Krasnokutsk (Krasnokutsk arboretum)

Krasnokutsk, Telmana St. 32

Price: free uah.

The name of this little town - one of the oldest in eastern Ukraine - literally means 'picturesque corner' or 'fine side.’ And Krasnokutsk’s peculiar beauties more than justify this name. Solely because of this modest town, the Kharkivska Oblast' became a popular tourist destination.

Krasnokutsk’s main draw is the unique arboretum that is officially recognized as a monument of landscape art. Founded over 200 years ago, it is considered to be one of the oldest arboretums in Ukraine. The well-known biologist Ivan Karasin created it at the beginning of the 19th century on the land he inherited from his father. Together with his brother, who founded the Kharkiv National University, Karasin traveled around the world, studying landscape art and collectinh seeds and seedlings of exotic plants.

Once he came home, Karasin planted these seeds in his garden. The biologist created all the conditions in order for the plants to take root in unfamiliar lands. He carried out land reclamation, constructed terraces, installed steam heating in greenhouses, and built a system of hydraulics. Thanks to his talent and efforts, over 600 species of rare trees appeared in eastern Ukraine, enriching and diversifying the Kharkiv region’s appearance. Among the plants, you will find: Canadian spruce, ailanto, Abies Lowiana (from which Peter the Great was said to make the masts for his ships), Japanese quince, and many more.

It is worth mentioning that the placement of each plant had been carefully thought out. For example, the Blue and Silver Spruces are planted against a background that highlights their unusual color, and the huge Siberian Firs are planted to create a special microclimate in the park, which is necessary for survival of foreign trees.

Today, the Krasnokutsk arboretum is not just a peculiarity of the local region, but it is also a favorite recreation center for Kharkiv’s residents and guests of the town. Especially popular among the park's visitors is a pond with a small island, surrounded by weeping willows, to which a bridge leads – this is the Island of Love. Near it, grows the wonderful ginkgo biloba, the so-called tree of happiness. Supposedly, if you lean against the stem of the tree and make a wish, it will be sure to come true.

Also preserved on the territory of the arboretum are monastery tunnels. The monastery used to stand here, but it was destroyed on the order of Catherine the Second. It is said that the length of the labyrinthine tunnels is over 18 kilometers (11 miles)! Only a small chapel remains from the monastery itself. The finishing piece of this park are the amazing wooden sculptures Ukrainian fairy tale heroes, made by folk craftsmen. Local kids love to look at them from the branches of huge trees.

Not far from Krasnokutsk is another man-made wonder – the so-called Singing Terraces. This is a ravine slope turned to the sun. It is strengthened by six terraces, which capture and preserve the warmth necessary to plant here exotic fruit trees. Besides that, the amphitheatric construction gives the terraces unique acoustics, amplifying every sound. In high winds, the terraces seem to make sounds song-like sounds – this gave the terraces their name.

Getting here. Buses and taxis, departing from a bus station near the Central market, regularly travel from Kharkiv to Krasnokutsk (90 km, 1 hour 20 min).

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