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A Medieval Weekend
The Park Kyivan Rus, though under construction, invites visitors to take a trip to “medieval Kyiv,” and to feel the atmosphere of the time long past.
Kyiv is a city which history spans at least fifteen hundred years. There are no buildings that survive from the earliest times of Kyiv’s existence simply because they were built of wood. The earliest survivors are eleventh-century churches built of stone and brick.
However, archeological excavations, chronicles and descriptions of travelers provide enough material for visual reconstruction of what Kyiv could have looked like at the early stages of its existence.
In 2008, the Slovyanskiy Fond (Slavic Fund) cultural and philanthropic organization launched an ambitious project — reconstruction of the city of Kyiv of the 5th– 13th centuries, that is from the foundation of the city to its partial destruction by the invading Mongols.
The reconstruction which was given the name of The Park Kyivan Rus, is much more than just another open-air museum. It is designed to bring the city of old back to vibrant life.
The Park Kyivan Rus which is meant to be a major cultural center, is being built in the village of Kopachiv, 35 kilometers south of Kyiv.
Why to recreate ancient Kyiv outside Kyiv of today in an outlying village?
Kyiv is a modern megalopolis which territory is densely built up, and with the land being a very expensive commodity, it would be practically impossible to find a piece of land within the city limits large enough and suitable for such a historical undertaking. And the village of Kopachiv, which can be reached in a half-hour ride, was chosen, after a careful search, to be the site of a revived medieval town.
The trip from Kyiv to Kopachiv runs through the countryside and by the time you reach your destination you are likely to get rid of the urban pressures and get into a proper mood for a time travel.
The Park is surrounded by the palisade and as you pass through the gate you will be met by smiling young women wearing a thousand-year old colorful dresses. They offer to take you for a guided tour of the ancient city. As you look around you see monks, warriors, archers, tradesmen, craftsmen, skomorokhs (clowns and buffoons), scribes, peasants and other fancy characters strolling around. If you are lucky you can even get a glimpse of a boyar or a duke in all of their splendid attire making their dignified appearance. The outfits of ancient people in the streets — except the tourists, of course, are careful reconstructions of what people of various strata of population used to wear in the times of Kyivan Rus.
If you happen to come to ancient Kyiv on a holiday or on a special or festive occasion you will be treated to age-old national dances and music. And a lot more into the bargain.
The Park of Kyivan Rus is not a static museum — it is indeed a living place that not only entertains but lets you learn a lot about what life was like in Kyiv a thousand years ago.
Children of school age are fascinated by the fairy-tale that has come true. What they might have read about in their history textbooks comes alive around them — and the historical personages they saw pictures of walk past or even address them! Warriors are engaged in mock fights which look very real!
All sorts of festivals are staged during the tourist season that lasts from late spring to fall. Knights’ tournaments, all sorts of stunt shows, pagan rituals, masquerades, theatrical performances — the list of what one can witness on a visit to the Park Kyivan Rus is a long one indeed.
It is planned to complete the construction of the ancient city of Kyiv in about ten years. Historians and architects are commissioned to make sure that all the buildings look very much like what they could have looked a thousand years ago — or even in older times. There will be palaces of the rulers, living quarters of the lower classes, churches and monasteries, pagan shrines and whatever else the ancient town could have had. The palisade that will run around the whole place will have several gates.
The ancient town will be complete with defensive works, watch and defensive towers, a camp of Vikings and a camp of nomads, tournament grounds. Both Vikings and nomads left their imprint on the life of ancient Kyiv.
The central idea of the project is not just a faithful architectural reconstruction but reconstruction of what it felt like to be living in — or visiting, an ancient town.
The site for the Park has been chosen well — there are no signs of anything in its vicinity to remind the visitors of the urban reality of today — fields and fresh air of the countryside do help to make a transition from the twenty first to the tenth century very effective.
Photos have been provided by the Park Kyivska Rus[Prev][Contents][Next]