The western Ukranian city of Chernivtsi lies well off the beaten track. Never the less, it has a cosmopolitan flair and is something of a sleeping beauty - extremely underrated and host to an impressive variety of interesting travel experiences to enjoy.
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An architect from Prague built the local university some 130 years ago. Byzantine and Morris motifs dominate the style of the buildings. The area also exhibits European and Jewish influences.
For centuries Chernivsti was the capital of the Bukovina region. From 1775 to 1918 it belonged to the Hapsburg empire. The Viennese spruced up provincial cities with places like theatre square which draws visitors from across the globe.
The city today is modern and contemporary but evidence of Austrian tradition can be found all over the place.
Before the Holocaust, a third of the city’s population was Jewish. Today, only traces of Jewish life are visible here with a few active synagogues remaining. Tourists often come to visit these spaces in search of their roots.
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This city with its many different religions, languages and peoples has produced a long list of artists and poets. Among the most famous was Paul Celan whose German-language poetry attained global renown. People come from far and wide to visit the place of his birth and celebrate his and other artists contribution to the local cultural scene.
Khotyn, an hour away from Chernivtsi is located on the banks of the Dniester River, has a medieval fortress that has provided a backdrop for many films. With 4 foot thick walls, souvenir and food vendors and much fun exploring is to be had - this is understandably a big drawcard for visitors to the area.
In the evening, back in Chernivtsi, the town's restaurants come alive. From traditional, hearty dishes that include a lot of grilled meat, pickled vegetables, to banosh, a traditional Carpathian dish made of cornmeal cooked with creme fraiche and butter which is then served with sheep cheese, fried pork belly rinds and mushroom sauce. There is no lack for interesting gastronomic experiences here.
They've always known how to live well and enjoy life in Chernivtsi, and that hasn't changed to this day.
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