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Historical Places and Monuments of Kharkov
  The History of Kharkov  

The city of Kharkov is one of the major industrial, commercial, scientific and cultural centres of Ukraine. Its present architectural pattern has been developing for more than three centuries and it has been influenced by varying conditions of life, habits and traditions of the Ukrainian people as well as those of some neighbouring nations. As buildings usually live much longer than human beings and even generations of people they inevitably become silent witnesses to their epochs. One may call them pages of stone chronicle of the past. This book offers one of the many approaches to deciphering some of this chronicle's pages and their tale of changing architectural styles, public tastes and life modes of our predecessors. The river Dnieper has always played a most important role in life and economic activities of the Ukrainian people. The river divides the country into two halves traditionally called the Left-Bank and the Right-Bank Ukraine. Great part of the former was devastated in the 13th century during the Tatar-Mongol aggression. It was afterwards called "Dikoye Polye (the Field of Wilderness). Though practically uninhabited it was supposed to belong to the Czar of Moscow's lands. In the 14th century the Right-Bank Ukraine and small regions on the left bank of the Dnieper were occupied by Poland and Lithuania, later united into Rzecz Pospolita (medieval Polish Republic ). Since the end of the 16th century and especially in the first half of the 17th c. many Ukrainian peasants and Cossacs (professional warriors who protected the Ukrainian people from attacks of the Crimean Tatars and often rebelled against the power of Polish Roman Catholic nobility) began to flee to desolate parts of the Left-Bank Ukraine. They sought protection against cruel oppression the Orthodox Ukrainians had experienced under Polish Roman Catholic rule. The exiles were allowed to inhabit in those far-away lands of Moscow State. They began growing crops, developing various trades and thus were interested in defending the borders from foreign invasions. They built villages, townships and fortresses. There were no big landlords on that territory then. Therefore this land (the northeastern part of the present-day Ukraine) was called Slobodskaya Ukraina, i. e. Free Ukrainian Land. In the 1650's a fortress was built on the bank of the river Kharkov and a small township of the same; name grew around it. Quite soon it became the centre of a district and in the second half of the 18th century it was already the central town of a large province, Kharkov Governorate. During the first 12 decades of its existence the town was self-governed. Its administration was elected by the Cossacs and headed by the Cossac Colonel, also an elected official. The Voyevoda (General) appointed by the Russian Government controlled only military affairs. The population was almost totally Ukrainian and it was only in the second quarter of the 19th century that it became multinational. In the 1770's Czarine Catherine n abolished the autonomy of the Cossacs and divided Ukraine as well as the whole of Russian Empire into a number of provinces (governorates) headed by Governors appointed by the Monarch. This book contains a detailed description of the fortress of Kharkov, the nearby townships and villages which later merged into a single town. It also comments on the schemes of the town of the 18th century . The main architectural trends of that period reflected the way of life described above. They evidently bore the features characteristic of the Ukrainian folk tradition. Unfortunately, many masterpieces of the time were greatly damaged or completely destroyed, especially during WW II. Such was, for instance, the fate of the Collegium of Kharkov, the first higher educational establishment in Slobodskaya Ukraine. One of the few building that have lived up to our days is the Cathedral of the Intercession of the Holy Virgin {1689), the first stone construction in Kharkov. It has been restored lately and now belongs as almost 3 centuries ago to the monastery of the same name. Having been given the status of the provincial centre Kharkov acquired the features of a city with regular streets and squares, its development being planned in accordance with the then predominant trends in architecture and civil engineering. The general plans were usually worked out in St. Petersburg and then implemented by our local architects who but slightly corrected them according to the local grounds. Since then the city has been developing rapidly. Its squares were surrounded with wooden or, more frequently, brick houses of one, two or even three stories. The predominant style was the Russian Classicism., Former fortress was reconstructed first as it had lost its military significance by that time. By the beginning of the 19th century its ramparts and towers had been completely dismantled. Not far from a former fortress the main street of the city emerged, the Govemor-General's palace being built in it in 1768-1777. When in 1805 the University of Kharkov was founded it was housed in that building and some additional buildings for the University were erected on both sides of the street called from then on Universitetskaya Street. The Assumption Cathedral, the oldest in Kharkov, was built anew in 1778, and in 1821 -1844 its magnificent belfry was erected to mark the victory of the Russian Army over Emperor Napoleon of France. Being 89.5 m {about 300 feet) high, the belfry remained the highest structure in Kharkov until recently. This belfry was indeed the finishing touch to the architectural composition of the city centre. A small square in front of the belfry was richly decorated with a big administrative building housing various official bodies that govened the province. That building, however, like many others does not exist nowedays having been destroyed by the Nazis during WW II. Instead of the walls and trenches of the fortress the city centre was encircled by a number of spacious squares which became market-places and were also used for popular festivals and recreation. Little by little Kharkov grew and absorbed former suburbs, townships and villages which were turned into new districts of the city . The second period of Kharkov's history described above left us scores of public buildings and private houses as well as several churches. Those were designed by local architects A.A. Ton, P.A. Yaroslavsky, Ye.A. Vasilyev and some were built after designs worked out in St. Petersburg and Moscow. They reflect the gradual evolution of the Russian classical style from the early period when it kept many features of the Baroque to the stage of mature Classicism and at last to dry and unexpressive forms of a late Classical period. In the second half of the 19th c. and at the beginning of the 20th c. Kharkov reached a new stage of a very intensive development. The abolition of serfdom in 1861 provided hands for industrial enterprises and various industries began to grow in Kharkov very rapidly. Industrial and commercial development of the city was further stimulated after Kharkov was linked in 1869 with Moscow, St. Petersburg and a number of other big cities by railway. Thus 1869 can be considered as the beginning of the third period in the history of Kharkov that lasted until the October revolution of 1917. The population of the city that constituted 40,000 in 1850, equalled 65,000 in 1869 and reached 382,000 in 1917. During that period many public buildings and industrial enterprises were built, some of them later were enlarged. New apartment houses and renthouses grew rapidly in various parts of the city .The growth of the city's territory required in its turn the creation of a city transport system, other branches of communal service were gradually improved and modernized to meet the demands of ever-increasing population. The Law on the Status of Cities and Towns adopted in 1870 essentially strengthened the basis of local self-government. This book maintains that that law influenced positively, among other things, spreading of literacy and primary education of adults. That task was fulfilled by the organizations created by intellectuals, one of them being the Society for Dissemination of Literacy among Working People, founded in Kharkov. Besides, that many businessmen started sponsorship of cultural organizations, theatres etc. (In spite of all that 3/4 of the total population of the country remained illiterate until 1918). Ukrainian national culture generally suppressed by Russian Czars got then temporarily certain chances to revive and develop. More than 30 Orthodox temples were built (this figure does not include home churches and chapels) as well as several synagogues, a Roman Catholic church, a Lutheran Evangelical church, a Moslem mosque and several houses of prayer for separate groups of other believers. The monumental buildings of banks, the Stock exchange and the Commodity exchange added much to the beauty of cityscape. Fifteen banks occupied new magnificent buildings in the central squares of the city .New shops and textile mills also played their role in decorating the centre of Kharlov. It was a period of intensive foundation of new educational establishments which were housed in spacious and richly ornamented buildings. Some University faculties became independent Institutes occupying their own buildings. They were two Medical Institutes (separately for men and women) and the Institute of Veterinary to name but some of them. The Technological Institute of Kharkov, one of the best in Russia, was founded in 1885. It grew quickly and new buildings for its departments were constantly erected creating a big campus not far from the central part of the city . Gradually a wide network of primary and secondary schools appeared, among them several state-owned and private gymnasia (grammar schools in Russia), public schools, vocational schools, theological educational establishn1ents, the Commercial college and the Noble Maidens Institution. Kharkovites have always loved theatre. They first saw theatre performances in the end of 18th century and in 1841 a building was erected for the permanent Drama Theatre (it has lived up to our days in 9, Sumskaya Street). The 1880's saw the initiation in Kharkov of the permanent Opera Theatre. The old type of circus moving from one town to another was changed by stationary circus theatres, two of them being opened in Kharkov at the end of the 19th and in the beginning of the 20th centuries. The first two decades of the 20th century witnessed appearance of a multitude of professional and amateur theatre companies, theatres of miniatures, variety shows. The fIrst cinemas attracted thousands of spectators. It was also a period of birth and growth of museums, public libraries, clubs and art studios. Rapid growth of population demanded much more dwellings. The problem was partially solved by largescale construction of rent-houses whose apartments were let mostly to the middle-class families and individuals. Rich people could afford big mansions. The architecture of Kharkov in the third ( and, probably, the most interesting) period of its history fully reflected all the features of the post- Classicism variety of styles. The m8;jor places were taken by Eclecticism which was considered to be the most "pragmatic" style, and by the Art-Nouveau oriented towards usage of new building materials, new technologies and new decorative means. At the same time some architects experimented with other styles called Neo-Renaissance, Neo-Classicism, Rationalism, and some others turned to the national heritage, the so-called Russian-Byzantian style. The architects of;Kharkov, first of all Academician of Architecture A.N. Beketov, A.M. Ginzburg, V.G. Krichevsky, M.N. Lovtsov, V.Kh. Nemkin, V.N. Pokrovsky, A.I. Rzepiszevsky , S.P. Timoshenko and their colleagues made an outstanding contribution to development of the above-named styles. That contribution was expecially noteworthy in the Art-Nouveau buildings and that style's regional version, the Ukrainian Art-Nouveau, fundamentally rooted in the folk tradition of our land. The Socialist Revolution of October, 1917 marked the beginning of the fourth period in the history of Kharkov that was proclaimed the capital of the Soviet Ukraine. That period ended in 1991 with the proclamation of the independence of Ukraine and other former Soviet Republics and subsequent desintegration of the Soviet Union after the Communist Party was outlawed. This course paper deals with that period, called here the Soviet period, only partly, from 1917 till 1934 when Kharkov was the capital of Ukraine (in 1934 all the bodies of power were transferred to Kiev, and Kharkov remained the centre of a region though has ever since been the second largest city in Ukraine ). One of the m8;jor concerns of the Soviet power in the early 20's was an acute housing crisis: thousands upon thousands of the working class families were deprived of elementary conveniences. After the Civil War (1918-1920) many of them received flats in the mansions of former bourgeoisie and in the nationalized rent-houses. But the demand was too great, so it called to existence the "common apartment" system under which each flat was shared by several families according to the number of rooms in the flat, kitchens, bathrooms and WCs being left for common use. Thus the living standards of poor families were improved for the time being but later on such a system inevitably created certain problems in everyday life. In 1923-24 they began constructing "the workers' townships inside the city borders, but small cottages designed for one family each occupied too much land. Then from 1925 onward the authorities started construction of the 3, 4 and 5-storeyed houses with flats supplied with modern conveniences. The construction was financed by the City Hall, various ministries which controlled big enterprises, and housing cooperatives founded by the workers and employees. That method gave positive results though the volume of construction work lagged behind the increasing demand of dwelling: the period of intensive industrialization of the country that was initiated in the end of the twenties brought to the city masses of peasants who took part in realization of large-scale industrial projects. The population grew from 380,000 in 1917 up to 850,000 in 1934, almost tripling in 17 years. It was a period when powerful plants and factories were erected laying the foundation of the present-day economy of our city .New gigantic works produced thousands of tractors, harvesting combines, turbines, airplanes, motors, electric hardware as well as consumer goods and sophisticated weapomy . At the same time Palaces of Culture and workers' clubs were built, alongside with schools and nurseries, hospitals and canteens, shops and stadiums, other facilities to provide for the necessary conditions of work and recreation of the people employed at the new industrial enterprises. The limits of the city were expanded and its former suburbs turned into prosperous industrial zones. The city transport and other communal services developed rapidly. A number of new higher educational establishments were opened in Kharkov in the thirties to train thousands of specialists, mostly engineers of various specializations. Kharkov then also became one of the biggest in the USSR centres for scientific researches in the fields of physics, medicine, agriculture, pharmacology , biology as well as in social and political sciences. As the capital of Soviet Ukraine Kharkov needed a lot of office buildings to house the government bodies and their departments. The quantity of former offices was insufficient for that purpose, so some big rent-houses were turned into offices as well as all the mansions of former aristocracy. In 1925 they started constructing a new public centre on lands once owned but never used by the University Soon a large square appeared and was named after F .E. Dzerzinsky who died in 1926. It was the biggest square in Europe at the time occupying the territory of 27.5 acres. There in 1925-28 was erected a majestic building whose central part had 14 stories (the first one of such type in the Soviet Union). It housed dozens of govennent offices, mainly the administration of nationalized and newly-built state-owned industrial enterprises. Thence the name of the building, the Gosprom (Russian abbreviation for the National Industries Hall). Other office buildings were planned to be erected in the same square, but in 1934 the capital and subsequently the Government were transferred to Kiev. Thus the square was surrounded by a number of public buildings including a grand building of Design Bureaus which was occupied after WW II by the University ofKharkov. In 1937 the General Plan of Development of Kharkov was adopted and approved by the Government. The architectural ensemble of the central part of the city created during the third period of its history was enriched in late twenties -early thirties by quite a lot of public and apartment houses built according to the style of Constroctivism. Such buildings are to be found also in other parts of the city , and the Gosprom and neighbouring houses made up an integral ensemble of their own that has survived to our days despite great ruinations of WW II. The authors of this book argue that the Soviet power while realizing new constroction pro.lects on an unprecedented scale at the same time damaged partly the heritage of the past, the churches of various religious groups first of all. After the revolution of October, 1917 the religious feelings of many working people notable decreased and the ranks of the believers shrinked. So some churches and houses of prayer were dismantled and Palaces of Culture, educational establishments and stadiums were built in their place. The authors conclude the book maintaining that after 1934 Kharkov remained one of the most important and beautiful cities of Ukraine.

  Historical Places and Monuments  

University hill. The hill got its name in the 19th century in connection with the opening of the University on its territory. It is the central and oldest part of the city , it was here that in 1654-1655 the Kharkovites built their homes, fenced off the settlement with a wooden fortress which was situated within the limits of the area covering Tevelev, Luxemburg and Proletarskaya Squares. There were 12 cannons guarding the fortress. Two of the cannons have come down to us and are preserved for posterity .They can still be seen in the court of the History .Museum. In the following decades a number of brick structures came into being on the hill territory: Pokrovsky Cathedral ( 1689), the residence of the governor, now the Ukrainian Extra-Mural polytechnical Institute ( erected in 1777), Uspensky Cathedral, and other . Nowadays a beautiful square has been planted on the hill. The University staircase links the hill with Proletarskaya Square. Uspensky Cathedral. Uspensky Cathedral is one of the most wonderful, architectural monuments of Kharkov that have been preserved to our days. Erected in the centre of the elevated place, it is well seen from any part of the city. The brick building of the Catherdral was constructed in 1687. On the eve of the Poltava Battle on June 2nd, 1709, the Cathedral was visited by Peter 1. In 1733, during the great fire, the edifice bummed down. In 1771-1777 on the very same spot a new Cathedral was erected in the manner of the Moscow St. Kliment's Temple, in the style of baroque. The bell-tower of the Cathedral was erected in 1821-1841. The pro.lect was designed by E. V Asilyev , Professor of Architecture of the Kharkov University , and approved by the famous architect Academician Stasov. The bell-tower was erected in memory of the victory of the Russian armed forces over the Napoleon armies in 1812. Carried out in the style of classical architecture, the bell-tower attracts attention by its simplicity and at the same time its grandeur. It is 89.5 metres high, its foundation being 28 metres deep. A bell weighing 1003 pounds (16048 kg) was hung up in the bell-tower. In the years of the Great Patriotic War this unique monument of architecture had been heavily damaged by the occupants. After the liberation of the city the Cathedral was restored. The big clock of the Cathedral chimes hourly and the melodious sounds float above the city . Vosstaniya square. In one of the lanes of the young park, not far from the Palace of Culture of the Electromechanical Works, there has been erected a huge granite tombstone. It has been built in memory of the armed uprising of the workers of Kharkov against tzarism. The date 1905-1955 has been engraved on it. Here in the square, where the Helferich-Sade Plant was situated at that time, an armed uprising organized by the Bolsheviks of the city , with Art yom (F. A. Sergeyev) at the head, broke out on December 12, 1905. It was the armed detachment of the Plant that raised the banner of struggle. By the order of the city authorities, who had learnt about the preparation of the revolutionary events, army detachments surrounded the Plant. The workers were ordered to surrender, but they refused. This was followed by shelling. The Helferich-Zade Factory whistle was hooting alarmingly, calling upon their class-mates for help; and help did come. Three thousand workers of the Engine-Building Works with Comrade Art yom at the head set out to render assistance to the besieged workers. Revolutionary songs filled the air and floated over the workers' columns, red banners were fluttering. A bloody battle ensued right here in the Square. The workers pressed upon the tzarist units on two sides. But the forces were unequal and the insurgents had to retreat leaving many killed and wounded in their wake. The tzarist government ruthlessly suppressed the uprising. 136 participants were committed to prison. In commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Kharkov armed uprising the former Konnaya Square was renamed Vosstaniya (Insurgent) Square. The reional printin shop house. On the wall of the building N.13, which nowadays houses the regional printing shop, there is a memorial plaque. This white marble plaque bears the following inscription: "This building housed the first Workers' and Peasants' Government of the Ukrainian S. S. R. 18.XII-1917-29.1-1918". The first Soviet Government of the Ukraine -the People's Secretariat - organized the working people of the Republic for the struggle against the national-bourgeois and Kadet-Kaledinite counter-revolutionary forces, resorting to ways and means for the consolidation of the organs of Soviet power . The Council of People's Commissars of the Russian Federation heartily welcomed the establishment of the Soviet Government in the Ukraine and rendered it support and fraternal assistance. The eternal Glory memorial. Surrounded by stately green fir trees in the centre of the square on University Hill, towers a stone urn mounted on a monumental pedestal. From the pedestal a scarlet coloured cloth cast in bronze falls across it covering the polished granite urn. At the foot of the monument on the granite slab there is a wreath of laurels cast in metal. Night and day an inextinguishable blue fire is blazing. This monument is to perpetuate the memory of those who sacrificed their lives in the struggle for Soviet power . The memorial was unveiled on November 6, 1957, on the eve pf the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution, and on July 12, 1958, in honour of the 40th Jubilee of the Communist Party of the Ukraine the light of Eternal Glory was kindled. The Memorial was designed by S. Gourova. The musical comedy theatre.Many historical events are connected with the former "Moussoury" Theatre building (now the Musical Comedy Theatre ). When Kharkov was the capital of the Ukraine, the All-Ukrainian congresses of Soviets, conferences and congresses of the Communist Party of the Ukraine, of Trade Unions and Young Communist League organizations of the Republic used to convene here. On March 6, 1919, the 3rd Congress of Soviets of the Ukraine commenced its work in the theatre building. Y. M. Sverdlov on behalf of the Government of the Russian Federation greeted the Congress. The Congress adopted the first Constitution of the Soviet Ukraine, which consolidated the rights won by the working class as a result of the victory of the Great October Socialist Revo- lution. It was in the building of the theatre that speeches were delivered by F. E. Dzerzhynsky (on May 16,1920) , and M. V. Frunze (on December 13, 1922). The YCL heroes lane.In 1958, in the days of the 40th Jubilee of the Lenin Young Communist League, the YCL Heroes Lane came into being. On either side of the Lane, hiding in rich verdure, on pedestals are the bronze sculptures of the renowned YCL Heroes, whose feats in the days of the Great Patriotic War will forever remain in the hearts of the present and future generations. The Lane commences with the bust of N. Ostrovsky, then follows the sculptural figures of 2. Kosmodemyans-kaya, A. Matrosov, 0. Koshevoy, and the Kharkov YCLers I. Minailenko, A. Zoubarev, G. Nikitina, L. Ubiyvovk. The A. S. Push kin monument. In 1899, the citizens ofKharkov, marking the centenary of the birthday of the genius of Russian literature, decided to erect a monument in Theatre Square, and the street aqlacent to the Square was named Pushkin Street. The Pushkin Monument designed by the sculptor V. Edwards was unveiled on May 26, 1904. A bronze bust of the poet crowned by laurels garlands is mounted on the tetrahedral granite pedestal. The postament bears the inscription: "To A. S. Pushkin. The City ofKharkov". The N. V. Gogol monument. In the thronged and noisy part of Soumskaya Street, where it merges with Theatre Square, .lust opposite the Shevchenko Theatre, stands a modest monument to the great Russian writer N. V. Gogol. It was erected by the citizens of Kharkov in 1909, on the occasion of the centenary of the writer's birthday. After the unveiling of the monument, the aqlacent Malaya Soumskaya Street was renamed after the writer . The M. M. Kotsubinsky monument. The Monument in honour of the widely-known Ukrainian writer M. Kotsubinsky was unveiled on October 5, 1929. During the Great Patriotic War the German fascist invaders ruined the Monument. In 1957 the Kharkovites unveiled a new memorial to their beloved writer. The bust of M. M. Kotsubinsky is mounted on around granite pedestal. The bust is the work of the sculptor M. Ryabinin. The unveiling of the monument was dedicated to the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Great October. The T. G. Shevchenko monument. In the centre of the City of Kharkov, at the main entrance of the City Garden towers the monument to the great Ukrainian poet, revolutionary-democrat Taras Grigoryevitch Shevchenko. The tall trihedral tower is crowned by the bronze sculpture of the poet, depicted in grief and wrath, who foretells future retribution to be visited on the oppressors of the people, for all the wrongs done. Sixteen figures symbolizing the revolutionary struggle of the Ukrainian people are mounted on the helical projections etwining the pedestal of the Monument. This array of figures commences with the serf girl Katherine and winds up with the sculptural group of workers embodying the liberated Soviet Ukraine. The Monument was unveiled in 1935. The authors of the project are the sculptor M. G Manizer and the architect I. Q. Langbard. The v. N. Karazin monument. Green trees and light ceramic tiles which face the new building of the Kharkov University form the background on which the old bronze Memorial to Vasily Nazarovitch Karazin is conspicuously seen. The people of the City honour the memory of the founder of the University. The Monument was erected in 1905, on the occasion of the centenary jubilee of the University, at the expense of the donations contributed by the citizens of Kharkov. The Monument was designed by the sculptor I. And realetti and the architect A. Beketov.

By Stas Felonyuk


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