Accompanied by Professor Leporc explore two of East Europe’s most fascinating countries. For centuries Ukraine was the cradle of Slavic culture but coveted by its neighbours, the Poles, the Turks and the Tatars, it was fated to be a regional battleground. Despite continuing hardships, the Ukrainian people have preserved their identities and nurtured their cultures. Poland shares a similar tumultuous history. From 1795 to 1918, it did not even exist as a country on any European map. But times have changed since the communists fell from power in 1989. Today Poland which has always considered itself more a part of the west than the east is going though rapid phase of modernization. Nonetheless the country is intent on combining its distinctive national identify with its place in the heart of Europe.
The journey begins in Ukraine’s capital, Kiev, a city of gold-domed cathedrals and churches. Visit St. Andrew’s Church, built at the command of Elizaveta, the pious daughter of Peter the Great. Its proportions are perfect, and it offers an inspired baroque interpretation of the traditional five-domed, cross-shaped church. Explore the Caves Monastery, unique in its scale and grandeur where Orthodox Christian pilgrims mingle beneath the gilded gold of the beautifully refurbished Cathedral of the Assumption. And then, candle in hand, wind silently through caves housing the remains of monks dating back a millennium.
From Kiev, take a high-speed train through Ukraine’s stunning countryside to Lviv, a UNESCO Heritage Site and one of East Europe’s most spectacular towns exhibiting a whole range of architectural styles - gothic, renaissance, baroque, rococo and neoclassical. Roughly 45 miles from the Polish border, Lviv has a polyglot past and precious few years of independence during its 750-year history. In the 20th century alone it changed hands between Austria-Hungary, Poland and the Soviet Union, and was called Lemberg, Lwow and Lvov depending upon who was in charge. With its ornately handsome buildings, Lviv still bears many vestiges of its grand days as part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
From Lviv cross into Poland and drive to the historic city of Krakow. En route visit the historic trading town of Yaroslav with its beautiful Italian Renaissance palazzo and the nearby magnificent Krasiczyn Castle. Krakow, Poland’s second city, has a recorded history dating back to 965. In 1978 it was selected by UNESCO as one of the most remarkable architectural complexes in the world. It is home to one of Europe's largest medieval marketplaces, central Europe's second oldest university (after Prague) and for six centuries it as the royal seat for Polish kings. During the golden renaissance of Polish culture in the 16th century, Krakow was the capital of Europe's most populous kingdom, stretching from the Baltic to the Black Sea, harbouring a medley of cultures including Poles, Germans, Lithuanians, Jews, Italians and Hungarians, a veritable Euro-boomtown.
The journey finishes in Poland’s capital, Warsaw, which has been beautifully rebuilt following its near destruction in World War II. The Old Town reconstruction has kept to the original 13th century design but of equal interest is the city’s highly controversial post-war Socialist Realist architecture embodied by the Palace of Culture and Science which reflects the city’s more recent history.
Maximum Party Size: 20