The city of Poltava in central Ukraine (population: approx. 300,000) is the capital of Poltava Region (1.5 million) and is an ancient settlement believed to date to the Paleolithic Age.
The city and its environs have fallen under the control of one or another empire since belonging to the Duchy of Kyiv, a vassal state of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, in the 14th century. In the 16th century it passed to the Crown of Poland, and in the mid-17th century became a base of the Ukrainian Cossacks under the command of Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky, who led a massive uprising against the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth that ultimately brought Poltava and most of the rest of Ukraine under the control of the Tsar of Muscovy.
Poltava is most famous, however, as the site of a great battle between the forces of the Russian Empire and those of the Hetman of Ukraine (Ivan Mazepa) in alliance with the Kingdom of Sweden in 1709. Russian autocrat Peter the Great won the battle, and Ukraine’s hopes of independence were essentially destroyed for over 200 years.
Today, Poltava is a quiet city with a pleasant historic center and attractive vistas visible from an observation area called the White Arbor. On my first visit to Poltava in 2002, I remember watching a dramatic storm from this colonnaded site, with lightning shooting down from the clouds in the distance. On my visit in 2016, unfortunately, there was significant rain and fog, and opportunities for photography were limited.
Poltava has some interesting points of interest, including a Museum of Long Range Aviation that is located on the site of a WWII airfield, from which a massive US bombing operation “Operation Frantic” was conducted against the Germans. The Museum of Local Lore is an interesting architectural landmark all visitors should see.
The full album can be viewed here: Flickr