My Dear Friends,

The land of Sumy (Sumshchyna) is situated in the south-east of Ukraine. It is mostly plain, overgrown atmany places with forsests. 132 rivers, tributaries of the Dnipro, roll their waters through the step. As an administrative unit Sumy Oblast’ was created in 1939 (present population — about 1.5 million people; territory -23.8 thousand square kilometers).
Archaeological digs have revealed that the area, occupied now by Sumy Oblast’, was inhabited as far back as 15 thousand years ago. Available historical evidence enables one to say with a reasonable degree of accuracy that in the first millennium B. C. this area was inhabited by tribes of different origin, mostly proto-Slavic and later Slavic. For some time the Scythians of the settled kind, not nomadic, tilled the land here, and later they were superseded by other tribes and finely by the Slavs. We even know the name of the tribe: the Siveryane. In the late 9th century the land of Sumy (that is the area that now bears this name) was incorporated into the state of Kyivan-Rus-Ukraine.
Troitsky (Holy Trinity) Cathedral

Historical Places in the Land of Sumy

The history of the land of Sumy where we live and work, is an integral part of the general history of Ukraine. The town of Sumy was founded in the 17th century by Cossacks colonists. Architectural monuments that have been preserved from the early period of the town’s existence, remind us, living today, of our historical roots.
The people of Sumy take good care of the monuments and are thankful to their ancestors for the rich legacy that they have inherited. There are many places in Sumy which are connected with the life of prominent figures in the world of the arts and literature of Ukraine.
The Oblast’ of Sumy is living through difficult times like the rest of Ukraine.
There is a lot of work to do since the whole economic mechanism is being renovated. We are working
to achieve financial stabilization and develop industries along new lines. But no matter how hard are the times we understand that we must preserve intact what has come down to us from the past and pass it on to the future generations.I do hope that this message will be just the first step that will lead to a more detailed acquaintance with our Oblast’. Our tourist agencies, companies, organizations are ready for cooperation, for business-like, mutually beneficial partnership with all who may be interested in such cooperation and partnership.
Welcome to the land of Sumy!
With best regards, waiting to meet you in Sumy.
Anatoly Yepifanov,
Head of Sumy Local Administration

Today the town of Sumy is the biggest industrial and cultural centre of the Sumy Oblast’. The town was founded in 1652 by the Cossacks who had migrated here from the areas on the right bank of the Dnipro river. The town grew rapidly and in 1658 it acquired the status of a Cossack headquarters. In the very early years of its existence Sumy turned out to be a bulwark against the Tatar inroads. The town bravely withstood all the attempts to storm and destroy it. The siege by the enemies was almost a daily routine. The chronicles say that life was nothing but «wounds, blood, suffering, death and siege.» But the town survived even the worst of times and grew in size.
Voskresenskaya (Resurrection) Church is the earliest surviving architectural monument in Sumy. It was built in 1702 and it served a double purpose of a place of worship and of a defensive structure in the north-western part of the fortress into which Sumy had gradually turned. The Church has two altars, a rarity in the Ukrainian churches. By the end of the 18th century the town became an important centre of trade and handicrafts. Merchants from all over Ukraine, from Russia, from Western Europe, even from distant Asia, flocked to Sumy’s annual fairs. The economic prosperity changed the town significantly; the central part of Sumy was cleared of old dilapidated buildings of the earlier times and new houses were built. Some of these houses have been preserved and they are excellent examples of the architectural style of classicism. There are three towns in Sumy Oblast’ which are much older than Sumy itself — Putivl’, Hlukhiv and Romny are at least a thousand years old.

Panoramic view of the central part of town of Sumy. Teatralna Square

Of the three Putivl’ is probably the best known because of its association with the mediaeval Tale of Ihor’s Host.The poem descibes, in part, vividly and poignantly, the lament of Ihor’s wife, who, standing on the high defensive wall of Putivl’,is grieving the fate of her husband Prince Ihor who has gone off to fight with the invading hordes of the Polovtsy nomads; in a major battle the army of Ihor sustains a crushing defeat and he is taken prisoner.
The monument to Yaroslavna graces one of the central places of the town. Putivl’ has been lucky to preserve some of the ancient architectural monuments.

During the Second World War, Putivl’ was a centre of the Ukrainian resistance movement and one of the best known leaders of this movement S. Kovpak managed to bring together an army of resistance fighters which fought its way through the Nazi-occupied territory of Ukraine from the forests around Putivl’ to the distant Carpathian mountains in the west of Ukraine. A museum of local lore and history, burial mounds dating from the 7-8th centuries, a nineteenth - century china factory (chinaware produced at the factory was well known within and outside Ukraine for its high quality) are among the sights regularly visited by tourists.
Hlukhiv has a long and eventful history. In the 12-13th centuries it was the capital of a principality, and later, in the 18th century it was the capital of the Hetmans of the vast territories of Ukraine on the left bank of the Dnipro. In the same century and in the next, thanks to a number of schools, opened there, it turned into an educational centre (the town boasts the first ever music school in Ukraine and Russia, training singers, the first teachers’ training college in Ukraine). It is in Hlukhiv that quite a few of prominent figures in the Ukrainian arts, music and literature were born or lived: composers M. Berezovs’ky and D. Bortnyans’ky, painters M. Murashko and the brothers Narbut, just to name a few.
Sculpture at the grave of the Kharitonenko family

Romny is a very ancient place indeed. Not far from the town the archaeologists have discovered a settlement of an eastern Slavic tribe, dating from the 8th century, and the medieval chronicles mention Romny as a town of some prominence as early as 1096. In the national liberation war of the 18th century, with Bohdan Khmelnytsky as commander-in-chief, Romny played a role of headquartres of some of the Cossack regiments. Later, it was here, in Romny, that Ivan Mazepa (Hetman Mazepa was traditionally looked upon as a traitor for siding with the Swedish king against the Russian Emperor Peter the Great, but more recent historical studies suggest that he was rather an Ukrainian patriot who wanted to gain independence for Ukraine through alliance with the Swedes) and the Swedish King Charles XII established their headquarters in 1708. After the defeat of the Swedish army, the Russian troops stormed the town, massacred the inhabitants and burned the town down. But the town did not die — it was revived and in the 19th and early 20th centuries it was a place of some cultural activity. It is also known for the fairs that were regularly held there.

The Bank Academy, the only school of its kind in Ukraine; it has been founded at the initiative of the Oblast' State Administration An ornate gazebo, one of Sumy's easily recognizable landmarks

The town of Lebedyn, founded in 1654, was a powerful stronghold, a fortress with stout defensive walls and 20 defensive towers. Taras Shevchenko, the poet, and Hryhoriy Skovoroda, the philosopher, visited in their time some of the villages in the vicinity of the town. One of the great attractions of the place is a remarkable lake, quite a short distance from the town, called Shelekhivs’ke. Geologists believe it is one of the oldest lakes on earth — it is estimated to be millions years old which is no younger than such well-known lakes as Baikal, Ladoga, Ontario, Victoria.
Only a few places of interest have been mentioned, but there is a lot more to discover in the land of Sumy. Come and see. You’ll take away with you very good memories.

Reported by Hryhoriy Khvostenko, historian

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