Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Kharkiv or (rather) Kharkov

Before and after the celebration, Amanda, Oleg, and I wandered around the city. They claimed there wasn't much to see. Most soviet buildings tend to look alike. Kharkiv has an incredible history, colored with war and loss, industry, urban sprawl, and resilient people. 

The statue below is of the poet, Taras Shevchenko. He is placed at the top and surrounding his in ascending order are different characters from his writings. The characters at the lowest step, on Shevchenko's left, represent where people began in his poems. Poor, needy, lacking. As the people wrap around the back, they become Kosac fighters, warriors, gaining height and strength. At the top, nearest his right arm, stand true soviet people. They hold books, wheat, and stare triumphantly out at their countryside. The structure, each facial expression and body stance made this statue unlike anything I have seen before.   

The lowest man 
The strongest people 

Next, we visited an WWII memorial and Mother statue. Ukraine is referred to as the 'Motherland' and this lady is the Mother. You can hear her heart beating as an eternal flame keeps her warm. She stands in front of a massive grave holding around 10,000 people. Kharkiv's population sank from 1.5 million to 400,000 during war years due to losing men in battle, starvation and illness, and concentration camps. The plague below reads (something like), 'I gave all my life to the last drops of blood' sits front of a wall listing the numbers of loss during certain battles. 

A very cute couple enjoying the day! 

Kharkiv's city center and a bridge covered in love locks. 

Love locks are commonplace for married couples directly after the wedding ceremony. We were surrounded by three wedding parties during our few minutes on this bridge. 
This cemetery sits right off Kharkiv's newest highway. It is filled with ancient to modern gravestones of all religions and types. Each crucifix was unique because families are responsible for setting up and maintaining their family gravesides. We think this particular hillside contained some German soldiers. 

Very happy people eating their first burrito in a year (me) or the first taco in their life (Oleg). 

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