This year TourMagination’s classic Mennonite heritage tour in Ukraine has an extra-special twist. Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) is celebrating 100 years since its founding in 1920 to aid famine-stricken Mennonites in Ukraine—and you’re invited to join the celebration in the land where it all started! During two days in the Zaporizhye region, join MCC staff and supporters to celebrate MCC’s history and its ongoing work. Spend an additional day learning about MCC’s continued presence in Ukraine through visits to local partner organizations. As well as participating in the Centennial Celebration, gain a greater understanding of the Russian Mennonite story by engaging with the lands of its history. Mennonite historian and tour storyteller Richard Thiessen will shed light on the Mennonite story within the rich context of Tsarist and Soviet history, as well as present-day realities and challenges. During visits to the colonies of Chortitza and Molotschna, explore villages related to your family roots. This tour includes several optional excursions balanced with times of rest and reflection that will appeal to people of a variety of energy levels.
Mennonite Central Committee Centennial Celebration: Ukraine Tour
Sunday, March 22 Istanbul
Arrive in Istanbul, the famed capital of Turkey, and meet your fellow travellers over dinner.
Monday, March 23 Istanbul
Learn about the connections in Mennonite history to Istanbul as you explore iconic sights in the city. See the Hagia Sophia—once a Greek Orthodox cathedral, then an Ottoman-era mosque, and now a museum. Hagia Sophia is an architectural gem featuring great marble pillars, a main dome, and stunning windows, and is home to some of the world’s finest mosaic art. Across the way, the still-functioning Blue Mosque gets its name from the blue tiles that cover the interior walls. Nearby, visit the ancient underground Basilica Cistern. End the day’s discoveries in the traditional Jewish and Christian quarters of the city, including a visit to the Bulgarian steel church—built entirely out of cast iron.
Tuesday, March 24 Istanbul
Continue touring the wonders of Istanbul. This morning, visit the Kariye Museum, housed in a beautiful historic Byzantine church, as well as other historically relevant sites. Spend the afternoon cruising down the Bosphorus Strait, enjoying the sights of Istanbul from a different perspective. Dock in time to stroll through an Egyptian Spice Bazaar.
Wednesday, March 25 Istanbul/Zaporizhye
Board a group flight to travel from Istanbul into Ukraine. Your destination is the city of Zaporizhye in the heart of the region where Mennonites used to live. Depending on the time of your flight, you may have free time in Istanbul or Zaporizhye.
Thursday, March 26 Zaporizhye/Chortitza
Tour Zaporizhye, a city built by Stalin in the 1930s on top of Chortitza. Zaporizhye is known for being the epicentre of a revolution that unleashed great terror for Mennonites. See the great Stalinist dam, and visit the Island of Chortitza for lunch. Continue your tour of Zaporizhye and the Chortitza colony, stopping to admire the remains of the old Chortitza oak tree (believed to be over 700 years old) that Mennonites once used as a meeting place.
Friday & Saturday, March 27 & 28 Zaporizhye
In 1920, Mennonite Central Committee was formed to respond to the famine ravaging Mennonite communities in what is now Ukraine. MCC has grown to have a worldwide impact with its work on relief, development, and peacebuilding. For MCC’s centennial, join staff and supporters in Zaporizhye to take part in a celebration of MCC’s 100 years.
Sunday, March 29 Zaporizhye
As part of the MCC centennial celebration, spend today visiting with local partners of MCC to learn about the continuing work MCC supports in Ukraine.
Monday, March 30 Zaporizhye/Molotschna
Travel to former Mennonite villages of the Molotschna colony. Nothing can describe the special experience of visiting the land where your forefathers and mothers lived and died. Though few original buildings remain, seeing the land and hearing the stories is sure to give you new insights about Mennonites and your family. Enjoy a meal at the Mennonite centre in Halbstadt to add to a meaningful day.
Tuesday, March 31 Zaporizhye
Today is a flexible day that can be used to arrange individual tours to see villages or sites important to your family. Or you can explore Zaporizhye—possibilities include shopping at the daily market, or walking through the Voznesensky Park on the banks of the Dnieper River.
Wednesday, April 1 Zaporizhye/Kiev
Relax on a train ride through the countryside to Kiev, Ukraine’s capital city. After you arrive, stretch your legs during free time to explore the city.
Thursday, April 2 Kiev
As you learn more about Kiev, see the Pechersk Lavra, a historic but still active orthodox Christian monastery that is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. Visit the impressive 100-metre Rodina Mat’ (Motherland) monument, then stop at St. Michael’s Golden Domed monastery. You’ll also see St. Sophia’s nearby. This evening, you have the option of attending a ballet performance.
Friday, April 3
Say farewell to your fellow travellers as you depart Kiev for home. You will treasure the greater understanding you have found of your ancestors as well as the history and work of Mennonite Central Committee.
For further information, please contact us. We would be happy to be of assistance.
Click here for a printable PDF of the tour itinerary and costs. – check back soon!