With all the geopolitical maneuvering around Ukraine, politicians and pundits make it easy to forget the country is home to some of the world’s most captivating architecture and natural beauty. A total of seven locations have been designated World Heritage Sites by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); of those, six are man-made and three are shared with other countries.

Read on to learn about three of these sites and how they made the famous list.

Residence Of Bukovinian And Dalmatian Metropolitans

The almost palatial residence hall originally constructed for Orthodox Metropolitan Bishops embodies social, economical and cultural influences from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Eastern Orthodox Church, and local folk traditions.

The Byzantine, Gothic, and Baroque periods are also represented in the complex’s art and architecture, while historic events in the region lend the site even greater significance, meeting the UNESCO criterion of having a unique impact on the world and human history.

Struve Geodetic Arc

Begun in 1815, this “arc” is probably not the kind that comes to mind; it’s a measure of the curvature of the earth, stretching through ten countries in a series of small triangulations. A Russian astronomer was conscripted for the task, in order to ascertain the earth’s shape and size for the drawing of maps and borders between Europe’s major powers.

Each triangulation was marked by a physical landmark. Some have commemorative monuments, but others are simpler:

  • holes drilled into rocks
  • crosses marked on a rock face
  • cairns, or formations of rocks piled together

Of the 34 surviving UNESCO station points, four are in Ukraine.

Primeval Beech Forests

The only Natural UNESCO site in Ukraine (so far), the Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and other Regions of Europe are as timeless as the name implies. The history of these forests spans the millennia since the last Ice Age as well as the entire continent of Europe.

Two national parks and a biosphere reserve are among its more prominent features, but the forests were recognized by UNESCO for the biodiversity contained within them and the ability of the trees to adapt to each new region as they spread eastward.

The other four confirmed sites are a Cathedral, a historic center, small wooden churches from the Middle Ages, and ancient city dating to 5 B.B. UNESCO is considering an additional 16 sites for inscription in the coming years.