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Vilkovo (Ukrainian – Vylkove) is often referred to as “the Ukrainian Venice“. It is a picturesque town in the utmost south of Odessa region. Well, yes, Vilkovo is the town on the water, has canals instead of the streets, and a boat is as popular as a car or a bus there. But apart from that, it has little in common with the Italian City of Canals.
Founded in 1746 on the modern Ukrainian-Romanian border, Vilkovo changed its “nationality” many times. It used to be a part of the Ottoman Empire, then Russian Empire, Principality of Moldavia, the Kingdom of Romania, the Soviet Union – eventually, to become a Ukrainian city.
If you travel across the Odessa region, Vilkovo is going to be one of your journey’s highlights. So, why should Vilkovo be added to your bucket list?
Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve
The Danube Delta is one of the world’s largest wetland areas and one of the very few wetlands, preserved in Europe. With its numerous lakes and marshes, the Reserve is a home for 300 species of birds as well as 45 freshwater fish species. Fun fact: over 70% of the world’s white pelican population nests here.
You’ll adore a boat tour through the delta’s waterways, starring a bowl of special-recipe fish soup, cooked over the fire, a snap near a “0 km” mark that indicates the Danube’s terminus, and stunning scenery.
The entire Odessa region is known for its winegrowing, but Vilkovo offers an exquisite experience of the wine, made of the local sort of grape, called Novak. It has a very pronounced fragrant and taste that is not easily forgotten.
Despite tons of Novak wine are produced yearly in every town household, you’d better hold no hopes for getting bottled wine of this sort. Also, be ready for weird looks should you inquire for Grand Reserve or any other fancy stuff. Home-made Novak wine is too good to last longer than a year or two.
Thanks to geography, Vilkovo is the land of fishing. For many locals, it’s not just a hobby the metropolis-dwellers would practice once in a blue moon. Catching fish here is as regular activity as buying groceries. Thus, super-fresh local fish – carp, mullet, pike, sturgeon – is a staple of the local cuisine. Don’t miss your chance to enjoy your best fishing experience!
Vilkovo was founded by the Old Believers – the “dissenters” who refused to recognize the new rules of worship, introduced by the Moscow Patriarch Nikon in 1652. They continued to cross themselves with two fingers instead of three and refused to cut their beards. Freedom of religion was apparently not something the then Moscow tsar and the reformed Orthodox Church were aware of, so they persecuted the Old Believers – many were forced to flee and hide in the wetlands in the Danube Delta. These days, Vilkovo is the largest community of the Old Believers (the Lipovans) in Ukraine and allegedly in the world. Through the centuries, it has preserved its traditions and churches.
The greenish water of the Danube, fascinating sunsets, heart-warming hospitality, and a unique landscape will make a weekend tour to Vilkovo a really rewarding adventure.
Photo credit: Shevtsoff