Kharkiv - Universitetska Street (Part 2)

Kharkiv Travel Blog

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Dormition Cathedral with a belfry
Having admired the city areas on the other side of the Lopan, we continue our tour along Universytetska Street. The square across from the Dormition Cathedral used to be the site of Gubernatorial Offices erected in 1786 by the design of a famous architect Giacomo Quarengi. The building underwent numerous reconstructions and was finally destroyed during the war. Today we can only imagine the grandeur of Soborna Square (as it was called before the Revolution) with the Dormition Cathedral and its belfry.

The Cathedral, which survived the historical turmoil, was constructed in 1773 on the site of the stone church destroyed in the fire. It was designed after the Saint Clement Church in Moscow. It took sculptors, icon painters and wood-carvers six years to complete the interior design of the Cathedral and to create the enormous wooden stand for the icons.

Historical center. Here begin city’s main thoroughfares: Sumska Street, Moskovskyi Avenue, Poltavskyi Shlyakh
Presumably this icon stand was described by the famous Kharkiv historian D. Bahaliy, when he in his Notes on Kharkiv History described the excellent skills of Kharkiv snitsari - the then name for wood-carvers. According to some information, the design of the icon stand was developed by Bartholomew Rastrelli.

The five-dome Cathedral was built in the Baroque style and comprises some elements of the Ukrainian architectural tradition. It is important that the Dormition Cathedral is the last in the row of churches built in the Ukrainian style. After 1800 the decree of the Emperor Paul I prohibited any constructions in this style. Today it is the House of Organ and Chamber Music.

Bell tower of the Assumption Cathedral dominates the historical center of the city

In 1844 the belfry was erected to commemorate the victory of the Russian troops over Napoleon. Unlike the Cathedral it was built in the style of Classicism. It was designed by the University architect E. Vasiliev, who, despite somewhat heavy-looking first floor of the belfry, managed to impart the general impression of harmony and lightness of a triumph column due to the gradually decreasing size of upper floors and smaller order. The belfry is topped with an elegant rotunda that has a bulb-shaped dome. The belfry is 84 meters high, the diameter of the clock made by the Borel Paris company is 3,7 meters. It used to have 12 bells weighing from 16,1 tons to 8 kilograms.

People call the Dormition cathedral Kharkiv’s golden crown.

On the banks of the Lopan river
We can not but admire the skills and knowledge with which our ancestors could find the best locations for their churches. Kharkiv churches and cathedrals are not only spiritual centers of the city, but also true landscape gems brilliantly embedded into the city architectural ensemble.

Another interesting construction is the complex of Kharkiv University (today the building of the Ukrainian Engineering and Pedagogical Academy).

The Governor’s House, which later became the main building of Kharkiv University, was erected in 1767-1776 (architects M. Tikhmenev and A. Vilyanov). But the construction works were completed by P. Yaroslavskyi, a graduate of Kharkiv Collegium, the fact that proves that at the end of the 18th century the city had its own talented architects.
Ukrainian Engineering and Pedagogical Academy (former Governor’s House — main building of the University)

In spite of being relatively small, the building is really imposing and displays good taste, sense of harmony and proportion, as well as elegance of numerous small elements - palmettos, vases in hovels, rustication and delicate Ionic wall piers.

The University building is mentioned in the traveler’s guide of 1915 as one of the best 18th century landmarks in Kharkiv. This was the place where Catherine the Great stayed with her court during her famous journey from Saint Petersburg to the Crimea.

The facade of the building displays several memorial plaques in the honor of some well-known graduates and professors. Among the students of the University were Slobozhanshchyna-born Nobel Prize laureate microbiologist I.

Ukrainian cultural center «Yunost» (former University building)
 Mechnikov, economist S. Kuznets, artist G. Semiradskyi, composer M. Lysenko. Among the professors of the University were the founder of physical chemistry N. Beketov, matematician V. Steklov, biochemist A. Danilevskyi, philologists A. Potebnya and I. Sreznevskyi. In the 20th century the Nobel Prize (Physics) winner L. Landau worked here. Among the Presidents of the University were the famous Ukrainian writer P. Hulak-Artemovskyi, the most prominent historian of Slobozhanshchyna D. Bahaley. Among University professors were many well-known Polish, German, British and Italian scholars and scientists, such as Alexander Mitskievich, brother of the famous Polish poet Adam Mitskievich, German philosopher I. Schad and others.

The emergence of the Kharkiv literary school in the first half of the 19th century is also connected with the University.Due to it Kharkiv of that time became a major cultural center of Ukraine. Kharkivite H. 

Kvitka-Osnovyanenko - one of the founders of the Ukrainian prosaic literature and national theatre, ethnographer and historian of Slobozhanshchyna - greatly contributed to the cultural development of his native town. The street bearing his name runs parallel to Universytetska Street. The monument to this writer and statesman was also erected there. At that time a virtual constellation of well-known poets, writers, scientists, historians, ethnographers, specialist in Slavic studies, such as P. Hulak-Artemovskyi, Ya. Shoholev, L. Borovikovskyi, N. Kostomarov, I. Sreznevskyi, A. Metlinskyi, lived and worked in Kharkiv.

Across from the Governor’s House, built in the style of late Baroque, there used to be another University building (25, Universytetska Street). It was built in 1831 by the design of Ye. Vasiliev as an example of austere classical forms. It housed the domestic Church of Saint Anthony, an assembly hall, an observatory and a library.

The elegance and sophistication of the former Governor’s House architecture is in contrast here with the laconic

six-column ionic portico with the pediment raised on the broad stairs. The columns stand out vividly against the background of the shadowy loggia, and the walls devoid of decoration emphasize the grandeur of the entrance to the temple of knowledge and science.

The choir singing in the church was the best in town. It comprised both professors and students. The church was decorated with the icons painted by V. Borovikovskyi and A. Venetsianov, as well as by amateur painters from the faculty. Though the church was a domestic one, meant for the needs of the University, it was favored by parishioners from different parts of the town.

The building, reconstructed after the World War II by the design of architect O. Okulich-Karazin, nowadays houses Kharkiv’s Yunost (Youth) Ukrainian Cultural Center (a former duplex Yunost cinema) and the stacks of the University library.

To the north the building is flanked with the Central Scientific Library of Karazin Kharkiv National University (1903) and the City Archives (1906), and to the south - with the former University Law School, nowadays the Ukrainian Engineering and Pedagogical Academy (# 27, 1909). A proper functional execution of these buildings, erected by the design of architect V. Velichko in a slightly modernized classical style, allows using them today as they were initially intended.
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Dormition Cathedral with a belfry
Dormition Cathedral with a belfry
Historical center. Here begin city…
Historical center. Here begin cit…
Bell tower of the Assumption Cathe…
Bell tower of the Assumption Cath…
On the banks of the Lopan river
On the banks of the Lopan river
Ukrainian Engineering and Pedagogi…
Ukrainian Engineering and Pedagog…
Ukrainian cultural center «Yunost…
Ukrainian cultural center «Yunos…
photo by: viktosha