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
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
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
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".