house travel agency which can offer support and book tickets and excursions will be the most helpful.
The Eduard Hotel is a small private upscale hotel, located to the north from the city centre that offers intimacy to guests, along with ultra-clean rooms and a good sauna and swimming pool.
The Druzhba Hotel is Uzhgorod’s other Soviet-era hotel, and it brings a touch of class to the old school style with its hilltop location and stunning panoramas. The great views of the north side of the city, which are offered by this pearl of the Soviet chic, more than compensate the long but pleasant walk up from the city centre. The quite and wooded hilly neighborhood attracts Uzhgorod’s businessmen crowd for weekend conferences. Many wild nights took place in the Druzhba Hotel, and many romantic meetings consummated on the hotel’s balconies as the sun rose over the Carpathian Mountains in this mystical spot between the East and the West.
Where to eat
All of Uzhgorod’s hotels uphold a strong culinary tradition and deserve recognition. The Atlant Hotel has deserved special credit for its gourmet Hungarian and Slovakian cuisine, while the Old Continent Hotel (4-6 Shandor Petefi Square) owns an equally refined restaurant. The Zakarpattya restaurant is a little more Soviet as you would expect of a former Intourist joint, but it is open all night long. For mid morning or afternoon snacks you are strongly advised to stop by any of the coffee shops along the city’s Naberezhna (riverbank), where little cups of Hungarian espresso can be procured. There’s also an inordinate number of small restaurants and pizzerias in the town that offer excellent value for money and plenty of options. The Terrace Restaurant at Uzhgorod Castle is an upscale restaurant located right at the medieval gates of the castle. Serving a diverse menu of Hungarian and Transcarpathian favorites, this is probably the most atmospheric place of eating out in the Transcarpathian region.
‘Detsa u Notarya’ (98 Gagarina Street, Tel.: 0312-661166) is the restaurant with a wide range of traditional Transcarpathian food on offer for prices below average and amid a lively ambience. The Delphin restaurant (3 Kyivska Naberezhna, 0312-614963) is regarded by many locals as the best restaurant in town. It serves up traditional Ukrainian food, and grilled meats together with a number of international and Soviet favourites. Eat indoors or enjoy the views from the venue’s sensational rooftop terrace. Sarmat is a popular beer and banquet hall with lots of pork dishes and jolly live music on the menu, where you will quickly make new friends and get to know the local hospitality. Kapitansky Mostik (56 Sobranetska Str. Tel. 0312-642340) offers a hearty food, and it is often the best place to spend a bohemian evening watching art house movies or discussing the inanity of existence in the post modern world.
The tradition of wine-making:
Among the most interesting activities on the autumn calendar one can name the annual Carpathian Beaujolais festival of young wines which is traditionally held on the third weekend of November in Uzhgorod. This Festival has become a special tradition in the Transcarpathian town − this year will be the 17th time it hosts connoisseurs of young wine, as well as those who want to enjoy the bright and romantic autumn in Zakarpattia. In 2011 the best Ukrainian winemakers presented their products of the season over the weekend of November 17-18. During these two days of festivities guests had the opportunity to taste up to 15 sorts of young wine produced locally. Uzhgorod has a long history as the centre of the East European wine trade and this is the perfect opportunity to get to know the sector better!
photo. Ukraine. Uzhgorod
photo. Ukraine. Uzhgorod
photo. Ukraine. Uzhgorod
photo. Ukraine. Uzhgorod
photo. Ukraine. Uzhgorod
photo. Ukraine. Uzhgorod