Mukachevo is a city in the Transcarpathian region of Ukraine. It sits between the mountains and straddles the Latoritsya River, which flows from the Carpathian Mountains in Ukraine into Slovakia. It is within 1 hour of 4 different Western European borders: Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, and Romania. It is situated in Western Ukraine (nearly 800km from the capital city of Kiev) and as such Ukrainian is the native language spoken by the majority of residents; although nearly a quarter natively use the Russian language, and almost all can speak and understand it. Given its proximity to Hungary as its nearest border, there is a significant minority of ethnic Hungarians. Within the city there is a noticeable minority of Roma (gypsy), and outside the city there are numerous Roma encampments.

The Zakarpattia Oblast (Transcarpathian Province) has 13 districts. Mukachevo is the head of its district and is responsible for all the administrative duties of the surrounding towns and villages. While the city of Uzhgorod (40km away) is the official administrative center for the entire Transcarpathian region, it is widely held that Mukachevo is the Capital of the province. Both cities have populations of roughly 120,000. The city is a main railroad terminus and highway junction, which help in support its major industries: beer, wine, tobacco, food, textile, timber, and furniture. During the cold war it was home to the Mukachevo Air Base, which was strategically located at the edge of Western Europe.

It is unknown who established the city and when, however archaeological excavation suggest that early settlements existed here before the middle ages. For example a Celtic metal works center (3rd-1st century BC) was found as well as a fort from the Iron Age (10th century BC). History tells that around the 1st century the area was occupied by people who displaced the local Celts from the area. From the 9th to 11th centuries, Mukachevo may have been part for a time of the Kievan Rus’ state. In 1018, Mukachevo was taken by the Hungarians and became a center of power of Hungarian kings. In 1397, the town was granted to the Ruthenian prince. During the 15th century, the city prospered and became a prominent craft and trade center for the region. During the 16th century, Mukachevo became part of the Principality of Transylvania. Higher Education was established in the city in 1646. During the 18th century, the city came under Austrian control as part of the Kingdom of Hungary and was made a key fortress of the Hapsburg Monarchy. During 1796-1897, the city's castle, until then a strong fortress, became an all-European political prison.

In 1919 Transcarpathia was occupied by Czechoslovak troops and on June 4, 1920, Mukachevo officially became part of Czechoslovakia. In November 1938 part of the territory was re-annexed by Hungary. Mukachevo was then the only town in Hungary with a Jewish majority until 1944, when all the Jews were deported to Auschwitz by the Nazis. In the end of 1944, the Red Army stormed Transcarpathia. At first the territory was given to the reestablished Czechoslovakia, and then became part of the Soviet Union by a treaty between the two countries. In 1945, the city was ceded to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. Upon the dissolution of the USSR, Ukraine became an independent sovereign state, with Transcarpathia as one of its provinces.

Having historically fallen within the boundaries of the Holy Roman Empire, Transcarpathia has traditionally been largely Roman Catholic, unlike the rest of Ukraine which mostly Identifies as Eastern Orthodox. Since 2002, Mukachevo has been the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese. Interestingly, Jewish culture has played a large role in the history of Mukachevo.

There are documents which indicate that Jews lived in the surrounding area as early as the second half of the seventeenth century. The Jewish community was an amalgam of Hasidic, Orthodox, and Zionists. Materially impoverished, yet wealthy in ideological debate, the Jews constituted almost half of the town's population. The community was famous for its Hasidic activity as well as its innovations in Zionism and modern Jewish education. The Jewish population of grew and in 1891 was almost 50 percent of the total population. By 1921 there were over 11,000 Jews. By the time of the Holocaust there were nearly 30 synagogues in town. The Hebrew Gymnasium (school of higher education) was founded in five years after the first Hebrew speaking elementary school in Czechoslovakia was established there in 1920. It soon became the most prestigious Hebrew high school east of Warsaw. 

In 1935 the formerly director of the gymnasium and then Jewish Party delegate to the Czechoslovak Parliament, gave a speech during a parliamentary debate: "…It is completely impossible to adequately describe the poverty in the area. The Jews… are affected equally along with the rest…. I strongly wish to protest any attempt to blame the poverty of the Transcarpathian peasantry on the Jews". Unfortunately, government policies were covertly directed against Jews, who bore a heavy share of taxes and had difficulty getting high civil service positions. In 1939, the Hungarians seized and annexed Transcarpathia, taking advantage of the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia. Though anti-Semitic legislation was introduced by the Hungarian authorities, Transcarpathia, like the rest of Hungary, remained a relative haven for Jews until Germany occupied Hungary in 1944. In the spring of 1944 there were 15,000 Jewish residents of the town. This ended on May 30, 1944 when the city was pronounced Judenrein (free of Jews after ghettoization and a series of deportations to Auschwitz).

Today, Mukachevo is experiencing a Jewish renaissance of sorts with the establishment of a supervised kosher kitchen, a mikveh (purification bath), and Jewish summer camp in addition to the prayer services which take place three times daily. In July 2006, a new synagogue was dedicated on the site of a pre-war Hasidic synagogue with the attendance of hundreds of local Jews from the Transcarpathian region and a delegation of 300 Hasidic Jews from the United States, Israel and Europe.

There are some important landmarks in the city. Transcarpathia is known as a land of castles, and none is more famous than Castle Palanok in Mukachevo. In the 14th century they built its foundation on a 68 meter high volcanic hill that they further built up by hand, shovel by shovel, trying to make a mountain fortress. During its history, it has been a fortress, a college, a prison, barracks, war centre, and a last refuge against Napoleon. At the time of the castle's height, it had strong protection: 164 cannons of varying sizes and 60 barrels of gunpowder.  The castle was also surrounded by a deep moat, and surrounded by high wooden walls, to protect the castle from invaders. The castle consists of 130 different rooms with a complex system of underground passages connecting them together. The castle currently houses a museum dedicated to the history of Mukachevo and the castle.

Another important landmark is the Saint Nicholas Monastery, which was founded in the 11th century. In 1491 it was made the residence of the bishop of Mukachevo whose jurisdiction was the whole of Transcarpathia. In 1537, the monastery was burned during war though it was rebuilt soon after by Emperor Ferdinand I. In 1646, the monastery joined the Basilian monastic order. In 1862 much of it was again destroyed by fire, but rebuilt within three years. The monastery ran a school and library which became important to the cultural and religious life of the region. In 1946 the Soviet regime liquidated the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, and the monastery was forced to become Orthodox. All of the monks refused to convert and were exiled. The collection of over 6,000 rare books and manuscripts and its archives were transferred to local museums and archives. The monastery was transformed into a convent for Orthodox nuns from other monasteries that were closed by the Soviets. At present there are about seventy Orthodox nuns housed in the monastery.

Mukachevo is also famous for its wooden churches that dot the surrounding areas. Built in the 18th century, they designed in the Orthodox style. Other examples of sacral architecture include the Dormitory Church, with its elegant sternness, and the ancient gothic St Martin Catholic Church, whose walls have preserved their original medieval paintings. Mukachevo’s real gem is the Town Hall, built in the early 20th century. It is a gorgeous building that used to be recognized as one of the most beautiful in Europe; even today it will easily outshine its European contemporaries. The majority of the city’s buildings have survived since the times of Hungarian and Austrian rule. One of these, for example, is the splendid Rákóczi-Schönborn Palace, known to the locals as the “white house” because of the color of its facade. It was constructed in the 17th and 18th centuries in the Baroque and Renaissance styles. This former residence of Transylvanian princes and Austrian counts, is today one of Mukachevo’s brightest architectural monuments. One will notice that the city is littered with statues, some to heroes like Saint Cyril, who brought the written language, and one even of a chimney sweep. Also in the city there is a House of culture, the Zakarpattia state Russian Drama Theater, City library, a historical museum, a picture gallery, a lot of professional and folk music groups. Every year in January, after Christmas, a home-made wine festival-contest “Chervene vino” takes place in Mukachevo.

The city is crossed by railways which can take one to: Moscow, Kiev, Budapest, Belgrade, Rome, Bratislava, Prague, and Vienna; as well as by highways to: Kiev, Budapest, Vienna, and Prague. You can get almost anywhere, but the city remains static. For all its history and religious heritage, Mukachevo is a city that is still confused and lost. Catholic and Orthodox churches abound, but you won’t find them filled. There are protestant churches, but the lost aren’t being found. This is a city that needs God.