Nikolaev, Ukraine is famous to men from the Cape of Good Hope to the Brooks Range as the “City of Brides,” a dating nirvana, full of the most beautiful women in the world just waiting to throw themselves at the feet of any West Texas rancher or retired Australian accountant who can figure out how to get there.
Is this impression as the earthy home of Venus true?
Well, there certainly is a basis in fact for the cities reputation. Nikolaev certainly does have a lot of beautiful women, and the city has been a center of the modern mail order bride movement since the fall of the Soviet Union.
But you should keep reading and decide if you should include Nikolaev on your Ukrainian romance tour. Today the city is officially known by its Ukrainian, Mykolaiv. You are likely to see that on modern maps, especially in Europe, but this article will use the older more famous Russian name.
Nikolaev is on the Bug River just north of the Black Sea eighty-two miles northeast of Odessa and 297 miles, almost due south of Kiev. It was one of the original, “Potemkin Villages,” founded in 1788 by Catherine the Great’s lover Prince Gregory Potemkin.
During the Soviet period it was the home to three major shipyards and was officially a “closed city,” off limits to all foreigners and even other Soviet citizens. Perhaps, that accounts for the some of the city’s romantic reputation? It is hard to say.
Why Is It Called The City of Brides?
Where did Nikolaev get the nickname the “City of Brides?” That is a good question. It appears that it mostly comes from a very old mail order bride site, www.cityofbrides.com.
On the site they tell a romantic myth the founding of the city that is alluring and possibly even true:
In the late 1800s the Duke ordered the most beautiful women from the surrounding villages be brought to Nikolaev to be chosen as brides so the new town’s city builders can marry and take root in Nikolaev to build a family of their own. Once they’ve chosen whom to marry, the brides and bridegrooms will be lined in one line and were brought to church to be wed.
Today, Nikolaev Ukraine is known as the City of Brides where a number of beautiful women residing in one city is plentiful. People say it’s because of the genes of the many beautiful women chosen as brides in Nikolaev Ukraine’s history. This fact is agreeable, for how can one explain the very stunning beauties this one city alone have?From City of Brides Website
One problem with this theory is that in Ukraine every little town with a train station and a Great Patriotic War memorial in Ukraine is overrun with absolutely stunning women. Ukrainian women really are the most beautiful girls in the world.
Kiev, Odessa, Lviv, Dnipro, and Kharkov pretty much look like the set for a movie called, “City of the Hot Girls,” day in and day out.
Look at those women!
That is a slightly hotter than average group of Ukrainian women, but only slightly hotter, and you might see a group of women just that beautiful in any nice restaurant or coffee shop in any major city in Ukraine on any day of the week. So, are girls in Nikolaev hot?
But are Nikolaev women really sexier than women in Odessa, Kharkov, or Lviv?
The Sexiest Ukrainian Women?
If I had about twenty million dollars, I would throw myself into definitively answering where the sexiest Ukrainian women lived with all of the passion of a modern day Dr. Livingstone for the rest of my natural life, which might be significantly shortened by my… desire for scientific rigor.
Since I don’t have the stamina… the financial stamina for such in-depth research at this point in my life, I will just say, yes, the women in Nikolaev are stunning. That’s a fact. Are they more stunning than other Ukrainian girls?
Heck if I know, but the women from the “City of Brides” are still absolutely worth the trip. That’s a fact!
Now, the second little problem about the story of the Duke kidnapping peasant girls for his workmen is that the mail order bride site seems to be the only place that the story exists. At least it was the only place our dedicated team of researchers could find any mention of the story.
It is certainly possible because it was the sort of thing that Russian rulers from Peter the Great to Joseph Stalin regularly did to the poor benighted Russian peasants for 400 years. Catherine the Great would not have thought twice about allowing such a practice if Potemkin, probably the true love of her life, had said the sexy peasant lasses were necessary for the success of the new city.
The story could well be true, but it appears that Nikolaev may have stolen the nickname from an altogether different city, Ivanovo, Russia was known as the “City of Brides” during the Soviet-era, because it was a textile center. The factories recruited teenage girls to work in the cotton mills and shirt factories.
This left Ivanovo with far more women than men, something that it still has according to the Houston Chronicle which wrote that, “The Ivanovo region has the highest ratio of women to men in Russia,” so it became known as the City of Brides. That makes sense.
The textile industry is almost always dominated by women workers, whereas shipyards and steel mills of Nikolaev might have had some women workers, but it is hard to imagine that there would be a surplus of young women.
It really doesn’t matter whether it is true or not most of the people outside of Ukraine and Russia who have ever heard of Nikolaev know it as the “City of Brides.” That is a simple fact: no doubts, hesitation or complicated research required.
Women of Nikolaev
Today Nikolaev is a city of about 480,000 people. It suffered the same tragic history as the rest of Ukraine during the 20th century from the Russian Civil War to the starving times under Stalin in the early 1930s to the conquest of Hitler, and Stalin’s inevitable return.
During the years immediately after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1992 it became a center of the international dating movement. Some of this might be because Nikolaev is a college town, and of course that means thousands of beautiful young women from around Ukraine travel to the city to complete their high education.
Here is how the website of the city of Mukolavia, the Ukrainian name for the city, explains the role of higher education:
Mykolaiv is the acknowledged center of higher education and science. Thousands of highly qualified specialists graduate from institutes and universities annually. These universities are well-known in Ukraine and abroad. Among them: National University of Shipbuilding named after Admiral Makarov (trains specialists of modern shipbuilding professions, the degrees of the University are recognized in USA, Germany etc.), Mykolaiv National State University named after V.Sukhomlynskyi, Mykolaiv State Agrarian University, Black Sea State University named after Petro Mohyla, Southern Slavic Institute of Kiev Slavonic Studies University, Mykolaiv branch of Kiev National University of Culture and Arts, Mykolaiv educational center of Odessa National Law Academy, Mykolaiv Interregional Institute of Human Development of International University for Human Development “Ukraine”, Mykolaiv branch of the European University, Mykolaiv Polytechnic Institute.Website of the city of Mukolavia
So, it is a great city to visit if you want to date a college girl or a hot college professor. And the city’s reputation for more beautiful women than other Ukrainian cities probably does actually come from the large population of Ukrainian college girls. Mark this down as a strong positive for the city’s reputation as the “City of Brides.”
So, compared to other cities in Ukrainian the women of Nikolaev are younger, more educated, and more ambitious, which is exactly the kind of women who would consider marrying a foreign guy. The question is what do you do to make yourself into one of those lucky guys these women would consider marrying.
Dating in Nikolaev
At it’s heart Nikolaev is still a big industrial city of shipyards, steel mills, and engine factories, so the entertainment scene is not comparable to other Ukrainian cities like Kyiv, Odessa, or Kharkiv. For a foreign guy this can work to your advantage.
Try to punch above your normal cultural weight when planning dates in Nikolaev. Think about fun attractions that will encourage conversations between you and the lady.
One of the best attractions in the city if the weather is even halfway decent is the Nikolaev Zoo. It gets extraordinarily good reviews and is generally considered the best zoo in Ukraine.
There is a lot of room to walk and talk at the zoo. It gives a woman to see how you treat animals and lets her see if you are more like a hyperactive baboon or a dignified mountain gorilla.
If the weather does not make a trip to the zoo attractive a good back up is to check out the V. V. Vereshchagin Mykolaiv Art Museum. It is a solid if not spectacular art museum.
That makes sense given that Nikolaev is not an ancient city like Odessa or Kiev, but then again you are not primarily concerned with the art. You are concerned with the setting and for a date an art museum shows you have a little class, that you are cultured.
It also gives you something to talk about with your date and that is what is really important: getting a chance to know the woman you have traveled halfway around the world to meet. You need tale the time and discover who she really is.
There are only a couple of other museums in Nikolaev: the Museum of Shipbuilding and the Fleet and the Nikolaev Museum of Local History. Beyond the zoo and the few museums there is really not much to do in term of cultural expeditions you can use for low key dates.
However, the restaurants and coffeehouses across Ukraine are generally outstanding. So, you should be able to find a quiet restaurant or café to take her without too much trouble.
If so, remember that the first rule to separate yourself from the local men is do not drink any alcohol. This will come as a total shock to the woman, because booze is so deeply ingrained in Ukrainian culture.
She has probably never been on a date before with a man who didn’t drink. It will put you in a different category and make it special when you do decide to have a drink with her.
Apartments and Hotels in Nikolaev
One of the great things about visiting Ukraine these days is that it is incredibly cheap – at least for Americans.
Here are the results of my super low end search on AirBnB:
The price filter was set for $10 to $12 a night for an apartment and AirBnB had eight choices.
So, it is seriously cheap if you want to go cheap. Hotels are slightly more expensive, but still cheap by American or Western European standards.
One of the main reasons to choose a hotel is that normally a hotel staff members speak English. This is universal at the better hotels, but even the budget hotels aimed at a local market nearly always have English speaking staff members.
Finally, if you do decide to stay for an extended stay you can probably beat the prices posted on AirBnB by having a local contact the landlord for you. But of course, you need a local you can trust for that.
Getting To Nikolaev
Getting to Nickolaev is a little tricky because it is off the beaten path. The easiest way is to fly into Odessa and take the train from Odessa to Nikolaev.
But Odessa is not a top tier international airport, so generally you get the best deals if you fly into Kiev. Then you can either fly or ride the train to Nikolaev.
Flying would be fastest, but the Ukrainian railroad system tends to be very good. It generally runs on time and it is incredibly cheap. More importantly, taking the train allows you to spend some time with Ukrainians in the wild so to speak. It is really worth it.
Verdict on “The City of Brides”
Nikolaev probably did not have the title “City of Brides” until after the fall of the USSR. The term is really just good advertising, but it does have a lot more college girls than most Ukrainian cities of a similar size.
And, maybe that is where the nickname really comes from? Who knows and really who cares?
Nikolaev is certainly worth a visit if you are headed to Ukraine. It is not too far off the beaten path and it does have a more young women than similar sized cities.
And since it is not Kiev, Odessa, or Lviv it will not have nearly as many other guys there looking for women, so you chance of it becoming the city of your bride is probably pretty decent.