Among the oak forests, among the hills, on the wide Dnieper river in the heart of Ukraine there is the ancient city of Kanev, where the great Ukrainian poet and revolutionary Taras Shevchenko is buried. From the Tarasova mountain there is such a fascinating view to the Dnieper, which is breathtaking. It was here that I felt all the beauty and richness of Ukrainian nature.
A bit of a bloody history
Kanev was founded in the distant 1078. From the times of Kievskaya Rus and until the 18th century it was a border fortress, an outpost on the border of the Kiev land with the Steppe. Through Kanev “the road from the Varangians to the Greeks” passed, which was an important transport artery of the state.
In the 13th century, Kaniv was captured and ruined by the Mongol-Tatar horde, after which it became the residence of the Tatar Baskakov. In the 14th century the city was occupied by the Lithuanian Prince Gedimin, and Kanev finally fell under the rule of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. But already in the 15th century Kanev became an important trading city, a unique wooden fortress was built here.
In the 1590s, Kanev and the surrounding cities embraced two major Cossack-peasant uprisings against the Polish-gentry oppression. It was here that the famous hetman of the Zaporozhye Army Samuel Koshka was born. In 1625 Kanev was burnt by the Poles, in 1630 – by Crimean Tatars. In March 1918, the city was captured by Austro-German troops. During the Second World War from August 1941 to January 1944 Kanev was under German occupation.
What impresses the most
Unfortunately, I spent only in Kanev one day, but it was so full that I fell in love with this district center of Cherkassy region of Ukraine at first sight. The city is very green, clean, quiet and cozy. Here everything is permeated with Ukrainian color, everywhere Ukrainian speech sound, beautiful Ukrainian women with children are walking in parks while their husbands are engaged in agrarian business or work at Kanevskaya hydroelectric power station.
* The first thing that strikes its scale and scope of the so-called Kanev Sea. The reservoir here is so wide that you immediately recall the words of the famous Ukrainian writer Nikolay Gogol that “a rare bird will reach the middle of the Dnieper.” Thanks to the hydropower plant, “the roar of the Dnieper is wide,” as the great T. Shevchenko wrote. In windy weather here are real waves, like on the sea, and the water is so clean and transparent that the Kanivians swim in their personal sea from May to October.
* I give the second place to the Kanev “stonehenge” (this is my personal name). It is a unique landscape park of unusual sculptures, in which certain messages are encrypted.
The authors of these works of art are completely different, but all these stone creations look in the same style. Here there is a couple in love, and parents with a caravan, and grandfather with a grandson, and a child in the heart of a mother, and the message of T. Shevchenko to future generations of “tear the shackles!”…
* In the center of the city there is a pompous Uspensky (St. George’s) Cathedral of the 12th century, where there are several miraculous icons.
But much more impressive is the small wooden Cossack church, in front of which stands a monument to the ataman Ivan Pidkova.
* But most importantly, Kanev is a place of pilgrimage for Ukrainians from all over the world, because Taras Shevchenko, the kobza and the prophet of the Ukrainian nation are buried here. Curious fact: worldwide there are 1384 monuments to Taras Shevchenko: 1256 in Ukraine and 128 abroad – in 35 countries. And this is a record indicator for a cultural figure!
In one day I crossed almost 400 steps to Chernecha (Tarasova) mountain to lay flowers to the grave of the Great Kobza, and twice washed my legs in the Dnieper, and ate a delicious Kanev ice cream in the cafe “Snowflake”. And since in the end of August in Kanev it was very hot, then I tasted excellent cool local kvass. I meditated under an oak tree in the park behind the bus station, charged with positive and inspiration for future travel.
Come to Ukraine! This is a real pearl of Eastern Europe!