A little bit of the history
The most ancient human settlements on the territory of present day Chernihiv region have been known since the Stone Age (nearly 100 000 years ago). Mezin site of primitive people (village Mezin, Korop district of Chernihiv region) is the most outstanding monument of the late Stone Age. First musical instruments and ancient graphical music records have been found there. Now that unusual music is recorded by Chernihiv military orchestra and could be heard in Chernihiv historical museum. The tribes of hunters and fishermen lived on the shore of the Desna river, Snov and Seim.
Centres of Trypillian culture were also found on the territory of Chernihiv region (territories near Yevminka, Lutava, Vypoziv and Oster villages of Kozelts district). Trypillian culture is a late Neolithic archeological culture which flourished between 5500BC and 2750 BC, from the Carpathian Mountains to the Dniester and Dnieper regions in modern - day Romania, Moldova and Ukraine, encompassing the area of more than 35 000 sq.km. Some famous ceramics have been created by the representatives of this culture.
Beginning from the 9th century Chernihiv land was a part of Kyiv Rus, and as a part of it, Chernihiv city had a great economical development. Agriculture and trade were the main parts of economics. Chernihiv was the main city of principality, the borders of which reached the Oka River and the Azov Sea. The population of Chernihiv was over 25 thousands. The city had a mighty fortress. Chernihiv and Novhorod – Siverskyi were frequently mentioned in various documents.
History of the city was connected with the names of Princes Mstyslav Volodymyrovych (1024-1036), Svyataslav Yaroslavych (1054-1073), Volodymyr Monomakh (1076-1077), (1078-1094) as well as Prince Igor Svyatoslavych (1224-1234) and Saint Prince Mykhailo Vsevolodovych (1224-1234).
In October 1239 Chernihiv was being attacked by Tatar-Mongols, who destroyed the city and killed a great number of citizens. The period of glory and might of Chernihiv has been finished. In 1320 it was captured by Poland; in 1340 it was in possession of Kyiv principality. The area fell under the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in 1353. In 1618 Chernihiv became a Polish town according to the agreement between Poland and Moscow. The city was burned again by Crimean khan Meñli I Giray in 1482 and 1497 and in the 15th to 17th centuries it changed hands several times between Lithuania, Muscovy (1408–1420 and from 1503), and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (1618–1648), where it was granted Magdeburg rights in 1623 and in 1635 became a seat of Chernihiv Voivodeship.
The area's importance increased again in the middle of the 17th century during and after the Khmelnytsky Uprising. In the Hetman State Chernihiv was the city of deployment of Chernihiv Cossack regiment (both a military and territorial unit of the time). Time passed and Maloros Gubernia of Russia with the center in Chernihiv was created in 1796. In 1802 it was devided into two parts: Chernihiv and Poltava Guberniyas. According to the census of 1897 there were in the town of Chernihiv about 11,000 Jews in a total population of 27,006.
During the period of 1923-1932 several reforms took place, which resuted in the creation of Chernihiv region on the 15th of October 1932. It borders Kiev Region in the West, Sumy Region in the East and Poltava Region in the South. In the North-West Chernihiv region borders Homel’ Region of Belarus and in the North-East - Bryansk Region of Russia. Like other towns Chernihiv was practically destroyed during the tragical years of the Great Patriotic war. The population of Chernihiv reduced in 2/3 times. The process of restoration of town continued during 1950-s.
There are several legends and hypothesis connected with the origin of the name “Chernihiv”. One version is that the city has got its name because of black and thick forests, which surrounded it during ancient times. Another version is that Chernihiv has been named this way because of prince Cherny.
Coat of Arms
Chernihiv region coat of arms was approved on the 11th of July, 2000. A bicapital eagle with red claws and tongues, golden eyes is depicted on the silver field. It has crowns on both heads and a blue shield on which there is a golden symbol of Mstislav The Brave (1024), who was the founder of Chernihiv. This coat of arms belonged Chernihiv region since 1635. In fact, it was the only and the most ancient heraldic emblem on the whole territory of left-bank Ukraine. The colours of the region flag are very symbolic. Two green stripes are symbols of two geographical zones: Polissya and Forest-Steppe, and a white stripe symbolizes the river Desna, which divides them.
Geographical review and climate
Norther part of Chernihiv region is situated in the forest (20,5 of the total territory of the region) zone and its Southern part lays in the forest-steppe zone. The forest zone has its special name - Polissya. It is one of the largest European areas located in south-western part of the East–European lowland, mainly within Belarus and Ukraine, and partially within Poland and Russia. The name Polissya has Slavic origin and could be translated as “woodland”. The inhabitant of this territory is called “Polishchuk” in the local Ukrainian dialect. Polissya is also known as the region, where the oldest elements of Eastern Slavs ethnography and culture are preserved.
The climate of the region is mild continental with rather warm summers and rather mild winters. Fauna is rich and various. Foxes, badgers, wild boars and many other animals and birds can be found in Chernihiv forests.
The water system of Chernihiv region consists of 1200 rivers; the total length of them is 8000 km. They are situated in the basin of the Dnipro river (Desna river with it’s tributaries). The region is bisected into northern and southern parts by the Desna river, which enters the Dnipro river. There are over 500 lakes and a great number of lakes and reservoirs in the area. Different types of fish live in rivers and lakes: pike, catfish, perch, carp, bream, tench, crucian carp, roach, and others.
The banks of the Desna river are very picturesque. In his book “Charmed Desna“ a famous Ukrainian writer and a filmmaker Olexander Dovzhenko (1894 – 1956) said that waters of the river were merry and sweet. The writer was born in a small village near Sosnitsa town on the bank of the Desna river. A literary-memorial museum of Alexander Dovzhenko was open in 1960 in Sosnitsa.
There are 530 natural reserves and 3 famous sights of landscape architecture (National historical and cultural reserve “Kochanovka, Sokyrynsky Park (Sribnyaysky district) and Trostyanets Dendropark (Ichnyansky district)) on the territory of Chernihiv region. There is also a zoo in the small town Mena. It was founded in 1976 by a local militiaman Hennadiy Polos'mak. About 112 types of different animals live on the territory of 3 hectares. It was the only zoo, situated in the district centre on the territory of the former Soviet Union.
Chernihiv region is rich with minerals. There are deposits of peat, chalk, phosphorites, different kinds of clay, quartz sand, which are very important for industry. Agriculture, gardening and beekeeping are widely spread in the area. Chernihiv region is a supplier of potatoes, sugar, grain and, of course, famous Nizhyn cucumbers.
Chernihiv region is famous for its monuments of architecture and history. More than 200 of them are of the world importance. Among them are: the Cathedral of Our Saviour (11th c.), Boris and Gleb Cathedral (12th c.), St. Anthony’s Caves and St. Iliajh’s Church (11th – 12th c.), the Church of St. Paraskeva Piatnitsa (12th c.) in Chernihiv, Yuri’s Temple (10th c.) in Oster (Korop district).
Chernihiv resembles Kyiv in miniature, but there is no hustle and bustle in it. This regional centre is not big and noisy, it has it’s own calm beauty. The high bank of the Desna River, cathedrals, churches and caves… Myth, mysterious symbols on the capitals of the Orthodox Cathedral… Sometimes, Chernihiv is called Ukrainian Ravenna.
Author: Olexandra Ostryakova
If you've got any questions about Chernihiv, please feel free to contact Olexandra at sasha_ostryakova[at]mail.ru