Le Pays De France - Ukraine's rich heritage under threat

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Ukraine's rich heritage under threat
Ukraine's rich heritage under threat

Ukraine's rich heritage under threat

Ukraine's rich religious, artistic and natural heritage is coming under increasing threat from intense Russian bombardment.

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Seven of its wonders are listed by UNESCO as world heritage sites and the United Nations agency has appealed for their protection.

- Saint Sophia -

Kyiv's most emblematic building is Saint Sophia Cathedral.

With its gold onion-domed towers, mosaics and icons, it was listed by UNESCO in 1990.

The capital's huge Pechersk Lavra (or Monastery of the Caves) and the Church of the Savour at Berestove have equal UN protection.

Saint Sophia dates from the 11th century but it was rebuilt in the baroque style from the 18th century.

The cathedral is highly symbolic not just for Ukrainians and but the whole Slavic Orthodox world.

Designed to rival Hagia Sophia in Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul), it is a symbol of the 11th-century Christian principality of Kyiv, the cradle of both modern Ukraine and Russia.

It celebrates the evangelisation of the region after the Byzantines baptised their Norse saint, king Vladimir the Great, in 988.

- Lviv's historic centre -

The historic centre of Lviv in western Ukraine has been on the UNESCO list since 1998.

The layout of this city of 700,000 people, previously called Lemberg, remains "preserved virtually intact" from the Middle Ages.

While fine baroque buildings now dominate, traces of the patchwork of ethnicities that once called it home still remain.

The vast monumental religious complex of the Residence of the Bukovinian and Dalmatian Metropolitans, in the handsome western town of Chernivtsi, is also on UNESCO's Ukrainian list.

- Wooden churches -

The beautiful wooden Tserkvas churches in the Carpathian mountains are also protected by UNESCO.

Eight are in Ukraine and the rest in neighbouring Poland.

UNESCO's list also includes the Struve Geodetic Arc, a chain of survey triangulation points stretching from Norway to the Black Sea.

- Primeval forests -

The primeval beech forests of the Carpathian mountains have top status too.

As does the ancient city of Tauric Chersonese in Crimea, which features the remains of a settlement founded by Dorian Greeks in the 5th century BC. The site, on the northern shores of the Black Sea, was annexed by Russia in 2014.

Ukraine has proposed 17 other sites to UNESCO for protection.

They include the historic centre of the Black Sea port city of Odessa, dating from the 19th century, and the historic medieval centre of Chernigiv, a city around 150 kilometres (90 miles) to the north of Kyiv, which has come under heavy Russian bombing.