Saturday, 14 April 2018

Holy Trinity Tserkva in Zhovkva

Before we leave Ukraine, we will make our last stop to take a look at the wooden Holy Trinity Church. It was built in a suburb of Zhovkva in 1720 on the place of a church that burned down in 1717.

On the church's walls one can find the plates confirming that the building is an architecture monument built in 1720.

The structure consisits of three wooden naves and a brick sacristy.

In the back you can admire the iconostasis consisting of about 50 icons painted by the masters of Zhovkva Painting and Carving School of Ivan Rutkovych in the beginning of 18th century. The iconostasis is made from linden wood carved by Ignatiy Stobenskyj. In 1978-79 iconostasis was restored.

On June 21, 2013 on the 37th Session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in Cambodja the Holy Trinity Church was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List among 16 wooden tserkvas of Carpathian Region in Poland and Ukraine. We have already seen another of those sixteen tserkvas when we were in Powroźnik.

The church belongs nowadays to the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.

I hope that you have enjoyed our sightseeing around Western Ukraine. Next week we will be aleady miles away.

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Residence of Bukovinian and Dalmatian Metropolitans in Chernivtsi

In 1782, following the incorporation of Bukovina into the Habsburg Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, the seat of the Moldavian Eastern Orthodox Bishops of Rădăuți was moved to Chernivtsi (then known as Czernowitz). Unfortunately the building given to them collapsed and they were obliged to move to rented rooms. In 1851-1852, bishop Hacman sent a series of reports to the administration in Lviv, complaining that this situation was undignified. In 1860, the Religious Affairs Ministry issued a decree announcing a contest to select an architect for a new episcopal residence.

Ladies, gentlemen & horses, welcome to the residence of Bukovinian and Dalmatian Metropolitans in Chernivtsi.

The Czech architect Josef Hlávka was selected to develop the project. In preparing his designs, Hlávka researched the building traditions of the region. The resulting work combines Byzantine and Moorish style, with the Alhambra as one inspirations.

Hlávka's proposals for the complex included not only the bishop's palace but also administrative offices, meeting halls, a library, a choir school, a museum of church art and a chapel.

Construction commenced in 1864 and took over 18 years, because of substantial delays due to technical problems, the illness of Hlávka from 1872 onwards, and to disagreements between Hlávka and the local administration, which led to Hlávka's resignation.

Let's enter the residence through the main entrance.

And take the stairs to the first floor.

Through the windows we can admire the fantastic park surrounding the residence.

Let's enter the most representative room - The Synodal Hall, called also the marble hall.

Have you noticed the ceiling ?

The name of the hall comes from the many colours of marbles used to decorate the walls and columns.

And here comes the smaller representative room - the Red Hall, with all the walls covered with red Chineese silk.

Once again please raise your heads.

Let's go to the seminary church.

Here you can admire the iconostasis - a wall between the nave and the sanctuary, which is covered with icons.

What brings everyone's attentiom is the fantastic cealing, with feagures of many saints, starting with 4 evangelists.

One can also see stories from the key moments of Jesus life.

Inside an orthodox church everything looks amazing, like the manoualia with candles.

Here the visitors can see all the vessels used during celebrations.

And here comes the church in the full view.

After the World War II when the region came under Soviet control, the theological faculty was closed down; when the buildings began to be restored in 1955, they were transferred to the town's university.

It must be a great pleasure to learn in such a bautiful place.

Extensive restoration was carried out from 2004 onwards, resulting eventually in the ensemble being inscribed by UNESCO in its list of World Heritage Sites on 28 June 2011.

Next week let's smaller but also impressive tserkva, but in totally different style.

Saturday, 31 March 2018


After last week visit to Kamianets-Podilskiy let's cross the Dniester river and visit its great oponent the Khotyn Fortress.

The Khotyn Fortress's foundations go back to the 10th century, when Prince Vladimir The Great built it as one of the border fortifications of southwestern Kievan Rus', after he has added the land of present-day Bukovina into his control. The fort, which eventually was rebuilt into a fortress, was located on important transportation routes, which connected Scandinavia and Kiev with the Ponyzia (lowlands), Podillia, Genoese and Greek colonies on the Black Sea on the famous "trade route from the Varangians (Vikings) to the Greeks".

During the 1340s the Fortress was taken by Moldavian prince Dragos, a vassal of the Kingdom of Hungary. After 1375 it was a part of the Principality of Moldavia. Under the rule of Stephen the Great of Moldavia the fortress was greatly expanded, new 5–6-meter (16–20 ft) wide and 40 meters (130 ft) high walls were built. He also added three towers and raised the courtyard by 10 meters (33 ft). This reconstruction brought the fortress to the structure it has today. During 14th-16th centuries the Fortress served as a residence to Moldavian Princes.

In September–October 1621, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth army under command of hetman Jan Karol Chodkiewicz, Petro Sahaidachny and Yatsko Borodavka (about 50,000 troops) successfully held off the army of Turkish sultan, Osman II (estimated at 100,000), in the Battle of Khotyn. On October 8, 1621 the Khotyn Peace Treaty was signed, stopping the Ottoman advance into the Commonwealth and confirming the Commonwealth-Ottoman border on the Dniester river

In November 1673, the Khotyn Fortress was lost by the Turks and Jan Sobieski started to occupy Khotyn with a Polish-Cossack army. With the 1699 Karlowitz Peace Treaty, the fortress was transferred from the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth to Moldavia. In 1711, Khotyn was again taken over by the Turks. The Turks then fortified Khotyn following a six-year (1712–18) reconstruction and it became the foremost stronghold of the Ottoman defense in Eastern Europe. The Medieval Fortress has been surrounded by earth ramparts and outer wall.

Here you can see the outer wall and complicated ramparts seen from the medieval castle.

Here you can admire the outer 18th century wall and ...

... its only gate.

Fortunately today the fortress is used more as a tourist attraction than a place of war.

Inside the outer walls a modern tserkva was built.

In September 1991, during the celebration of 370 years since the Battle of Khotyn of 1621, a monument made in honor of Ukrainian Hetman, Petro Sahaidachnyi.

Let's go now deeper into Bukovina and visit its most precious heritage.

Saturday, 24 March 2018


Since the Middle Ages, the Dniepr river was the border between Moldova (south of the river) and very fertile lands called Podolia, located north of the river and inhabited by Ruthenians. Just a few kilometers north from the border, on the banks of Smotrych River, lies the capital, main fortress and gate to Podolia and the entire Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth. Ladies and gentlemen - welcome to Kamianets-Podilskyi.

Podolia is a mountainous region with canyon-like fluvial valleys, difficult to pass and quite easy to defend.

Just compare the view and safety of the defenders ...

with the effort of the besiegers.

Smotrych river not only created the canyon, but it has curved almost a full circle around the rock on which the castle was built, being the natural moat to strengthen its defence. From the 15th through 17th centuries, the castle was attacked by Tatar hordes a total of 51 times and was never taken by force.

Let's visit the castle, built from 14th till 18th century.

Here we are on the main coutryard. From the left: Tenchynska, White & Daily Towers.

Turning right we can admire Rozanka Tower.

Here is the view on the Turkish Bridge over Smotrych from the Lanckoronska Tower.

The corridor allowed safe passage between the towers.

View on the modern Kamianets and St. Gregory orthodox church.

View on Pope's (further) and Kovpak's (closer) towers.

View on Lanckoronska (on the left), Commandant's (the small) and Rozanka Towers.

View on the inner courtyard, White & Tenchynska Towers.

View from Rozanka Tower on Commandant's and Lanckoronska Towers.

and on the Rozanka Tower from the White Tower.

Thanks to the twelve towers the castle was never taken. But in the beginning of August 1672, a 300,000 Ottoman force led by Sultan Mehmed IV and a 40,000 combined force of Tatars and Cossacks led by Hetman Petro Doroshenko laid siege to the castle. After conducting negotiations with their attackers, the city's leaders surrendered control of the fortress to the Ottomans on August 18. In a sign of protest, the fortress's Commandant Michał Wołodyjowski and Major Hejking blew up the castle's remaining gunpowder, killing themselves along with 800 defenders. The events of the 1672 Ottoman siege were depicted in the 1888 historical novel Fire in the Steppe, written by Polish Nobel Prize laureate Henryk Sienkiewicz.

But Kamianets is not only the castle. Let's pass the bridge and visit the city centre.

Ataman Khmelnytsky welcomes you.

In the times of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth there were three magistrate buildings in Kamianets: Armenian, Ruthenian and Polish. The last one you can still admire, this is the tall building in the back. On the top you can see the Sun - the coat of arms of Podolia.

From the main secular building let's move to the main religious building, at least for the catholics. The yellow building below is the St. Peter & Paul Cathedral, built in 16th century. In Soviet times it was changed in the museum of atheism.

I hope that you have enjoyed our trip to the main fortress on the Ruthenian banks of Dniepr. Next week we will pass the river and see the other side.