Province: Kharkiv Oblast
With whole nations, cities, clubs and even families boasting their own coat of arms, distinguishing them can be a nightmare. Kharkiv is heraldry's dream. Encased in golden oak leaves in blue ribbon, their arms feature a caduceus (health) and cornucopia (abundance) beneath four sticks of rye and a sprocket, itself surmounted by an open book with an atomic symbol. There would have been few issues with copyright, yet it is far from arbitrary.
Established at the confluence of the Lopan, Kharkiv and Udy rivers and capital of agricultural north-east Ukraine, Kharkiv was for long the engine room of the region, building machinery on a massive scale. Yet as Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk and Zaporizhya began to take the physical strain, Kharkiv – the birthplace of Soviet nuclear technology – positioned itself as the brains behind the operation, fed by a university population of over 100,000.
THINGS TO SEE
Kharkiv's pride of place is Ploshcha Svobody (Freedom Square), the world's ninth biggest square. In fact it is far from square, more of a tree-filled bulb lined with the university and government buildings like the Derzhprom, the first Soviet skyscraper. Initial construction was by hand and for a time it was the tallest building in Europe. Now it houses the department for state industry and provides inspiration to legions of writers who have helped make Kharkiv the capital of Ukrainian science fiction and fantasy.
The pretty Shevchenko Park lies just south, complete with grand statues of Lenin and the poet Taras Shevchenko, and somewhat less impressive arcade games. In the summer the part of the park near pl Svobody becomes temporary home to a few outdoor clubs. Just south of the park is the Pokrovskiy Monastery, and cross the Lopan river and you cannot miss the beautiful Turkish-style Blahovishchenskiy cathedral. Just north is Tsentralny Rynok, a market with something for everyone: whether you want souvenir shapky (fur hats) or a rustic crankshaft.
Fan zone: Ploshcha Svobody (Freedom Square)
Kharkiv's 50,000-capacity fan zone, located in one of the biggest city squares in the world, will feature three giant screens and will open for the duration of the tournament from 12.00 to 01.00 local time on matchdays, 16.00 to 00.00 on non-matchdays. It is free to enter and will broadcast all 31 matches live, though at other times there will be plenty of entertainment such as football skill tests, five-a-side pitches, live concerts and DJ sets, as well as offer a full range of food and beverages.
To and from
Kharkiv Osnova International Airport is 8km south of the city and has daily services to Kyiv, Moscow, Vienna and Istanbul. The central Pivdenniy Vokzal train station has regular links with Donetsk (from 6.5 hours), Moscow (11.5 hours), Kyiv (from 6 hours) and Lviv (20 hours) as well as slower overnight services to the Ukrainian capital. There is a 24-hour service centre complete with English-speaking agent – look out for the shortest queue. A kilometre south of the train terminal is the central bus station, offering seven-hour connections to Kyiv via the capital's Boryspil Airport.
Distances to other UEFA EURO 2012 venues
Donetsk – 315km Kyiv – 480km Lviv – 1,015km
Warsaw – 1,250km Poznan – 1,570km Gdańsk – 1,600km Wroclaw – 1,515km
In and aroundA key transport hub, Kharkiv has a multitude of options for getting around. The metro has been running since 1975 and has three lines open from 6.00am to midnight, with the bright green tokens for individual journeys costing 2 UAH. The stations are worth the outlay in themselves, with space-age chandeliers and stained-glass portraits. Trolleybuses, trams, buses and mini-buses ('marshrutkas'), are also options for negotiating this expansive city.
This venue began life as the Traktor Stadium as it was sponsored by a nearby production plant.
UEFA Capacity: 35,000
Record attendance: 42,000 (FC Metalist Kharkiv v SC Tavriya Simferopol on 23/09/1980)
Opened: 1926 (reopened December 2009)
The ground has received several face-lifts down the years – the latest creating the multipurpose Metalist City complex, raising its non-UEFA capacity from 32,000 to 38,633 in anticipation of the 2012 European showpiece.
It was originally constructed on the site of the Holy Spirit cemetery and initially known as the Traktor Stadium as it was sponsored by a nearby production plant.
It was renamed Zenit (Zenith) in 1940, Dzerzhynets (in honour of the Bolshevik secret police's first director) in 1947 and then Avangard (Vanguard) between 1956 and 1976 before adopting its current moniker.
The latest renovations featured a new pitch, undersoil heating and LED scoreboards.
They were funded to the tune of approximately €60m by the authorities and Metalist owner Olexander Yaroslavskiy, on whose 50th birthday it reopened on 5 December 2009.
Cities & Stadiums
The Top 3 Teams of Previous Tournaments
|2008||Spain||Germany||Russia / Turkey|
|2004||Greece||Portugal||Netherlands / Czech Republic|
|2000||France||Italy||Netherlands / Portugal|
|1996||Germany||Czech Republic||France / England|
|1992||Denmark||Germany||Netherlands / Sweden|
|1988||Netherlands||Soviet Union||Italy / West Germany|
|1984||France||Spain||Denmark / Portugal|
|1972||West Germany||Soviet Union||Belgium|