Poltava, Ukraine, is probably best known as the site of a 1709 battle between the Russians, led by Peter the Great, and the Swedes and Cossacks, which established Russia's position in Europe (and Ukraine's decline). The city is worth a stopover of a few hours if you're driving between Kharkiv and Kiev. While there, tour the battlefield and its monuments. A museum displays the rather large uniform of Czar Peter I, who was unusually tall.

In town, visit October Park, the gun-barrel-shaped Column of Glory and the Spassky Church, which is actually an outer shell protecting an earlier, wooden church inside.

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