Euro 2012 Host Cities – Kharkiv, Ukraine
Kharkiv is a rather typical university town which has the unusual reputation of being the birthplace of the Soviet nuclear industry.
The Soviet era and a variety of wars have reduced the city’s historical centre, which now only boasts some pretty well-maintained buildings from the end of the 19th century, unfortunately most of the rest of the city is made up of Soviet-era gray monumentalism – quite the interesting place for architecture enthusiasts but extremely bland for the uninitiated.
During the 1920s the city became the seat of the Ukrainian Soviet government and this lead to a short-lived rebirth of the Ukrainian language and culture. However this caused Stalin to accuse the members of the government of nationalism and launched purges that eventually led to the Ukrainian famine.
That part is left now to the history book, modern-day Kharkiv is where you’ll find the Russian speaking intelligentsia, those bright minds that turned it into the brain centre of the Soviet defence industry. Their offspring however, were more into rock’n’roll and set up one of the liveliest scenes for rock and alternative music in general, in the ex-USSR.
The football-match induced Kharkiv trip will have you seeing massive plazas, alongside rather charming 20th century buildings set on compact streets. Also even though most of the hundred thousand students enrolled here will be out of school during the summer, you’ll probably still see a lot of them considering the major football event. This can only bode well for the inevitable partying that will take place afterwards.
For those who will be traveling with children however, they can visit the Kharkiv Zoo and the Children’ railway.