Horlivka, Ukraine

Horlivka, Ukraine

Also referred to by its Russian name “Gorlovka,” Horlivka is a large city and a city of regional significance situated in the Donetsk Oblast in the eastern part of Ukraine. The city of Horlivka has been named after Pyotr Nikolayevich Gorlov, a Russian mining engineer who had built the first coal mine in the city in 1867. By the beginning of the 20th century, this mining settlement had grown into one of the country’s most important industrial centers. In 2014, the city of Horlivka was captured by the pro-Russian forces and became a part of the Donetsk People’s Republic.

Geography Of Horlivka

Soviet monument in Zaitsevo, Horlivka, Ukraine.
Soviet monument in Zaitsevo, Horlivka, Ukraine. Editorial credit: Vittorio Nicola Rangeloni / Shutterstock.com

The city of Horlivka is located on a grooved plain at the heart of the Donets Basin industrial area, in the headwaters of the Bakhmutka River, Luhan River, Korsun River, and the Zalizna Balka River. Horlivka covers a land area of 422 sq. km and is situated approximately 40km from Donetsk, 619km from Odessa, 646km from the country’s capital Kyiv, and 817km from Moscow.

The city of Horlivka is administratively divided into three city districts. These include the City Center, Kalinin, and Mykytivka. Many towns and villages also form a part of the city municipality. Holmivsky, Panteleymonivka, and Zaitseve are the urban-type settlements; Ryasne and Mykhailivka are the villages; Hladosove, Piatykhatky, Fedorivka, Ozeryanivka, Stavky, Piatykhatky, and Shyroka Balka are the hamlets. Of these, the majority of the populated places form a part of the City Center district, whereas Zaitseve, Hladosove, and Holmivsky form a part of Mykytivka district.


According to the Köppen climate classification, the city of Horlivka experiences a humid continental climate with warm summers and freezing, snowy winters. The warm season lasts from May to September, with July being the hottest month, having an average high temperature of 26.6°C and a low temperature of 16.1°C. The cold season lasts from November to March, with January being the coldest month, having an average low temperature of -7.2°C and a high temperature of -2.2°C.

The Population And Economy Of Horlivka

A chemical plant in Horlivka, Donetsk region, Ukraine. 
A chemical plant in Horlivka, Donetsk region, Ukraine. 

As of the Ukrainian Census of 2001, the city of Horlivka had a population of 292,000 inhabitants. The census also revealed that the city’s population comprised of 51.4% Ukrainians, 44.8% Russians, 1.3% Belarusians, 0.3% Tatars, 0.3% Armenians, 0.2% Moldovans and 0.2% Azeris.

The economy of Horlivka is mainly based on the extraction and processing of its mineral resources. At present, the economic activity in the city is mainly dominated by coal mining and chemical industries. Horlivka contains several anthracite mines, mineral-enrichment factories, a coke-chemical plant, etc. The state-run Mykytivka mercury deposit and processing plant was liquidated and restructured to protect the Donets-Donbas canal from erosion and the coal mines from flooding. The Styrol Chemicals Trust, which was privatized in 1995, was forced to close down all its operations due to the hostilities in 2014.

Tourist Attractions In Horlivka

A view of the Epiphany Cathedral in Horlivka, Ukraine.
A view of the Epiphany Cathedral in Horlivka, Ukraine.

The Miniature Books Museum named after Valentyn Razumov

The Razumov Miniature Book Museum of Horlivka is a unique museum in Ukraine as well as in the entire Commonwealth of Independent States. The museum has about 8000 miniature and micro books in 103 languages published in 57 countries from the 15th to the 21st centuries. These books range in size from a maximum of 100mm long to minimal ones comparable to the size of poppy seeds. The exhibition displays the book of A. Pushkin that is about 60 times smaller than a poppy seed. In addition to this, the collection also features miniature texts that are written on human and horsehairs.

The Museum of Art

The Museum of Art possesses an extensive collection of paintings by Russian and Ukrainian artists of the 18th to 20th centuries. At present, the collection of the Museum of Art includes three thousand paintings, decorative arts, and several drawings and sculptures. The Museum of Art houses the largest collection of paintings by the Russian painter Nicholas Roerich in Ukraine.

Monument to Gorlov

Placed at the city’s center is a monument dedicated to the city’s founder - Pyotr Nikolayevich Gorlov, a Russian mining engineer. Gorlov was one of the pioneers of the Donbas coal industry and had built the first coal mine in the city in 1867. He also actively participated in building the Kursk-Kharkov-Azov railway.

Nicholas Cathedral

The cathedral of Saint Nicholas – the Archbishop of Myra, was built in Horlivka in 1905. The church was, however, closed in 1929. The building was then used as a laboratory of Donenergo till the German occupation in 1941. During the Second World War, the church’s services were resumed, and the church’s domes were reconstructed. The reconstruction of the church was completed in 1989.

Gorky Park

Named after M. Gorky, the Park of Culture and Rest has been functioning as a city park from 1932 onwards. The park covers a total area of 61.3 hectares and contains several rare and valuable trees. The park contains several operated rides for children and adults, and numerous cultural events are also held in the park. Located deep inside the park are a city stadium and a sports complex.

Brief History Of Horlivka

An old tram is running through the industrial zone with a spoil tip in the background in Horlivka, Ukraine.
An old tram is running through the industrial zone with a spoil tip in the background in Horlivka, Ukraine.

At the beginning of the 18th century, the first settlements of Cossacks were built in the area. The city was founded as “Gosudarev Posad” in 1779. Due to the construction of the Kursk-Kharkov-Azov railroad in 1867, a village and a home for railroad workers were built. The city was renamed Gorlovka or Horlivka in 1869 in honor of Pyotr Nikolayevich Gorlov, a Russian mining engineer. Gorlov explored several coal deposits in the Donets Basin, and the coal mining industry developed quite rapidly. The coal mine “Korsun Kop #1” was built in 1871, eventually becoming one of the Donbas region's largest coal mines. The city was the site of an armed uprising during the Russian Revolution. In April 1918, Horlivka came under the control of the Ukrainian People’s Republic. During the 1930s, the city expanded considerably under the Soviet Union and subsequently became one of the principal centers of mining operations in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. From 1941 to 1943, the city was under German occupation. Several buildings were burned, and mass shootings took place by the retreating Nazis during the Second World War. At present, many of the mines in the city have been closed down, and the city’s population has also fallen by over 10% during the 1990s.

In April 2014, the pro-Russian separatists captured many towns in the Donetsk Oblast. On April 14, a police station in Horlivka was seized by a group of separatists. The city witnessed heavy fighting in the months that followed. The Ukrainian Army recaptured Parts of Horlivka on July 21, 2014. However, the separatist forces continue to control Horlivka till date, while the Ukrainian army controls only a few suburbs of Horlivka.

Current Situation In Horlivka

In the early morning of February 24, 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared a full-scale military invasion of Ukraine. The Russian military launched heavy assaults on Ukraine by land, air, and sea, which was deemed the most significant military assault by one European state on another since the Second World War. Moreover, the Russian President had recognized the independence of the two separatist-controlled regions of Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republic and ordered his troops to move into these regions. Since then, there have been reports of an increased shelling on the Ukrainian soldiers by the Russia-backed separatists on the outskirts of the eastern Ukrainian city of Horlivka. As per reports, three children and two teachers were killed when a missile struck a school in Horlivka on February 25, 2022.

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