- Accents #
- Pulse of Week #
- Art of Living #
The capital of Ukraine is a stone’s throw away from Poltava, the capital of the Ukrainian soul and culture. We leave Kyiv and drive along the Boryspil Highway. As soon as you hit Poltava oblast, turn off towards the town of Berezova Rudka, the history of which began with the commander-in-chief of the Zaporizhzhian Sich Cossack Army Osyp Zakrevskiy. In 1752 he bought out Berezova Rudka from the children of Hetman Ivan Skoropadskiy. The Zakrevskiy family is often associated with the noble names of Russian Empire like Pushkin, Potemkin and Naryshkin. The famous Ukrainian bard Taras Shevchenko once courted the daughter of Platon Zakrevskiy named Anna and became a regular guest at the Zakrevskiy home.
A lesson in history
Intellectual elite of Ukraine flocked in at the Zakrevskiy estate. The famous Ukrainian poet Yevhen Hrebinka wrote his unforgettable romance Black Eyes here. In these walls, Shevchenko enriched his poetry heritage. The estate has been preserved in excellent condition. Near the estate there is a small local museum. Clearly, any count’s estate must absolutely have a small, serene lake.
Another landmark here is the Pyramid of Zakrevskiy built in 1898 by Ihnatiy Zakrevskiy, who served in Egypt as Ambassador of the Russian Empire at the end of the 19th century. He built the family tomb in the shape of a pyramid and decorated it with antique relics that he had brought from Egypt. The entrance to the pyramid was guarded by a 2,000 year old statue of the Egyptian goddess Isida. The interior of the tomb was decorated with the quotes from the Bible and Egyptian frescoes. During the revolution of 1917 the frescos and inscriptions were destroyed and the statue end up in a landfill.
We continue down the same highway another 50 km to the next landmark. Upon entering the town of Pyryatyn (155 km from Kyiv), travelers are greeted by the Roadside Tower. This is the famous place where the Soviet comedy the Gas Station Princess with the radiant actress Nadezhda Rumyantseva. Local entrepreneurs worked hard to create an entire town of small cafes, snack bars, grocery stores and trade stands.
and Myrhorod beauty
At the very end of the ring road around the town of Lubny stands the Mharskiy Monastery atop a hill. Its cathedral is considered one of the most beautiful in Ukraine. It skillfully combines the Old Rus style and Ukrainian Baroque. What a beautiful molding in the form of oak leaves, apples, pears, grapes and flowers! Its blinding white reminds the signature embroidery from Poltava. The monastery is always packed with the busloads of tourists. On August 19, the Transfiguration Day, crowds of pilgrims gather inside the monastery.
Monks will recount the history of the monastery to tourists: of how angels showed Raina Vyshnevetska where the monastery should be built and about her son Yarema, who defeated Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytskiy in a battle near the town of Berestechko thanks to his night prayer in the local temple. After visiting the monastery, a stop at the Myrhorod springs is a must. This place is always crammed with pensioners ailing from stomach problems, who merrily imbibe the famous curative mineral water for free. Nearby there are restaurants, lakes with paddle boats and a legendary monument to a pig.
Evenings in a hamlet
The village of Velyki Sorochyntsi is renowned for its fair that turned into an annual ethno festival that gathers in August 1923. Once upon a time Hetman Danylo Apostol chose Sorochyntsi as his place of residence. He donated for the construction of the baroque Church of the Transfiguration with a huge icon stand that is 20 meters wide and 17 meters high.
This is the most famous Baroque iconostasis in Ukraine with seven sections displaying more than a hundred icons. Danylo Apostol is buried in the family tomb in the churchyard with his wife and four children.
25 miles down the road you will find the village of Opishnya, the capital of Ukrainian pottery. In the central square you will see a signpost saying: “On your left is the National Museum-Reserve of Ukrainian Pottery, straight ahead – the Memorial House and Museum of the famous Poshyvaylo family of potters and on your right – the manor of the famous potter Oleksandra Selyuchenko.
Another 20 kilometers down you enter the village of Dykanka through the Ukrainian version of the Arc de Triomphe, the only architectural monument in Ukraine that symbolizes the victory over Napoleon in the 1812 War.
Built in 1820 on the occasion of the visit of the emperor Aleksandr I, the monument remains the village’s landmark. The road leads straight to the villa of Kochubei, the former interior minister of the empire, chairman of the state council and one of the richest people in Russia and Ukraine. It is difficult to imagine the former luxury of the Kochubei’s palace that was built in the 18th century by Italian architect Giacomo Quarenghi. The place had 100 rooms decorated with paintings, sculptures, expensive faience and glassware, exquisite furniture and a priceless library of rare books.
On the opposite side of the pond stands the Trinity Church built in 1780 by a renowned Lviv architect. The church has preserved its original condition to this very day. The church became famous thanks to the tale The Night Before Christmas by Nikolai Gogol. It was in this very church that the blacksmith named Vakula portrayed a devil.
Two kilometers away from the village in the same hamlet described by Gogol you will find the Dykanka Hamlet restaurant complex. Here the locals entertain tourists by staging brief scenes featuring the devil and cunning women and serve local moonshine.
Capital of the national soul
After Myrhorod and Dykanka you will finally get to Poltava. But before entering the city, pull over to check out the field of the historic Battle of Poltava. All the more, its 300-year anniversary was recently celebrated.
Monuments from the Swedes to the Russians, from the Swedes to the Swedes, a common grave of Russian soldiers, the monument to Peter the Great, the Memorial of Glory dedicated to the victory of Russian army and finally a chapel built in the honor of soldiers that died in combat.
Getting to the city center does is easy. The road passing by the railway station leads to the city’s main drag Zhovtneva. Ten minutes by car and you are on Circle Square, a smaller replica of the Palace Square in St. Petersburg.
One can easily feel like a last century bourgeois when taking a stroll past the Office Place (today the City Hall), the Assembly of the Nobility (today the Kotlyarevskiy Movie Theater), the Residence of the Governor-General (today the Council of Trade Unions), the post office (today the School of Fine Arts) and the Petrovska Military Academy. You will certainly enjoy a promenade through the City Gardens, which are 350 meters in diameter.
The Memorial of Glory overlooks the city center. A golden eagle on the top of the monument holds arrows of war directed at the field of the Battle of Poltava and a laurel wreath – the symbol of victory.
The rest of the tour is on foot. The Salvation Church, one of the oldest in Poltava, is five minutes away from the city center. Legend has it that Peter the Great prayed here after the victory in the Battle of Poltava.
Approaching the Exaltation Monastery, you will notice the beautiful bell-tower built in 1786. It very much resembles the bell-tower of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, though it is slightly smaller in height at 45 meters.
This is the end of our tour. Now we can return to the hotel and take a nap before the road back home.