L.Metzel made a genius decision to supply the reservoirs and hydrotechnic facilities
of "Sofiivka" with water. Four ponds were created along the channel of the Kamianka
river: Lower, Upper and Red ponds are situated in the territory of the park,
and Viytivski pond is located in the village of Rodnykivka. The acreage of the
Upper Pond (sometimes it is called a Magic Sea), which is the reservoir for
the of hydrotechnic facilities of the park, is 8,6 hectares; that of the Lower
Pond (or Ionian Sea) - 1,1 hectares. The Lower Pond has a granite bottom; probably
serfs took granite from this place to construct grottos and stone compositions,
vases, columns and pedestals. The water to the Upper Pond comes in four directions
due to the difference in water levels of these two ponds.
In the middle of the Upper pond there is the "Snake" fountain, which is 12-16
meters high. Water comes to the fountain along a self-directed underground granite
pipes along the road from the academy and greenhouses to Flora Pavilion.
Opposite the Thunder grotto, or Calypso grotto, there is a settling and a branch
of conduit, to supply water to the grotto. The water being settled and clear
comes slowly to the "Snake" fountain along cast-iron pipes placed under a slight
slope to reduce pressure force while friction of water against the pipe walls
The diameter of the "Snake" is reduced 10 times compared to the water pipe.
Accurately calculated supply of water and simple engineering decision of fountain
ejection ensure a slight difference between the fountain height and the level
of the Upper Pond which is equal to 1,5-2,5 meters, thus, the height of the
"Snake" fountain amounts to 12-16 meters.
At first, water came right out of the stone, later, at the time of military
settlements a sculpture of snake was mounted on the stone. An unknown craftsman
cast it from bronze; it attracts by its expressiveness and plasticity. An inner
tension is felt in every bend of the snake's body, and the din of water, which
comes out of the snake's mouth, makes an impression that an alive snake is twisting
in anger in front of us.
We do not know an exact date of installing the "Snake", and who the author
of the sculpture was. From the speech of one of the graduates at the solemn
meeting devoted to the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the
Main school of horticulture in 1844, we learned that during the years of his
studies the park was kept in a very good shape, and there was the sculpture
of the "Snake" there. So we can assume that the "Snake" was installed in 1852-1859.
It could be that in 1870 it was removed by water flow during the flood, and
it was installed only after the World War II. The thing is that there is no
information about the "Snake" in all famous works about "Sofiyivka" published
Maybe the Snake sculpture is associated with the Greek mythology goddess Hygeia
(Hygeia is drawn in the form of a woman wearing long clothes and feeding a snake
from the bowl. Nowadays a bowl with a snake around is the emblem of medicine
The fountain is perceived differently from different points. Let us admire
this magnificent sight and breath in fresh and moist air, listen
to sedative din of water, which falls down from the height,
and is iridescent with colors of the sun spectrum, and you will
feel that you have really touched the source of health and beauty.
But most of the architects wanted the Snake to remind the visitors
of the beginning of the Greeks' campaign against Troja about
their landing on the coast of the Aegean Sea near the Avlide
The weather was windless, so the ships could not sail and had to stop. The
Greeks landed, found a beautiful glade, surrounded by platans, where there was
a clear spring coming out of the ground. There they made a fire and began to
make sacrifices to gods. Suddenly a large snake crept out from under the fire
and slid through the branches of a plane tree to a sparrow's nest, where eight
nestlings were twittering. The snake ate them all very fast, while their mother
was tossing and crying over her babies. The snake ate a female-sparrow and right
after that it turned into a stone. All the warriors watched all this in horror,
and their prophet Kalhas said, "Why are you all dead silent? An Almighty Zeus
gives you a sign. The snake ate eight nestlings and their mother - all in all
nine. This is the number of the years we will be at war with Trojans. We will
destroy the country on the tenth year."
We have to note that these are our assumptions; we do not know anything about
L.Metzel's plan and ideas; the more so, as we have mentioned earlier, before
the water used to come out right from the stone.
To the right of Flora Pavilion there is an arch of granite rock, so-called
Venetian Bridge. The bridge is decorated with granite pylons, heavy forged chains
hanging down among them. The construction is done in a classic style; it blends
with a surrounding landscape and makes a peculiar romantic picture. A bit lower
there is a wooden lock through which water runs into the Kamianka channel.