The capital of Cherkassy region is the city of Cherkassy, its population is about 300 thousand. There are several explanations of the name, and one of them says that in many historical documents of the XVI-XVII centuries the two words "cherkassy" and "cossacks" had the same meaning "free horsemen". And really - the whole history of the town is inseparable from the history of Ukrainian Cossacks.
For the first time the name of Cherkassy was found under the date of 1394 when it was already a well protected fortress on the territory subordinated to Lithuania. In the XV-XVI centuries the role of Cherkassy as a protecting stronghold against tartars and Turks greatly increased. Its castle that stood on the place of the Glory Hill was one of the strongest in this area. In the mid-XVII century the town became the central fort of the Cherkassy Cossack regiment and many important historical events took place here during the period of the liberation war of the Ukrainians against the Polish oppression in 1648-1654.
After the Russian-Polish war in 1667 Cherkassy again fell under the Polish rule, and from 1686 for 25 years it was announced as "no man's" land where nobody could settle as a new-comer. In 1711 the Poles again possessed the town till the end of the XVIII c. In 1795 Cherkassy became part of Russian Empire.
At the beginning of the XIX c. the town grew along the river and it was often flooded in spring time. In 1815 the first general plan of the town was proposed to the citizens. In the first half of the XX c. Cherkassy looked like typical small provincial town.
During the WWII the town suffered sever damages especially when the Soviet troops took the offensive trying to cross the Dnieper and to liberate the right bank of the river that had been turned by the Germans into a strongly fortified defence line.
Not so much buildings of old style with interesting architectural elements one can find now in the city. In 1954 Cherkassy became the centre of a newly formed administrative region of Ukraine. It gave a new impact for its development. The life of the city was greatly influenced by the construction of an artificial lake for Kremenchug hydro-power station in the 1950-ies. The lower part of the city was covered with water and what was before on the hills looks now as rather flat land. Within the last 40 years the population of Cherkassy increased four times.
What are the first impressions of the city and what are its main highlights ?
Cherkassy impresses everybody with pleasant wide boulevards and scenic river vistas, most its central walkways are lined with chestnut trees. Not far from the central square is an elegant building of local Music and Drama Theatre. House of Books is worth to be visited not only because of the book collection but because of its interesting interior decoration in the best Ukrainian traditions. One must visit the Museum of local lore that houses 12,000 exhibits. Here you can find many interesting items about the heroic past of Cherkassy, among them the Diorama of an old town and its fortress. Among the attractions of the city there are the Cherkassy Art Museum, Monument to the legendary Old Rus bard Boyan in the 700th Anniversary of Cherkassy Square.
The history of Cherkassy is closely connected with the names of two great Ukrainians - Bogdan Khmelnitsky and Taras Shevchenko. The monuments to them are real masterpieces of art.
Everybody visiting Cherkassy can't miss a visit of the Glory Hill with a an impressive Motherland monument The monument honours the men and women who lost their lives defending the city from the Nazi invasion. Their names are inscribed on a wall below the hill. The sight from the hill includes a majestic view of the river and the lovely Valley of Roses along the river.
Not far is the Church of the Holy Trinity. There is also a Roman-Catholic chapel. On August13, 2002, the biggest in Ukraine Orthodox St. Archangel Michael's Cathedral that can house 12,000 people was unveiled. Not numerous but strong Jewish community is very active in the cultural life of the city.
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