1,100 Year-Old Pereiaslav Welcomes You!

Pereiaslav Khmelnytskyi Travel Blog

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Ukraine, Part Three


    The four of us headed out from Cherkasy to a place called the Open Air Folk Museum of Architecture. The bouncy ride wasn't too bad, and I was starting to get used to the jostling of the 1950s era roads and highways. The driver stopped for an occasional smoke break, allowing the rest of us to gather our heads for a little while before we took off again. I was able to shake off the travel sick, just as the rocket of a Volkswagon minivan screamed out onto the road again.
    After a while, it became increasingly apparent that we were lost. And unlike men of the United States, our driver was finally able to stop and ask for directions. It was an interesting moment, because our driver stopped to ask a cop. Nothing against cops, but only the day before, on our ride back from Sofiyivka Park down in Uman, a cop pulled over our driver. He didn't pull him over for speeding or not heeding a traffic light or sign, the cop pulled us over to make us give a woman a ride into Cherkasy. And she wasn't an ordinary lady. She was a little bit circus like, and like Mike Meyers often states, smelled a bit like "cabbage." The three of us kept asking DiAnna, "What is she saying?" But the woman never stopped for a breath, like some alien dropped upon us who keeps droning on and on about planting rhubarb for twelve hours a day on the fourth moon of Jupiter. Oh, to be a fly on the wall at that moment. Especially a fly who understands Ukrainian!

Excuse me, Mr. Officer, are you busy?
Photo Courtesy Nicole Weber



OH, that driver is so busted...
Photo Courtesy Nicole Weber


    The cop our driver went to ask directions from was standing in the middle of the road pointing a radar gun about the size of a Pringles can at all of the oncoming traffic. After zapping a speeder, he would then twirl or wave a black and white striped baton, about the size of a cop's flashlight or a relay race baton at the offending speeder.
    And I say this is interesting in part because I saw a couple of these police batons at local markets, for sale next to some hats and other Russian army stuff, and it was a rare thing because we didn't see anything like this at any other markets but that one.
    I can't really see a use for such a baton, unless it was being used to shoot a movie or TV show, or being used to make up a really boss halloween costume. Any other use would probably be illegal, and considered impersonating an officer. It just shows how everything is for sale.

The sign says, "1,100-year old Pereyaslav Welcomes You"
Translation by DiAnna Sheller
Photo Courtesy Nicole Weber



One of several Windmills dating back to the 17th centuries.
Photo Courtesy Nicole Weber



A traditional rural Ukrainian home
Note the horse on the roof, they are on many houses in Ukraine.
Historians believe Ukrainians domesticated the horse 6,000 years ago.
Also note the way the door swings. Some gates also swing this way.
Photo Courtesy Nicole Weber

    The cop was somewhat helpful, but in the end we were all pretty sure he sent us to the wrong Open Air Folk Museum of Ukrainian Architecture. It wasn't until three months later did I realize where the officer had sent us. He had sent us to the Village of Pereiaslav-Khmelnytski. The place was big. It was a collection of buildings, some of them original, some of them brought in to preserve some part of Ukraine's past, or built onsite out of similar materials used hundreds of years ago to give the visitor an example of a specific region's typical home style, from thatched-roofed mud huts, to a common home of an industrialist.

Traditional Ukraine stick and straw shelter
The shelter may have been a home, or also been used to keep grain, livestock, or other possessions dry.
Photo Courtesy Nicole Weber



There is a cross on the steeple. The building is most likely part of the Ascension monastery.
Photo Courtesy Nicole Weber



Ascension Monastery
Photo by Sam Sinke



Nicole waiting for kids to clear out to take some pictures
Photo by Sam Sinke



Steeple of a cathedral built between 1695 and 1700.
Photo Courtesy Nicole Weber


    When I finally had time to research the place, I came to find that the village is world-famous, mostly because Pereiaslav was the birthplace of Yiddish writer Sholem Aleichem. The village also preserves Aleichem's birthplace and first home, which has become a museum of his life. He was most famous for his collection of writings about the Tevye the milkman and Motl, and other characters who became the basis for the story and play "Fiddler on the Roof."

Cathedral
Photo Courtesy Nicole Weber



Ukraine Sod or Cob House
Many houses like this, dating back to the 10th and 11th centuries have been excavated at this site.
Photo Courtesy Nicole Weber



The same Cob House, showing the thatched roof
Photo by Sam Sinke



Log Home, with a lot of carvings and adornment
Note there is another horse on the eve of the roof.
Photo Courtesy Nicole Weber


    Sholem Aleichem (Shalom is yiddish for Peace, Aleichem is Walk, and Shol is a house, so his name could mean walking home for peace. I guess I don't know.) wrote a lot more than just those stories. He penned children's stories, wrote satire, and is often referred to as the jewish "Mark Twain."

Inside one of the very dark log homes
Photo Courtesy Nicole Weber



The Ascension Monastery and Cathedral from the late 17th Century.
Photo Courtesy Nicole Weber



A closer look at the intricate carvings on a Log Home
Photo Courtesy Nicole Weber



Front door, with an interesting lock system
Photo by Sam Sinke



Thatched retaining wall, filled with mud, clay or a concrete material makes up the foundation of this home.
Photo by Sam Sinke



Closeup of a thatched roof. The straw was really thick on a lot of the homes.
Photo by Sam Sinke



The underside of the thatched roof, showing roof supports.
Photo by Sam Sinke

    Ukrainians have declared the town a historical sanctuary. They have excavated ruins of buildings and gravesites going back to the 10th and 11th centuries. They have a collection of windmills dating back to the 17th century. St. Michael's church dates back to 1646 and the Ascension monastery dates back to 1695.

Ukraine Gravesites
Photo Courtesy Nicole Weber



Gravesites
Photo Courtesy Nicole Weber



Gravesites
Photo Courtesy Nicole Weber



Moss growing on a Gravesite. While it looks great, the moss or lichens will slowly destroy the gravemarker.
Photo Courtesy Derrick Sheller


    For better, and even more so for worse, this small village played an even bigger role for Ukrainians and Russians. For this was where the Treaty of Pereyaslav forever tied the Ukrainians to Russia. Bohdan Khmelnytsky swore allegiance to the tsar in Moscow during that signing. And he is one of the two men in the "brotherhood" statue in Kiev. When we arrived in Kiev later that day, we were able to see the gigantic arch and brotherhood statue commemorating the 325th anniversary of this treaty. But little did we know we were, at this time, standing in the very village where this treaty was signed.

Brotherhood Statue in Kiev, commemorating the 325th Anniversary of the Treaty of Pereiaslav. The village was later renamed Pereiaslav-Khmelnytski in honor of Bohdan Khmelnytsky, one of the men in the statue, the man who signed the treaty and swore allegiance to the tsar in Moscow, forever and fatefully tying Ukraine to Russia.
Photo Courtesy Nicole Weber



Same Brotherhood Statue in Kiev.
Photo Courtesy Derrick Sheller



The Brotherhood Statue in Kiev, under the Friendship Arch. The arch is called "The Yoke" by the locals. The arch is 50 meters in Diameter and leads to a viewing deck of the Dnepr River.
Photo Courtesy Derrick Sheller



A second shot of the Statue. The Brotherhood Statue is made of bronze, and the two men are holding up the Soviet Order of Friendship of Peoples. The other statue in the back is made of granite and includes the people participating in the Pereyaslavka Rada in 1654, the fateful years where Ukraine became forever tied to Russia. The period after this time is called "The Ruin" in Ukraine.
Photo Courtesy Derrick Sheller



Ascension Monastery
Photo Courtesy Nicole Weber



Cathedral
Photo Courtesy Nicole Weber



Windmill dating back the the 17th century.
Photo Courtesy Nicole Weber


    Today, it appears from websites dedicated to the site, that many Ukrainians don't visit the village for this reason, rather because parts of the historic preserve focus on the Cossacks, the people who make up so much of ancient Kiev and Ukraine.

Sam Looking inside a Windmill.
Photo Courtesy Nicole Weber



Another windmill
Photo by Sam Sinke


Large beam protruding out the back of a windmill
Photo by Sam Sinke


Inside a windmill, showing the rotating "point"
Photo by Sam Sinke


Inside windmill, showing the inside of the wall and the gap between it and the rotating "point."
Photo by Sam Sinke


Another picture of the rotating point. Often stairs came down and rotated with the building.
Photo by Sam Sinke


The back of the windmill, showing the beam out the back and the door into the windmill.
Photo by Sam Sinke


An odd angle, but a clear look of the entire backside of a windmill
Photo by Sam Sinke

    The windmills I found particularily fascinating. They were scattered throughout the village and were at different levels of disrepair. Some look as if with some grease and the linens to place over the wind blades, they just might start turning today.
    And I climbed underneath some of them to try to get an idea how they worked, hence the picture of my bum Nicole took as I was about to crawl inside. The whole building sits on a rotating point, not quite built in a perfect circle, but rather an octagon of large wood beams.
    Jetting out the back of each windmill was a large beam of wood, some of them still standing straight out from the building, others fallen limp from years of rotting and disrepair. These large beams are meant to turn the unit, either by getting many people to turn the unit or by using a large animal tethered to the end of the unit. And I would imagine, even though the windmills are quite large, that if the rotating point was greased properly, the windmill could probably be turned by one person.
    The windmills were obviously brought in from higher ground, for most of the village has too many trees, there is no place in the village where the windmills now stand for the wind to pick up any speed, and it just looks odd for any village to have any reason to have, say, more than one or two windmills. One of them is probably original. But there's no guarantee.
    The whole place seeps history from every relic. And even though we found it strange that it was just us and the school kids, there was something about the place that lead you to believed there was a purpose to all of the preservation going on around the grounds.

Cathedral
Photo Courtesy Nicole Weber



Cathedral
Photo Courtesy Nicole Weber



Cathedral
Photo Courtesy Nicole Weber



Cathedral
Photo Courtesy Nicole Weber



Cathedral
Photo Courtesy Nicole Weber


    The grounds were either mowed by hand with a scythe or not mowed at all, much like most of Ukraine. Fences were all a traditional Ukrainian woven fence, with sturdy stick and large wood chunks used as posts, and smaller, more pliable sticks and twigs used to weave in and out almost giving the fenceline a sweater look. I never could figure out how some of the gates worked, and why they were built the way they were built, but I get the feeling that the people who built this place and answer such questions aren't around to answer these questions during the off-season. We were traveling during the last two weeks of school, and wherever we went, there seemed to be a pile of 30- or more school kids wandering around. Amongst the ankle-biters, there was always that one kid, the one teachers and chaperones had to watch because if given the time and the materials he just might set the whole place on fire or find a loose beam and pull down a 300-year-old building. The lad was busy being yelled at by teachers, chaperones and workers at the park. And I remember being him.

Linen from the inside of one of the Cathedrals
Photo Courtesy Nicole Weber



Inside a Ukraine Home
Photo Courtesy Nicole Weber



Inside another Traditional Ukraine Home
Photo Courtesy Nicole Weber



The top of a traditional Ukrainian woven fence.
Photo by Sam Sinke



A traditional Ukrainian woven stick fence.
Photo by Sam Sinke



School kids, on their last two weeks, on a field trip.
Photo by Sam Sinke

    The one nice thing about following all of the kids was that many of the buildings were closed, and were unlocked only for the duration of the school groups. So we probably wouldn't have been able to walk inside, look around, and take pictures, unless we did what we did and follow the kids.

Traditional, Handmade Ukrainian Furnishings
Photo Courtesy Nicole Weber



A salvaged church or Cathedral tower
Photo Courtesy Nicole Weber



Thatched building
Photo Courtesy Nicole Weber



Stilted house, built in the trees, using the trees as a foundation and wall support.
Photo by Sam Sinke



Inside the stilted house, I reached up through a window and clicked a couple pictures, then cut and pasted the two together, showing the room from floor to ceiling. It looks cozy, and could be yours for $75 per month, plus utilities!
Photo by Sam Sinke



A pile of bricks being recycled into a new wall for a home in the village.
Photo by Sam Sinke



An open area in the village, showing nothing in particular. So why did I take the picture? I'm not sure.
Photo by Sam Sinke


    There were barns and lean-to sheds full of wagons, farm machinery, and other odd pieces for making things. And one uique set of stones was used for making wagon and ox-cart wheels several hundred years ago, and by the looks of them could still be used to make wheels today.
    The stones were mostly used to shape the metal used for the outermost part of the wheel and the inner wheel hub. And there were several pieces that were clearly for making rotation points, places where wood attached to the metal, and placed showing where parts had been greased.

Village worker using a Scythe to mow the yard. When I started snapping pictures, he put the Scyuthe away. I wished I could have gotten a close-up.
Photo by Sam Sinke



I was fascinated by the gates, and I can only guess they were built this way to keep livestock from jumping the fence at this point. This gate deserves further study.
Photo by Sam Sinke



Another shot of the gate and the larger gate next to it.
Photo by Sam Sinke



I've been wanting to show this to you "Plastic Sled Quarterly" readers for some time now. Wooden sleds! How sweet and cool are they!? I'll bet you could still catch wicked air on these babies!
Photo by Sam Sinke



Yeah, there are some shots here of some wagons. But forget them. Who cares. Check out the wicked sleds behind them! I couldn't get any closer because I'm already leaning over a fence telling me not to go any closer. But.. But... But.... sleds!
Photo by Sam Sinke



St. Michael's Cathedral
Photo Courtesy Nicole Weber



An establishing shot of St. Michael's Cathedral
Photo Courtesy Derrick Sheller



Inside St. Michael's Cathedral
Photo Courtesy Nicole Weber



Inside the steeple of St. Michael's Cathedral
Photo Courtesy Nicole Weber



Inside St. Michael's Cathedral
Photo Courtesy Nicole Weber



Pile of wheat or other tall grass
Photo Courtesy Nicole Weber



Home of an early industrialist.
They were in the process of refinishing the thatched roof.
Photo Courtesy Nicole Weber


    It turns out ancient Ukraine turned out a lot of inventions, and this place had its share of them. The most notable would be that Ukraine was the first place to domesticate and ride horses. According to records, this began about 6-Thousand years ago. Dental records show wear from the horses having bits in their mouth, most likely made of rope. The mongols, it has long been believe and who conquered ancient Ukraine at least twice, brought the stirrup.

Cathedral
Photo Courtesy Nicole Weber



Cathedral
Photo Courtesy Nicole Weber



Home of a Entrepenuer, the name of the village is in the middle of the sign. Like most of the newer buildings, these home are now museums.
Photo Courtesy Nicole Weber


    Pants were also more than likely invented at this time, for the horsemen who rode those horses about 6-Thousand years ago. Proof of their use is on ancient gold jewelry. Hippocrates mentions pants worn by Ukrainians in his writings.
    The oldest known map in the world was found in Ukraine, dating back to about 10,000 B.C. The second oldest map, about 5,000 years old (about 3,000 B.C.) was also found in Ukraine. Older maps were believed to be lost when the Great Library at Alexandria Burned to the Ground.

Small Fortress in the middle of the village.
Photo Courtesy Nicole Weber



Worker building Fortress Walls
Photo Courtesy Nicole Weber



Inside the Fort
Photo Courtesy Nicole Weber



Worker giving me a strange look, trying to figure out why I'm fascinated with him working on a fence.
Photo by Sam Sinke

    Ovens have been found in Ukraine dating back to 20,000 B.C. A house made from Mammoth bones was found, believed to be 15,000 years old. Jewelry has been found dating back to 30,000 B.C. Ukrainians used soap 500 years before the Romans. Ukraine, and possibly Georgia, was the origination point of the first wine ever made about 5,000 years ago. Unlike the Greeks and Romans, it was said Ukrainians were thought crazy because they drank their wine full strength.
    In combat, Ukrainians had the first bow built that wasn't a longbow, allowing warriors to shoot easier from a horse.

Pottery Carving of Agricultural Activities
Photo Courtesy Nicole Weber



Pottery Carving
Photo Courtesy Nicole Weber



Pottery Carving
Photo Courtesy Nicole Weber



Large wooden carving, a motherland statue. This one is interesting, merging the hammer and the sickle. Usually the two are used as two seperate tools, showing strength of industrialism and strength of agriculture.
Photo by Sam Sinke

    Back then, nothing was thrown away. Grease from cooking, animal fats, leftover animal skins, all of it was used to keep machinery moving, wheels turning freely. And I would even have to guess that animal waste could have been used when nothing else was available, because in more desolate places in the world, literally nothing is wasted, even waste.
    We spent a few hours at the place when DiAnna backtracked through the place and met up with us to tell us it was time to go. And we missed very little of the place. The only thing I wanted to see was more of the antique farm machinery. And in hindsight, I would have liked to see more of Sholem Aleichem's signs and tributes to him, things we missed but I found out about later when we arrived back in the states.

Sign with the name of the village (Pereyaslav Khmelnystky Agriculture Museum of Life... I think that's what it says...) and another 17th century Windmill
Photo Courtesy Nicole Weber


    When we arrived back at the van, our rocket ship driver had tipped the driver's seat back to take a nap, and found out it would not go back up to the normal position. While DiAnna came back to get us, Derrick had been busy helping him, but since airlines and assholes that regulate them decided a few years back that it was too dangerous to allow helpful handyman tools such as a leatherman on to a plane, Derrick and our driver were out of luck to actually be able to fix the seat.
    I quickly assessed the situation, pulled out my duffel bag, and put it on the reclined part of the driver's seat when I realized that the driver was going to try to drive us into Kiev with the seat in the fully-reclined position. The driver got in, shuffled around a bit against the duffel bag, then announced that it would work and it was even more comfortable than the original seat. Nice slam against Volkwagen, I guess.
    We only had about an hour and a half to go to get into Kiev. Well, we were only supposed to have an hour and a half left. That would be if the driver knew where the hell he was going.
  Kyiv is a really big city, and getting much bigger every day. With over 3-million people living there, the place will likely reach twice that number soon, because there isn't an area or part of the skyline at this momen that doesn't have a huge construction crane in it. I'm guessing by the number of these cranes that operating one has been the fastest growing job in Kiev in the past few years. The second might be begging for tourists' dollars, or Hrivnas, but I guess I'll have to do more research on that one. It seemed that way to anyone making common sense observations.
    We arrived on the outskirts of Kiev, and after our driver took his 5-minute smoke break, we arrived on the expressway, where drivers went as fast as their cars could go. The city and the highway were busy, yet we saw very little bumper-to-bumper traffic. We were finally in Kiev.
amvalcarcel says:
So in depth. Thanks for reaching up and taking the interior picture of the "stilted house". Absolutely wonderful job with your presentation. Thanks!
Posted on: Sep 14, 2007
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Pereiaslav Khmelnytskyi