Castles, legends, thick woods: why you should visit Zhytomyr region now
…until everyone hasn't learned about the region's hidden tourist potential
Zhytomyr region is a region in the north of Ukraine, a region where Polissia forests, small glacial lakes, and history are intertwined. Honestly, the Zhytomyr region has never been a popular vacation spot: there are no famous resorts, high mountains, stormy rivers, or the great sea. Still, it shouldn't be underestimated. Having explored the Zhytomyr region, our editorial office made sure that this region hides many surprises, unique and both historical and natural objects that can captivate the heart of even an experienced traveler.
Korostyshiv quarry is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Zhytomyr region, and it is known for its clear blue water, rocky coast, and pine forests. Despite the unusual terrain, it's easy to reach, since it's located a few kilometers near Korostyshiv, on the highway from Zhytomyr to Kyiv. This place is a man-made monument because once there was a granite quarry where granite, garbo, and labradorite were mined; these are very heavy volcanic rocks, and it means that millions of years ago, in place of Korostyshiv, there was a volcano, which created rocks. Mining began in the 1850s. Granite from the Korostyshiv quarry was used to pave the courtyard of the Mariinsky Palace and build the steps of the Verkhovna Rada in Kyiv. During the times of independent Ukraine, the quarry lost its industrial significance, so it was flooded.
Currently, it's one of the favorite places for recreation in the region. Travelers come here from the nearest places not only to swim in the crystal clear water but also just to sunbathe, spend the night in tents and go climbing. There's an incredible atmosphere here. You can light a fire, and play frisbee, trying to throw it to the other side of the canyon. And don't forget to take a camera, because the photos taken here, especially at sunset, are just incredible!
How to get there: the quarry is located 40 km from Zhytomyr towards Kyiv, you can get there by suburban transport or your own car.
In 2011, patrons resumed the work of the Radomysl Castle Museum, where the monks of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra had their own paper mill for printing church books in the 17th century. The fortification is located in a convenient and sheltered place and has become one of the few printing houses in Ukraine, along with Ostroh and Lviv. It was on the Radomyshl paper that the first book in Kyiv, Book of Hours, was published in 1616. The printing house was abandoned during the late Cossacks when many went to war and there was simply no one to defend the fortifications. In 2007, the reconstruction of the paper mill began and a historical and cultural complex was created with the world's only museum of Ukrainian domestic icons. During the restoration work, which lasted more than 4 years, the building was cleared of 60 tons of garbage. The surrounding area was raised above the level of the Myka river and turned into a landscape park. Repair and restoration works were carried out in full compliance with ancient construction technologies, the interiors of the XVII-XIX centuries were recreated in the castle.
Today "Radomysl Castle" is a full-fledged tourist object with a well-groomed territory, an interesting exposition, which hosts excursions and guests, ceremonies, art events, festivals, concerts. And the museum of the Ukrainian house icon has more than 5000 exhibits of the XVII – XX centuries from all regions of Ukraine.
How to get there: the castle is located in the district center of Radomyshl, 75 km from Zhytomyr on the E40 highway, can be reached by your own vehicle or intercity bus.
Berdychiv is a very ancient Polish-Jewish town. Here you can find dozens of architectural monuments: churches, temples, a monastery, the tomb of a Jewish tzaddik… But among them, the most prominent is the castle and the Catholic Monastery of the Barefoot Carmelites, built in the 17th century.
And in the city center, there's the monastery, a historical monument of the Baroque era, where the French writer Honore de Balzac and his beloved, Polish landlady Evelina Hanska, were married in 1850, as evidenced by a plaque on the facade.
How to get there: Berdychiv is located 40 km from Zhytomyr, you can get there by your own vehicle, intercity bus, or train 029K Kyiv-Uzhhorod. The Barefoot Carmelite Monastery is located at 25 Soborna Square.
Island of Love
Many of us know about the tunnel of love in the Rivne region, but have you heard of the Island of Love? On the way to Berdychiv, be sure to visit a secret place in Ukraine, the Blue Lakes, where this small island with a fisher's house is located. The lake is in the village of Staryi Solotvyn and isn't an advertised place but photoshoots have already begun to gather. If you're in those parts, it's definitely worth a look!
How to get there: the village is located 5 kilometers before the city of Berdychiv, on the way from Zhytomyr.
Neo-Gothic Church of St. Clare
This church, unusual for Central Ukraine, was built in 1912 on the shores of a small picturesque pond. From afar we can mistake it for a medieval castle because the architecture is closely intertwining Romanesque and Gothic styles, emphasized by a combination of wild stone with red brick. The initiator of the Church of St. Clare construction was a Polish memoirist E. Ivanivsky, who lived in Horodkivka. The writer wanted to build this unique Temple in honor of his mother's heavenly patroness, but he didn't have time to fulfill his promise. But when he died, he commanded others to do so. Fortunately for contemporaries, this wish was fulfilled. The church now belongs to the Roman Catholic Order of the Barefoot Carmelites.
How to get there: the church is located in the village of Horodkivka, which is 60 kilometers from Zhytomyr and 35 kilometers from Berdychiv. It's most convenient to get there by your own vehicle.
The history of this small town in the region's north dates back to 945, when Princess Olha burned the then Iskorosten, the capital of the Drevlians, because of the martyrdom of her husband Prince Ihor. A monument was erected in honor of the fair princess in 2008 in Drevlianskyi Park in the city center. Drevliansky Park is a real pearl of Korosten and an incredibly beautiful place, which lies on both rocky banks of the Uzh river and has a total area of 8 hectares. Besides the unique nature in the park, there are gazebos, bridges, fountains, and many monuments. Due to its external resemblance, it is compared to the famous Uman arboretum "Sofiyivka," but unlike it, all landscapes here have a natural origin.
Also on the park's territory, there's the "Skelia" military-historical complex, which was created on the site of the old bunker. According to historical data, this bunker was built inside a large granite rock in 1935-1937 and was part of Korosten's fortifications. There are many rumors and secrets around the bunker. They say all documents about it are classified and are in Moscow, that it's not marked on military maps, was built for the high command and in general, his purpose isn't fully known. But we're talking about a command post and a Soviet-era military facility, so there's nothing strange about this secrecy. The bunker's major feature is its complete autonomy. The air ventilation system, which also protects against various toxic substances, the well for drinking and technical water supply, and telephone communication are still working today. Previously, there was a heating system and generators with a large supply of fuel for electricity, restrooms, grocery store, dining room, medical center, bathroom, emergency room, commander's office. "Skelia" hides many secrets and curiosities, which guides are happy to tell during tours.
How to get there: the city is located 90 kilometers from Zhytomyr, can be reached by car or intercity bus on the P28 highway. From Kyiv, it is best to go on the highway M07 Kyiv-Kovel, it's also possible to get there by train.
Zhytomyr region at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries was a place of sugar industry development, so the estates of the famous "sugar" Tereshchenko family are still scattered throughout the region. The most beautiful of them is the Uvarova Palace in the village of Turchynivka, made in the Neo-Renaissance style. The palace was a dowry for the daughter of Fiodor Tereshchenko, Natalia, who married Count Serhii Uvarov, head of the Berdychiv district nobility. Tereshchenko's estate is in the center of the village, surrounded by an ancient park, in a picturesque area.
How to get there: the palace is located in the village of Turchynivka, Chudniv district, 60 km from Zhytomyr. It's most convenient to get there by car or by intercity bus.
Polissia Nature Reserve and Slovechna-Ovruch ridge
All of us sometimes want to disconnect from the noise of the city, big or even small, and escape somewhere into the woods, real and dark. The Carpathian forests give this sense, but the Zhytomyr region is a land of special forests, Polissia, plain and quiet. Areas of the taiga, the northernmost and westernmost parts of it, and many animals listed in the Red Book are still preserved here. And it's quiet because the forest lives its life. Time seems to be slower here, and it's difficult to say what time you're in… in the 20s, what year? Only the presence of a phone and a navigator will reveal to you the correct answer. The Slovechna-Ovruch ridge is tangent to the protected area and is the highest point of the Polissia plain, so the views here are incredible! You can go to the reserve both independently and using the services of a travel agency. (The cost of the tour is about 1500 UAH per person for 2 days).
How to get there: the reserve is located 200 km from Zhytomyr on the road towards Ovruch to the north. The most convenient way to get there is by car.
Koroliov Museum of Cosmonautics
Our country is known worldwide for its outstanding researchers of the atmosphere and space. The surnames of Sikorskyi, Hryhorovych, Kasianenko brothers, and others are known far beyond Ukraine. Thus, Zhytomyr is the birthplace of Academician Koroliov, under whose leadership the first intercontinental ballistic missile was launched, the first artificial satellite of the Earth, and the first human flight into space was made.
The Zhytomyr Museum of Cosmonautics was opened in 1991 based on the house-museum of Academician Koroliov, where the scientist's unique documents, photographs, and things are kept, and since the early nineties, also monuments of the cosmonautics history.
Among the museum exhibits, there's a container for placing scientific instruments on geophysical rockets, liquid rocket engines, rudder chambers of rocket engines, a moonwalker, spacesuits, and other equipment that will surprise and interest both children and adults. In addition, the museum presents an exhibition of animals that have visited space; satellites of the Earth; outstanding astronauts, mini-copies of rockets on which Leonid Kadeniuk, Herman Titov, Yurii Gagarin flew to space.
In the summer of 2018, a robot-assistant guide has arrived in the museum, who can dance, exercise, and learn the Ukrainian language. Therefore, the museum plans to introduce a special service, a tour with a robot, which, according to museum staff, will be the highlight of the institution.
How to get there: the museum is located in Zhytomyr at 5 Dmytrivska Street. It's open daily, except Mondays, visits are possible by appointment. Admission is UAH 30 for adults and UAH 20 for children.
In the north of the Zhytomyr region, there's an unusual object for the plain Polissia, Kamiane Selo, or Stone Village, large natural boulders in the middle of the forest, which appeared here in an amazing way. This place, hidden deep in the ancient Polissia forest, is shrouded in magic and is a place of strength, according to legends. As one legend says, the Lord punished the entire village for refusing to give a piece of bread to the Almighty disguised as a beggar. Enormous boulders are really shaped like houses and even form a whole "street." That's why they were called Stone Village. According to another belief, stone blocks are traces of the battle between God and the dark forces. On some stones, the defeated Satan left deep marks with his claws. And the victorious Lord, returning to heaven, took a few steps on the stone, which left his footprints. A ladder is attached to the corresponding boulder, so anyone can see the "God's footprints." And not only to see! They say if you step barefoot into the water, which fills the prints, similar in shape to the foot, the disease will disappear and wishes will come true. Scientists are inclined to believe that the boulders were brought by a glacier during the last ice age, which remained here after its retreat.
How to get there: Kamiane Selo is 190 km from Zhytomyr in the village of Rudnia-Zamyslovytska, Olesky district. It's most convenient to get there by car or through the city of Olevsk (buses and trains from Kyiv and Zhytomyr go there, and the village of Rudnia-Zamyslovytska can be reached from the city by intercity bus).