- 6 -

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 park. S.Trembecki, 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 the giants.

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 punished.

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 take some.

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 intact.

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 pleasant chats.

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 corner.

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 this solemnity."

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 Troy.

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 Troy's existence.

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