At first the settlement was self-governed under the jurisdiction of a voivode from Chuhuiv that is 40 kilometres (25 mi) to the east. The first appointed voivode from Moscow was Voyin Selifontov in 1656 who started to build a local ostrog (fort). At that time the population of Kharkiv was just over 1000, half of whom were local cossacks, while Selifontov brought along a Moscow garrison of another 70 servicemen. The first Kharkiv voivode was replaced in two years after constantly complaining that locals refused to cooperate in building the fort. Kharkiv also became the centre of the local Sloboda cossack regiment as the area surrounding the Belgorod fortress was being heavily militarized. With the resettlement of the area by Ukrainians it came to be known as Sloboda Ukraine, most of which was included under the jurisdiction of the Razryad Prikaz (Military Appointment) headed by a district official from Belgorod. By 1657 the Kharkiv settlement had a fortress with underground passageways.
In 1658 Ivan Ofrosimov was appointed as the new voivode, who worked on forcing locals to kiss the cross to show loyalty to the Moscow tsar. The locals led by their otaman Ivan Kryvoshlyk refused. However, with the election of the new otaman Tymish Lavrynov the community (hromada) sent a request to the tsar to establish a local Assumption market, signed by deans of Kharkiv churches (the Assumption Cathedral and parish churches of Annunciation and Trinity). Relationships with the neighboring Chuhuiv sometimes were non-friendly and often their arguments were pacified by force. With the appointment of the third voivode Vasiliy Sukhotin was completely finished the construction of the city fort.
View of Holy Assumption Orthodox Cathedral in Kharkiv
Intercession Cathedral with bell tower and Ozeryanskaya church (right) built in Kharkiv in 1689
View of modern pedestrian bridge over Kharkiv River in Kharkiv
The Kharkiv Fortress was erected around the Assumption Cathedral and its castle was at University Hill. It was between today's streets: vulytsia Kvitky-Osnovianenko, Constitution Square, Rose Luxemburg Square, Proletarian Square, and Cathedral Descent. The fortress had 10 towers: Chuhuivska Tower, Moskovska Tower, Vestovska Tower, Tainytska Tower, Lopanska Corner Tower, Kharkivska Corner Tower and others. The tallest was Vestovska, some 16 metres (52 ft) tall, while the shortest one was Tainytska which had a secret well 35 metres (115 ft) deep. The fortress had the Lopanski Gates.
In 1689 the fortress was expanded and included the Saint-Pokrov Cathedral and Monastery which was baptized and became the center of local eparchy. Coincidentally in the same year in the vicinity of Kharkiv in Kolomak, Ivan Mazepa was announced the Hetman of Ukraine. Next to the Saint-Pokrov Cathedral was located the Kharkiv Collegiate that was transferred from Belgorod to Kharkiv in 1726.
The streets were first cobbled in the city centre in 1830. In 1844 the 90 metres (300 ft) tall Alexander Bell Tower was built next to the first Assumption Cathedral, which on November 16, 1924 was transformed into a radio tower. A system of running water was established in 1870. The Cathedral Descent at one time carried the name of another local trader Vasyl Ivanovych Pashchenko-Tryapkin as Pashchenko Descent. Pashchenko even leased a space to the city council (duma) and was the owner of the city "Old Passage", the city's biggest trade center. After his death in 1894 Pashchenko donated all his possessions to the city.
Kharkiv became a major industrial centre and with it a centre of Ukrainian culture. In 1812, the first Ukrainian newspaper was published there. One of the first Prosvitas in Eastern Ukraine was also established in Kharkiv. A powerful nationally aware political movement was also established there and the concept of an Independent Ukraine was first declared there by the lawyer Mykola Mikhnovsky in 1900.
As the country's capital, it underwent intense expansion with the construction of buildings to house the newly established Ukrainian Soviet government and administration. Derzhprom was the second tallest building in Europe and the tallest in the Soviet Union at the time with a height of 63 metres (207 ft). In the 1920s, a 150 metres (490 ft) wooden radio tower was built on top of the building. The Roentgen Institute was established in 1931. During the interwar period the city saw the spread of architectural constructivism. One of the best representatives of it was the already mentioned Derzhprom, the Building of the Red Army, the Ukrainian Polytechnic Institute of Distance Learning (UZPI), the City Council building, with its massive asymmetric tower, the central department store that was opened on the 15th Anniversary of the October Revolution. The same year on November 7, 1932 the building of Noblemen Assembly was transformed into the building of All-Ukrainian Central Executive Committee.
In 1928, the SVU (Union for the Freedom of Ukraine) process was initiated and court sessions were staged in the Kharkiv Opera (now the Philharmonia) building. Hundreds of Ukrainian intellectuals were arrested and deported.
In the early 1930s, the Holodomor famine drove many people off the land into the cities, and to Kharkiv in particular, in search of food. Many people died and were secretly buried in mass graves in the cemeteries surrounding the city.
Memorial to the thousands of Polish officers executed by the NKVD in Kharkiv as part of the Katyn massacre
In 1934 hundreds of Ukrainian writers, intellectuals and cultural workers were arrested and executed in the attempt to eradicate all vestiges of Ukrainian nationalism in Art. The purges continued into 1938. Blind Ukrainian street musicians were also gathered in Kharkiv and murdered by the NKVD.
In January 1934 the capital of the Ukrainian SSR was moved from Kharkiv to Kiev.
During April and May 1940 about 3,900 Polish prisoners of Starobelsk camp were executed in the Kharkiv NKVD building, later secretly buried on the grounds of an NKVD pansionat in Pyatykhatky forest (part of the Katyn massacre) on the outskirts of Kharkiv. The site also contains the numerous bodies of Ukrainian cultural workers who were arrested and shot in the 1937–38 Stalinist purges.
Memorial to 23 August 1943, the end of German occupation during World War II
During World War II, Kharkiv was the site of several military engagements (see below). The city was captured and recaptured by Nazi Germany on 24 October 1941; there was a disastrous Red Army offensive that failed to capture the city in May 1942; the city was successfully retaken by the Soviets on 16 February 1943, captured for a second time by the Germans on 15 March 1943 and then finally retaken on 23 August 1943. Seventy percent of the city was destroyed and tens of thousands of the inhabitants were killed.
Kharkiv, the third largest city in the Soviet Union, was the most populous city in the Soviet Union captured by the Germans, since in the years preceding World War II, Kiev was by population the smaller of the two.
The significant Jewish population of Kharkiv (Kharkiv's Jewish community prided itself with the second largest synagogue in Europe) suffered greatly during the war. Between December 1941 and January 1942, an estimated 30,000 people (slightly more than half Jewish) were killed and buried in a mass grave by the Germans in a ravine outside of town named Drobytsky Yar.
During World War II, four battles took place for control of the city:
Before the occupation, Kharkiv's tank industries were evacuated to the Urals with all their equipment, and became the heart of Red Army's tank programs (particularly, producing the T-34 tank earlier designed in Kharkiv). These enterprises returned to Kharkiv after the war, and continue to produce tanks.
Of the population of 700,000 that Kharkiv had before the start of World War II, 120,000 became Ost-Arbeiter (slave worker) in Germany, 30,000 were executed and 80,000 starved to death during the war.
There is an underground rapid-transit system (metro) with about 38.1 km (24 mi) of track and 29 stations. The new "Victory" underground station (no. 30) was opened in Kharkiv on 19 August 2016. All the underground stations have very special distinctive architectures.
A large number of the Orthodox cathedrals were built in Kharkiv in the 1990s and 2000s.For example, the Myrrh Bringing Wives Orthodox cathedral, the St. Vladimir Orthodox cathedral, St. Tamara Orthodox cathedral, etc.
In 2007, the Vietnamese minority in Kharkiv built the largest Buddhist temple in Europe on a 1 hectare plot with a monument to Ho Chi Minh.
The Gor'ky park was fully renovated in Kharkiv in the 2000s, having a big number of modern attractions, a lake with lilies and sport facilities to play tennis, football, beach volleyball, and basketball.
The Feldman park was created in Kharkiv in recent years, containing a big collection of animals, horses, etc.
Kharkiv and vicinities, LandSat-5 satellite image, near natural colors, 2011-06-18
Lopan-Kharkiv river spur
Kharkiv is located at the banks of the Kharkiv, Lopan, and Udy rivers, where they flow into the Seversky Donets watershed in the North-Eastern region of Ukraine.
Historically, Kharkiv lies in the Sloboda Ukraine region (Slobozhanshchyna also known as Slobidshchyna) in Ukraine, in which it is considered as a main city.
The approximate dimensions of City of Kharkiv are:
from the North to the South - 24.3 km;
from the West to the East — 25.2 km.
Based on Kharkiv's topography, the city can be conditionally divided into four lower districts and four higher districts.
The highest point above sea level in Pyatikhatky in Kharkiv is 202m, the lowest point above sea level in Novoselivka in Kharkiv is 94m.
Kharkiv lies in the large valley of rivers of Kharkiv, Lopan', Udy, and Nemyshlya. This valley lies from the North West to the South East between the Mid Russian highland and Donetsk lowland. All the rivers interconnect in Kharkiv and flow into the river of Northern Donets. A special system of concrete and metal dams was designed and built by engineers to regulate the water level in the rivers in Kharkiv.
Kharkiv has a large number of green city parks with a long history of more than 100 years with very old oak trees and many flowers.
Kharkiv has rather sunny, warm summers which, however, are relatively mild compared to temperatures in South European regions, due to the region's lower elevation, proximity to the Black Sea, and the city's latitude.
Kharkiv has relatively long and cold winters.
The average rainfall totals 513 mm (20 in) per year, with the most in June and July.
Panoramic view of central district in Kharkiv, showing the Northern building of V. N. Karazin National University, Kharkiv Palace hotel building, and Kharkiv hotel buildings.
Panoramic view of central district in Kharkiv, showing the Derzhprom building, multiple apartment buildings, and Northern building of V. N. Karazin National University
Legal status and local government
The Mayor of Kharkiv and the City Council govern all the business and administrative affairs in the City of Kharkiv.
The Mayor of Kharkiv has the executive powers; the City Council has the administrative powers as far as the government issues is concerned.
The Mayor of Kharkiv is elected by direct public election in Kharkiv every four years.
The City Council is composed of elected representatives, who approve or reject the initiatives on the budget allocation, tasks priorities and other issues in Kharkiv. The representatives to the City Council are elected every four years.
The mayor and city council hold their regular meetings in the City Hall in Kharkiv.
The 2014 pro-Russian unrest in Ukraine affected Kharkiv but to a lesser extent than in neighbouring Donbass, where tensions would lead to armed conflict. On 2 March 2014, a Russian "tourist" from Moscow replaced the Ukrainian flag with a Russian flag on the Kharkiv regional state administration building. Five days later, pro-Russian protestors occupied the building and unilaterally declared independence from Ukraine as the "Kharkov People's Republic". The next day, the building was retaken by Ukrainian special forces. Doubts arose about the local origin of the protestors after they initially stormed an opera and ballet theatre believing it was the city hall. On 13 April, some pro-Russian protesters again made it inside the Kharkiv regional state administration building. Later, on 13 April, the building permanently returned to full Ukrainian control. Violent clashes resulted in the severe beating of at least 50 pro-Ukrainian protesters in attacks by pro-Russian protesters.
Kharkiv returned to relative calm by 30 April. Relatively peaceful demonstrations continued to be held, with "pro-Russian" rallies gradually diminishing and "pro-Ukrainian unity" demonstrations growing in numbers. On 28 September, activists dismantled Ukraine's largest monument to Lenin at a pro-Ukrainian rally in the central square. Polls conducted from September to December 2014 found little support in Kharkiv for joining Russia.
From early November until mid-December, Kharkiv was struck by seven non-lethal bomb blasts. Targets of these attacks included a rock pub known for raising money for Ukrainian forces, a hospital for Ukrainian forces, a military recruiting centre, and a National Guard base. According to SBU investigator Vasyliy Vovk, Russian covert forces were behind the attacks, and had intended to destabilize the otherwise calm city of Kharkiv.
On 8 January 2015 five men wearing balaclavas broke into an office of (the volunteer group aiding refugees from Donbass) Station Kharkiv. Simultaneously with physical threats the men demanded to hear the political position of Station Kharkiv. After having been given an answer, the men apologized and left.
On Sunday 22 February 2015, there was a terrorist bomb attack on a march to commemorate people who died in the Euromaidan protests in 2014. The bomb killed two, and wounded nine. The authorities launched an anti-terrorist operation. The terrorists claimed that it was a false flag attack. Kharkiv has experienced more non-lethal small bombings since 22 February 2015 targeting army fuel tanks, an unoccupied passenger train and a Ukrainian flag in the city centre.
On 23 September 2015, 200 people in balaclavas and camouflage picketed the house of former governor Mykhailo Dobkin, and then went to Kharkiv town hall, where they tried to force their way through the police cordon. At least one tear gas grenade was used. The rioters asked the mayor, Hennadiy Kernes, to come out.
The territory of Kharkiv is divided into 9 administrative raions (districts), till February 2016 they were named for people, places, events, and organizations associated with early years of the Soviet Union but many were renamed in February 2016 to comply with decommunization laws. Also, owing to this law, over 200 streets have been renamed in Kharkiv since 20 November 2015.
According to the 1989 Soviet Union Census, the population of the city was 1,593,970. In 1991, it decreased to 1,510,200, including 1,494,200 permanent residents. Kharkiv is the second-largest city in Ukraine after the capital, Kiev. The first independent all-Ukrainian population census was conducted in December 2001, and the next all-Ukrainian population census is decreed to be conducted in 2020. As of 2001, the population of the Kharkiv region is as follows: 78.5% living in urban areas, and 21.5% living in rural areas.
The 2016–2020 economic development strategy: "Kharkiv Success Strategy", is created in Kharkiv.
International Economic Forum
The International Economic Forum: Innovations. Investments. Kharkiv Innitiatives! is being conducted in Kharkiv every year.
In 2015, the International Economic Forum: Innovations. Investments. Kharkiv Innitiatives! was attended by the diplomatic corps representatives from 17 world countries, working in Ukraine together with top-management of trans-national corporations and investment funds; plus Ukrainian People’s Deputies; plus Ukrainian Central government officials, who determine the national economic development strategy; plus local government managers, who perform practical steps in implementing that strategy; plus managers of technical assistance to Ukraine; plus business and NGO’s representatives; plus media people.
The key topics of the plenary sessions and panel discussions of the International Economic Forum: Innovations. Investments. Kharkiv Innitiatives! are the implementation of Strategy for Sustainable Development “Ukraine – 2020”, the results achieved and plan of further actions to reform the local government and territorial organization of power in Ukraine, export promotion and attraction of investments in Ukraine, new opportunities for public-private partnerships, practical steps to create “electronic government”, issues of energy conservation and development of oil and gas industry in the Kharkiv Region, creating an effective system of production and processing of agricultural products, investment projects that will receive funding from the State Fund for Regional Development, development of international integration, preparation for privatization of state enterprises.
International Industrial Exhibitions
The international industrial exhibitions are usually conducted at the Radmir Expohall exhibition center in Kharkiv.
During the Soviet era, Kharkiv was the capital of industrial production in Ukraine and the third largestcentre of industry and commerce in the USSR. After the collapse of the Soviet Union the largely defence-systems-oriented industrial production of the city decreased significantly. In the early 2000s, the industry started to recover and adapt to market economy needs. Now there are more than 380 industrial enterprises concentrated in the city, which have a total number of 150,000 employees. The enterprises form machine-building, electro-technology, instrument-making, and energy conglomerates.
State-owned industrial giants, such as Turboatom and Elektrotyazhmash occupy 17% of the heavy power equipment construction (e.g., turbines) market worldwide. Multipurpose aircraft are produced by the Antonov aircraft manufacturing plant. The Malyshev factory produces not only armoured fighting vehicles, but also harvesters. Khartron is the leading designer of space and commercial control systems in Ukraine and the former CIS.
The Roentgen Institute opened in 1931. It was a specialist cancer treatment facility with 87 research workers, 20 professors, and specialist medical staff. The facilities included chemical, physiology, and bacteriology experimental treatment laboratories. It produced x-ray apparatus for the whole country.
There is the Kharkiv Scientists House in the city, which was built by A. N. Beketov, architect in Kharkiv in 1900. All the scientists like to meet and discuss various scientific topics at the Kharkiv Scientists House in Kharkiv.
In addition to the libraries affiliated with the various universities and research institutions, the Kharkiv State Scientific V. Korolenko-library is a major research library.
There is the educational "Landau Center", which is named after Prof. L.D. Landau, Nobel laureate in Kharkiv.
Kharkiv is one of the main cultural centres in Ukraine. It is home to 20 museums, over 10 theatres and a number of art galleries. Large music and cinema festivals are hosted in Kharkiv almost every year.
The Kharkiv National Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre named after N. V. Lysenko is the biggest theatre in Kharkiv.
The Kharkiv Academic Russian Drama Theatre named after A.S. Pushkin was recently renovated, and it is quite popular among locals.
The Kharkiv Theatre of the Young Spectator (now the Theatre for Children and Youth) is one of the oldest theatres for children.
The Kharkiv Puppet Theatre (The Kharkiv State Academic Puppet Theatre named after VA Afanasyev) is the first puppet theatre in the territory of Kharkiv. It was created in 1935.
The Kharkiv Academic Theatre of Musical Comedy is a theatre founded on 1 November 1929 in Kharkiv.
In the 1930s Kharkiv was referred to as a Literary Klondike. It was the centre for the work of literary luminaries such as: Les Kurbas, Mykola Kulish, Mykola Khvylovy, Mykola Zerov, Valerian Pidmohylny, Pavlo Filipovych, Marko Voronny, Oleksa Slisarenko. Over 100 of these writers were repressed during the Stalinist purges of the 1930s. This tragic event in Ukrainian history is called the "Executed Renaissance" (Rozstrilene vidrodzhennia). Today, a literary museum located on Frunze Street marks their work and achievements.
There is the Organ Music Hall in the city. The Organ Music Hall is situated at the Assumption Cathedral presently. The Rieger–Kloss organ was installed in the building of the Organ Music Hall back in 1986. The new Organ Music Hall will be opened at the extensively renovated building of Kharkiv Philharmonic Society in Kharkiv in November, 2016.
Kharkiv sponsors the prestigious Hnat Khotkevych International Music Competition of Performers of Ukrainian Folk Instruments, which takes place every three years. Since 1997 four tri-annual competitions have taken place. The 2010 competition was cancelled by the Ukrainian Ministry of Culture two days before its opening.
The music festival: "Kharkiv - City of Kind Hopes" is conducted in Kharkiv.
From 1907 to 2008, at least 86 feature films were shot in the city’s territory and its region. The most famous is Fragment of an Empire (1929). Arriving in Leningrad, the main character, in addition to the usual pre-revolutionary buildings, sees the Gosprom - a symbol of a new era.
The "Kharkiv Lilacs" international movie festival is very popular among movie stars, makers and producers in Ukraine, Eastern Europe, Western Europe and North America.
There is a special alley with metal hand prints by popular movies actors at Shevchenko park in Kharkiv.
Kharkiv has been a home for many famous painters, including Ilya Repin, Zinaida Serebryakova, Henryk Siemiradzki, and Vasyl Yermilov. There are many modern arts galleries in the city: the Yermilov Centre, Lilacs Gallery, the Kharkiv Art Museum, the Kharkiv Municipal Gallery, the AC Gallery, Palladium Gallery, the Semiradsky Gallery, AVEK Gallery, and Arts of Slobozhanshyna Gallery among others.
There is the Kharkiv History Museum named after M. F. Sumtsov in the city.
The Natural History Museum at V. N. Karazin Kharkiv National University was founded in Kharkiv on April 2, 1807. The museum is visited by 40000 visitors every year.
The V. N. Karazin Kharkiv National University History Museum was established in Kharkiv in 1972.
The V. N. Karazin Kharkiv National University Archeology Museum was founded in Kharkiv on March 20, 1998.
The National Technical University "Kharkiv Polytechnical Institute" Museum was created in Kharkiv on December 29, 1972.
The National Aerospace University "Kharkiv Aviation Institute" Museum was founded on May 29, 1992.
The "National University of Pharmacy" Museum was founded in Kharkiv on September 15, 2010.
There are around 147 museums in the Kharkiv's region.
The Kharkiv Maritime Museum - a museum dedicated to the history of shipbuilding and navigation.
The Kharkiv Puppet Museum is the oldest museum of dolls in Ukraine.
Memorial museum-apartment of the family Grizodubov.
Bicycles racing competition in Kharkiv at Bicycle Day on July 9, 2016
Kharkiv EURO 2012 host city emblem
Kharkiv International Marathon
The Kharkiv International Marathon is considered as a prime international sportive event, attracting many thousands of professional sportsmen, young people, students, professors, locals and tourists to travel to Kharkiv and to participate in the international event.
The most popular sport is football. The city has several football clubs playing in the Ukrainian National competitions. The most successful is FC Dynamo Kharkiv that won eight national titles back in 1920s-1930s.
Horseriding as a sport is also popular among locals. There are large stables and horse riding facilities at Feldman Ecopark in Kharkiv.
There is a growing interest in cycling among locals. There is a large bicycles producing plant in Kharkiv. Presently, the modern bicycle highway is under construction at the "Leso park" district in Kharkiv.
The city of Kharkiv is one of the largest transportation centers in Ukraine, which is connected to numerous cities of the world by air, rail and road traffic. The city has many transportation methods, including: public transport, taxis, railways, and air traffic. There are about 250 thousand cars in the city.
Being an important transportation centre of Ukraine, many different means of transportation are available in Kharkiv. Kharkiv's Metro is the city's rapid transit system operating since 1975. It includes three different lines with 30 stations in total. The Kharkiv buses carry about 12 million passengers annually. Trolleybuses, trams (which celebrated its 100 years of service in 2006), and marshrutkas (private minibuses) are also important means of transportation in the city.
The first railway connection of Kharkiv was opened in 1869. The first train to arrive in Kharkiv came from the north on 22 May 1869, and on 6 June 1869, traffic was opened on the Kursk–Kharkiv–Azov line. Kharkiv's passenger railway station was reconstructed and expanded in 1901, to be later destroyed in the Second World War. A new Kharkiv railway station was built in 1952.
Kharkiv is connected with all main cities in Ukraine and abroad by regular railway trains. Regional trains known as elektrichkas connect Kharkiv with nearby towns and villages.
Kharkiv contains numerous parks and gardens such as the Gor'ky park, Shevchenko park, Hydro park, Strelka park, and Feldman ecopark. The Gor'ky park is a common place for recreation activities among visitors and local people. The Shevchenko park is situated in close proximity to the V.N. Karazin National University. It is also a common place for recreation activities among the students, professors, locals and foreigners. The Ecopark is situated at circle highway around Kharkiv. It attracts kids, parents, students, professors, locals and foreigners to undertake recreation activities.
^Kharkiv was a capital of the Soviet Ukraine for some 15 years in 1919–1934.
^The Red Army committed 765,300 men to this offensive, suffering 277,190 casualties (170,958 killed/missing/PoW, 106,232 wounded) and losing 652 tanks, and 4,924 guns and mortars. Glantz, David M., Kharkov 1942, anatomy of a military disaster through Soviet eyes, pub Ian Allan, 1998, ISBN0-7110-2562-2 page 218.
^per Robert M. Citino, author of "Death of the Wehrmacht", and other sources, the Red Army came to within a few miles of Kharkiv on 14 May 1942 by Soviet forces under Marshal Timoshenko before being driven back by German forces under Field Marshal Fedor von Bock, p. 100
^UNIANAnti-terrorist operation launched in Kharkiv due to fatal blast on Sunday – Turchynov, 22 February 2015. En.Censor.Net, Anti-terrorist operation started in Kharkiv: four participants on the explosion detained, 22 February 2015. Novorossia.Today, Turchinov announced start of the ATO in Kharkov. The highest level of terrorist threat had been introduced in the city, 23 February 2015.