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Historical and Cultural Treasures in Zhovkva

Travelers looking to explore some of Ukraine's smaller historical towns will no doubt enjoy a visit to Zhovkva. Located around 32 km south of the bustling city of Lviv, this well maintained town boasts up to seventy architectural and historical landmarks, as well as beautifully landscaped gardens complete with sculptures and other artistic features. As is the case with many historical towns, Zhovkva is home to numerous religious buildings, including the Basilian Monastery, the Dominican Monastery, the Cathedral of St Laurentius and the Church of St Lazarus.

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Relax and Rejuvenate at Ukraine's Mineral Spas

With more than 500 mineral water sources, Ukraine is the perfect destination for travelers looking to enjoy the therapeutic benefits these offer. There are around fifty spa and wellness centers in Ukraine, many of which are in the majestic Carpathian Mountains – one of the richest sources of mineral water in the country. Mineral waters are beneficial for both bathing in and for drinking, and bottled mineral water is found in shops throughout Ukraine.

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Ukrainian Crafts: Motanka Dolls

Visitors to the arts and crafts markets found in many Ukrainian cities, town and villages, are very likely to come across traditional motanka dolls on display and for sale. These skillfully made reeled dolls have been part of Ukrainian households for countless generations, serving both a decorative and symbolic role. The feature that sets motanka dolls apart from other hand-crafted dolls is the fact that they do not have any facial features, but instead may have a cross from brow to chin and ear to ear made out of colorful ribbon, threads or fabric. Alternatively, the face is left blank, which comes from the belief that if the motanka has any facial features it may become attached to the soul of the person handling it, which could be detrimental to their wellbeing. On the other hand, motanka dolls with crosses symbolize the sun and good fortune.

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Ukraine's Nocturnal Flying Mammals

Often shrouded in myths and folklore, bats are among the most misunderstood animals in the world, when in fact they are vital to the ecology of the areas they live in. Through education projects at schools and with the general public, conservationists in different parts of the world, including Ukraine, work hard to dispel the erroneous beliefs people have about bats and to raise awareness that many bat species are dwindling in numbers, which could impact negatively on the environment, as they play an important role in keeping insect populations down.

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Celebrating Easter in Ukraine

With the arrival of Christianity in Ukraine in the tenth century, some ancient festivals were replaced or combined with Christian celebrations, with one of the most notable celebrations being Easter, or Velykden. Previously this mid-spring event was associated with the revival of nature after a long, often harsh, winter, and with the adoption of Christianity it came to be a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus, signaling the end of Lent, or Pist, a period of forty days when believers may fast, repent and devote time to spiritual pursuits in preparation for Easter.

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Pikkardiyska Tertsiya: The Power of the Human Voice

Formed in September 1992 in the Ukrainian city of Lviv, the six members of Pikkardiyska Tertsiya have been entertaining audiences in their home country and abroad with their a cappella musical performances for more than two decades. The group originally consisted of four members performing traditional Ukrainian folk songs and music dating back to the 15th century. Later, two more members joined Pikkardiyska Tertsiya and the six talented singers have expanded their repertoire to around 300 songs, including more modern folk songs, world hit songs and liturgical music, along with the historic music they started out with and some original compositions.

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Przewalski's Horses: Born to Be Wild

The Askaniya-Nova Biosphere Reserve in the Kherson Oblast of Ukraine is home to what is believed to be the world's largest captive group of Przewalski's horses. Also known as Asian wild horses and Mongolian wild horses, Przewalski's horses (Equus ferus przewalskii) are the last true wild horses in the world*. Although the majority of the population of around 1500 live in reserves and zoos and can therefore be classed as captive, they have never been domesticated. Przewalski's horses are listed as endangered by the IUCN – the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

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Zbarazh Castle: Historical Heritage Site

Located on a hill overlooking the town of Zbarazh near Ternopil in Western Ukraine, Zbarazh Castle is a superb example of historic defensive architecture. Visitors to the castle will find a number of fascinating exhibits detailing the history of the area, archeological excavations, sacred arts, icons and sculptures, as well as local ethnic crafts and a collection of weapons dating back to the Stone Age era. A more recent addition to Zbarazh Castle is an exhibition of a torture chamber located in the cellar of the fortress. Using original blueprints, artisans have manufactured replicas of ancient torture devices apparently used during the period of the Inquisition initiated by the Roman Catholic Church to combat heresy.

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