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Landmarks of Ukraine



Evidence of an ancient Slavic state?

Itwas known from Byzantine and old Ukrainian chronicles that back in the ninth-eleventh centuries, somewhere in what is now the Land of Prykarpattya in Western Ukraine, there existed a large Slavic state, Bila Khorvatiya. Documents of the fourteenth century, discovered not so long ago in the Vatican archives, contain some references to the town of Stolsko located in Lvivshchyna, which could have been the capital of Bila Khorvatiya.

Archeologists, guided by these vague references and their intuition, conducted a search which was crowned with success  in the vicinity of the village of Stilske in Lviv Oblast they discovered what must have been a large fortified place which occupied an area of no less than 250 hectares.

Further digging produced a number of artifacts which provided enough evidence to conclude that it was indeed an urban centre, possibly the capital of the Bila Khorvatiya state mentioned in the Byzantine and old Ukrainian chronicles.

The fortress was surrounded by earthworks and ramparts with the total length of several miles, complete with towers and other defensive features. Archeologists also discovered foundations of many houses which had once stood in and around the fortress. These houses served different purposes  dwellings, garrison barracks, storage and whatever else a place like this needed. Among the archeological discoveries was a paved road that led to the city gate. The city was also connected to the river Dnister, eleven kilometres away, through a channel and a tributary. Several large underground cellar-like places were also discovered but their purpose remains unclear.

The village of Stilske now boasts The Historical and Cultural Complex that includes, in addition to the remains of the ancient fortress, caves which in the Christian times were used by monks as cells, and in the pre-Christian times these caves must have been used for storage of vegetables. There is also a place which could have been a heathen shrine of some sort.

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Pyramids in Ukrainian villages

There are pyramids in Ukraine which, similarly to the Egyptian ones, are tombs.

In the village of Komendantivka, Poltava Oblast, you can see a fifteen-meter high granite pyramid, the tomb of Oleksandr Bilevych and his wife.

Oleksandr Bilevych was a Navy officer and when, in the nineteenth century, he happened to visit Egypt, he was very much impressed by the Great Pyramids at Giza. When he retuned to his native land, he, inspired by what he had seen in Egypt, had a pyramid-shaped-tomb built at his country-side estate. The granite was quarried in the vicinity; for the mortar egg whites and blood of the slaughtered animals were used to improve the mortars binding qualities. The sepulcher chambers were connected by corridors. The first to be buried there was Bilevychs wife, and several years later Bilevych himself joined her in the pyramid.

The nine-meter tall pyramid in the village of Berezova Rudka, Poltava Oblast, is made of brick, rather than granite. The village used to be the estate of the Zakrevsky family. Ihnaty Zakrevsky was ambassador of the Russian Imperial government under Tsar Alexander III to Egypt. Similarly to Bilevych, he was fascinated with the Egyptian pyramids, and upon returning home, he had his own pyramid built. It was not meant to be a tomb though. The pyramid was a decorative architectural landmark, with the interior decorated with murals. The subjects of the murals varied from Biblical scenes to scenes from the Egyptian mythology. There was even an altar inside. The entrance to the pyramid was guarded by the statue of the Egyptian goddess Isida which Zakrevsky had brought from Egypt. The portal carried the image of the Christian cross.

Vandalism and time did not spare the murals or anything else in the pyramids but were powerless to destroy the pyramids themselves.

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A Peculiar monument

Inthe village of Lychkivtsi in the Land of Ternopilshchyna you can see a somewhat disturbing piece of sculpture  on a pedestal stands a pillar on the top of which there sits a human head in a helmet but without the lower jaw. There is an inscription on the pedestal but it is impossible to read it because the stone has crumbled away in many places leaving only illegible traces of letters. Local lore has it that it is the monument to a young man who was captured by the Tartars during one of their raids in the times of old, but who erected the monument and when remains unclear. Not far from this monument there is another one that commemorates an epidemic disease that struck the village in the 1830s when hundreds of people died.

The village used to be the estate of the local nobles but now only ruins indicate the spots where the castle, the church and other buildings used to stand.

It was in the village of Lychkivtsi that a pagan idol, the representation of god Svyatovyd, was found in 1848. The reliefs carved on the idol reflect the ancient Slavic view of the Universe.


By Olena Krushynska. Photos by the author.


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