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A mysterious face of Kyiv
Oleksiy Vasylyuk tells a story of Kyiv — from a mystical point of view.
Many peoples and nations have legends and myths which connect their origins to gods; also, the stories about some mysterious signs, artifacts and phenomena, which are connected with extinct civilizations, natural features or planets and constellations of stars in the sky, are legion. There is something highly magnetic in things enigmatic or awe-inspiring — the Egyptian pyramids, Rome’s Coliseum, the Grand Canyon or the Niagara Falls, and tourists in their millions flock to see them. Many of these tourists hope to experience the touch of magic, many believe that in these and other man-made or natural enigmas one can glimpse the presence of the divine or marks left by extraterrestrials.
As it turns out, the city of Kyiv also boasts an enigma. This enigma has been revealed thanks to a bird’s-eye-view computer picture of the central part of Kyiv, which does not show any buildings or streets but only the physical features like on a relief map. Using a bit of imagination, you can see in that picture the outlines of a human profile.
Kyiv is believed to have been founded fifteen hundred years ago, and if an arterial photograph would have been taken then it would reveal this “human profile” with even more clarity. According to Heorhiy Kurovsky, an architect known for projects of restoring cityscapes to their original state, to whom goes the discovery of the enigmatic “profile,” the ancient age of this topographical feature is evidence of its having nothing to do with human activity.
“It was quite an accidental discovery. I was studying an aerial photograph of Kyiv and then suddenly this human profile leapt into my eye! The more I looked, the more what I was seeing looked like a human profile! I invited my colleagues to have a look and they confirmed that they could also see the outlines of a profile. We felt it was a sign of some sort for all of us and that it was something that was worth exploring further,” says Mr Kurovsky.
He and those who joined him in this “exploration” were open to, and welcomed any theories and hypotheses, even of the most outre kind. One of such speculations that was offered suggested that it’s an imprint of the Divine Face, and thus the central part of Kyiv could be regarded as a sort of an icon inhabited by people. Turning to the Bible we read in Psalm 45:4: “There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God…” And indeed there is a river flowing through the city of Kyiv, and about two thousand years ago, St Andrew, one of the apostles of Jesus Christ, prophesied, standing on one of the hills of what is now Kyiv, that ‘a city of God will rise on these hills.”
When we say “the face of the city,” we usually mean architectural and historical landmarks that form this face, something that can be seen or even touched. You can’t see the discovered “profile” unless you use modern technologies, with the help of which everything that does not belong to the original, pre-city landscape can be “virtually” removed. But then, if we restore these features where they belong, we shall see that the main street Khreshchatyk, the central square Maydan Nezalezhnosti, and Mount Lysa Hora which was believed to have been the place where witches used to gather for their Sabbaths, form some of the central features of the imaginary head. Incidentally, Lysa Hora sits at the place which coincides with this head’s top, the place, some mystics believe, through which we keep contacts with the Universe. Along the outline of the “profile” we find the Lavra Pechersk Monastery, the Vydubetsky Monastery, the Svyatotroitsky Monastery, the Florivsky Monastery and the Church of St Cyrill.
Inspired by these findings, Heorhiy Kurovsky and Volodymyr Kolinko, a philosopher, began to develop a concept which they called “Kyiv as a Sacred Space.” The authors of this concept believe that central Kyiv’s cityscapes and natural features should be carefully preserved as they are.
“Hills of central Kyiv, its historical part, and buildings that stand there must be left as they are. Every tree should be considered a dweller of Kyiv as much as humans who live in Kyiv are considered to be dwellers. I hope such an approach will come to be accepted by many. The further development of Kyiv should be based on moral, spiritual, and ecological principles,” says Mr Kolinko.
H. Kurovsky and V. Kolinko believe that what they have come upon was “a sign from heaven” and they have established a charity fund, Kyivska landshaftna initsiatyva (Kyiv’s Landscape Initiative), with a purpose of promoting the principles of environmental protection and preservation of architectural, historical and natural landmarks. The founders believe that their fund may be instrumental in raising awareness of the moral need to protect environment.
One of the first initiatives of the Fund was to turn old trees into sculptures. When a tree dies it is usually cut down, but the Fund supports groups of sculptors who turn such dead trees into pieces of sculpture, with the shapes of the trees forming the core of the new images. Now you can see some of the tree sculptures in the central streets of Kyiv.
The number of preservationists and of supporters of new attitudes to environmental protection keeps growing. Also grows the number of those who believe that there is indeed “a divine profile” imprinted on Kyiv’s topography. These believers may be few yet but they think that visiting the central parts of Kyiv may open access to new mysteries and spiritual discoveries.
You are welcome to suggest your own interpretations. I’m sure that further research will either provide further support for the “profile” conjecture, or disprove it as too fanciful and far-fetched. But I don’t think it should be rejected outright as absurd.
“The hills of Kyiv, the slopes of the hills facing the Dnipro, the valleys between the hills, the streams that once used to run there, the sacred ancient buildings are there for a purpose,” says Mr Kolinko.
“There is a river, the streams whereof shall
make glad the city of God…” Psalm 46:4
The “Tree Spirit” in a small park
in Ivan Honchar Street.
“Ballet Dancer” carved from a dead tree at the
corner of Striletska and Stritenska Streets
(this wooden sculpture was created in honor
of a ballet dancer who lives in the house seen
in the background).