I briefly visited Chernihiv in September 2019 when I went there for the wedding of my friends. It was a lovely peaceful city with rich history, beautiful architecture, delicious cafes and people who just lived their lives, had dreams and plans for the future. In the last two weeks Chirnihiv has been heavily destroyed by war and many lives were lost: husbands, wives, parents and even children, justas it happened in other Ukrainian cities. It’s hard to tell which historical landmarks will survive the current attacks either.
Nevertheless, I have no doubts that this unjust war will end one day and Chernihiv will be restored to its former glory. Let me show you Chenihiv as I remembered it – it’s not easy for me but I just want to share those light lit colorful shots contrasting with how Chernihiv looks now.
The Principality of Chernihiv was one of the most important parts of Kievan Rus, the ancient Slavic state where Russia, Ukraine and Belorus all have their roots. Chernihiv itself was first mentioned in the chronicle called The Tale of Bygone Years (the most important document on the Kievan Rus history!) under year of 907 but obviously has been established before that. It stands on the shores of Desna river and is most well known for its amazing churches.
Dytynets Park is the most ancient part of Chernihiv, the place from where the ancient city started growing. Now it’s a park near the Desna river where the majority of historical landmarks are situated.
The best view of Dytynets Park is believed to be from Boldyna Hora park.
The Savior Transfiguration Cathedral
The Savior Transfiguration Cathedral is the oldest cathedral in Ukraine dating back to pre-mongolian times. It was erected by the order of the first Chernihiv Prince. If you’re a beer lover, you’ll recognise it because it’s featured on the label of Chernihiv beer.
Trinity Monastery is a beautiful green-domed church in Chernihiv that was originally dedicated to St Elijah. Some parts of it date back to the 12th century but it went in the decline during the Mongolian period and has been fully restored only in the 17th century. The bell tower panorama is said to be the best!
Borisoglebsky Cathedral (dedicated to saints Boris and Gleb/Hlib, the first saints of the Kievan Rus that are said to have been killed by their brother) dates back to the 1120-1123 and the tombs of ancient Kievan Rus’ princes are located there. Now it functions more like a museum.
Bohdan Khmelnytskyi Garden Square
Bohdan Khmelnytskyi Garden Square is a nice green area dedicated to Bohdan Khmelnytskyi, famous Hetman of the Zaporozhian Host who fought with Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth for the liberation of this area on the 17th century and eventually literally moved it under the control of the Russian Tsardom. He is considered one of the most important characters of the Ukrainian history.
Pyatnytska Church is a small but very important example of ancient Rus architecture. It is dedicated to Saint Paraskeva Pyatnytsia, a Christian martyr, and dates back to 1201. It has been heavily damaged many times during its history (including the period of the World War II) but has been always restored after that.
Chernihiv Collegium built in the 18th century has been the most important higher education centre of Left Bank part of Ukraine. Originally it was part of the Borisoglebsky Monastery. It was heavily damaged during the WWII too but has been successfully rebuilt.
St Catherine’s Church
St Catherine’s Church dates back to 1715 in Cossack Baroque style, a very unusual and lavish architectural form. It conmemmorates the local Cossacks who lost their lives in the Russian Azov campaigns against the Ottomans in the 17th century that gave country the access to the Black sea.
Krasna Square is the main square of the city which has been the most important location for the meetings and trade for centuries. It is framed by Opera and Drama Theatre, Desna hotel, Shchors cinema (now fully destroyed) and other important buildings.
Among other historical landmarks there are kurgans (especially The Black Grave), traditional Slavic barrows that were erected over the graves, Antoniev caves that functioned as a monastery in the 11th century, the grave of Mykhailo Kotsiubynsky, famous Ukrainian writer, The Chernihiv Regimental Chancellery (or Mazepa House) and a dozen of 18th century canons.
Let’s hope Chernihiv will survive this terrible time,