From Flora Pavilion we walk along the Lower alley the opposite bank attracts
our attention. A chimerical conglomeration of cliffs makes unbelievable vivid
pictures and they seem to have been made by nature. Only after careful examination
we may notice that all this is the creation of human hands.
The visitors will definitely like to see a rare bird cherry tree Maaka, planted
on a steep slope in 1986. It is originated from Prymorsky territory and there
it is called a bear's bird cherry. The tree is very beautiful, its flowers are
tiny, but large in number, in the fall the leaves are of lemon color.
Near the Lower alley there is a 200-year-old oak-tree grove - Dubinka, thickly
covered with trees and bushes. Let us stop near a wide shallow gully in the
gleam between trees. In 1987 this place was planted with periwinkle. In Ukraine
it is the most popular evergreen grassy plant, a relict of thrice period. Blue
flowers appear in spring.
In the center of the Upper alley there is a statue of Hermes (Mercury according
to Roman mythology). It is here in the park from 1800. Hermes is one of the
most ancient gods in Hellas. He was the patron of arts, science commerce; he
also helped shepherds and travelers. He was a middleman between gods and people.
People thought that he was a peacemaker; he knew magic and astrology. Homer
wrote about him "he is as fast as a thought". A lot of interesting legends tell
us about Hermes; in many of them he is called "alive silver".
On the opposite bank of the Lower Pond we can see a large granite slab,
which is half of its size above water. It is called the Stone of Death. The
name was first mentioned in L.O.Kazarinov's hand-written essay. The legend goes
that hundreds of serfs died when a huge stone fell down from the place it was
located. It could not happen during the construction of the park. It is hardly
believable that architect L.Metzel could make such a mistake, as he made more
complicated calculations than that one. We think that this large stone is in
the water and it corresponds to the architect's plan to place it not far from
the cliff, which was first described by poet S.Trembecki, who gave it the name
- Leucadian Rock. The rock is connected with some tragic events in ancient Greece,
particularly in the life of poetess Sapho (VII-VI BC). S.Trembecki also wrote
Sapho's native land was the Lesbos Island in the Aegean Sea. The poetess organized
a group of noble girls; she taught them music, dancing, writing songs; Sapho
called the group "The House of Muses' acolytes". According to Greek mythology
an ordinary mortal Faun lived on the island. Once he had to take a goddess of
love Aphrodite from one bank to the other by boat. He did not charge her; in
appreciation the goddess gave him some magic herb, which turned him into a handsome
young man. All women fell in love with him, but he refused all of them. According
to the version of Roman poet Ovidi, Sapho fell deeply in love with Faun, but
he ignored her feelings. In despair she plunged into the Ionian Sea from the
Leucadian rock. Leucada (originated from "leucas" - white) is a mythic "white
rock" in the far west near the entrance to the underground kingdom of Aid (underground
kingdom of dead souls).
So, we can say that this stone is a symbolic island Lesbos. The place a bit
higher the Leucadian Rock and Lesbos Island is called the Caucasian Hill. O.L.Lypa
first mentioned this name in his monograph "Sofiyivka". Before this, the area
was called a stony place. With its picturesque relief and the conglomeration
of great granite blocks, this place really resembles the Caucasus and is logically
connected with the myth about titan Prometheus.
When the Gods came victorious over titans, Prometheus became the supporter
of people. He stole the fire from Olympus, brought it to people and taught them
to use it. Zeus took the fire away from people, punished Prometheus for not
obeying the Gods, and ordered to chain him to the cliff in the Caucasus. In
addition, every day the eagle flew to him and pecked out his liver, but the
liver grew up again. Prometheus was tortured for thousands of years until Heracles
(on Zeus' consent) killed the eagle and released titan. Prometheus became one
of the brightest heroes in Greek mythology. Titan hates tyranny and fights for
the truth. The story about Prometheus has attracted the attention of poets and
writers since ancient times.
Having worked thoroughly at Homer's "Odyssey" we assume that
L.Metzel created this stony bank more like the bank of Ithaca
Island, a native land of famous Odysseus. The Ithaca Island
and Leucadian Rock are situated in the Ionian Sea. If to follow
the version that the stone, which is in the water, symbolizes
the Lesbos Island, it can symbolize a silhouette of the ship
on which Feakias brought sleeping Odysseus back home, after
he had got to Feakia from the Calypso Island. We learned from
the legends that Poseidon, the God of sea, on Zeus' consent,
had punished Feakias because they decided to help Odysseus.
When the ship with 52 oarsmen returned from the Ithaca Island,
he covered the ship with oarsmen with his palm and they turned
into stone. This could possibly be an origin of the name - the
stone of death. Or it could be the Asterida island, where Penelope's
fiancŭs made the ambush to kill Telemakh, Odysseus' son,
who sailed to the Ithaca island looking for his father (according
Nowadays, it is not easy to guess what stands behind the plans of a talented
architect L.Metzel, who, in our opinion, materialized Greek myths about gods
(and first of all Homer's "Odyssey") in grottos, cliffs, sources, waterfalls,
stones and plants. Our description of this part of the park is a good proof
- here we can consider the stone, which is in the water to be the Lesbos Island
and also the Asterida Island, or a dead ship, but not the stone of death where
the serfs who built the park died.
As S.Groza stated, not far away from the precipice of "pressed" cliff (this
is how he called the Caucasian hill) in an octagonal balustrade a graceful statue
of Cupid was installed on a granite pedestal. Music was played on holidays and
at solemn receptions. Rocks, trees, and water echoed its sounds; they were spread
all over the park. O.Potocki, trying to show that he was a Polish patriot (contrary
to his father), installed a statue of the leader of Polish uprising of 1794
Tadeush Kosciusko, the statue was made of marble and installed on the Caucasian
In 1847, according to the order of tsar Nicholas I, who visited Uman and "Sofiyivka"
the same year, the statues of Kosciusko and Y.Poniatovsky, installed on the
Elysian Fields by O.Potocki, were sent to Homel. The tsar promised to send a
statue of his wife Oleksandra Fedorivna; it was in her name that the park was
called "Tsarina's Garden". In 1850 the statue cast of bronze was installed on
the Caucasian Hill. At Soviet times, the statue, being a very artistic work
of a famous sculpture V.O.Shervud, was sent to Hermitage in St.Petersburg. In
1939 the monument to V.I.Lenin was placed there, but Germans destroyed it in
1941. In 1964 a marble bust of T.G.Shevchenko was installed on the same pedestal
where the statue of tsarina was before. Local newspaper "Uman Dawn" of May 29
1964 published a picture of the monument. The pedestal was not good enough for
the bust, so in 1965 a new granite pedestal was made; the monument had never
been placed there though, and in 1985 it was sent to the village of Rodnykivka
where it is situated till present time.
Walking along the Lower Alley, we approach the terrace called Belleview, which
means "a beautiful view". The park attendants created the terrace in 1838-1840
under the supervision of the main gardener Karl Ferre. It looks like the earth
embankment where spiral terrace paths were made from the foot up to the upper
area. From this place a beautiful view opens at the Assembly Square, the Valley
of Giants, the Great Waterfalls and other unusual areas. In 1841 a Chinese pergola
was built on Dubinka glade. In 1842 the path was paved with brick and it ran
through the grove from the terrace Belleview to the pergola. Somebody decided
to call the terrace "Winding stairs" by mistake. Wooden benches were fixed on
the terrace Belleview; this is really a nice place to rest.
Further, a small picturesque grove, called Menagerie, opens in front of the
visitors. In 1842 a fence for keeping animals was installed, a cattle barn (20
meters long and 5 meters wide) was built as well as a dugout for the guard.
From the archive document we know that in 1854 wild goats were kept in Menagerie.
But the expenses for keeping goats, pheasants, swans and gold fish were not
included into the budget of the Main school of horticulture. In the capital
of the country it was admitted that this fauna "could be content with the profits
of the Main school".
Let us make some steps we will find ourselves at the statue on a granite pedestal.
This is the statue of a famous ancient Greek poet and playwright Euripides (480-406
BC). He is depicted in the full height with a whirlpool in his right hand and
a sheaf of manuscripts at his feet.
Euripides is the author of tragedies. He was the first to show
people's conflicts on the stage. He confirmed that the interests
of the society were beyond personal ones. His well-know works
are "Oleksandr", "Medeia", "Hercules", "Ippolit", and “Bacchantes".
In the antique literature nothing is said about the creation
of the statue in his honor in the 5th century BC;
we can read only about his posthumously statue installed in
Athens (together with the statues of Aeschylus and Sophocles)
in the theater of Dionis, where Euripides' tragedies were staged
According to old-residents (V.Ivaschenko - 1895), the statue was brought from
Chersonese to the park, where it was found during excavations. It was Ivaschenko
who began to call it Euripides. At first, people thought it was the statue of
Byzantine commander Velisarius (504-555) who managed to get a lot of victories
over Iranians and Vandals in the North Africa during the time of Justinian I,
and also ostgoths in the South and Middle Italy. The statue of Euripides is
the only one in the park, which was not moved to any other place since the time
it had been installed.
Passing by the Parnassus hill or the Terrace of Muses (we will tell about it
later), we can see a source, situated in a calm and solitary place near the
foot of a steep slope. S.Trembecki was the first to mention the name of Hippocrene's
spring (Ippocrene). According to Greek mythology, the Hippocrene's source appeared
when a winged horse Pegasus kicked the Helicon Mountain (Hippos means a horse;
more exact it sounds like a horse source). A winged horse is a symbol of inspiration
for poets. Sometimes this place is called the source of inspiration. Its water
is rich in minerals, is very tasty, and both in winter and in summer it has
the same temperature. Two grass snakes hold a vase, which looks like a hoof.
There used to be a marble vase of flowers on the pedestal, later a statue of
bathing Venus. At present the statue is kept in the museum. The place is always
jolly, every visitor tastes the water, and the guide will certainly read some
lines from Pushkin's poem:
I have been filled with bright Hippocrene since my childhood,
Under the shelter of vernal roses I became a poet.
In his poem "Sofiówka" S.Trembecki
uses another name for the Hippocrene's source, namely, invigorated
"queen of water", which strengthens and gives power. Poetically
he appeals to everybody to get rid of a bad habit to drink alcohol,
which besots consciousness, poisons an organism, speeds up human
death, and to start drinking water from the source. The poet
himself lived a long life (eighty years) without any alcohol
The water in "Sofiyivka" is tasty and curative indeed. In 1847 during the time
of Military settlements a hospital was built near the entrance to the park (Markevych,
Diana's grotto and the source in it is the next object we would like to tell
you about. S.Trembecki used this name in his poem for the first time; in V.Allan's
picture (1815) it is called "The well grotto”. The entrance is shut due to hygienic
reason; every day 280 cubic meters of water come to the city and now to the
source "The Iron Pipe" from here. The grotto was built on the foot of a stony
chine in 1796-1800. Its walls were carved in the rock and made of large granite
slabs. As Ivaschenko stated (1895), there was a white marble statue of Diana
there. The statue was lighted up with a small lath of light coming through the
hatch of the grotto. Diana's reflection in the water of a small rectangular
pool carved in the center of the grotto was seen as in the mirror; it explains
the origin of the name - Diana's mirror. The source, which nourishes Hippocrene's
and Silver springs, starts here.
The first historians of "Sofiyivka" did not say anything about Diana's statue
in the grotto. T.Themery, referring to strikingly clean and
clear water in the grotto, noted that S.Trembecki
called this place Diana's mirror. S.Groza, describing the park,
shared his impressions how the branches of the trees were beautifully
reflected in the pool through the hole in the grotto (Groza,
1843). In a famous Alan's engraving, which was in S.Trembecki's
French translation "Sofiyivka" (Trembecki, 1815), we can see
a figure of a woman bending to the water in the pool, but there
is no pedestal where statues are usually installed. Quite possible,
it is not a statue of Diana; it could be a result of creative
imagination of the creator, who decorated the grotto with a
picture of a beautiful young woman.
Diana is a Roman goddess of vegetation, an embodiment of the
moon. Diana has always been identified with the Artemis, because
she was considered to be the goddess of hunting and a defender
of wild animals. A beautiful and ever young Artemis was a virgin,
and according to a legend she liked to have a rest in cool grottos,
situated far away from people. Once Acteon with his friends
came to hunt where the goddess with her nymphs were enjoying
themselves. Acteon noticed a nice grotto in a steep slope of
the mountain and a clear stream. Peace, quietness and coolness
reigned everywhere. Acteon came into the grotto and saw Artemis
there; she gave her bow and arrows to one of the nymphs and
was getting ready to bathe. Having noticed Acteon who was just
entering the grotto, the nymphs gathered around the goddess;
and Artemis got so angry that she turned him into a deer. Acteon
tried to run away but he was caught and torn by the dogs, which
always accompanied Artemis.
This was how Acteon died: he disturbed peace and quietness of Artemis; he was
the only mortal who saw incomparable beauty of the daughter of Zeus and Latonia.
Pay closer attention to the area you are in. L.Metzel seemed to have reproduced
the plot of the legend about Acteon and Artemis: a grotto, a clear source, silence,
coolness and quietness.