Ужгород (Uzhhorod). The spelling is the same in Russian and Ukrainian, but the pronunciation is slightly different: While the "g" is rather pronounced like the "g" in "Greece" in Russian, it's more pronounced like an "h" - but tending to the Scottish "ch" as in "loch". Therefore, the Ukrainian based spelling in Latin letters is "Uzhhorod", but the old Russian transcription is "Uzhgorod". Both versions can be found today. The town was formerly known as Ungvar. The name 'Uzhgorod' derives from the word 'Uzh' - a small river crossing the town - and the Slavic word 'gorod' (also 'grad'), which simply means 'town'.
|A neat and lovely border town, separated by the river Uzh|
Uzhgorod (alternatively also Ushgorod) is the main town of the Transcarpathian province (in Ukrainian Zakarpatska, lit. Subcarpathia) and faces the →Slovakian border. It's the westernmost town of the Ukraine and marks the geographical centre of Europe. At least the people in Uzhgorod insist on the latter - but so do →Lithuanians.
Today, Uzhhorod has around 125,000 inhabitants, which is hard to believe when you walk the old town - it looks much smaller.
Uzhgorod's history started already 1200 years ago. Until 1914, Uzhgorod and the area around belonged to the Hungarian respectively Austria-Hungarian Empire. From 1918 until the German occupation in 1939, the city belonged to →Czechoslovakia.
|Pedestrian zone in the old town of Uzhgorod|
Getting there / transportation
Travellers coming from →Slovakia and →Hungary will often end up in Uzhgorod first. And it's worth a one or two day stay, since the city is quite lovely. Since Uzhhorod is a border town, it has plenty of useful direct long-distance train connections - for example to Moscow (33 hrs), →Simferopol (32 hrs), →L'viv (6½ hrs to 7½ hrs, €4 in a compartment), →Kiev (14 hrs) and →Odesa (13 hrs).
Note that you need to change trains if you want to head to the West - almost all trains leaving Uzhhorod run via Chop, which is only 30 minutes away. From there, direct trains run to Hungary, for example to →Budapest (5 hrs) via →Debrecen (less then 2 hrs). There are several trains hopping over the border only to Cierna nad Tisou in →Slovakia. The ride takes 6 minutes only. You'll need to change trains in Cierna to go ahead (the reason for this is the wider gauge in the Ukraine - the gauge between Chop and Cierna is wide gauge, the rest of Slovakia European standard (narrower) gauge). From Cierna, it's 1 h 40' to →Kosice - the gateway to the rest of Slovakia and the Czech republic.
Євгена Фенцика Пл. (Evgena Fentsika Pl.)
The centre of town is marked by Yevgena Fentsika Square. The old town stretches along the right (north) bank of the river Uzh, the newer part including the train station occupies the left bank. Both parts of town are connected by a narrow traffic-free bridge. Right in front of the bridge spreads the Fentsika square. From there, a riverside promenade and some smaller pedestrian zones start (see picture on the right). Most of the shops and restaurants can be found in this part of the city. However, the old town is very small and looks like the heart of a small and provincial town. Where do the 125,000 people live!? the visitor will wonder. Many of the buildings were built during the Habsburg reign. And so it can be quite confusing - is this Hungary? Or Slovakia? The Czech republic? It doesn't look like a Ukrainian town at all.
Обласна Філармонія (Oblasna Filarmoniya)
The eyecatcher of the city is a large, red building with some arches and beautiful ornaments, which is easy to spot from the right bank and from Fentsika square. It even looks a little bit oriental. When you get closer, you will notice a harp above the main entrance. Ah! Music! This building houses the Oblasna Filharmonika (Regional Philharmonic Orchestra) of Uzhgorod.
|The old opera of Uzhgorod. Guess what this building was centuries ago...|
Nevertheless it doesn't look like a building dedicated to the music at all. Originally, this was the city's synagogue. It's a monument telling the tragical history of Jews in Uzhgorod and surroundings during the Second World War. There were many Jews living not only in neighbouring Galicia-Wolhynia but also in Uzhgorod. During the German occupation, almost all of them were deported and killed. It's quite a miracle that the exotic synagogue still exists today.
(Chrestovosdvishenskii Kafedralnii Sobor)
The twin-towered cathedral of Uzhgorod standing a few hundred metres away from the city centre is another landmark of the town. This church was built in 1646 by the Jesuit order, but the structure looked completely different. Later, the same buiding was turned into a Greek-Catholic, than into a Russian-Orthodox and finally into a Ukrainian-Catholic cathedral. The two towers overlooking the town were added much later.
|The cathedral near the old town|
The area around the cathedral is particularly interesting. Here, many tiny houses and monastery facilities line up along dusty lanes criss-crossing the hills around. It's definitely worth a long walk.
The border crossing to Slovakia is only 3, 4 km away from the city centre. It's next to the small airport in the north-west suburbs of Uzhgorod.
All hotels in the centre were booked out (though there were a few only), so we walked to the outskirts... and found a very nice place. Hotel Isumrud is 15 min on foot away from the centre, not far from Sobranetzka vul. and is a very nice and modern hotel with all the gimmicks. Quite far away from the city centre, but still a very good bargain. And - the restaurant inside the hotel was incredibly good!!! We paid 125 UAH (€ 21) for a spacious double.
Here's the address:
Malekammenoye, near Koshetska vul. (Малокам'яна вул.) 10
Phone:+380 312 613 858
|88000 Uzhgorod · Verhovinskaya Street 38|
Number of floors:
Number of rooms: 46
Rates from: US$49
|Praha Accord Hotel is perfectly located for both business and leisure guests in Uzhgorod. The hotel offers a wide range of amenities and perks to ensure you have a great time. Take advantage of the hotel's car park, smoking area, 24hr room service, restaurant, laundry service/dry cleaning. The well-appointed guestrooms feature internet access – wireless (complimentary), air conditioning, bathtub, bathrobes, separate dining area. Recuperate from a full day of sightseeing in the comfort of your room or take advantage of the hotel's recreational facilities, including fitness center, indoor pool, jacuzzi, spa, sauna. Praha Accord Hotel is an excellent choice from which to explore Uzhgorod or to simply relax and rejuvenate.|
- www.transcarpathia.zakarpattya.net/ Uzhhorod - introduced on Transcarpathia.net in English. Plain but useful.
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