After the book
of І.S.Коsеnko " Sofiyivka" ,
Uman, 2003,

Translated by T.Sukhomeilo


Main Entrance

When you come to visit the museum of nature - "Sofiyivka" - you realize that everything here resembles a fairy tale. It is really so, as the central part of the park is built on the basis of Greek and Roman Mythology and some places look like the houses of Greek Gods, writers and philosophers.

According to the architect's plan the park is an illustration to some parts of the poems "Iliad" and "Odyssey" by Homer. "Sofiyivka" is famous for being built on a classical basis. Actually, Homer's "Odyssey" is materialized in the objects of the park. Every composition or a small architectural form is not only beautiful; it also expresses the idea of a legend or an event; all of this is well thought and interconnected, smoothly blending into a symphony of beauty.

Probably someone could have a question: why do we, the people of the XXIth century, need myths of ancient Greeks? O.S.Pushkin, reminding of myths, said, "every European should have the idea of immortal creations of mighty old times". How can a reader understand the poem "Proserpine" without knowing the mythology?

The waves of Phlegethon splash,
The vaulting of Tartar tremble:
The horses of pale Pluto quickly rush
To the nymphs of Pelion from God Aid.

To reveal the content sense of the elements of the park's compositions, we will give explanations concerning various myths, legends and historic events associated with them, while describing the objects of the park.

When L.Metzel finished building the park, the entrance was from the side of a greenhouse (i.e., from the campus of Agricultural Academy). Sadova Street did not exist and people used horses to come to the park. The street appeared in 1838, when the slope was cut off and a ground road was built; people used to come to an iron pipe to get some water that flew from Diana's grotto. In 1838 a paved road was constructed from the Lower pond to the entrance (in that case it was an exit); water was piped out of the park to the source "The Iron pipe". At the beginning of the XXth century the source disappeared, and as the archives proved there was supposed to be a hydropathical hospital, then a laundry, and up to 1994 there was a city water pump station. The work of the source was restored, its original name was returned; it was part of preparation work to celebrate the 200-th anniversary of the foundation of the park. It is worth mentioning that water of this source comes from the central part of the park, Diana's grotto, the same as it did 200 years ago. As soon as we find ourselves in the park from Sadova Street, on the left, right behind the entrance tower, we will see a hill planted with junipers, thuyas, and fir-trees. In this hill, similarly to those old days, a reservoir was made from which water comes to "Iron pipe" and to waterfalls with a small saucer of water; architects of the institute “Ukrengproject” V.B.Kharchenko and O.Humennyi projected it.

It is interesting to know that the first paved road was built in Uman in 1853 and it led from "Sofiyivka" along Sadova Street to the downtown of the city. In 1844 two towers in gothic style were built at the entrance of the park.

Nicholas I visited the park in 1847, later he issued an order to remove these towers; instead, in 1850-1852 two entrance towers in antique style were built based on the project of architect A.I.Shtakenshneider; along with the entrance gate, they remained till present time. The fence was changed many times within the years - from a wooden one on brick columns to an iron one on granite columns, finally to the way it looks now with a reconstructed bridge, steps and a tourist complex, which has a status of House of creative work of scholars of Ukraine's Academy of Sciences. It was done by the project developed at Kyiv Institute "Ukrengproject" and in a small business "Tamiuk" from Cherkasy; it has an original architecture, and on top of it there is a view site. In addition to a museum, there is a hotel (which accommodates 45 people), a restaurant, and sauna, that is, all possible conditions for fruitful work of research workers both from different cities and countries at their meetings.

Having participated in the contest conducted by the State Committee of Ukraine in 1998 concerning constructing and housing policy, the complex took the first place among the objects of culture.

The upper part of a cone-shaped roof of the towers is crowned with sort of decoration, which resembles a torch. It caused a version that the Main Entrance to the park looks like an entrance to Athenian market, and the details on the watchtowers were borrowed from the temple of Goddess Vista in Tivoli (Italy). As to the trees that decorated the entrance to the park, they were Lombardy poplars brought by S.Potocki. It was from "Sofiyivka" that they spread all over Russia (An archive document confirmed that in 1821 Sofia Potocka sent a number of Lombardy poplars to Petersburg).

Calamity of 1980
The Main Entrance after the calamity.
Photo V.Lozovskiy

Before the calamity, which damaged "Sofiyivka" very badly (it happened during the night of April 3-4 1980), the Main Entrance looked beautiful owing to balsamic fur-trees. They died and were replaced with two 20-year-old column-type thuyas, which became part and parcel of the architectural ensemble; they are strong, stately and underline its significance and solemnity.

People often ask about the cause of the flood and the damages the park experienced.

The winter of 1979-1980 was snowless and frosty. The ice was more than 0.7 m thick, and the ground was frozen 1.5 m deep. Then in March of 1980 heavy snowfalls occurred, and low air temperature lasted almost to the end of the month. On the first dates of April the temperature began to rise considerably, as a result the snow began to melt very fast.

Calamity of 1980
Scars on 3-meters height of the trees of the Main Alley after the water and ice flow passed through.
Photo V.Lozovskiy

The experts made calculations and a conclusion that even if all the culverts had been opened two weeks before the flood, they would not have been able to pass over such a great amount of melted water from water reservoirs of the park. The flood washed away a warping-bank in Internatsionalna Street, and all the water from Krasnostavsky pond (the area is 17 hectares) rushed along the ice surface of the Upper pond, down along the Kamianka River where main objects of the park were situated. It was then that all the granite pylons with vases near the Main Entrance were destroyed, the right tower was first moved and then turned round its axis on a granite plinth, almost the whole right side of the fence fell down.

Although flora of the park was severely damaged (age-old trees which used to decorate the central part of the park died, other were very much destroyed), a species composition of plantations remained. Some trees and bushes (self-sown and not valuable for park landscapes) died as a result of the calamity. The flood ruined asphalted covering of the Main alley, destroyed completely a road-alley system of the park in its lowest part from the grotto of Thetis to the Main Entrance from Sadova street, all iron and wooden bridges, locks, some statues and small architectural forms were removed and destroyed.

Calamity of 1980
The rests of the iron bridge to the Assembly Square.
Photo V.Lozovskiy

The consequences of the flood were liquidated relatively fast, and only injured bark of the trees in the Main Alley reminds us of the calamity.

As the archive documents prove, "Sofiyivka" experienced floods several times. For example, in his hand-written guidebook LA.Kazarinov stated that water destroyed the dam of the Red pond and rushed like a storm across the central part of the park. He did not mention how much the park was damaged, but he noted that the park and greenhouses were neglected in 1868-1892; only dry trees were felled down. In the period of the construction of the park, in spring of 1799 a great flood occurred, that is why, the opening of the park was delayed till 1802.

Hear the entrance to the park, behind the wall of evergreen thuya a Museum of the history of the park was situated. The museum began its existence in 1985 being founded by enthusiastic workers of the park, its admirers; the museum was not planned to have regular attendance. It was a resource center for training tour-guides. The materials concerning the history of the park were gathered and kept there. The building, which housed the museum, was built in 1957; it was used as an administration-laboratory facility till 1980; after that the building itself was pulled down as from the point of view of the history it could not be on the territory of the park. All the valuable materials were moved to an administrative building in Kyivska Street where they are kept till present time.

Now we can see a beautiful view of granite rocks and a small Geneva Lake, which appeared in the 30ties of the XXth century. Before that time there was a quarry, which was closed down at the right time.

Water, stone, grottos, trees grown without any system make an impression of a natural grove. Recently this hill has been cleared off self-sown trees and bushes of local and unimportant species; a distant prospect of a wonderful sight - Mushroom glade, with natural stones on the surface - was opened.

T.Themery (Themery, 1846) wrote that in 1841 a wooden pergola for a guard soldier was built; it resembled a mushroom, and due to this fact the whole area on the right hill was called "Mushroom". The pergola was restored in 1994.

Further. On the foreground of a landscape a group of fir-trees and a bald cypress, a unique exotic plant, a guest from a far-remote American continent, attract attention. These trees were planted in 1891.

Presently the guides pointing to the area of the park from the Main Entrance to Tarpeian Rock call this part Little Switzerland. L.O.Kazarinov mentioned this name for the first time in his hand-written guidebook.

It has become known from the archive documents that this part of the park got its accomplished view in the period of Military settlements, after the entrance towers had been built. We think that the authors tried to reflex the nature of Scotland rather than that of Switzerland. Our assumptions could be based on Ossian motives, which could be traced in one of the first works about the park - in a "Guidebook across "Sofiyivka" written by T.Themery (Themery, 1846). After the laudatory odes to Sofia, her husband, poet Trembecki and architect L.Metzel, the author, referring to French translation of de Leggard's poem about "Sofiyivka", mentions the names of Malvina and Ossian, as if asking whether they are somewhere on severe rocks of "Sofiyivka". Further, in his notes to the guidebook, T.Themery explains who Ossian is and adds a set of poems about him being translated from Scottish to French; he also mentions another hero of this epic work - Fingal. Our assumptions are based on research work done by a famous expert in park science, the author of the book "Poetry of gardens", D.S.Lykhachov. He considered "Sofiyivka" and Vorontsov Park in Alupka along with other outstanding parks in Russia to be the examples of late romanticism; they were definitely affected by Ossian moods.

Admiring the park and its wonderful sights, let us get acquainted in brief with Ossian motives (where they are from, how they appeared in art, what they mean).

The park, as a scientific institution of the National Academy of Science of Ukraine, is engaged in researches of connatural and cultural flora of austral Forest-steppe of Ukraine, introduction and acclimatation of plants in the region.

The article of the director of the famous park I. Kosenko summarizes this work:

50 years anniversary of the Sofiyivka park as a scientific institute of the Ukraine's NAS

In the final article of I. Kosenko the review of the park's whole history from the moment of the foundation till todays is made:
205 years since the foundation of Sofiyivka

The team of scientists of the park issued the catalogue of plants with the total amount 1994 taxons, in which 25 taxons of hazels, 24 beeches, 41 fir-trees, 44 junipers, 100 lianas, 320 roses, 57 rhododendrons and 98 flower plants - totally 1220 trees and bushes and 774 herbaceous plants.
Catalogue (zip 380 КB)

The hothouse of the park is the unique center of cultivation of conifers and deciduous trees, bushes, roses seedlings - total more than 200 items.
Open|Download (22 КB)

The beauty of the park was sung by a lot of poets, but the poem of the Polish poet S. Trembecki occupies an especial place. Written in 1811, it is the park guide book in verses.
"Sofiowka" and comments of Adam Mickiewicz (polish)

Park as the tourist center offers the visitors a complex of services - excursion support in six languages, hotel, restaurant, conference hall etc.
List of services