Busha Village, a Bright Star on the Tourist Map of Ukraine

  • Natalia Lukianovich
  • 17 October 2012

For a long time I had dreamed of running away from Kiev, but, for many reasons, I was tied to my city life. Then, in May 2008, during one of my annual small trips around Ukraine, I accidentally found the village of Busha.

Busha village in winer, Ukraine

Busha village is small, but it's a bright star on the local tourist map of Ukraine. This town is a pleasant rural area on the outskirts of industrial development. Photo courtesy of Natalia Lukianovich

The village astonished me with its beauty and strong positive energy surrounding the celebration of International Museum Day, which was taking place at the time. Between Busha’s impressive natural setting and rich culture, it didn’t resemble other villages in Ukraine.

It was then that I knew that I’d soon be living here – and the very next year, in May, I began my new life. Today, my days in Busha are as different from life in the big city as the the sky is the earth. I have finally found what I was looking for.

Visiting the Village Museum

Visitors looking to get a sense of my village should consider stopping in at the village museum. It tells the story of Busha’s thousand-year history. Artefacts of the famous Trypillian culture were found here, as well as evidence of the Chernyakhivska and Scythian cultures, and the remains of 11th-12th-centuries Old Rus settlements. In the 16-17th centuries, a big fortress with six towers stood here, but it was destroyed during the Russo-Polish War of 1654 against Polish oppression, when, during one battle, the residents of Busha launched a heroic defence and resistance. Almost all the inhabitants of the town were killed and the fortress was razed. From that time period, only the village tower remains.

Village tower of Bucha, Ukraine

The village has several picturesque ruins, including the surviving tower of a 15-16th- century fortress. Photo courtesy of Natalia Lukianovich

It wasn’t until 2004 that the historical and cultural preservation of Busha was organised. Today, the museum includes three sections: the archaeological wing presents artefacts found during excavations; the ethnographical wing demonstrates the styles of life in Ukrainian villages in the second half of the 19th century; there is a showcase of local handicrafts such as pottery, embroidery, wood carving, primitive paintings and household goods from centuries ago.

The setting of this historical, archeological and folk-art museum is incredibly picturesque, surrounded by a park of sculptures made from local sandstone. Visitors can explore the grounds filled with the works of artists and masons inspired by the heroic defence of Busha. Each August artists meet here and create new works, making it possible to exhibit new sculptures every year.

The museum offers guided tours for US$5 per group; entry costs approximately US$1 per person with a surcharge of US$1 for each camera.

Busha’s Beauty out of Doors

Ecotourism is developing in Busha, where the scenery includes hills covered with woods of oak trees, acacia and hornbeam, plus bushes of dog rose, hawthorn and blackthorn. While these days, most visitors who stay overnight in cottages are satisfied with a visit to the museum and the nearby Guydamatsky ravine, I can lead anyone fond of walking on hikes further afield. Some routes are 10-15 kilometres long.

Guydamatsky ravine near Bucha, Ukraine

Ukraine's well-known Guydamatsky ravine was carved by the Bushanka River. Photo courtesy of Natalia Lukianovich

Far from the Guydamatsky ravine, which is a regular stop for tourists, is one of my favourite hikes. It takes in an old stone quarry that looks like a landscape from another planet. The bottom of the quarry appears absolutely lifeless under the burning sun, but seen from up close, life is found everywhere.

When you go to this place, you pass an old well from which you can pull up a bucket and drink cold, clean water. On onee side of the road to the quarry is a forest; on the other lies a field with dog rose bushes.

In September, many plants bloom or produce berries around Busha. Walking here, visitors can also spot local animals such as wild pigs, hares, squirrels and foxes that often come into our yards to steal chickens. Near houses we also see polecats and weasels (that also hunt chickens) and raptors such as kites circling high above. It’s not for nothing the saying that says chicks are to be counted in autumn.

Local Artists and Craftswomen

Forty kilometres from Busha, in the village of Bukatinka, live a famous local artist and mason, Alex Alioshkin, and his fellow artist and wife, Ludmila Alioshkina. Alioshkin, whose work style is an amazing fantasy of Old Rus themes, has his own museum installed in three very old clay houses. Creation for him is his life; he’s unable to think about money when he has inspiration.

Art in the sculpture park of Bucha, Ukraine

Busha's history in Ukraine helped to inspire an outdoor sculpture park showcasing the work of local artists and stonemasons. Photo courtesy of Natalia Lukianovich

Getting to the local artists’ house is as much of a trip as the art. You have to go by cart across 15 kilometres of fields. I will never forget my first cart trip to his place. I saw a small foal running nearby. In his yard two months ago, I saw two very interesting sculptures, one of Ringo Starr and other of a very famous song writer and poet named Vladimir Vysotsky. They inspired me so, because I liked Alioshkin’s manner and wanted to help support his work, I asked him to paint my cabin. His wife makes beautiful objects from clay; from her I commissioned cups, dishes, etc. As a result, the inside of my home is adorned with Ukrainian ethnic artefacts and fantasy wall murals.

Another nearby village is famous for its Ukrainian embroidery. With skills passed from generation to generation, women work during long winter nights using satin-stitch and cross-stitch techniques to make towels, carpets and rugs, mens ‘and women’s shirts, and long dresses with embroidered sleeves. Prices depend on the detail of the work, and begin at around US$40.

The Wonders of Winemaking

Close to Busha, the village of Mykhailivka has been famous since Soviet for wine making. Local here make a variety kinds of wine – dry, table, dessert, red, white and pink. The harvest season and wine-making spectacle are in September, when by advance appointment, it’s possible to observe at least some parts of the process. Wine tasting can be done all year long.

Wall art in a cottage of Bucha Ukraine

The walls of Natasha's cottage are adorned by paintings in Old Rus style by a famous local artist. Photo courtesy of Natalia Lukianovich

I make wine myself, but it’s a small amount compared with the quantity people make in this village. I don’t have 500-litre barrels, for example; I make wine in plastic barrels and, after the second fermentation, I pour it in glass jars. This year will be a good crop for my red grapes.

Helping People Feel at Home

In my own house – which has a bedroom, living room and big veranda – I can accommodate 3-4 people from the middle of April until the end of September. I have hot water, as well as a shower and indoor toilet. Other ladies in the village can also host visitors.

Accommodation in Busha is cheap – $10 per night – and for food you will just need to let your hosts know in advance. Everyone in the village has their own vegetable garden and almost all people keep a cow, so fresh milk is readily available. Local specialties include stuffed cabbage, vareniki and our famous national dish, called borsch. It is said that for every chef alive there are as many ways to make borsch.

What I like most about my life in Busha are the calmness and bounty. Everything that nature can give is near at hand – the sunsets and sunrises I can watch from my yard, the frogs’ concerts in the river at night and the birds singing that I enjoy with every day.

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Natalia Lukianovich

Natalia Lukianovich graduated from Kiev state University as biologist. In her youth the desire to see new places drove her further and further to the East of the former USSR until the Pacific stopped her. She worked on a fish fleet as a chemist in the Far East for some years. Now retired, she has settled in Busha.
Natalia Lukianovich
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Eastern Europe, Europe, fine arts, food & drink, handicrafts & shopping, local knowledge, museums, personal experience, Ukraine, women,

6 Responses to “Busha Village, a Bright Star on the Tourist Map of Ukraine”

  1. Thomas Costello says:

    Hi Natalia,
    I read your article about your beatiful country ‘Ukraine’,and I am very impressed by the unique culture
    you have all around you especially Busha.Guess how I came accross your website?
    I reside in Ireland and I would like to find out more about your ountry and what it is like to Holiday in
    I look forward to your reply.
    Kind regards,
    Thomas Costello.

    • Natalia says:

      Hi Tomas,
      if you came through my vebsite you could see there my e-mail. How could you find my site? It’s the link in the article about me.
      We have many interesting holidays in the village. The next one will take place on October,14, it’s the holiday of the Cossack’s glory and this day is the big Orthodoxal holiday. There are the pictures of this fest of 2009. Usually the weather is pretty cold this time.
      Every year more and more tourists come to to the village. I’m not the only who come to live here from the big cities. We organized the non-profit organization “Veles”, we received grants, not big now, to promote and develop the village and to accomodate the tourists. The people from the Europe don’t k now much about Ukraine and they’re afraid to come to Ukraine. It’s “terra incognita” for them, Africa isn’t so scareful as Ukraine.
      Write what do you want to know. Are you Italian> Your last name is Italian.
      The best regards – Natalia.

  2. Kumar Ashish says:

    Thanks for sharing
    Beautiful Picture

  3. Natalia says:

    Thank you for publishing the article about Busha. Everybody is welcome.

  4. That’s a great story, Natalia! Ukrainian villages have so many things to offer and it really makes me happy to know that people start to re-discover that. Your move away from the busy capital is inspiring!

  5. Kodaikanal Tours says:

    Nice crafts out there !! Please take me to Ukraine.

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