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The Annunciation Cathedral (architect M. Lovtsov, 1888–1901) in 1, Karl Marx square can also be seen very well from here.
The tall construction dominates the area on this side of the river, it is an integral component of the panoramic view of the western part of the city. The Cathedral is distinguished by abundant small details and polychromatic facade (striped brickwork — in which red brick layers are combined with light plaster — resembles of the ancient Byzantine buildings)
The unusual design of the Cathedral combines in one construction a cross-and-dome church with five domes and a tall (75 meters) circle belfry of a Gothic silhouette.
The Annunciation Cathedral, with a capacity for 4000 people, is generally considered the largest and the most lavish one in Kharkiv. The interiors of the Cathedral are beautiful with the main altar boasting the icons made from the white Carrara marble, as well as the icons painted on zinc boards by artists A. Danilevskyi and M. Mykhailov.
The relics of Constantinople Thaumaturge Saint Afanasiy, Venerable Melentiy and Saint Martyr Aleksandr, intensifying the power of prayers, are kept at the Cathedral.
Afanasiy the Thaumaturge visited the Moscovite state and Ukraine in the 17th century at the invitation of Czar Aleksey Mikhailovich, he visited Hetman Bohdan Khmelnitskyi, visited the famous Mharskiy Cloister where he died. His relics were later delivered to the Annunciation Cathedral. Venerable Melentiy served God and Church in Kharkiv in the 18th century. Saint Martyr Aleksandr died in the 1930th during the times of church persecution.
The square across from the Dormition Cathedral used to be the site of Gubernatorial Offices erected in 1786 by the design of a famous architect Giacomo Quarengi. The building underwent numerous reconstructions and was finally destroyed during the war. Today we can only imagine the grandeur of Soborna Square (as it was called before the Revolution) with the Dormition Cathedral and its belfry.
The Cathedral, which survived the historical turmoil, was constructed in 1773 on the site of the stone church destroyed in the fire. It was designed after the Saint Clement Church in Moscow. It took sculptors, icon painters and wood-carvers six years to complete the interior design of the Cathedral and to create the enormous wooden stand for the icons. Presumably this icon stand was described by the famous Kharkiv historian D. Bahaliy, when he in his Notes on Kharkiv History described the excellent skills of Kharkiv snitsari — the then name for wood-carvers. According to some information, the design of the icon stand was developed by Bartholomew Rastrelli.
The five-dome Cathedral was built in the Baroque style and comprises some elements of the Ukrainian architectural tradition. It is important that the Dormition Cathedral is the last in the row of churches built in the Ukrainian style. After 1800 the decree of the Emperor Paul I prohibited any constructions in this style. Today it is the House of Organ and Chamber Music.
In 1844 the belfry was erected to commemorate the victory of the Russian troops over Napoleon. Unlike the Cathedral it was built in the style of Classicism.
People call the Dormition cathedral Kharkiv’s golden crown. We can not but admire the skills and knowledge with which our ancestors could find the best locations for their churches. Kharkiv churches and cathedrals are not only spiritual centers of the city, but also true landscape gems brilliantly embedded into the city architectural ensemble.
The Holy Shroud Monastery in the historic center. It’s the oldest building in town preserved by miracle. In the middle of the monastery there rises the three-dome Holy Shroud Cathedral — the oldest stone construction and local architectural landmark. The Cathedral was erected in 1689 as part of the fortress. Its construction was funded by the Cossacks from Klotchkivska Sloboda. The Holy Shroud Cathedral is an example of Ukrainian Baroque. Its composition reminds that of a three-frame wooden church with adjacent belfry typical for Ukrainian architecture.
The architects skillfully combined traditional forms of Ukrainian religious architecture with the techniques and features of Russian architecture. The three-dome church, typical for Ukraine, has two levels — the lower one, with warm, winter, church premises, and the upper one, with cool, summer, church premises. The upper cool church is surrounded with a gallery and connected by a walking passage to a Russian hip-roof belfry. Intricate brick platbands, typical for the Moscow architectural style of the late 17th century, come together with typically Ukrainian multi-section cornice with a little ledge. Architectural composition of joints and window frames is very light and elegant. The harmony of soaring constructions as if growing one from another is really striking. There is information that the Cathedral was built by the team that erected cathedrals in this style in some other towns of the left-bank Ukraine — Nizhyn, Baturin, Izyum.
The adjacent hip-roof belfry, which was built later, with its more austere and heavier forms looks like a fortress tower.
Experienced teachers were selected; among them Hryhoriy Skovoroda, who taught here in 1759 — 1764. In his honor in the monastery yard there was erected a granite stele with the following inscription: «Hryhoriy Savych Skovoroda — an outstanding Ukrainian scholar, poet and philosopher, worked as a teacher at the Collegium that used to be located on this site». Among the students of Kharkiv Collegium were a lot of prominent representatives of science and culture, such as N. Gnedich — translator of Iliad and Odyssey from ancient Greek; M. Kachenovskiy — Russian historian, President of Moscow University; professor G. Basilevich — first Russian clinician and many others.
After the opening the Holy Shroud College Monastery in 1729, the Holy Shroud Church is part of the monastery. From 1800 to 1846 the upper Holy Shroud Church served as the town’s cathedral, and the lower Three Saints’ Church had belonged to the Collegium until it was closed. After the closure, the Collegium building housed the Eparchy clerical office, and at the end of the 19th century on its site there was erected the Fraternal House, designed by V. Nemkin (nowadays it’s the building of the Seminary). Part of the old basement was preserved and included into the new structure.
The Ozeryanska Church, erected in 1896 by the Eparchy architect V. Nemkin, is a unique construction. It’s the only church in town that uncharacteristically combined in its design Roman and Old-Russian motives: it’s built as a basilica and at the same time is decorated by 13 small domes and intricate stone ornaments.
The name of the church is connected with a miraculous icon of Our Lady, who presented herself in the village of Ozeryanka not far from Kharkiv in the middle of the 17th century. The icon was mostly kept at the Kuriazh Monastery out of town (founded in 1663). Since 1863 at the request of the congregation, the icon used to be brought from Kuriazh to the village of Ozeryanka, where Our Lady presented herself, for two weeks every year. Since the end of the 19th century religious processions also took place in Kharkiv.
Unfortunately, the relic disappeared in 1926, the year of the last procession. There are several versions of what happened. The most plausible one finds the cause in the precious frame, decorated with gems and jewelry donated as charity. The only thing preserved is the icon scroll that is on display at the church.
The founding of the Kharkiv Eparchy was an important event in the spiritual life of the city. It was opened by the decree of the Emperor Paul I on October, 16, 1799, on the report of the Holy Synod. The new Eparchy was referred to the 3d class and the Holy Shroud College Monastery became the seat of the Pontiff. Later, to the right of the Holy Shrine Cathedral, there was erected the Pontiff’s House, a two-storied building of white stone in the Russian Classicism style. Today this building houses the Eparchy clerical office.
Adjacent to Universytetska Street is the terrace square (architects G. Vegman, I. Zhilkin, M. Lutskiy, 1951 — 1952) located on Stepan Khalturin Spusk.
This is the site that used to house the Old Passage building, which belonged to the merchant Pashchenko-Tyapkin, and was destroyed by nazis during the occupation period of World War II. After the war the local residents voluntarily worked on Sundays, helping in the reconstruction of their city. They cleared the ruins, took away the debris, planted the trees and bushes, lay out flowerbeds and pathways. Today one of the terraces is occupied by a summer cafe and from the upper terrace we can enjoy a wonderful view of the city districts on the opposite side of the Lopan river.
The monument to H. Skovoroda was erected on one of the terraces of the park. A few dozens of meters away from the monument is the border of the former Kharkiv fortress. The fountain is the approximate location of the wooden Derkachevska corner tower. a little further to the south, at the end of the ravine (now Khalturin Spusk), there stood the Lopanska gate tower. If we walk along the imaginary fortress wall, we shall get to the central part of town. It was here that on the site of the ancient Slavic settlement the first Kharkiv fortress was erected in 1659. The tallest Nikolska corner tower was about 20 meters high. That is why the Holy Shroud Cathedral, located nearby fortress walls, with its dome at the height of 48 meters, dominated the cityscape for decades. Even the stone Dormition Cathedral, built of at the end of the 17th century, was not so tall.
As years had passed by, the Cossack clay huts within the fortress walls were replaced by the brick palaces, the town was growing, and the territory of the fortress turned into a type of observation deck. This is the place from which we can enjoy a magnificent view of an ever-changing city. And from here we are going to have a closer look at Proletarska square and the Annunciation Cathedral.
The Governor’s House, which later became the main building of Kharkiv University, was erected in 1767–1776 (architects M. Tikhmenev and A. Vilyanov). But the construction works were completed by P. Yaroslavskyi, a graduate of Kharkiv Collegium, the fact that proves that at the end of the 18th century the city had its own talented architects.
The University building is mentioned in the traveler’s guide of 1915 as one of the best 18th century landmarks in Kharkiv. This was the place where Catherine the Great stayed with her court during her famous journey from Saint Petersburg to the Crimea.
In the 20th century the Nobel Prize (Physics) winner L. Landau worked here. Among the Presidents of the University were the famous Ukrainian writer P. Hulak-Artemovskyi, the most prominent historian of Slobozhanshchyna D. Bahaley. Among University professors were many well-known Polish, German, British and Italian scholars and scientists, such as Alexander Mitskievich, brother of the famous Polish poet Adam Mitskievich, German philosopher I. Schad and others.
The emergence of the Kharkiv literary school in the first half of the 19th century is also connected with the University.Due to it Kharkiv of that time became a major cultural center of Ukraine. Kharkivite H. Kvitka-Osnovyanenko — one of the founders of the Ukrainian prosaic literature and national theatre, ethnographer and historian of Slobozhanshchyna — greatly contributed to the cultural development of his native town. The street bearing his name runs parallel to Universytetska Street. The monument to this writer and statesman was also erected there. At that time a virtual constellation of well-known poets, writers, scientists, historians, ethnographers, specialist in Slavic studies, such as P. Hulak-Artemovskyi, Ya. Shoholev, L. Borovikovskyi, N. Kostomarov, I. Sreznevskyi, A. Metlinskyi, lived and worked in Kharkiv.
Across from the Governor’s House, built in the style of late Baroque, there used to be another University building (25, Universytetska Street). It was built in 1831 by the design of Ye. Vasiliev as an example of austere classical forms. It housed the domestic Church of Saint Anthony, an assembly hall, an observatory and a library.
The elegance and sophistication of the former Governor’s House architecture is in contrast here with the laconic six-column ionic portico with the pediment raised on the broad stairs. The columns stand out vividly against the background of the shadowy loggia, and the walls devoid of decoration emphasize the grandeur of the entrance to the temple of knowledge and science.
The choir singing in the church was the best in town. It comprised both professors and students. The church was decorated with the icons painted by V. Borovikovskyi and A. Venetsianov, as well as by amateur painters from the faculty. Though the church was a domestic one, meant for the needs of the University, it was favored by parishioners from different parts of the town.
The building, reconstructed after the World War II by the design of architect O. Okulich-Karazin, nowadays houses Kharkiv’s Yunost (Youth) Ukrainian Cultural Center (a former duplex Yunost cinema) and the stacks of the University library.
The view of Rosa Luxembour Square opens from the University hill. At different times it was called Lobna, Nahorna, Narodna, Torhova, Pavlovska. It was also the site of the fair held on the Dormition and Holy Shroud days. The Mile Post — a stone obelisk, crowned with the metal two-headed eagle, which indicated the distances from Kharkiv to other gubernatorial towns was erected in the square. Here the governmental decrees were read out and public executions were held. Another attraction of the square was the Post-Office on the southeast corner of Universytetska street, not far from the Mile Post and the executions site. In the 19th century the square was built up with one- and two-storied buildings used predominantly for trade purposes. There used to be a big shop, owned by merchant Pavlov, the building that stood out among the others, and which was later rebuilt as a hotel. It was destroyed during World War II.
The square acquired its current name in 1919 in the memory of Rosa Luxembourg (1871–1919) — one of the founders of the Communist Party of Germany. The Mile Post was taken away in the 1920s as it blocked the traffic.
In 2001 the Triumphal Column dedicated to the 10th anniversary of Ukraine’s independence (sculptor A. Ridnyi, architect N. Vlasov) was added to the ensemble of the square.
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