History of Poltava Ukraine
Located between Kharkiv and Kyiv in Ukraine, Poltava is best known as the site of a 1709 battle between a Cossack coalition, 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 draws. 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, archaeologists unearthed a Paleolithic dwelling as well as the Scythian remains. The present name of the city connects 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. In 1648 the Polish magnate 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
This is Poltava’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’ll find impressive dioramas. The museum’s premises are in the old city council building and is in the Ukrainian Modern style. The facade 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 examples of the original Majolica tiles on the side of the building which weren’t damaged during World War II. The original building is from 1902-1908. The architect is Vasyliy Krichevsky.
Assumption Cathedral Poltava
At Poltava’s historical center, on the Ivanova Gora, where the town’s historical and architectural sites are, the magnificent building of the Holly Assumption Cathedral is particularly notable. Today it’s one of the main Orthodox temples in the region.
In the late 18th century, the Cathedral emerged on the place of a wooden church that stood on the territory of Poltava’s fortress. It 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 Holy 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.
But 10 years after its opening, the temple was rebuilt. It acquired two more domes and became five-domed. A 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. The bell tower combines late Baroque and Classicism traits. The belfry is also notable for the fact that here used to hang the huge Kizi-Kermen Bell, cast from Turkish trophy cannons in the 18th century. It’s now kept in the Poltava’s Museum of History.
Over time the Assumption Cathedral became more popular and could hardly accommodate all comers. So, in the late 19th century it expanded. As a result of another reconstruction, the temple became more spacious and could accommodate up to 10,000 church members at once.
In 1934, with the establishment of Soviet Power in Ukraine, the Cathedral was blown up. Only the bell tower survived by a miracle and, after World War II, served 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 art 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 isn’t an 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.
Have a Bite at Shade Burger
Shade Burger in Poltava was voted Europe’s best restaurant interior at the 2017 Restaurant and Design Awards. It’s the work of Kyiv-based YOD Design Studio – and the juicy burgers get great reviews, too!
The Exaltation of the Cross Monastery Poltava
Built on the hill near the Vorskla River in 1650, the Exaltation of the Cross Monastery is one of the best samples of Ukrainian Baroque architecture. It’s also one of Poltava’s most interesting sights. But it’s not just a valuable architectural monument. Many important historical events related 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 of the whole Left-bank of 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 today. 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 beautiful interior. Its main riches were amazing iconostasis that was unfortunately destroyed during Soviet times and didn’t survive until now.
Adding the Trinity Church
Later the architectural complex expanded with the stone Trinity Church, considered to be a refectory church and by the Semenovsky Church. The Monastic complex’s most attractive building was four-layer bell tower in the late baroque style, adjoined to the Exaltation of the Cross Cathedral in 1786.
Its belfry was 47-meter high and had over ten different bells, the largest of which weighed over 6,5 tons. Besides these 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 its beautiful church utensils, created in the 18th – 19th centuries. 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. Later a boarding school was here. During 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
The Ivanova Gora 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 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.
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. Installed in 1909, it came in time for the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Poltava, which changed the city’s destiny. The belvedere’s horseshoe shape had a reason. According to the legend, it’s here that a local blacksmith shod Russian Tsar Peter the Great’s horse, who lost a shoe during the Battle of Poltava.
The belvedere was pulled down during 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.
The monument to Galushka is near the White Belvedere. It’s a deep plate with twelve dumplings and a large spoon, standing on a pedestal shaped like a wooden tabletop. The monument opened for the public 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.