10 Most Famous Buildings in Ukraine

The second-largest country in Europe after Russia also borders it to the east and north-east, which means that it’s located in Eastern Europe.

Ukraine isn’t exactly the first country that comes to mind when you plan to make your next trip, but it’s still home to some magnificent landmarks.

Even though the country is one of the poorest in Europe, it’s home to vast amounts of fertile farmlands, making it one of the largest grain exporters in the world.

This means that large parts of the country consist of big open spaces which are scarcely populated, a great contrast to the country’s largest cities Kyiv, Kharkiv, and Odesa.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the most famous buildings in Ukraine, architecture that you must check out while you’re in the country!

1. Sophia Cathedral

Saint Sophia Cathedral is arguably the most famous landmark in the capital city of Ukraine, Kyiv.

The building was named after the famous Hagia Sophia in Istanbul and was originally completed in the 11th century.

It was the first structure in Ukraine to be ist on the UNESCO World Heritage list as well, something that happened in 1990.

The building is one of many structures in Ukraine that feature the distinctive combination of Byzantine architecture with Ukrainian Baroque.

This style is easily recognized by its amazing domes which are often gilded, as is the case with this fascinating church.

Today, it’s one of the most popular tourist attractions in Ukraine and it features a museum that details the history of the church and Christianity in the country.

Official website: Saint Sophia Cathedral and Museums

Famous buildings in Ukraine Sophia Cathedral
Saint Sophia Cathedral / Rbrechko / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en

2. Motherland Monument

Very few monuments in the world are as prominent as the Motherland Monument in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv.

It’s part of a museum by the name of “National Museum of the History of Ukraine in the Second World War” and the museum tour ends near the foot of this immense statue.

The statue itself is made of stainless steel, was inaugurated on May 9, 1981, and stands 62 meters (203 feet) tall.

With the building below it included, it towers 102 meters (335 feet) above the city of Kyiv, an amazing sight to behold.

What’s remarkable about this sculpture is that the shield depicts the State Emblem of the Soviet Union, not exactly the best friend of the Ukrainian government at the moment.

This means that it’s an extremely controversial statue, yet a famous landmark in Ukraine’s capital and worth a visit.

Official website: Motherland Motherland

Motherland-statue-Ukraine
Motherland Statue at night / Alexander Vovck / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0

3. Kyiv Pechersk Lavra

Kyiv Pechersk Lavra was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage together with the Saint Sophia Cathedral in 1990, and there’s no wonder why.

This structure was originally founded as a cave monastery in the year 1051 and has since been the most important location of Eastern Orthodox Christianity in Eastern Europe.

It’s considered to be a sanctuary in Ukraine as well and has received a special preservation status which it was granted on March 13, 1996.

It’s one of the build famous buildings in Ukraine and features the state museum, the National Kyiv-Pechersk Historic-Cultural Preserve, and the official seat of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

The underground 11th-century cave system is one of the most remarkable tourist attractions you’ll ever come across.

The tunnels inside the caves are just between 1 and 1.5 meters high and between 2 and 2.5 meters high. The complex features multiple underground chapels and living spaces for the monks.

Official website: Kyiv Pechersk Lavra

Kyiv-Pechersk-Lavra
Kyiv Pechersk Lavra / Falin / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en

4. Potemkin Stairs

The city of Odesa is located in the southern part of the country and lies on the shores of the Black Sea, just west of Crimea.

It’s the third-most populous city in the country after Kyiv and Kharkiv and one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country as well.

Because of its location, it’s often referred to as the “Pearl of the Black Sea.” It features multiple therapeutic resorts and beaches for tourists to sunbathe during the hot summer months.

One of the most famous landmarks in this amazing city is a huge staircase known as the “Potemkin Stairs.”

This staircase consists of 192 steps and was built between 1837 and 1841.

It has since become the symbol of the city and one of the most popular spots for tourists to take pictures, mainly because it offers amazing views of both the city and the Black Sea.

Potemkin-Stairs-odesa
Potemkin Stairs / Oleksandr Malyon / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en

5. St. Andrew’s Church

The city of Kyiv is home to numerous remarkable Baroque buildings, and one of these stands out from the rest for a couple of reasons.

St. Andrew’s Church is located on top of the Andriyivskyy Descent, a historic descent that connects the Upper Town district with the popular Podil district of the city.

This elaborately decorated Baroque church was completed between 1747 and 1754 and was remarkably designed by an Italian architect named Bartolomeo Rastrelli (1700-1771).

He was a renowned architect in Russia at the time and also designed the Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg and the Catherine Palace in Tsarskoye Selo, to name just a few of his masterpieces.

The church was named after the Apostle Andrew who is believed to have mentioned that this location would become the “cradle of Christianity in Slavic countries.”

Today, the structure serves its purpose as a museum which is part of the National Sanctuary “Sophia of Kyiv,” and has been since 1968.

Climbing this hill and admiring this fascinating building should be on the top of your list of best things to do in Ukraine, that’s for sure.

st-andrews-church-kyiv
St. Andrew’s Church / Konstantin Brizhnichenko / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en

8. Maidan Nezalezhnosti Square

Just about every city in the world has a historical center that features a large square. In Kyiv, this square is called Maidan Nezalezhnosti.

The famous square has had a turbulent past and has gone by multiple names throughout its history. Today, the square is often simply referred to as “Maidan,” which translates to “Square.”

The current name dates back to the year 1991 which was shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union and the subsequent declaration of Independence of Ukraine.

This also means that it has been the location of political rallies since then, including the 2001 “Ukraine without Kuchma” and the 2004 “Orange Revolution“, and the 2013-2014 “Euromaidan protests.”

Because people lost their lives during the brutal clashes of Euromaidan, other festivities that used to be held at the square have since moved elsewhere.

The most notable landmark on the square is called the “Independence Monument,” a victory column erected in the early 2000s to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the country’s independence.

Maidan-Square
Maidan Square / Hnapel / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en

7. Pidhirtsi Castle

Pidhirtsi Castle is a famous castle located in a town of the same name in the western part of Ukraine. This town is situated at a distance of just 8 kilometers (4.97 miles) east of Lviv in the Lviv Oblast province.

The amazing building was constructed between 1635 and 1640 by a French-Polish architect named Guillaume Le Vasseur de Beauplan (1600-1673), a man who created the first descriptive map of the country in 1639.

The castle was built in an elevated position and majestically overlooks the Styr River valley. This means it provides amazing views and can also be seen on top of the hill from a great distance.

The design of the building resembles one of the countless Italian Palazzo and it was surrounded by Italian-style vineyards in the 17th century.

The rooms inside the castle, including the Crimson Room, the Chinese Room, the Mirror Room, Yellow Room, Green Room, were lavishly decorated and decorated with fine art.

Pidhirtsi Castle
Pidhirtsi Castle / Haidamac / Wiki Commons

8. Derzhprom

Derzhprom is a large building complex located on Freedom Square in Kharkiv, the 8th-largest city square in Europe.

The complex looks remarkably modern, especially because it was built during the beginning of the Soviet era in the 1920s.

The buildings were designed in the constructivist architectural style, a form of modern architecture that was popular during this era, especially in the Soviet Union.

The other reason why this building complex is so famous is that it marked the completion of the “First Soviet Skyscraper” in history. The 13-story building was officially opened on November 7, 1928.

Derzhprom
Derzhprom on Freedom Square / Konstantin Brizhnichenko / Wiki Commons

9. Transfiguration Cathedral, Odessa

Transfiguration Cathedral is the main Orthodox Cathedral in Odesa and the first church to be founded in the city on the Black Sea.

The original church on this location was founded in 1794 by a Romanian clergyman named Gavril Bănulescu-Bodoni (1746-1821). This was a time that Odesa was part of “New Russia,” a territory of the Russian Empire around the Black Sea.

The construction was initiated by the French Governor of New Russia who employed an Italian architect named Francesco Frappoli to design the building.

The result is one of the most magnificent buildings in Ukraine which features many Neoclassical elements, including a portico and dome.

The amazing bell tower of the church was completed between 1825 and 1837 and the church was continuously expanded throughout the 19th century.

Transfiguration Cathedral in Odessa
Transfiguration Cathedral, Odessa / Konstantin Brizhnichenko / Wiki Commons

10. Odessa Opera and Ballet Theater

The Odessa Opera and Ballet Theater is officially known as the “Odessa National Academic Theater of Opera and Ballet.” It’s the oldest opera house in the country and an architectural marvel in Ukraine.

The original opera house on this location was established in 1810 but the building was destroyed by a fire in 1873. It was completely rebuilt shortly after and completed in 1887.

The exterior of the building was completed in the Baroque Revival style and designed by Austrian architects Fellner & Helmer. The interior resembles the opulent Roccoco buildings in France of the 18th century.

The venue is world-famous for its amazing acoustics because of the horseshoe design of the auditorium. This allows whispering on the stage to be heard on every seat of the hall.

Opera House Odessa Ukraine Architecture
Odesa Opera / Alex Levitsky & Dmitry Shamatazhi / Wiki Commons