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2 February, 2012  ▪  Ihor Petrenko

10 Wonders of the Chernihiv Region

Chernihiv Oblast abounds in historical, architectural, ritual and art sites

The palace of Kyrylo Razumovsky, last hetman of Ukraine, in Baturyn

Designed by Charles Cameron, a Scottish architect, the palace lay in ruins for years but has recently been renovated and connected to electricity under the auspices of the “Hetman Capital,” a comprehensive government program. The palace is surrounded by two pavilions, a lake and beautiful scenery. The Resurrection Church in Baturyn houses the vault where Kyrylo Razumovsky was buried.

The Caves of St. Anthony in Chernihiv were dug into the Boldin Hills in the 11th and 19th centuries. In ancient times, these hills were the sites of pagan temples. Legends claim that Anthony of Kyiv or Anthony of the Caves (c. 983-1073) dug a small church there and founded a monastery similar to Kyiv’s Pechersk Lavra. In the Middle Ages, the caves were used by the locals as hideaways from invading Tartars. In the soviet era, the entrance to the caves was blocked so that only archeologists or adventurous diggers could get inside. After Ukraine gained independence, the locals took good care of their caves. The current 350m long complex includes galleries with underground churches and interconnected corridors. St. Anthony inspired numerous local legends and miraculous stories.

The Memorial to the Heroes of the Battle of Kruty located at the railway station in Kruty, Borzniansky County,commemorates the unequal battle of 29 January 1918 between 300 students who fought for the Ukrainian People’s Republic and the massive Russian Bolshevik army. The memorial was opened in 2006. The 7m hill is crowned by a red pillar reminiscent of the red central building of Shevchenko University in Kyiv, whose students died for their homeland. A chapel and a cross-shaped lake are located nearby. The museum collection displayed in train cars juxtaposes artifacts of the Red Army occupation and items characterizing the defenders of the Ukrainian People’s Republic.

The Spaso-Preobrazhensky Sobor (Cathedral of Transfiguration of the Savior) in Chernihiv is one of the oldest Christian temples in Eastern Europe. Construction of the cathedral was initiated by Prince Mstyslav Volodymyrovych of Chernihiv in 1033. The building’s architectural style bears traces of Byzantium. Although the cathedral was rebuilt and restored several times, it has hardly changed over the millennium and still bears the aura of the Kyivan Rus. The baroque iconostasis from the late 18th century is particularly noteworthy.

The Cathedral of the Birth of Virgin Mary in Kozelets was built from 1752-1763 by architects Ivan Hryhorovych-Barsky and Andriy Kvasov by order of Countess Natalia Razumovska, mother of Oleksiy and Kyrylo Razumovsky. The interior is dominated by a wooden iconostasis carved by Italian craftsmen and designed by Rastrelli. A four-story bell tower stands next to the cathedral. Soviet authorities spent several decades slowly dismantling the cathedral. It was no longer used as a church after 1930, and became a vegetable storehouse after World War II. Yet today, the cathedral looks good as new—luminous and crowded with pilgrims during Sunday mass. Many choral singers as well as everyday pilgrims travel there from Kyiv, which is only 70km away. The cathedral’s unique location makes it visible for several kilometers in all directions.

The Spaso-Preobrazhensky Monastery (Monastery of Transfiguration of the Savior) in Novhorod-Siversky was presumably founded in the 11th century. Due to a lack of written sources after the monastery’s library and archives were lost in 1630, the exact time of construction cannot be determined. Remains of the princes’ palace walls dating back to the late 12th and early 13th centuries are also located on the monastery grounds. The monastery was completely renovated in 2003. It is part of a historical museum dedicated to The Tale of Igor’s Campaign.

Mykola Hohol StateUniversity in Nizhyn is one of the oldest academic facilities in Ukraine. It was founded in 1805 with a donation by the Bezborodko brothers as a “Gymnasium of Sciences” with the rights and prestige of a university. Nikolai Gogol or Mykola Hohol, the way his name reads accurately in Ukrainian, was educated here, as well as numerous well-known Ukrainian luminaries. The university includes a unique library housing one million books, a picture gallery, Hohol museum and a museum of rare books.

The St. George Church in Sednivis a rare exemplar of baroque wooden church architecture typical of Left Bank Ukraine from 1747. The local regiment of Cossack warriors had their weapons blessed in the church before battle. Viy or “Evil Spirit,” the first soviet horror movie based on the novel by Mykola Gogol, was shot here, giving the church nationwide recognition. Thanks to Sedniv’s nearby art center, the church has also been portrayed in countless paintings over the years.

The Mizyn Archeological Site of the late Paleolithic Cro-Magnons in Korop County was established around 18,000 B.C. Archeologists have unearthed five round homes, around 25 square meters each, similar in appearance to Yarangas built by the Siberian Chukchi. Built of wooden logs, the huts were covered with animal skins topped with bones. Nearby, archeologists also found artifacts carved from mammoth tusks, such as idols, female statuettes, animal and bird figurines, and ornamented bracelets. The most exciting discovery included early musical instruments made from bones, and signs that resemble musical notation.

The Kachanivka Palace was built by a Russian duke in the late 18th century in the Neoclassical style and reached its peak of fame under the ownership of the noble Tarnovsky family of Cossacks.Overlooking the River Smosh, the Kachanivka palace represents a beautiful piece of mansion architecture, with its landscape park, twelve man-made lakes, and numerous sculptures. It currently holds the status of National Reserve and is part of the “Slavutych Necklace” tourist route. It also hosts an annual literature and art festival called “Kachanivka Muses” and research conferences. The mansion’s well-known guests included Mykola Hogol, Taras Shevchenko, Mikhail Glinka and many other outstanding artists. 

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