It’s a sure bet if you are from the United States or even the UK, probably anyplace in Western Europe even, the city of Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi is as foreign a name and place to you as Mars or Pluto. But if you only knew, the seaside wonder probably would not be for long. An hour and thirty minutes South of Odessa you’ll find a rural country beach getaway and a medieval icon of a fortress waiting.
Situated in the southwestern Ukraine, in the historical region of Bessarabia on the Black Sea, the city founded in the 6th Century BC by Milesian colonists was once known as Tyras. Famous for the Byzantine Asprocastron, or White Castle, the city is imbued with about as much back and forth history as any place in Europe. Controlled by the Romans, Byzantium, Hungary, the Tatars, Phoenicians, Ottomans, and a dozen others, Tyras later became part of Romania.
The oldest town in Ukraine is today a mix of ancient wonders and modern day tranquility and resort fun times visitors will be enamored with. However, you won’t find all the great places to see and do things in this part of Ukraine on TripAdvisor, nor will you get to the beach destinations on Trivago. Fact is, the only attraction you’ll be able to locate online in English will be the fortress, all else is a mystery. But not really.
Just outside of town on the Black Sea, you see the city and the fortress are actually on a protected harbor or the Dniester Estuary – inland from the sea, there’s the beach resort replete with luxury hotels like The Bless Resort (below), Veronika Beach Resort, and the sleepy seaside town of Zatoka (image second from top). Hey, and there’s even an Argo Restaurant in town, if you can imagine that. Focusing on seafood and all the watery wonders one expects from beach holiday spots, looking at Argo’s menu make this travel writer hungry. For breakfast they have scrambled eggs Milanese among other yummy choices. Lunch might consist of friend Walleye with mushrooms (pictured at article end), or any number of fish or meat dishes. These people know how to cook, but I diverge.
Other attractions in town include; the Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi museum of local lore, the Church of St. Nicolas across the bay in Ovidiopol, great local shops and markets, miles and miles of unspoiled uninhabited beaches, Zatoka Central Park. and of course Odessa is just up the coast a few kilometers away. For those of you who remember the family getaway to the quiet beach spots though, and those in range of some fantastic history too, then Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi may put you in mind of Brunswick or Savannah in the US South.
Just throw in a few centuries of culture and Ukraine hospitality.
Special note: Tyras-Belgorod Fortress is one of many historic places listed on the World Monuments Fund website as in need of attention.