Poltava Ukraine Guide - Travel East and Central Europe

History of Poltava Ukraine

Poltava Ukraine

Poltava Ukraine

Located between Kharkiv and Kyiv in Ukraine, Poltava is best known as the site of a 1709 battle between a Cossack coalitions, led by Mazepa, and the Swedes against the Russian army of Czar Peter I. The Russian victory later in battle established Russia's prominent place in Europe and as a result Ukraine's decline.
The battlefield and its monuments are the major draw. Places to see in the town include the October Park, the gun-barrel-shaped Column of Glory and the Spassky Church. The latter is actually an outer shell protecting an earlier, wooden church inside.

It's still unknown when the city was exactly founded. Within the city limits the archaeologists unearthed a Paleolithic dwelling as well as the Scythian remains. The present name of the city is traditionally connected to the settlement Ltava, mentioned in the Hypatian Chronicle.

The city belonged to Lithuania from the 14th century. Polish administration took over in 1569. In the 16th - 17th centuries it belonged to Pereyaslav Kniazhestvo (Principality). In 1648 the Polish magnate (of Ruthenian descent) Jeremi Wisniowiecki captured Poltava. Poltava was the base of a distinguished Polk (Regiment) of the Ukrainian Cossacks. In 1667 Poltava became a part of the Russian Empire.

Poltava Regional Museum

Poltava Regional Museum

Poltava Regional Museum

This is Poltava’s (and one of Ukraine’s) largest museums telling the story of Poltava going back through the ages with exhibits covering culture, costumes, the region’s famous embroidery and ceramics, wildlife, nature, agriculture, geography and industry. You will also find impressive dioramas. The museum's premises is in the old city council building and is in the Ukrainian Modern style. The façade features medallions with the crests of the various districts of the Poltava Oblast.

Another feature of the building is the use of decorative ceramic columns, ceramic tiles as well as painted floral pattern. There are stunning examples of the original Majolica tiles on the side of the building which weren't damaged during World War II. The inside of the museum is equally ornate. The original building is from 1902-1908. It was restored in 1964. The architect is Vasyliy Krichevsky.

Assumption Cathedral Poltava

The Assumption Cathedral Poltava

The Assumption Cathedral Poltava

At Poltava's historical center - on the Ivanova Gora, where the town's key historical and architectural sites are - the magnificent building of the Holly Assumption Cathedral is particularly notable. Today it is one of the main Orthodox temples in the region.

In the late 18th century, the Cathedral emerged on the place of wooden church that stood on the territory of Poltava's fortress and became the first stone building in town. Striking with its beauty and splendor, it soon became Poltava's main spiritual center, where almost all residents gathered during holidays. The Holly Assumption Cathedral amazed with its unusual forms: Baroque traits added opulence and airiness to it, and classical architecture's elements made it look strict and even stern.

However, just 10 years after its opening, the temple was rebuilt. It acquired two more domes and became five-domed. An cast-iron floor replaced the former brick floor, a choir moved to the second floor. And in this appearance the Assumption Cathedral met Russian Empress Catherine the Great in 1787.

A Bell Tower And Ongoing Expansion

In the early 19th century, a luxurious 4-layer bell tower emerged near the temple. Now it's an architectural and historical monument of national importance. As the Assumption Cathedral itself, the bell tower peculiarly combined bright late baroque and classicism traits. The belfry is also notable for the fact that here used to hang the huge Kizi-Kermen Bell, casted from Turkish trophy cannons in the 18th century. It's now kept in the Poltava's Museum of History.

Assumption Cathedral Poltava Ukraine

Assumption Cathedral Poltava Ukraine

Over time the Assumption Cathedral became more and more popular and could hardly accommodate all comers. Therefore, in the late 19th century it was expand. As a result of another reconstruction the temple became more spacious and could accommodate up to 10,000 church members at once.

In the year 1934 - with establishment of Soviet Power in Ukraine - the Holly Assumption Cathedral was blown up. Only the bell tower survived by a miracle and, after the World War II, was used as placement of different workshops for a long time. In the late 20th century, the belfry was reconstructed and brought back to its original look. At the same time, the town's museum and several artistic exhibitions materialized on its premises.

With Ukraine acquiring independence, the bell tower passed to the Orthodox Church. In 2005 the Holly Assumption Cathedral was built near it anew. Built in Ukrainian baroque style, the new temple is not the exact copy of its predecessor, but it strikes with elegant, graceful and splendid forms, the same as the Cathedral of the 18th century used to do.

The Exaltation of the Cross Monastery Poltava

The Exaltation of the Cross Monastery Poltava

The Exaltation of the Cross Monastery Poltava

Built in 1650 on the hill near Vorskla River, the Exaltation of the Cross Monastery is one of the best samples of Ukrainian Baroque architecture and one of Poltava's most interesting sights. However, it's not just a valuable architectural monument. Many important historical events relate to the cloister.

In the late 17th century, Crimean Tatars captured and ransacked the monastery, before it mushroomed. In the year 1709 - during the famous Battle of Poltava - Swedish troops occupied and ravaged it. Having occupied the territory of the Exaltation of the Cross Monastery, the Swedes centered fire on the bastions of the city fortress from here. The headquarters of Swedish King Carl XII was in the monastic cells.

Being reconstructed after military operations, in the 18th century, the Monastery became one of the most important cultural centers not only of Poltava but of the whole Left-bank Ukraine. In particular, the region's largest library with rare ancient publications was on this site.

At the same time the monastery acquired its main gem - the marvelous Exaltation of the Cross Church, built in pretentious baroque style. Its uniqueness is that it's one of the few seven-domed churches that survived on the territory of Ukraine until now. The Cathedral's special decoration is three layers of windows with intricate cases. Besides that the Exaltation of the Cross Church was notable for its unusually beautiful interior. Its main riches were amazing iconostasis that were unfortunately destroyed during Soviet times and didn't survive until now.

The Exaltation of the Cross Monastery Poltava Side View

The Exaltation of the Cross Monastery Poltava Side View

Somewhat later the architectural complex of the church expanded with the stone Trinity Church, considered to be a refectory church and by the Semenovsky Church. Monastic complex's most attractive building, however, was four-layer bell tower in the late baroque style, adjoined to the Exaltation of the Cross Cathedral in 1786. The belfry was 47-meter high and had over ten different bells, the largest of which weighed over 6,5 tons. Besides these cultic buildings, there were dean's house, brotherhood cells' premises and guest house on the territory of the monastery.

The Exaltation of the Cross Monastery was always famous for incredibly beautiful church utensils, created mainly in the 18th - 19th centuries. Richly decorated crosses, lamps and leading clergymen's clothes embroidered with gold and silver stroke at most. Unfortunately, due to Monastery's complicated history, most of the objects didn't survive.

In the first third of the 20th century the Monastery was abolished. The Soviet authorities used its premises as imprisonment facilities for juvenile delinquents, and later a boarding school was here. During the World War II the cloister renewed its work for a short time - as a nunnery. In 1960, it closed again, and returned to believers only when Ukraine became independent.

Ivanova Gora Poltova

Ivanova Gora Poltova

Ivanova Gora Poltava

The Ivanova Gora (literally: Ivan’s Mount) is almost a sacral place for Poltava locals. It's the city’s historical core, where the whole complex of architectural and historical attractions, each having a status of Poltava’s highlight, are. This place is notable for being an excellent observation area that opens wonderful views of the city downtown and its most token structures.

The Ivanova Gora is a high picturesque hill that towers above the Vorskla River. Historians believe that it is there that the citadel of the annalistic town Ltava, the predecessor of modern Poltava, stood in the 12th century. Later, the earthen fortress, which held back the Swedish troops’ assault for three months during the Northern War, was built on the hill. One of its fifteen wooden towers, the Podolskaya Tower, was recently restored and added to Ivanova Gora’s list of attractions.

Poltova Belvedere

But the most recognizable structure, decorating the top of the hill, is the elegant White Belvedere that is one of Poltava’s many vivid symbols. It was installed in 1909, timed to the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Poltava, which radically changed city’s destiny. The belvedere's horseshoe shape had a reason. According to the legend, it's here that a local blacksmith skillfully shod Russian Tsar Peter the Great’s horse, who lost a shoe during the Battle of Poltava.

The belvedere was pulled down during the World War II. The fascist invaders arranged an artillery observation post there. In 1954, a Rotunda of Peoples' Friendship with eight columns opened on its place. Locals still call it the White Belvedere out of habit. Inimitable views of the river and the majestic Exaltation of the Cross Monastery, Poltava’s oldest building, open from the place where it's installed. Rotunda is especially beautiful at night, when it glitters with thousands of different shades thanks to hundreds of LED lamps.

Another Ivanova Gora’s token monument and modern Poltava’s symbol, the monument to Galushka, is near the White Belvedere. It is a deep plate with twelve Galushkas (dumplings) and a large spoon, which stands on a pedestal shaped as a wooden tabletop. The monument was opened on the birthday of the most famous native of Poltava region, the eminent writer Nikolai Gogol, who immortalized this cult Ukrainian dish in his works. Every summer, an original Holiday of Poltava’s Galushka takes place near the monument.

Weather in Poltava

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