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From the Assembly Square we walk upstairs along the conglomeration of granite slabs. Here on the left, we can see the grotto called by Kosarevski (1951) the Western Grotto. The grotto was built of pink granite with granite benches and a table inside it; it is a nice place to have some rest. Unfortunately, original literary sources did not say much about the grotto; however, we were always sure that L.Metzel could not create the grotto only with a utilitarian name; it should have been connected with any myth. Thus, working at the text of Homer's "Odyssey", we came to a conclusion that this grotto symbolizes the grotto of Scylla, the more so, the words "to the west" in "Odyssey" sound as follows: “The stone of the cliff, and in the middle of it there is a cave, directed to the darkness of Erebus, towards the west”. Erebus is the underground kingdom of Aid, the entrance to it being under the Leucadian Rock (it was mentioned earlier). An ugly Scylla lives in the grotto or the cave, it barks furiously and constantly. This cruel monster has twelve legs and six heads on long necks and in every mouth it has three rows of teeth. Having hidden itself in the cave, it sticks only its heads and waits. It catches dolphins, seals and other inhabitants of the sea, and, of course, it never misses a single ship to satisfy itself.

Opposite Scylla's cave there is another a bit lower cliff; terrible Haribda lives there. She swallows the water three times a day, and she throws it out three times a day. So if we returned to the Iron Bridge, across which we went to the Assembly Square, then among chaotically scattered stones we would see Haribda's grotto, Trinacia Island, the Island of Eol and lestrygons, we could have talked to the ghosts of Tiresseus, Elppenorus and other former friends of Odysseus. Here Odysseus saw the shadows of Tantalus and Sisyphus. You can learn about all these mythical heroes if you read "Odyssey".

Having walked forward along the alley, we turn right on a steep path and find ourselves at the ground, which was carved in a steep edge of the rock T.Themery (1846) names it the ground of the Leucadian Rock. However later, V.Ivaschenko (1895) named this ground Belvedere, because the statue of Apollo of Belvedere stood there for some time; he also noted that before it had the name of Leucadian Rock. O.L.Lypa (1946) used the name Belvedere for the place and the cliff as a whole, which means "a beautiful view"; it is strange enough that he calls the Leucadian Rock the place where the Loketek Grotto is located.

A famous Bulgarian scientist in green construction (making parks), doctor of landscape art L.l.Stoichev (1962), having used the data of O.L.Lypa's monograph, wrote that the Leucadian Rock was the biggest one hanging down and having only one point of support, which made an impression that it was about to fall down; there was the Loketek Grotto under it.

However, it is not true. Working on this book, we do not have any intention to offer a critical analysis of the works written by other authors who described "Sofiyivka" and its history before our attempts to do it. We would like to emphasize that even in monographs there is a lack of a thorough and comprehensive studying of the objects and their interpretation. In most of the works about "Sofiyivka" one can find the name Belvedere, which is used for this ground.

Reading S.Trembecki's poem, we learn that on this ground to avoid an occasional fall "a hall was built of an oak-tree", that is, a wooden pergola. Later, according to S.Groza, it was taken away to have a better view. Based on S.Groza's description, there was a sculpture of an old man; we will talk about him later.

In 1847, during the time of the military settlements, the ground was surrounded (fenced) with a tracery iron fence, which one can see today. From this calm, deserted ground one can admire the beauty of the Lower Pond and a wonderful fountain "Snake", Flora Pavilion and other nice places for hours. Thus, we can accept historically established names of this place, namely, the Belvedere or the Leucadian Rock.

In front of the entrance to the Belvedere, your attention can be attracted to the lower part of the Leucadian Rock, which resembles the profile of a human face. Some historians think it belongs to L.Metzel, others believe it is S.S.Potocki's profile.

The Belvedere is decorated with a marble antique statue. In I.A.Kosarevski's (1951) publication the sculpture is called Apollo. It is natural, that all other authors of their publications about "Sofiyivka" used the same name - the statue of Apollo - when they described visual perception of the statue on the background of gray stone and drooping green vegetation.

T.Themery also mentioned the statue of Orpheus in the Tempe Valley in addition to other statues, which were saved till our days. L.O.Kazarinov wrote about the statue of Orpheus in this place as well. From now on we will also use this name. One of the statues of Apollo, mentioned by T.Themery, was in the grotto, built downward near the Terrace of Muses; later it was covered with ground. Its complete name is "Apollo of Belvedere";

V. Ivaschenko (1895), who described its transition to the park in details, mentioned the name. According to T.Themery (1846), the name of the second statue is "young Apollo” and it stands on the place where he described it, that is, near Thetis' Grotto; it is called "Apollo of Florence".

During the Great Patriotic War (World War II) and German occupation most of the statues were destroyed and some of them disappeared forever. According to the reports and memories of D.S.Kryvulko, who was a director of the park in 1952-1967, only marbles fragments of the statues remained. In 1952 they were gathered and sent to Kyiv experimental restoration workshops. The same year a team of sculptors Kuznetsov, Andreieva and Zemskov managed to restore some sculptures: Euripides, Apollo of Florence or young Apollo and also Orpheus. As D.S.Kryvulko stated the statue of Apollo of Belvedere was glued of pieces, moulds were made of the missing details, later they were made of other marble, and in this way the original was restored. In 1956 the copy of the sculpture of Apollo of Belvedere was made of organic glass, but it was never placed in the park, forty years had already passed though. In 1980, by accident, we found it in one of the institutions belonging to the Ministry of Derzhbud of UkrSSR; the signature on it confirms that the copy has been made for a dendrological park "Sofiyivka".

From the archive documents we know that beginning from 1846 no antique sculptures were brought to the park, the exceptions are marble busts of Homer, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle; Uman museum of local lore gave them to the park in 1957. Before the war they were in Talne Park, in the former estate of count Shuvalov, who was the husband of Sofia Potocki's granddaughter.

In the antique art Orpheus is described as a beardless young man in light chlamys with cithara in his hands. It is appropriate to tell a popular myth about Orpheus, the more so, that underneath there is a granite cliff in the water, which symbolizes the Lesbos Island. Not only the myth about poetess Sapho is associated with it, but also about Orpheus and the story of his tragic love.

Probably, L.Metzel planned to make this place as a central part of the park, which would symbolize the Leucadian Rock and the Lesbos Island, where romantic, full of tragic legends love, was sung of.

Orpheus, the tsar of Frakia, was a talented singer. When he sang, his charming voice made trees bend their tops; rivers stopped their flow; wild animals lay near his feet, and he kept singing. His wife was the nymph of a tree Eurydice by name. They loved each other very much. Eurydice was so beautiful that everyone who once saw her fell in love. The same happened to Aristae, the son of Apollo and nymph Kirena. Once he saw Eurydice in the valley of Tempe. He did not know that she was Orpheus' wife; otherwise he would probably stay at home and try to forget a beautiful nymph. He ran after her and she ran away. The worst happened: a poisonous snake bit Eurydice and the nymph died. Orpheus was in deep sorrow, and Mercury trying to help him showed the way to the underground kingdom of dead souls. Having heard Orpheus' singing, the king of the underground kingdom decided to let Eurydice go with Orpheus, but he warned him not to look back. Orpheus did as he was told, but once he did not hear Eurydice' steps and wanted to see whether she was following him. He turned back and lost his Eurydice forever.

Having enjoyed a beautiful view, we go back rightward, take some forty steps and walk to the left along the alley, planted with lilac, honeysuckle and other plants.

This area of the park is called the Ithaca Island and various introduced plants are grown here.

And now we go straight along the alley, the noise of the Great Waterfalls attracts our attention. It opens here in its beauty and greatness. The alley turns to the right and we can see a small pedestal on a great cliff.

Some time ago there was a statue of Cupid, made of white marble. Only Cupid's wings were saved from the original statue. In 1996 according to the pictures of Kyiv sculpture l.D.Didur it was cast of organic materials and installed on its place. This is the statue of a boy who scattered all his arrows; a bowstring was broken. Cupid is upset and, stooping back, he breaks his bow. Amour (Cupid) in Roman mythology is God of Love; in Greek mythology Eros is God of Love.

Walking down the alley, we see granite steps on the left; they lead to Loketek and Nut Grottos. Both were built during the first period of the construction of the park.

Nut Grotto is situated on the right side. It accomplishes the composition of the Valley of Giants. I.A.Kosarevski was the first to mention the name "Nut"(1951); S.Groza gave a short description of the grotto. A huge granite slab seems to be supported by a small, round stone; in fact it lies firmly on a natural basis, owing to a well-balanced center of the weight. A granite lava is carved in Nut Grotto, and near it there is an artificial three-staged waterfall; its streams are iridescent and disappear under a chaotic conglomeration of stones of the Valley of Giants, as if they are ashamed of magnificence and even immensity of the Great Waterfalls.

Studying the origin of the name Nut Grotto, we were sure (the same as in the case with "Western" Grotto), that the authors of the park embodied other contents in it while creating the park. In our opinion, we see Polyphemus Grotto in front of us. To prove it, there is an island, which is right in front of us, if we stand on a wooden bridge facing the Great Waterfalls and the Assembly Square. Further, granite slabs are scattered; they resemble gloomy mountains, where Cyclopes live alone in deep caves, wild and unfriendly, ignoring any laws and disrespecting even Olympus Gods.

Although we do not have any opportunity to describe in detail Odysseus' stay in Polyphem' Grotto, there is no doubt that according to the author's plan the oblong stone, which looks like Cyclope's long stick, represents this grotto. Odysseus broke a large piece of this stick and ordered his friends to sharpen it from one side and to resin it on the fire. As we know from the legend it was this stick with help of which Odysseus thrusted the only eye of Polyphem out. Cross the bridge, turn to the left, come up to the waterfall of the Styx River, which hides its water among numberless stones, turn to the left again, and right in front of you there will be Odysseus' sharpened stick, and further you will see a lot of different grottos, where Cyclopes lived. One can see Loketek Grotto from this very place very well.

Having walked down a little bit to the left, let us make a stop near Loketek Grotto. This grotto is mentioned in all the guidebooks about "Sofiyivka", including S.Trembecki's poem. He noted that this low grotto was built in honor of the King of Poland Vladislav.

Vladislav Loketek was the King of Poland in 1306-1333; he got this nickname (Loketek or Elbow) because he was short. King Loketek did a lot for strengthening the country. His activity is usually compared with that of Russian tsar Ivan III.

Loketek Grotto is a huge natural rock. There is a bench and a round table inside, which is the only decoration of the place. Here those who prefer real nature and loneliness can sit and dream, listening to the noise of the waterfalls and a stream, which flows among the stones. S.Groza (Groza, 1843), describing this area of the park, noted that opposite the grotto an old lime-tree grew at that time, and its shade emphasized that the place was completely deserted.

Then we walk down along the alley to the bridge across the Kamianka River, which, as it was said above, symbolizes the underground river Styx. Once there was a wooden bridge, but it was not strong enough to handle groups of visitors and fell down together with them; it was substituted for a metal one and in 1996 it was bordered with wood. Fortunately, things ended all right for everyone. But this case proves that no matter how strong our desire to preserve the park the way it was constructed is, we still have to think how to make it more comfortable and safe for a constantly growing number of tourists coming to the park every year; all this inevitably changes an original view of the park. It is appropriate to quote D.S.Lykhachov (1982), who writes in his book "Poetry of the Gardens”: "One cannot separate gardens from greenhouses, hotbeds, sometimes dairy farms, banquet kiosks and concert halls, "Hermitages", bathing places. In each epoch, a garden occupies this or that territory, this or that range of routine objects. It is so closely connected with social system of the society, that it is useless to think about this or that date (particularly the date of its foundation) of its complete restoration. Nowadays it is impossible to gather hundreds of gardeners and workers as it was in the past (when serfs and soldiers were involved in the process); it is impossible to rebuild the objects and imagination about nature, which the then visitors had that influenced their aesthetic perception of the garden, inspired them to gather typical for that time "rare things" which are no longer rare thanks to more simple relations among countries at present time. Modern cultivation of rare plants (the most infrequent ones for XVII and XVIII centuries) for the sake of aesthetics may seem inappropriate senseless, however, it is absolutely important and useful to take it into consideration in landscape gardening of last centuries.

Hence, we come to a conclusion that total restoration of the parks in their aesthetic and cognitive-ideological aspect, which was true at its time and under its conditions, becomes impossible. In various epochs, people had a rest in different ways, "a garden's routine" differed; it was associated with a social system, with the people for whom a garden was built, with their cultural demands and aesthetic tastes. Landscape art is not easy to be restored, if we mean a complete reconstruction of the garden in its aesthetic form, which is active and adequate to the epoch".

Anyway, carrying out a lot of restoration work on the eve of its 200th-anniversary, we managed to restore (as it has already been mentioned) a wooden bridge to try to convey the atmosphere of this unique corner of "Sofiyivka".

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