Painting on the eastern facade of the Troyitsky Church.

Korets is situated at the Korchyk River, in the Rivno Oblast. The scenery is lovely; the town is so small you can come to know all of its inhabitants in the matter of a few days. Its tiny size has always stood in contrast to a surprising number of churches that the town has. A big monastery sprawls right at the road leading to the town. Another surprise neither the churches, nor the monastery were closed at the time of the highest frenzy of the Bolshevik atheistic propaganda and persecutions of the faithful. The town has a long and rich history but in the second half of the nineteenth century it declined and turned into a small provincial place, marked only on the most detailed maps.

In the early chronicles, it is mentioned that Korets was already a big settlement in 1150 (at that time it was called Korchesk). Its geographical situation was very advantageous as it sat at the hub of many trade routes. The fortress was built in the fifteenth century by the Polish noble family of the Koretskys. Until the end of the eighteenth century, the town was under Polish rule, with the most important Polish nobles having their estates in and around town. In 1788, a factory producing faience and china was set up in Korets. Eventually, it became the biggest factory of its kind in Ukraine, with the Korets entire population working there. Unfortunately, in the nineteenth century the production declined and the factory was closed down. Some important personages of the Ukrainian history and culture used to live or visit the place, among them the major Ukrainian poet of the nineteenth century, Taras Shevchenko. It was in Korets that Anna Olenina, who in the twenties of the nineteenth century inflamed the great Russian poet Alexander Pushkin with a great passion, spent her last years. Pushkin wrote lyrical poetry of great perfection and feeling, inspired by his love for Anna. Unfortunately, her parents were dead against her marrying the famous but controversial and not very rich poet. Later Anna married another man, and after the death of her husband moved to her estate in the vicinity of Korets. She became a patron of the Svyato-Troyitsky (Holy Trinity) Nunnery, and when she died, she was buried close to the Troyitsky Church of the Nunnery.
Easter service in the Troyitsky Church of the Troyitsky Nunnery.

Grave of Anna Andro, nee Olenina, in the Troyitsky Nunnery.

The church dates to the late medieval times. The cells of the Nunnery, built in the early seventeenth century, are still in use. Pilgrims and just visitors are offered a very hospitable welcome, the tradition of sincere hospitality dating back for many generations. Pilgrims and visitors are treated to delicious cookies and a refreshing drink made from honey. The apiary, run by the nuns, gives an exceptionally good and excellently smelling honey. The Soviet authorities for some inexplicable reason did not close the Nunnery, which thus has been functioning continually for several centuries. For a couple of centuries, up to the thirties of the nineteenth century, most of the churches and the monasteries were Catholic rather than Orthodox. In the thirties, disturbances flared in the town and the surrounding lands and many of the inhabitants fled the town in search of safer places to live. All the churches and the monasteries went Orthodox after the rioting had been firmly dealt with. The fifteenth-century fortress was ruined and never rebuilt, and what remains of its picturesque ruins attracts filmmakers looking for romantic settings for their pictures. Since then, the gradual decline of the town began which eventually has led to Korets becoming an almost entirely forgotten place on the immense Ukrainian plains. But it is still worth visiting.

By Victor Kyrkevych Photos by Yuriy Buslenko

Illustrated to article.