Continuing our exploration of the great cities of the Ukraine we travel to Donetsk, famous for the popular football team Shakhtar, but the city has far more to offer than just sport. At the moment Donetsk is at the center of a fierce political and military feud between Russia and Ukraine. The city is estimated to have over nine hundred thousand inhabitants and is the fifth largest city in the Ukraine by population.
Donetsk’s rise to fame came about due to its minerals, and a great coal mining industry grew up together with many metallurgy activities. It is also the center of a major transportation hub and a metropolis of two million people with Khartsyzk, Makiivka and Yasynuvata.
By Ukrainian standards Donetsk is a fairly modern city being founded in 1869. The influx of workers from the newly established Russia Company of Anthracite, Iron and Rail Production made it necessary for a settlement to be built and Donetsk was founded.
As the heavy industry developed and the importance of Donetsk as a major mining center the town grew. The migrants were mostly Russian workers as the local Ukrainians were far too busy on their farms to work in the mines.
Hardly surprising the economy of Donetsk is largely dominated by its industrial activities, it revolves around machine building, coal mining, metallurgical activities, and chemical industries. There are over two hundred major industrial plants in Donetsk with the biggest being the Donetsk Metallurgical Plant.
There is also an abundance of Light Industries including clothing, knitted materials, food industries such as beer, dairy, meat and fish. Many of these industries export their products widely throughout the Ukraine and further afield.
Surprisingly for a relatively new city, Donetsk has a good cultural heritage. It is one of the largest centers of learning in the Ukraine and due to the industries has about thirty different research and development centers. There is a further nineteen higher learning facilities which include five universities: Donetsk Medical University, Donetsk University, National Technical University, Donetsk University of Economics and Trade, and the Donetsk State Management University.
There are also three theaters including an Opera and Ballet plus a fantastic Puppet Theater. The city has its own philharmonic orchestra and a circus. There are two state museums one being a regional studies museum and the other an art museum, and a further fifteen assorted museums offering all manner of exhibits and material to study.
Getting around Donetsk is simple and cheap due to a large trolley bus system and nearly all the local suburbs are linked to the city with an extensive rail network. Donetsk may not go down as the most picturesque city in the Ukraine, however it does have many endearing aspects least of all the plethora of cultural things to do and see. It is hardly surprising that it is at the center of a bitter dispute between two nations.
Its industrial prowess makes it desirable, and the fact that it has grown because of migrant workers makes it a very cosmopolitan city that other nations feel they have a claim to.