Малувато англомовного матеріалу в інтернеті про Житомир для потенційних туристів, а те що є-здебільшо стандартні архітектурні описи і історична справка....А як потенційних туристів приманювати, які б привозили так потрібну зараз Україні валюту? Тому так собі вирішив спробувати, все несистематизовано і не закінчено, тому "критика приветствуется")
Well, Zhytomyr is not really a top spot on international tourist maps, and even an average Ukrainian tourist finds it hard to remember what's so interesting about this city.
In the English-language section of the Internet Zhytomyr is mentioned mostly because of its Jewish heritage, or as a home of the late Leonid Stadnyk- the tallest man in the world at the time, or sites about Ukrainian internet brides and in standard formal travel guides.
But surprisingly Zhytomyr has a lot to offer for a prepared visitor, one who has an enthusiastic and passionate local to show them around, or who has read an informal guide, like this one.))
Zhytomyr train station building is excessively big considering small, even minute (as for a city of three-hundred thousand) volume of passenger and freight traffic passing through the railway network. And it's got a very distinctive feature: while all over the world stations with a rectangular shape positioned with a longer side parallel to the tracks, Zhytomyr station faces the tracks with its short side.
Urban legend propounds the idea that when an architect was presenting the plan of the station before an approval board, the architect, or the board, or all of them were drunk, and the blueprints were turned 90 degrees and stamped and signed this way. And builders built the station according to this plan.
There is another urban legend about the station. On 30 December 1943 Zhytomyr was liberated from the Nazi occupation by the Red Army troops who did a swift offensive maneuvre. But the Germans intentionally left a railway tank with ethanol on the tracks by the station. Soviet soldiers got drunk celebrating New Year and the Germans re-captured the city, so the Red Army had to liberate Zhytomyr again in a few weeks time.
Zhytomyr was one of the first cities in Russian Empire where trams were introduced, and it used to have quite an extensive network. But over the years it has reduced to just a single tram route, conveniently named "Route 5". It runs from the eastern industrial zone to the very centre through the streets with predominantly low rises.
But the main interesting thing is that you can hire a vintage wooden tram (even with a tour guide), which is specially made for such occasions and kept at the Trolleybus-Tram depot, and have a pleasure ride along the route, at the current exchange rate it costs about £20.
The chief engineer of the Soviet space programme Sergey Korolyov was born in Zhytomyr, and one of the central squares bears his name, and a monument of him holding the first Sputnik. The statue is pretty big, made of granite, and has a somewhat cheeky feature: it's impossible to say whether it was done intentionally or by accident, but slowly walking around the statue you notice that from the side it looks like Korolyov is holding his giant erected part of the body which would be rude to mention here).
One of the distinctive geological features is is that Zhytomyr is basically built on granite. Although "the granite capital of Ukraine" more suited to a nearby small town of Korostyshiv, nevertheless Zhytomyr has its share- this is obvious when you browse its streets and notice disproportionally high number of stonemasons displaying their granite, labradorite, gabbro products. And because of this granite base summers in Zhytomyr feel hotter than thermometer shows. Locals are used to it, but on a sunny day +27 feels like +35 somewhere in southern Spain.
Zhytomyr has two green jewels in its crown: the Hydropark and the Gagarin park (the latter probably soon will be renamed to the Chaudoir park to commemorate the person who established it)
The pedestrian bridge in the Gagarin Park is the second highest of this type in Ukraine, and it's often used for bungee-jumping, and if you are brave enough you can try it yourself for less than a tenner.
(to be continued...)
Where to eat
Surprisingly there is no compiled gastronomical guide to Zhytomyr, neither in English nor even in Ukrainian or Russian. But the city can offer quite a satisfactory experience for a gourmet tourist. About half a dozen places call themselves "pubs" , and sure they serve good food and good beer; sushi-bars, pizzerias are also not a rare sight in Zhytomyr, but what the heck, Ukrainian cuisine is one of the richest in the world, and there are plenty of places where you can try it- and not only try, but eat and drink properly))
"Varenichna" in Mihailivska street has some tasty traditional Ukrainian dishes on its menu (which is also available in English), and their in-house made "nalyvkas" have many different flavours, and you'll be lucky to walk in a straight line after you've tasted all of them.
(to be continued....)