Zhytomyr (Ukrainian: Житомир, Russian: Житомир, Polish: Żytomierz) is a historic city in the North of the western half of Ukraine. It is the administrative center of the Zhytomyr Oblast (province), as well as the administrative center of the surrounding Zhytomyr Rayon (district). Note that the city of Zhytomyr is not a part of the Zhytomyr rayon: the city itself is designated as its own separate rayon within the oblast; moreover Zhytomyr consists of two so-called "rayons in a city": the Bohunsky rayon and the Korolyovsky rayon (named in honour of Sergey Korolyov). Zhytomyr is located at around [show location on an interactive map] 50°16′N 28°40′E / 50.267°N 28.667°E / 50.267; 28.667, occupying an area of 65 km2 (25 sq mi).
The current estimated population is 277,900 (as of 2005).
Zhytomyr is a major transportation hub. The city lies on a historic route linking the city of Kiev with the west through Brest. Today it links Warsaw with Kiev, Minsk with Izmail, and several major cities of Ukraine. Zhytomyr was also the location of Ozerne, a key Cold War strategic aircraft base located 11 km (6.8 mi) southeast of the city.
Important economic activities of Zhytomyr include lumber milling, food processing, granite quarrying, metalworking, and the manufacture of musical instruments.
Zhytomyr Oblast is the main center of the Polish minority in Ukraine, and in the city itself there is a large Roman-Catholic Polish cemetery, founded in 1800. It is regarded as the third biggest Polish cemetery beyond borders of Poland, behind the Lychakivskiy Cemetery in Lviv and Rossa Cemetery in Vilnius.
Zhytomyr lies in a unique natural setting; all sides of the city are surrounded by ancient forests through which flow the Teteriv, Kamyanka, Yaroshenka and Putiatynka rivers. The Teteriv river bounds Zhytomyr at the south (though, precisely speaking, there are also some small areas of Zhytomyr city territory at the southern bank of the river). The city is rich in parks and public squares.
Zhytomyr possesses a mostly radial type of street net with the centre at the main public square of the city, named Sobornyi Maidan (or Soborny Square, which means Cathedral Square). A building containing courts and some other institutions is located in the west of the square. Before 1991 this building contained Zhytomyr Oblast Committee of the Communist Party. Just behind the building (that is to the west of Soborny Square) a small park is located, containing a monumental stone with inscription telling that this is a place where Zhytomyr was founded. This historical centre of Zhytomyr is located in the southern part of the city. The main streets connecting Soborny Maidan with outskirts of Zhytomyr are Kyivska Street or Kiev Street (going to northeast, to the train station and also to the main bus station of the city), Velyka Berdychivska Street (going to southeast), Czerniachowski Street (going to southwest, to beaches and a forest-type park near the river of Teteriv), and Peremohy Street (going to north).
The most known (but not long) street in the central part of Zhytomyr is Mykhaylivska one (named after St. Michael's Church located at the northern end of the street). The street is located about 500 metres to the east of Soborny Maydan and goes approximately from north to south connecting some points at the above mentioned Kyivska Street and Velyka Berdychivska one. Mykhailivska Street is pedestrian one: traffic is forbidden in it, with the exception of some slowly moving cars whose movement is necessary. The building of the Zhytomyr City Council is located at the southern end of Mykhailivska Street. If one crosses Velyka Berdychivska Street from the southern end of Mykhailivska Street, then one finds oneself at Korolyov Square containing the building of the Zhytomyr Oblast Council. Crossing Kyivska Street from the northern end of Mykhailivska Street, one can continue to go along Shchors Street being one else important large street of Zhytomyr (going to north).
The most known park of Zhytomyr is one named after Yuriy Gagarin. The park is located in the south of the city, at the left (northern) bank of the Teteriv river. It is a former property of baron de Chaudoir.
Public city transport
Common kinds of public transport shuttling within Zhytomyr are trolleybuses, buses, and minibuses. There are also trams, but on one route only. Earlier there were several tram routes in Zhytomyr, but all excepting one were canceled during a period of domination of the opinion that a tram is a bad kind of transport.
Trams began to shuttle in Zhytomyr in 1899. Thus Zhytomyr became the 5th city with trams within the territory of present-day Ukraine. Trolleybuses appear in Zhytomyr in 1962.
Now trolleybus/tram fare in Zhytomyr is 1 hryvnya for one passenger for any distance.
Legend holds that Zhytomyr was established about 884 by Zhytomyr, prince of a Slavic tribe of Drevlians. This date, 884, is cut in the large stone of the ice age times, standing on the hill where Zhytomyr was founded. The first records of the town date from 1240 when it was sacked by the Mongol hordes of Batu Khan.
In 1320 Zhytomyr was captured by the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and received Magdeburg rights in 1444. After the Union of Lublin (1569) the city was incorporated into the Crown of the Polish Kingdom and in 1667, following the Treaty of Andrusovo, it became the capital of the Kiev Voivodeship. In the Second Partition of Poland in 1793 it passed to Imperial Russia and became the capital of the government of Volhynia. During a brief period of Ukrainian independence the city was for a few weeks in 1918 the national capital. From 1920 the city was under Soviet rule.
During World War II Zhytomyr and the surrounding territory came for three years under Nazi German occupation and was Heinrich Himmler's Ukrainian headquarters. The Nazi regime in what they called the "Zhytomyr General District" became what Wendy Lower describes as "a laboratory for… Himmler's resettlement activists… the elimination of the Jews and German colonization of the East—transformed the landscape and devastated the population to an extent that was not experienced in other parts of Nazi-occupied Europe besides Poland. [While]… [u]ltimately, the exigencies of the war effort and mounting partisan warfare behind the lines prevented Nazi leaders from fully developing and realizing their colonial aims in Ukraine… In addition to the immediate destruction of all Jewish communities, Himmler insisted that the Ukrainian civilian population be brought to a 'minimum.'" 
From 1991, the city has been part of the independent republic of Ukraine.
The Jewish Encyclopedia (1901-1906) characterized it as "one of the oldest towns in European Russia," meaning the Imperial Russia of that time, and one of the "prominent towns" of Lithuania in the middle of the 15th century.