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My Ukraine Contest and essays that have been sent to participate in the contest


The Mizhnarodny Turyzm Magazine and the Nedilna podorozh (Sunday Travels) Radio Program at the 1st National Radio Station have announced a contest for Best Story, Essay or Article Moya Ukrayina (My Ukraine). Travels, impressions, experiences, meetings and adventures as well as descriptions of historic incidents, of architectural landmarks and sights, or anything else that may be of interest, can be the subject of the materials which are sent in to take part in the contest.

The materials should be up to 5,000 signs (about a thousand words) in length, and written in Ukrainian, English or Russian; they should be provided with photographs or illustrations (digital or printed, of a size no smaller than 10 x 15 centimeters).

The best stories and essays will be published in the Mizhnarodny Turyzm magazine and in the Welcome to Ukraine magazine (in English translation); they will be put on the website and will be read at one of the Nedilna podorozh broadcasts at the 1st National Radio Station.

At the end of the year a final short list of the materials will be compiled and winners of the contest will be announced. The results will be published in the Mizhnarodny Turyzm and in the Welcome to Ukraine in the first issues of 2008, and will be broadcast in the Nedilna podorozh Radio Program.

Before publication, the materials which will be sent in can be edited; they will not be reviewed or returned; no royalties will be paid.

The authors of all the published materials will be awarded with annual subscriptions to the Mizhnarodny Turyzm and the Welcome to Ukraine magazines.


The winners will be awarded with:

1st place  a voucher for a week-long stay at a resort in Turkey or Egypt;

2nd place  participation in a tour organized for journalists by the Mizhnarodny Turyzm magazine;

3rd place  a valuable prize


Materials for the contest should be sent to:

Mizhnarodny Turyzm Publishing House,

15 Klovsky Uzviz Street, Kyiv 01021

For further details call (044) 254 5190/91/93



In this issue we publish one of the articles that have been sent to us to take part in the contest Moya Ukrayina.



Zakarpattya (Transcarpathia)

Two Castles


My first interest in the history of Zakarpattya was evoked by a book by Yosyp Kobal, Uzhgorod vidomy i nevidomy (What is Well Known and Not Known about the City of Uzhgorod). When I traveled with a tourist group to Uzhgorod I was excited to find out that our guide would be none other than Yosyp Kobal. If I had known he would be our guide I would surely have taken my copy of his book with me for him to sign!

I discovered that cultural influences of the neighboring nations of which Uzhgorod used to be a part, still can be felt and seen in this city. I heard some respectable locals speak Hungarian; in some of the stores and cafes I heard radio broadcasts in Slovak; I saw neighborhoods which had typically Czech architecture. A particularly noticeable imprint on the city was left by the times when Uzhgorod was part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire in general culture, architecture, education and in the Ukrainian language the locals use.

It is probably thanks to Uzhgorod being a sort of melting pot of cultures that you feel being a newcomer to this city only until your first cup of strong and fragrant coffee in a coffee house, or until your first stroll through the streets. After that you feel yourself completely at home.

Incidentally, all the streets seem to take you to the Uzhgorod Castle. I had read about the castle in Kobals book. Its walls have seen a lot and they would tell exciting stories if they only could. During our visit to the castle I was lucky to be allowed to hold in my hands copper bracelets, hundreds of years old, which had been unearthed during archeological excavations, and which now are kept in a store room of the local historical museum. The museum is situated in the castle and there is not enough space to exhibit all of its treasures, so many artifacts are kept in store rooms

In 1670, a Hungarian-Croatian uprising against the Austrian rule began. It was led by Ferenc Rakoczi (16451676), scion of a noble Magyar family. Rakoczi had been designated to become prince of Transylvania, but he never reigned. In March 1666 Rakoczi married Ilona, daughter of Peter Zrinyi (Zrinski), ban (governor) of Croatia, and four years later he joined Zrinyi in a conspiracy aimed at ending Habsburg rule in Hungary and Croatia. The insurrection was put down, and Zrinyi was beheaded in 1671. Rakoczi was spared on payment of a ransom. The castle in Uzhgorod was the place where the local people sought refuge during the hostilities.

In the late seventeenth-early eighteenth centuries the Uzhgorod Castle was in the possession of Count Miklosz Berceni and his wife Christina. The castle was given additional fortifications and also it became a cultural and political center. The castle owners collected art and their collection in the castle included hundreds of works of art. They had a chamber orchestra, a theater performing in the castle, they had a large library, they organized large parties, they played chess, took walks and horseback rides  in other words led a high society life.

In the inner yard of the castle I saw several pieces of sculpture cast in bronze. One of them was of Heracles Slaying the Nine-Headed of Lerna. This sculpture used to stand at a spa in the village of Uzhok. The mineral sources in that village with water that had medicinal properties were known as long ago as in the seventeenth century. In later times, the spa began to be frequented by people seeking health improvement. One of the sources at the spa was known as the Source of Heracles. The water there was considered to be the best as far as its medicinal properties were concerned. It was near that source that the sculpture of Heracles used to stand. Wars of the twentieth century led to the decline of the spa and the statue was moved to the Uzhgorod in 1947.

After Uzhgorod our tourist group went to Mukacheve, the most colorful town, the guidebook said, in Western Ukraine. And indeed, the buildings there were painted in different colors that reminded me of Hutsul rugs. The building of city counsel, in an architectural style which was described as Mauritanian, is painted sea blue.

The most noticeable architectural landmark in Mukacheve is also a castle, Palanok. If an architectural landmark can be compared to a person who was sick and then has been restored to health, with color returning to their cheeks, then we can say that a recent and thorough restoration returned health to Palanok. The castle was painted in many colors but frankly I did not think it was a good idea to give an old castle such garish coloring. The castle in Mukacheve attracts more tourists than the castle in Uzhgorod, its museum collection is larger and richer. The Palanok museum keeps acquiring new items for its collections. One of the recent acquisitions was a monument to Fedir Koryatovych, a prince from Podillya, who added fortifications to the castle which was his residence, and made it larger. The monument to this prince is believed to have some magical properties, or rather not the whole monument but one of the fingers of its left hand. If you hold this finger and think of a wish that you want to come true it will  or so they say. That finger shines polished by being constantly held by innumerable tourists.

Zakarpattya is known for its salubrious air but I discovered that its culture and sights, the whole atmosphere of that place, are no less attractive features.


By Khrystyna Dorozhovets

from the city of Lviv

Photos by Olena Krushynska


A Russian Poet With Ukrainian Roots


Anna Horenko, better known under her penname Anna Akhmatova, was born in Ukraine in 1889 (died in 1966, in Russia), and later was recognized as one of the most remarkable poets in Russian literature of the twentieth century. Volodymyr PANCHENKO explored some of Akhmatovas Ukrainian roots and connections.


In the Ukrainian village of Slobidska Shelekhivska I discovered a museum devoted to Anna Akhmatova. The museum is housed in the building where Akhmatovas aunt used to live. The building is over two hundred years old but it is kept in a good condition. It stands in a small park which used to be much bigger when the whole estate was privately owned (private ownership ended in 1917). Anna used to come to visit her aunt quite often in the early years of the twentieth century but it is hardly mentioned in all the many books about Akhmatovas life that Ive read.

Anna Horenko was born in Odesa. Her family lived in a small house in the section of Odesa known as Velykiy Fontan, close by the sea. She was baptized in the Preobrazhensky Cathedral in Odesa. Annas father was a navy engineer, a handsome man and lady-killer. The six children in the family did not prevent the break-up of Annas parents which was caused by her fathers philandering.

When Anna was one year old, her family moved to Tsarskoye Selo in the vicinity of St Petersburg where she lived until she was sixteen. Every summer she was taken to a place near Sevastopol. She fell in love with the sea.

The future poetess wrote her first poem when she was eleven. She studied at the Tsarskoye Selo school for girls and much later she admitted she was not a very good student.

In 1905 Annas parents separated and her mother, who was totally impractical, found herself in a tight financial situation. Her mother with children moved to Yevpatoriya in the eastern Crimea. One of Annas sisters, Inna, died that year of tuberculosis. When she was seventeen years old, Anna went to Kyiv where some of her relatives lived to finish her secondary education at the Fundukleyev Gimnaziya (school of advanced studies). Her aunt was one of Annas Kyiv relatives. It was this aunt who owned an estate in the village of Slobidska Shelekhivska.

Anna gladly accepted her aunts invitation to spend the summer at the estate  she must have thought it would help heal the wounds of an unrequited young love. She wandered along the alleys of the park, reminiscing and turning her emotions into verses.

Anna was blue-eyed, pale-faced, long haired with a figure and gait of a ballerina. Those who knew her could not help noticing the particular beauty of her hands. Some of the poems written in Slobidska Shelekhivska were later published.

In 1907, upon graduation from the Fundukleyev Gimnaziya, Anna went on to study law at the Law Department of the School of Higher Learning for Women in Kyiv. In her short memoir she wrote that she liked studying Latin but the subjects that dealt with various aspects of law left me cold.

It was in Kyiv that Anna married Nikolay Gumilyov, then a budding poet and later a prominent figure in the Acmeist movement in Russian poetry in the years before and after World War (he was born in Kronshtadt, Russia in 1886 and was executed by the Bolsheviks for an alleged participation in an anti-Bolshevik conspiracy in Petrograd [St. Petersburg] in 1921).

They had met in Tsarskoye Selo several years previously where Gumilyov studied at the Lyceum (a prestigious school) and since then Gumilyov popped up in and disappeared from Annas life several times. Every time they met, Gumilyov declared his love and an intention to marry Anna. She kept refusing but in 1910 she succumbed to his insistent pleas and accepted his proposal. They were married in a church in Mykilska Slobidka in the suburb of Kyiv on April 25 1910. Several days later they got on a train to go to Paris for their honeymoon.

Right from the start both Gumilyov and Anna must have felt that their marriage was unlikely to last long. Gumilyov was a person who could not stay long at one place he traveled widely and to distant lands. Both had poetic temperaments, both were highly emotional.

In one of his poems, Gumilyov wrote that he married a witch from the city of Kyiv.

Several months after they had gotten married Gumilyov went to Africa. Anna spent the spring of 1911 in Paris where she met avant-garde poets and artists, Modigliani being one of them. In 1912 she traveled to the north of Italy where she visited Genoa, Padua, Florence, Bologna, Pisa and Venice. The impressions were absolutely overwhelming  they stayed with me all my life.

1912 proved to be a year tightly packed with important events. Her first collection of poems, Vecher (Evening) was published and her son, Lev, was born.

In May of 1912 pregnant Anna visited Slobidska Shelekhivska for the last time. She stopped there on her way to the estate of her cousin, Mariya Zmunchilli who lived in the village of Litky, not far from Slobidska Shelekhivska.

Anna later wrote that in those years her St Petersburg friends called me a Ukrainian. Her father was indeed an ethnic Ukrainian but it must have been her spirit that made her friends call her Ukrainian. Probably some evidence of that spirit can be found in her excellent translation into Russian of Ivan Frankos poetry Zivyale lystya (Withered Leaves).


Photos by autor


The monument to Anna Akhmatova
in the village of Slobidska Shelekhivska.


The grave of Akhmatovas mother,
Inna Horenko (died in 1830) in the village
of Slobidska Shelekhivska.


The museum of Anna Akhmatova
in the village of Slobidska Shelekhivska
was opened in 1989.


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