The first mention of Chernihiv in the annals of history dates back to 864, so in addition to beer there are countless sites and stories to draw the tourists in. From the Middle Ages, turf warfare between the rulers of Kievan Rus, the Cossacks battling the Mongol Empire’s Golden Horde, the Red Army liberating the city from the Nazis and later gaining independence from Soviets, is cast in the stones of Chernihiv’s architecture. The city’s must-see list follows.
Getting To Know Chernihiv
The name Chernihiv is likely to originate from the name of local king Chorniy, whose daughter, according to legend, jumped from the window of the fortress to avoid being enslaved by the king’s enemies. Others say Chernihiv might mean Chorniy Lis (Black Forest), as the city is surrounded by dense forest. Despite its long history and the fact it received Magdeburg Rights in 1623, the city is relatively young, with the status of “city” bestowed on Chernihiv only in 1932. Today, some 292,000 people call the city home.
Located just 140 kilometres from Kyiv (two to three hours by bus), Chernihiv is an ideal day-trip destination as you can see everything you want quickly and get back home in time for dinner.
In the southern part of the city there is a concentration of old churches. The first to see is the National Architecture Reservation Chernihiv Starodavniy (Perobrazhenska 1). Here tourists can find up to 50 historical structures that saw the city make the list of historic cities of Ukraine in third place in 1946, following Kyiv and Lviv. The best of the architectural ensemble include Spaso-Preobrazhenska Church founded in 1036 by Volodymyr the Great’s son King Mstislav Volodymyrovych, the 12th century Boris and Hleb Cathedral now used as the Museum of History, and the Collegium – the first higher education institution of the Hetman-ruled Left Bank Ukraine constructed in 1700. Chernihiv Starodavniy is also known as Chernihiv Fortress as it was used as a defensive structure from the 7th century. That’s why in addition to the religious structures, various ramparts and ancient military equipment, such as cannons, can be found here.
A little bit further southwest, you’ll find St Catherine Church, built in 1696, to celebrate the heroism the Cossacks and Hetman Yakov Lyzogub showed during an attack on a Turkish fortress on the Azov Sea. The church features the best traits of the so-called Cossack Renaissance architectural style (17–18th centuries), and although it was extensively damaged during World War II, reconstruction has brought it back to life.
Travelling north from here you’ll pass the snow-white building of the Chernihiv Philharmonia and get to Pyatnitska Church (Pyatnitska 1) situated near the vast Red Square. Built at the end of the 12th century, the church was destroyed during World War II and only rebuilt in 1962. Now the church is used as a convent.
From here, we’ll go southwest crossing Red Square up to the Black Grave Burial Mound (at the intersection of Knyazya Chornoho and Tikhaya streets), raised most probably in the 10th century. In the 19th century, archaeologists unearthed two male skeletons there and presume they belong to King Chorniy and one of his relatives.
Further south you’ll get to Yeletskiy Uspenskiy Monastery (Knyazya Chornoho Street), one of the first and richest monasteries of Kievan Rus built in the 12th century. The monastery represents the beautiful Ukrainian Baroque style and occupies a large park-like setting.
Going in the same direction you’ll get to Boldina Hora Park which holds another beautiful Church – the St Elijah Church and the Anthony Caves – a four-level cave complex excavated in the 11th century probably by Anthony Pecherskiy. The priest founded a monastery here. In total, there are 350 metres of tunnels in the caves. In the 17th century, Trinity Cathedral (Tolstoho 90) was built nearby the caves. Near the cathedral, Vvedenska Refectory Church has been standing since 1677. There are two more burial mounds situated in this area: Bezimenniy and Hulbyshche dating back to the 10th century. The size of the swords and armour found in the mounds state the warriors buried here were gigantic; especially considering the average height of a man at that time didn’t exceed 90 –100 centimetres, the warrior found with a sword in his grave had to be at least 215 centimetres tall.
All those churches may lead to you working up a thirst, making the Chernihiv Brewery Desna (Instrumentalna 20) where the famous beer is made, the perfect final destination. Today, the brewery produces nine kinds of Chernigiv beer. While in Chernihiv, you might want to book a tour to the factory to see how the beer is made. For more information call the brewery’s hotline 0 -800 -504- 0050.
Get to Chernihiv from Kyiv...
» by car – it’s 149km on the M01 and will take approximately 2 hours
» by bus – a bus leaves from metros Chernihivska and Vokzalna every hour
» by train – there’s a “passing train” (054K) that goes from Kyiv – St Petersburg, which will take approxiamtely 2 hours and 30 minutes. Or the direct variant (880L) Kyiv – Chernihiv, takes 3 hours and 30 minutes
by Vadym Mishkoriz