When we find ourselves on a tracery iron bridge, we cannot help making a stop
and admiring an unbelievable view, one of the most fascinating
in the park - Great Waterfalls, the main embellishment of the
T.Themery and others mentioned the name Great Waterfalls.
You can admire bright water overflows, which fall down from a 15-meter height,
as well as charming music of falling water. It is hard to believe that this
waterfall is the creation of human hands. And only when you climb up the hill,
you will see the open and built of granite multi-stepped channel and a bridge
across it. Then you will realize that the upper part of the waterfall is made
artificially. There is a tunnel for an alley under the waterfall, it goes along
the edge of great nature cliff and serves as a basis for Great Waterfalls. Great
Waterfalls are clearly seen from many viewing points; they look especially charming,
great and unique when the waterfalls are full of water. Water comes here through
the underground Acheron River from the Upper Pond. The waterfalls were built
during the first period of the foundation of the park. A fir-tree is especially
distinguished from the total greenery of trees, grown near the waterfalls; it
is decoration of the place all year round. L.O.Kazarinov mentioned that a birch-tree
grew there before, a light and delicate crown of the tree was a nice addition
to a picture so talented thought over and accomplished.
Here we would like to keep our visitors' attention a bit longer referring to
Homer's Odyssey. The thing is that the author of this text as well as his predecessors
during the last 100 years thought that Great Waterfalls falls down from the
Styx River. All the Soviet authors, including G.Y.Hraban, who translated T.Themery's
"A guidebook across "Sofiivka" from French, were of the same opinion. However,
our careful studying of this work led to a finding: T.Themery uses the name
"The Styx River" for the bed of the Kamianka River, which flows from Thetis'
grotto and, winding among the stones of the Valley of Giants, or the country
of Cyclopes, makes the Lower Pond or the Ionian Sea. It is interesting that
while standing on the Iron Bridge we can see the river-heads of all seven rivers,
which flowed in the underground kingdom of dead souls (according to the imagination
of ancient Greeks). Studying them in legends, we came to a conclusion that the
underground river is called Acheron, and its end is Acheron Lake rather than
Dead Lake, as we thought before, from this place it joins heavy water of the
Cotsita River (a river of weeping) and flows into the Styx River. The Phlegethon
River (a fire river) flows to the fountain "Seven-Stream" under the ground from
Acheron Lake, and from there, joining the Letha River (a river of distraction)
it falls into the Styx River. This exit is seen in the quay of the Lower Pond,
right near the statue of Apollo of Belvedere. The exits of other two rivers
are situated opposite each other: Ocean flows from the tract "Menagerie", Mnemosina
(a river of memory), having created a pool opposite of the temple "Poseidon",
flows into the Lower Pond from the Assembly Square, where two granite benches
are fixed at the embankment.
The name of the Styx River and the imagination of the people, who know the
legend, are connected with this river, described by S.Trembecki,
S.Groza and T.Themery.
Styx (Hateful) in Greek mythology is a divinity, whose name
is given to the river, which runs around the underground kingdom
of dead souls seven times. Sty is one of the oldest daughters
of Ocean and Tepid. During the quarrels of gods according to
Zeus' order they, brought by Eris, swear over the water of Styx.
The god, who broke his oath, lies breathless for a year; he
lives far from Olympus for nine years and only on the tenth
year he comes back. In the marriage with Pallantan Styx gave
birth to Jealousy, Nike (Victory), Power (Authority) and Strength
who always accompanied Zeus. Along the Acheron and Styx Rivers
gloomy Charon carried dead souls to the underground kingdom
for certain payment. According to Greek mythology Aid is a king
of the underground kingdom. Horrible three-headed dog Cerberus
guards the entrance. Three sons of Zeus - Mines, Had and Rhadamanthus
- carried out reprisals on dead souls, which got into the underground
kingdom. The sent the dead souls to the Elysian Fields and the
Island of Blessed, or to the Tartars. In Greek mythology the
Tartars is an area in the very depth of the space, lower the
Aid. The Tartar is a lower sky (opposite to Olympus, which is
an upper sky).
Now look to the right from the waterfall to the Valley of Giants; that is how
T.Themery named this picturesque area decorated with stones and water. Even
if you look carefully at the conglomeration of granite slabs and cliffs, you
cannot see anything artificial, unnatural.
The ancient Greek Legend about the birth of the world is vividly reflected
in our imagination, when pictures change one after another. Here you will learn
about Uranus and Heia, about the appearance of Titans' kin and their brothers
- Cyclopes, who were destined for bottomless hole - the Tartars.
A new generation of gods, headed by Zeus and settled on the mountain Olympus,
was at war against Titans, headed by Zeus' father Chronis and settled on the
mountain Ostris. The internecine battle lasted for ten years. Zeus threw lightnings
into the enemies continually, and his assistants simultaneously threw 300 cliffs
into the Titans. Finally, the gods got the victory; the giants' kin rose against
the gods. To win the battle, Heracles was invited; together with Dionis he conquered
So, you can see the places of last battles, the picture, which was created
not in the artist's studio, but by hands, sweat and blood of unknown heroes
- Potocki's serfs. When the Lower Pond was constructed, the serfs, cutting out
its bottom in the granite, moved the stones to this place as if they were scattered
during the battles of gods and Titans. Watching this, we once again admire the
genius of L.Metzel, who managed to show the plot of an ancient Greek myth in
this stony chaos. An artistic expressiveness is achieved by a compositional
combination of large and small stones in various groups and their arrangement
among natural cliffs.
Having crossed the iron bridge, we find ourselves at the Assembly Square. A
lot of various and interesting architectural elements of the park composition
are situated around it. We will start getting acquainted with one of the objects
quoting its description in T.Themery's guidebook (Themery, 1846): " Having crossed
the iron bridge, we go to the left, to a huge cliff; then having walked along
the path which leads to its foot, we will be near another cliff, its size and
location make us tremble; the cliff seems to be about to separate from the rock,
which formed it, and now, hardly hanging over two cliffs that stopped it, the
cliff keeps rolling and may smash you. Being seized with the fear, we leave
this place and go straight to the Assembly Square".
This is how T.Themery describes this natural grotto, as if it was created by
nature itself. A huge granite slab (over 300 tons) hangs down and has only three
points for support - it looks as if it is about to fall.
In modern guidebooks this grotto is called the grotto of Fear
and Doubts. The name was first mentioned in L.O.Kazarinov's
hand-written essay as the grotto of Fear and Distrust, and later
I.A.Kosarevski (1951) called it the grotto of Fear and Doubts.
L.O.Kazarinov wrote that in 1910 one of the local architects
believed that the stone was unsteady and dangerous for visitors'
lives. The assessment commission was appointed. It came to a
conclusion that the place had to be fenced, and the entrance
had to be shut. However, the time passed, the fence got old,
ruined and was taken away; but the visitors still come to see
this unusual and unique grotto, being very much impressed by
L.Metzel's talent and skills which had created a fascinating
composition of granite rocks, based on Greek legend about Tantalus.
Tantalus was liked by the gods and was given a great honor for a mortal to
visit meetings and banquets of gods on the Olympus. Tantalus
was very proud and self-assured; he dared to offend the gods.
He was punished and thrown into the Aid. The legends explain
Tantalus guilt in different ways:
a) he told people Zeus' secret decisions;
b) he stole nectar and ambrosia from the gods' table and treated
people with them;
c) he wanted to know whether the gods knew everything, he gave
them the meat of his son Pelopos to eat, etc.
There are two legends, which tell us how Tantalus has been
According to the first legend, in the underground kingdom Tantalus
stood in the water up to his throat and was very thirsty, but
when he wanted to make at least one gulp, the water flowed away
from him; he was very hungry but could not reach the fruit because
the branches bent away from him when he stretched his hand to
According to another version, Tantalus suffered from fear of
the rock, which was hanging right over him and was about to
fall and crush him.
Our suggestion to call this place Tantalus Grotto is based
on the plot of the myth. It is worth mentioning that the reliability
of the cliff was examined by nature itself. In 1838, 1976, 1986
the earthquakes occurred in Uman, nevertheless, the grotto remained
In 1987 the experts of the Institute "Ukrprojectrestoration",
having examined the grotto, came to a conclusion that the cliff
was absolutely safe and of no threat for visitors. Large granite
slabs, which surround Tantalus Grotto, attract our attention;
their form resembles that of an elephant or the hat of Russian
princes, which corresponds to the myth about Sisyphus' stone.
Having spent some time in Tantalus Grotto, we return to the
central part of the Assembly Square. T.Themery was the first
to use this name. Z.Y.Ivanova and B.S.Sidoruk (1976) shared
their assumption that the name appeared during the period, when
"Sofiivka" was under the jurisdiction of the Department of military
settlements. We can agree with this. At that time a military
orchestra played in the park and noble people of the town used
to gather there to listen to the music and to dance. As the
square was created in the first period of the foundation of
the park, no doubts, it must have expressed a myth, similarly
to any other place in the park. Unfortunately, S.Trembecki did
not tell anything about this beautiful and very much-attended
part of the park, from this place one can admire the fountain
"Snake", the Terrace of Muses, the Great Waterfalls.
No legend about the Assembly Square was saved. V.Ivaschenko
(1895) stated that at first all compositional sites of the park
had classical names, originated from Greek and Roman mythology.
"Now, - he writes later, - these names are either forgotten
or changed for others". In fact, this book is another attempt
to restore the classical names.
Taking into consideration the topography, we make an assumption
that the creator of the park wanted to show one of the myths
in this very place, namely, the Island of the Blessed. Judges
of the underground kingdom sent souls of the righteous to this
island. In antique literature the Island of the Blessed was
pictured as the country of eternal happiness. From far away
one can smell a pleasant aroma of flowers: gentle scent of roses,
daffodils, hyacinth, lilies, violets, laurel and vine. The rivers,
clear as crystal, run there, gentle wind sways the forest, and
a continuous song is heard in its branches. Ever-lasting spring
reigns there, the life here is spent in enjoyment, walks and
The Assembly Square is framed with wooden benches, where visitors
feel very comfortable sitting and enjoying themselves. The square
is situated in the peninsula of an oval form. The Fish Pond,
which is in the middle of the square, attracts visitors' attention
with its granite vase in the center. The water to the pond comes
through the underground cast-iron pipe from the Upper Pond and
is kept at the same level, because water surplus is withdrawn
to the Lower Pond through the underground granite canal. In
summer bright flowers decorate the vase, and visitors cannot
take their eyes away from it. Walking around the pond, you have
a wonderful opportunity to admire beautiful landscapes, which
change one another.
S.Groza (1843), describing this green peninsula, narrates that
towards the east, opposite the pool, a granite altar, called
Venus Temple, is situated among lime-trees. The altar is granite
of 6 cubits and 22 inches long, 5 cubits and 15 inches wide.
It is smoothly carved and has two steps, and six granite columns
are installed on the sides, each being a cubit high. Marble
vases with gorgeous flowers are fixed on the columns in every
T.Themery, when he described this corner of the park later, did not mention
anything about Venus Temple, instead, he noted that on some special occasions
musicians were around the pedestal, on which a statue of Paris was installed.
Nowadays, a marble statue of Paris decorates this place as well as it did many
years ago. The statue was restored several times; last time it was done in 1988.
Summing up everything mentioned above the central part of the park, we could
make an assumption that the Assembly Square was planned, created and named by
L.Metzel himself. Homer, narrating the adventures of Odysseus, tells that after
all wanderings and thanks to the gods' protection, finally a sea wave brought
his weak body to the island, where Peaches lived, a mythic nation, its people
were good at navigation and shipbuilding. Alchinoi, Poseidon's grandson, a wise
owner of Peaches, who helped Odysseus and sent him to the Ithaca Island, as
we had mentioned above, gathered all the noble people and the latter sat down
on wooden benches and stones. Poseidon's Temple (Fish Pond) was located in the
middle of the square, and somewhat aside there was Aphrodite's Temple; S.Groza
wrote about it as it was mentioned above.
As we may see, everything here corresponds to Homer's description; hence, we
believe this area has to be called the Square or the Assembly Square of Peaches,
and the Fish Pond -Poseidon's Temple, altar, where Paris stands, it is advisable
to call the Temple of Goddess of Love Aphrodite.
Let us stop for some minutes in this place to listen to some recollections
of permanent residents and to get acquainted with the myth about Paris.
V.Ivaschenko (1895) wrote: "Now it is appropriate to tell you a story of one
of Uman old-residents about an opening ceremony of the garden. When she was
young, she heard this story several times from the witnesses of the event. On
Sofia's birthday in 1800 her husband invited a lot of guests and they all headed
to the park. In the square, near the pool with golden fish there were tents
where everything was ready for a banquet. The most beautiful tent made of bright
oriental fabrics was made for the heroine of this solemn show. In the evening,
when the guests had enough time to walk around the park and to admire its beauty
and wonders, illumination was arranged, the pond being particularly beautiful;
its banks shining with lights were reflected in the pond.
Suddenly the moon appeared in the sky and illuminated the whole park with its
fascinating light, a group of naiads being dressed in snow-white clothes was
moving along the lake in glimmering moon rays. When they approached the steps,
which were over in the water, all the guests saw 12 beauties in silver clothes,
decorated with flowers and letting their her down; they all held wreaths. The
hostess came out of the tent; she wore a dark-brown coat with intensive-yellow
lining. She came up tone of the men sitting among other guests, took him by
the hand and led him to the steps.
Not very tall, a bit stooping, modestly dressed Metzel - it was he - was very
nervous because of unusual attention paid to him. When naiads began to sing
the cantata, glorifying the genius artistic talent of the creator of the park,
Sofia's companion completely got lost. The song was over; nymphs came out on
the bank and crowned the architect with their wreaths. Modest, confused, nervous
and lisping Metzel asked to stop ovation; he believed he did not deserve all
Paris was the second son of the king of Troy and his wife Gecuba. When Gecuba
was pregnant, she saw a night dream, as if she gave birth to a flaming torch,
which burnt Troy. The prophets interpreted the dream in the following way: the
son she was waiting so much would cause the destruction of Troy. When the boy
was born, Priam ordered to take him to the Ida Mountain and to leave him there,
hoping that animals would kill the boy. However, the child was saved, as the
shepherd found the boy and raised him. Antique sources refer a famous court
of Paris over three goddesses who could not agree who was the most beautiful
among them to the time Paris had spent in the Ida Mountain. Sea nymph Thetis
asked all gods of the Olympus to come to her wedding with Peleus, except for
goddess of discord Eris. The latter came without being invited and put an apple
with an inscription "for the most beautiful" on the table. The apple caused
a quarrel among Hera, Athena and Aphrodite. The goddesses asked Zeus to make
a decision who would get the apple. Zeus sent them to Paris to the Ida Mountain,
asking Hermes to accompany the goddesses. Trying to win Paris over, Hera offered
him power and wealth, Athena was ready to give him wisdom and army glory, Aphrodite
promised him love of the most beautiful woman who would become his wife. Paris
chose Aphrodite to be the most beautiful woman among the goddesses and gave
her the apple. Since that time Aphrodite had always protected Paris, while Hera
and Athena treated him with hostility.
The most beautiful woman in the world, Helen, was the wife of the tsar of Sparta,
Menelaus. Paris visited Menelaus, and gradually they fell in love with each
other. Helen escaped to Troy together with Paris. According to ancient Greeks,
it was then that the Trojan War broke out, and it lasted from 1194 till 1184
BC. A German scientist Henrich Schliman (1822-1890) proved the existence of
Schliman, the son of a poor pastor, who became an orphan at an early age, had
a dream to prove that the events described in Homer's epos had really occurred.
H.Schliman was mostly self-educated, became a trader, got rich, learned 15 languages,
including the ancient Greek, and then at his own expenses he began excavations
in Turkey on Hysarlyk Hill, as he thought it was the place where Troy had been
situated. It is known all over the world that the results of the excavations
were surprisingly striking: a self-educated archeologist proved the fact of