Taking advantage of the Indian summer The Day’s journalist set off on a trip following the old paths of Kherson region that keep memories of the Scythians, Sarmatians, Pechenegs, Polovtsians, Turks, and Zaporozhian Cossacks. Although, not very many ancient artifacts have survived in the area, we still were able to find some highlights of the region. We planned our route north east of Kherson along the Odesa-Melitopol-Novoazovsk highway. By the way, you can travel in this area by car of your own or by bus (you can use any that runs from Kherson to Nova Kakhovka).
Leaving the city, we are entering territory of Bilozersk raion. The first stop on our route is the village of Darivka located on the right bank of the most meandering tributary of the Dnipro – the Inhulets River. The village was founded in 1780 by Count Fedor Komstadius – descendant of the famous Swedish family. By the way, his son August was the governor of the Kherson Province in 1821-28. After taking a few shots of the wide Inhulets water meadows, we continue our trip.
After going for about a dozen kilometers we take a right turn to Tokarivka. Just like Darivka, this settlement was founded in 1780. Its founder was a former Polish army lieutenant Anton Tokarewski. Shortly after the foundation of the settlement Tokarewski lost this land to the Erdeli family that owned it until the Soviet times. The main building of the Erdeli mansion and a monumental water tower built in the late 18th century survived in Tokarivka until present time. Both structures are in fairly good condition, only the basement of the mansion, which remains open, is filled with junk. The most beautiful construction stands above the village – St. Olga’s Church. It was built in 1994-2001 after the design of architect Mykhailo Vustiansky.
Back on the highway, we continue travelling to the northeast. Shortly a view of the village of Tiahynka opens before our eyes. In this area one must visit several monuments that keep the memories of the Zaporozhian Cossacks valor. You can get into the right (old) part of the village not only by an asphalted road, but also by an inconspicuous narrow path that runs hiding from the car flow right before the sign of the settlement. The trail goes into a paved road that leads to the old railway bridge, built back in 1901. From the bridge we were able to see the monument to Bohdan Khmelnytsky.
Right after Tiahynka we take a right turn. A winding dirt road runs to the island of Velyke Horodyshche a few kilometers away from the village. Landmark that leads a traveler is a beautiful monument-column on which a sculpture of the patron of the Orthodox army Archangel Michael. The memorial was established in 1992 in honor of the 500th anniversary of Ukrainian Cossacks. One of the inscriptions at the foot of the column reads: “In 1492 Ukrainian Cossacks gave first fight to the Turks near Tiahyn.” According to historians, back in the 14th century a castle was built on the island. “There is a common belief that in 1491 the Crimean Khan Mengli Giray gave it the name of Tiahyn. Together with other fortresses of the Lower Dnipro, Tiahyn was one of the fort posts during the raids of the Crimean Turkish hordes on Ukrainian lands. However, already in 1492 Cossacks from Kyiv and Cherkasy captured a Turkish ship near Tiahyn. This event is associated with the first documented mention of the Ukrainian Cossacks. In the next centuries Cossacks continued to disturb the Turkish garrison. In 1628 Korsun Colonel Filonenko attacked Tiahyn, another attack was carried out by kosh otaman Ivan Sirko in 1673, and yet another took place in 1693 led by Fastiv Colonel Semen Palii. However, the most recent archaeological investigations discovered no evidence of this version, so the question about the founders of the Tiahyn fortress remains open,” historian Serhii Diachenko told The Day. The Cossack raids on Tiahyn left trace in folk ballad about Ivan Konovchenko. When we were leaving Tiahynka silver dome of the Orthodox Church, built on the site of a mass grave of victims of 1932-33Holodomor, caught our eyes. A couple of kilometers away from there is another monument to Bohdan Khmelnytsky.
From the “city of Tiahyn” we headed toward the Kozatske village, which got its name from the Kozak River that flows into the Dnipro in this place. Along the road we came across a stone sculpture of a woman set on top of the Scythian mound. In the 16th-17th centuries this land was controlled by Cossacks and in 1782 Count Ivan Osterman colonized the place with peasants from Mogilev, Kursk, and Tambov provinces. Later, the village was owned by Count Vasily Orlov-Denisov, and in the 19th century it was purchased by Prince Pyotr Troubetzkoy. The vineyards, planted by the prince, soon boosted the economy of Kozatske and Troubetzkoy’s wine won the Grand Prix at the World Exhibition held in Paris in 1900. Today, only the ruins of once richly decorated palace and adjacent building, hanging from the steep bank, remained in Kozatske. Several years ago the local authorities and sponsors planned to restore the original appearance of the estate, but so far it only ended in talk. The building was fenced with concrete slabs and you can only get inside with a permission of the guards because, as they say, it’s a private property. The wine-making traditions are still maintained here these days.
The last stop on our route is a village of Vesele across from the Kozatske. One of the oldest architectural monuments of Kherson region – watchtower, built most likely during the reign of Grand Duke Vytautas of Lithuania (late 14th century) stands here. The tower has four levels, the top one differs in nature of masonry. It was built in the 19th century. Unfortunately, the local residents do not take care of the monument that could become a tourist calling card of the village. It is dirty and there is a lot of garbage inside the building.
A dozen meters from the tower you can admire an enchanting view of the Dnipro River. Fall adorned its banks with shades of yellow and red. You can rest, have a snack, and hit the road back home. In Kherson I noted that the speedometer of my car showed 150 kilometers of joyful historical journey.
I would like to express my gratitude to Serhii Diachenko for his help in providing information about history of the villages.
You can find more photos from the trip on The Day’s Ukraina Incognita website (incognita.day.kiev.ua).