Dnepropetrovsk (Dnipropetrovsk) city guide
Dnepropetrovsk (Dnipropetrovsk in Ukrainian language and called Dnepr by its inhabitants) was closed for foreigners in the Soviet era, due to its rocket plant. Now the rocket museum is one of the tourist highlights of the city which is the third largest city in Ukraine after Kiev and Kharkov. Contrary to its industrial reputation and being the centre of steel plants and rocket science in the former Soviet Union, Dnepropetrovsk has surprisingly many green lanes and parks. Due to its moderate continental climate summers in Dnepropetrovsk can be extremely hot and the parks and beaches at the river Dnieper make a great spot to cool down and have a rest. A very popular place to spend leisure time is the 23 km long promenade along the river Dnieper which is the longest pier in Europe. There you can find several beaches and parks that offer a lot of entertainment. The heart of the city is Zhovtneva (October) Square, where the impressive Preobrazhensky Cathedral was raised by Prince Potemkin by order of Catherine the Great. The cathedral is an example of Russian Classicism and the initial ambitious plan was to build a cathedral surpassing the size of St. Peter in Rome but it never reached that size.
On the square you can find also the Museum of History. Despite the city is fairly young - Dnepropetrovsk was founded in 1776 during the ruling of Catharine the Great in Russia - the area around is historically interesting. The region was the homeland of the Cossacks in the 16th century and the Zaporizka Sich founded during that period was one of the first democratic republics in Europe. Adjoining the museum is a WWII Diorama, a huge painted canvas depicting the WWII Battle of the Dnieper. Even if you don't understand Russian the 20-minute sound-and-light presentation is impressive and gives a good idea of the impact of the battle. New shopping and business centres and fancy restaurants and clubs contribute to the Dnipropetrovsk’s modern appearance nowadays. The main shopping street Karl Marx Avenue with Swiss watches, Scandinavian furniture, French cosmetics and Italian design shoes can easily compete with the fanciest shopping alleys of Kiev. A must do nowadays in Dnepr is a walk down the hill to the Dnieper River through the large Taras Shevchenko Park, named after the famous Ukrainian poet. In summer you can watch the locals making pick nicks and little parties. The road down to the river is rather steep and can be a bit slippery in winter but the magnificent view over the river is worth the walk. At the end of your walk you will arrive on Monastyrsky Island, the site of the area's first human settlement. Here you can find the Taras Shevshenko statue, the St Nicholas Church, and some relaxing beaches.