Ukraine is a wonderful country, rich on picturesque landscapes, ancient cities and places that are worthy of attention. One of such places is a marvelous National dendrological park “Sofiyivka”, which is situated in Uman, Cherkassy region. This park is a prominent architectural and nature creation of the end of 18th-the beginning of 19th centuries that is considered to be one of seven wonders of Ukraine along with Khortytsia island, Kyiv Pechersk Lavra and Khotyn fortress.
Sofiyivka Park is the temple of nature, a beautiful landmark of the landscape art, one of the most romantic Ukrainian places erected in the name of love.
The history of “Sofiyivka” creation and development
Sofiyivka Park was founded in 1796 by Polish magnate, the owner of the city Uman, count Stanislaw Potocki. This park was named in honor of his beloved wife Sofia Vitt Potocka and was given her as a birthday present in 1802.
Ludwig Metzel, Polish military engineer, was appointed as the author and the manager of that topographic and architectural project. He was the one who materialized the images of “Odyssey” and “Iliad” in park compositions.
Place for park construction was chosen rather successfully, there was a small stream (that became later the river Kamyanka), centenary oaks and natural springs of crystal-clear water there. From 1796 till 1802 workers were digging the ponds, constructing waterfalls, laying the alleys and creating granite and gypsum elements for architectural constructions. Local craftsmen did their best in order to create a small copy of countess Potocka’s motherland, Hellas.
To fulfill Potocki’s plan they needed 800 workers, 10 years and 2000250 rubles in silver. In 1800 the park “Sofiyivka” was opened first, but the construction works were not finished completely. Five years later count Potocki died, and his park project left uncompleted.
In 1832 after the Polish revolt Sofiyivka Park was confiscated and became possession of Tsar Nicolas I. He presented his wife the dendropark and renamed it as “Tsar’s Garden”. During that period a lot of changes were made to the park structure.
By the end of the 20th century due to restoration works bridges, fountains, arbors and statues of Soviyivka Park were rebuilt.
|1796||Sofiyivka was founded by count Stanislaw Potocki|
|1800||First opening of the park|
|1802||Sofiyivka was given as a present to countess Potocka|
|1832||Sofiyivka becomes the possession of Tsar Nicolas I|
|1836-1917||Sofiyivka was called “Tsar’s Garden”, was reconstructed, new plants were added|
|1929||Sofiyivka became a reserve|
|1979-1980||Weather-related disaster caused a great harm to flora and architecture of the park|
|2004||Sofiyivka became a National park|
Places in Sofiyivka worth seeing
Starting your pedestrian tour by the wide alley of “Sofiyivka” you should pay attention to Flora Pavilion constructed in Dorian style. In front of the Pavilion from the left side gush forth three fountains. People believe if you drink water from the medial fountain you’ll become prettier, if from the outer – you’ll be healthy and wealthy.
The next exciting landmark that impresses the visitors by its huge size (18 m height) and originality is the Snake Fountain. This fountain has become the symbol of Sofiyivka Park. There is the assumption that according to the concept the snake should remind people a famed ancient myth about Greek campaign against Troy.
The Snake Fountain is also famous for its simple construction. Water pressure is provided by the elevation between Upper and Lower park ponds, so the pumps are unnecessary.
Passing a great amount of nature monuments you should reach the Upper park pond situated on the Island of Anti-Circe. The coasts of this Island as well as the lakes are veneered with granite. The Island of Anti-Circe was created artificially by mounding the ground and fortification with granite plates. The main decoration of the island is Pink Pavilion, built in Renaissance style. The pavilion was painted in pink color and decorative modeling is highlighted in white.
The most mysterious place in “Sofiyivka” is the Dead Lake and the Styx River. There is a boat station on the lake, where you can take the boat and sail towards the underground river.
The length of the Styx River is 224 m, so be prepared to pass this distance underground in pitch darkness and silence.
Among other interesting places that are worth visiting are:
- the Elysian Fields;
- Cretan labyrinth;
- Seven-Jet Fontain;
- Venetian Bridge;
- Flora Pavilion;
- the Valley of Giants.
Legends and omens of “Sofiyivka” Park
If you believe in omens you should definitely visit National dendrological park “Sofiyivka”. There is a great amount of secret places suitable for fulfillment of desires. Touch the stone, lean on the rock, close eyes sailing under the grotto and your cherished wish will be realized.
According to one of the legends if you stay dry passing under the Great waterfall, your wish will be granted.
The second omen is connected with Grotto of Callipso. If an unlucky person enters the grotto, he or she will become happier, and if the happy one – he or she will be more successful and happy. If you want all your cherished dreams to come true, you should close your eyes and go around the stone column three times. There is also a small fountain inside the grotto, where the tourists leave their coins for good luck.
Another legend says about miraculous properties of the Thetis grotto waters. People believe its waters heal sicknesses, so they come to “Sofiyivka” for recovery.
Flora and Fauna of “Sofiyivka”
Nowadays in the National dendrological park “Sofiyivka”, which is also a scientific-researching institute of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, you can see 3323 types, kinds and species of local and exotic plants and trees.
“Sofiyivka” is considered to be a real flora and fauna museum. Entering the park you can notice the central alley, which is planted by centennial French chestnuts and rare poplar species.
There are a lot of seedlings of the most beautiful plants in the park greenhouses, which you can purchase for a token price. There is also a great variety of unique species of roses in the rosary.
One of the most marvelous and amazing landmarks in Sofiyivka Park is a Tulip tree. Every spring it impresses by its yellow blossoms and delicate aroma.
Park ponds are abundant with diverse fish, exotic ducks and majestic swans. Trees are nested by various kinds of birds and settled by restless squirrels.
National dendrological park “Sofiyivka” is a fairy place that leaves no one indifferent after visiting it. Being one of the most beautiful national parks in Ukraine, “Sofiyivka” is lovely at any time of the year.