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Chernivtsi city, often called "little Vienna". Where modern Ukrainians, Hungarians, Romanians, Jews, Russians and Poles set aside historical differences and just live in style!
The first written mention of the city was recorded over 600 years ago. The history of the city Chernivtsi takes its start from the Chern fortress, which has probably arisen in the middle of XII century, on the left bank of Prut river for guarding the trade Berlad way, which led from lower Podunavya to Halych. This city is mentioned among the others in the “List of distal and proximal Rus cities” as the Chern on Prut. Maybe, this name had originated from the black oaken walls of the fortress, laid with black soil. Apparently, the name of Chernivtsi city has as well originated from the word Chern
In the middle of XIII century (1259) this fortress had been destroyed on demand of Mongol governor Burundai, and the inhabitants have moved to the right bank of Prut River, where they founded a new settlement in the area of modern Sahaidachny and Barbyus streets.
The first written record about Chernivtsi was found in manuscripts of the Moldavian master Olexandr Dobryi (Alexander the Good) “Establishment of taxes”, given to merchants from Lviv on October 8, 1408. Each year this date is officially celebrated as Chernivtsi's City Day. The town was situated on the crossroads of Northern-Western Europe, and the Balkans and Turkey. The town served as a customs post at that time, through which the trade route connecting Lviv with Northern and Western Black Sea region passed. In 1457, it became a great marketplace and administrative center for the whole region. In 1538 the town as a part of Moldavian principality has fallen under the supremacy of the Osman Empire.
The population of Chernivtsi in the second half of XVIII century has composed of the Orthodox and the Jews, who dwelled in 200 huts. There were three orthodox churches in the town: of Assumption of the Virgin, of St. Nicholas, of St. Paraskeva, built of wood. The wooden synagogue was active in the town, and the Jews were living in their own community.
The town was destroyed several times, under the Osman Empire. After the Russian-Turkish war of 1768-1774, the Austrian troops were sent to the northern lands of Moldova, which have occupied Chernivtsi too. In 1774 the town along with Bukovina has joined the Austria-Hungary Empire. From the beginning of Austrian rule Chernivtsi was the capital of Bukovyna—as the seat of the military administration at first (1774–86) and of the civil government afterwards. In 1786–1849 the town was the center of the Bukovynian district, a part of the crown land of Galicia, and from 1849 to 1918 it was the capital of the crown land of Bukovyna, receiving full municipal self-government on 8 March 1864. The “Habsburg” period of its history was exactly the time when Chernivtsi has obtained its image of pro-European town with a distinctive for Austria-Hungary type of architecture and town infrastructure. In this most remote city to the east of the empire, a cosmopolite and multiethnic composition of population has formed. The climate of “Habsburg” Chernivtsi was being created by various religion and culture traditions of Ukrainians, Romanians, Poles, Jews and Germans (the German influence was especially strong).
After 1775 the city acquired a cosmopolitan character with an ethnically heterogeneous population. Besides Ukrainians and Romanians, Jews, Germans, Poles, and, in smaller numbers, Russians, Hungarians, and Armenians inhabited the city. Until 1918, however, the German language, which was used by the Germans and Jews (together constituting over half of the city's population) and partly also by other ethnic groups, was dominant. The city was the most easterly German cultural center and had the largest proportion of Germans among the major cities of Ukraine. The accompanying table presents the changes in the national composition of the city's population.
From the middle of XIX century, when the city has been connected by a railroad with Lviv and Iasi, Chernivtsi has become a border junction centre. The trains were carrying timber, sugar, livestock, wool, salt to North and South, East and West. The commodity exchange, chamber of trade and crafts, post office, telegraph, Bukovinian savings bank and branches of foreign banks were opened in the city. The European capital has come to Chernivtsi, the construction boom has started: new streets laid and paved, water supply and sewerage built. On October 4, 1875 by the decree of emperor of Austria-Hungary Franz Josef the university has been opened. The launch of the first tram in 1897 has become a great day for all Chernivtsi townsmen.
During the First World War Chernivtsi was occupied three times by the Russians, in the periods 30 August–21 October 1914, 26 November 1914–18 February 1915, and 18 June 1916–2 August 1917. It was the policy of the occupational regime to persecute nationally conscious Ukrainians, and the situation improved somewhat only after the February Revolution of 1917 when Oleksander Lototsky became gubernial commissioner of Bukovyna. After the Ukrainian Regional Committee of Bukovyna was formed on 25 October 1918, a large public assembly was convened in Chernivtsi on 3 November 1918, which approved Bukovyna's union with the Ukrainian State. On 6 November 1918 the Ukrainians took control of Chernivtsi and appointed Yosyp Bezpalko mayor. Five days later, however, Romanian troops occupied the city, and on 28 November the Romanian General Congress of Bukovyna proclaimed Bukovyna's union with Romania.
On June 28, 1940, according to Nazi-Soviet pact of Molotov-Ribbentrop, Northern Bukovina along with Chernivtsi has passed from Romania to Soviet Ukraine. According to this pact, nearly the whole ethnic German population has been repatriated from Chernivtsi, which has caused irreparable damage to the local multiethnic flavour. On August 2, 1940, the Chernivtsi region has been established as a part of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialistic Republic.
In the years of World War II during the German occupation of 1941-1944, the Romanian authority has returned to Chernivtsi. The war did not cause the significant destruction for the city: several buildings were destroyed on the Central Square and Poshtova street, the Temple was set on fire. After the Soviet Army occupied Chernivtsi for the second time, on 29 March 1944, the political order of 1940–1 was restored. Chernivtsi became the capital of Chernivtsi oblast. From 1956 the city began to be developed along the main arteries, and industrial sections were established in the north, central, and southern districts. In 1956 a natural-gas system was installed. The outlying town of Sadhora was incorporated into the city in 1965, which extended it to the left bank of the Prut.
After joining the USSR, a course to industrialize the region was taken, machine-building and chemical enterprises were established. A network of large instrument-making plants was created, mainly of defensive purposes. The population of Chernivtsi increased significantly, the city became a major railway junction.Thanks to the fact that Chernivtsi grew at the expense of new districts, the old part of the city was not affected by new buildings and therefore preserved its untouched beauty and integrity. Since Ukraine had become independent in 1991, Chernivtsi was repeatedly recognized as the most comfortable city for living in the country.