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Wednesday, 19 January 2022


One day trip > Baturyn and Konotop – the towns of Cossacks’ glory

Palase of Hetman Kyrylo Rozumovskiy, Baturyn Hetman Kyrylo Rozumovskiy The house of the Judge Kochybey, Baturyn

Baturyn is in Chernihiv oblast on the bank of the Seim river. Once it was a powerfull fortress, later — a town that exercised Magdeburg Law rights. 

Baturyn is a residence of Ukrainian hetmans. In the golden age of Hetmanshyna (time, when Ukraine was headed by the hetmans), in 1669-1708, it was the residence of hetmans of Left side of Ukraine: Demyan Mnogogrishniy, Ivan Samoylovych, Ivan Mazepa, and in 1750-1764 the last Ukrainian hetman Kyrylo Razumovsky. 

The capital of four hetmans became eye-witness of many political plots and love and military dramas. Here Ivan Mazepa was mad bout Maria Kochubey and here famous letter of Vasiliy Kochubey to Petro I was written. Then only ruins had been reminding over 300 years about the past glory. 

It was burned down in 1708, but now it rises with its past brilliance. The fortress, Hetman Rozumovsky Palace at the Hetman Fortress, and castle church of Resurrection are reconstructed. Baturyn became one of the most popular tourist centers in Ukraine. Sight-seeing in the town: Hetman Rozumovsky Palace (its architect is Charles Kameron, who built Alexander Palace in Saint-Petersburg; opened on the 22nd of August 2009), the church of Resurrection (burial-vault of Kyrylo Razumovsky), a house of the general judge Kochubey, and modern archeological museum of European pattern. 

Baturyn museums guides are real devotees. 

On the way to Baturyn there is a "Gannina Pustyn" country house (Motronivka khutor)  of famous Ukrainian writer Panteleymon Kulish. His love story and literature work, his wife Anna Barvinok and her brother Vasiliy Belozrskiy (he was journalist, publisher, and member of Brotherhood of Saints Cyril and Methodius) - everything that touches this place made a special sense in biography of the writer. On the 5th of February 1847 he got married to Anna Barvinok in the local Ascension church. By the way, Taras Shevchenko was a boyar on their wedding. When he lived on Motronivka khutor, he developed the idea of the first in Ukraine historical novel "Chorna Rada". Here Kulish had a great garden, here he was dreaming about the ideal farming, and here he translated the works of Pushkin, Bayron, Mickiewicz, Shakespeare, and Heine. Museum of the writer is one of the most modern in Ukraine, it worth visiting to enjoy the coloring of a real Ukrainian province.


Here is some useful information:

  • The city tour is 12 hours tour.
  • Our English, German speaking guides are at your service. All our guides are high qualified licensed tour guides.
  • You can order your private tour any time. We can provide you with transportation service too. There are 2, 5, 17, 22, 30 and 45 pax vehicles in our company. 

Baturyn fortress, Baturyn Baturyn Palace. (L.Lagario painting, 1853) Ivan Mazepa and Matron Kochubey

Natalia Rebrova

Director of the National Historical –
Cultural Reserve “Hetman`s Capital” Natalia REBROVA:


Chernigov land is covered with fame. There are imperishable sacred places and holy legends. Ukrainian nation resurrected reviving them. Among them, disturbing Cruty and monumental Baturin should be mentioned first of all. Baturin is the hetmans` capital, the sacred place of Cossacks, connected with the names of many hetmans: from Demyan Mnogogreshniy to Kirill Razumovskiy. And Ivan Mazepa stands as a separate figure among them. He was a knight of spirit, well-educated person, who knew seven languages, glorified and defamed, covered with mystery and the light of love, which have been shining through centuries. Though Pushkin`s “Poltava” raised walls for us for a long time, preventing from learning real history, the truth made its way through the sand of withholding facts, through “Baturin subways” and reached the descendants.

Many epochs have passed since that time. But these years mean so little for eternity, for those, who, even staying there, in other dimensions, knew that truth was always near people and they would definitely find it. And those nations, whose trampled heroes don`t find response in souls of those, for whom they fell on battle fields, is not going to be happy. And if today we search for Ukrainian shrines and often cannot find them, we should remember thousands of bright personalities, whose names were just erased from Ukrainian history.

The bloody Baturin tragedy has been howling above Ukraine for a long time. Ashes of 14 thousand of innocent murder victims – women, little children and old people, was knocking at our hearts. That is why at the beginning of the 90th Ukrainian patriots breathed new life into the glorified pages of Ukrainian history with their center in Baturin. I remember the second Cossack holiday of this kind, visited by a lot of famous people, who had no fear in their hearts. And I remember timid ones, who decided to watch the forbidden action, despite the taboo. Since such things, hidden in deep corners of our heart, appeal to the memory of generations…

Today time is quite different. The epoch is different. And the 22nd Cossack holiday in Baturin was celebrated officially with ceremonial Cossack marches, exhibitions of folk craftsmen, children`s Cossack hut and Cossacks` plays. And Baturin itself has changed greatly. It is no longer a ruin, it is revived history with the palace of Hetman Razumovskiy, the Citadel, restored churches, Kochubey`s house, monuments, memory…

It demanded much physical and spiritual effort. That it the subject of our conversation with the Director of the National Historical – Cultural reserve “Hetman`s Capital” Natalia REBROVA.

Natalia Borisovna, restored Baturin is just incredible. The eternal monument has been returned to life from the historical ruin of the Soviet epoch of the beginning of the 90th of the last century. The town – museum, no doubt…

— We created touristic routes about Baturin to enable people to see all this with their own eyes. And, without exaggeration, these routes are very good. These words belong not only to us, as the authors of the project, but also to guests of the town. You can choose the longest one “Old Baturin”, for example. It will enable you to get acquainted with the house of the Supreme Judge Vasiliy Kochubey, the monument to victims of Baturin tragedy, Voskresenskaya Church, palace – park ensemble of Kirill Razumovskiy, Goncharovka – the country residence of Ivan Mazepa. There are other routes available: “Architectural monuments of Baturin”, “Golden autumn of Kirill Razumovskiy”, “Hetman Ivan Mazepa”, “Kochubey`s Park”, “Nikolo – Krupitskiy Monastery”, “The House of the Supreme Judge Vasiliy Kochubey”.

— The Palace of Kirill Razumovskiy with its park ensemble is distinguished among them like a diamond, set in gold…

— I`m sure our readers will appreciate a short excursion about the palace. This genuine architectural miracle, which can be called the symbol of Baturin, practically arose from ruins. And the palace returned to life not once, I must say. The first time was when it appeared on architectural drawings of the leading architects of that time Charles Cameron. As known, Kirill Razumovskiy lived the rest of his life in Baturin. And during the last four years before the death of the last Ukrainian hetman his palace was under construction. After he died, the building remained no man`s. His son Andrey lived in Vienna. He had no time to take care of the estate. Gradually the palace declined. It went on till the beginning of the 20th century, when the hetman`s descendant Kamil Razumovskiy came from Vienna and started restoration. The palace was also restored during Soviet years – 60th-80th, but without much result.

— So it still looked like a wonderful ruin from the route…

— Yes, until up-to-date restoration started in 2003. Special resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers on fulfillment of complex program was released. The ex-president of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko took special care not only of restoration of the palace, but also of rebirth of Baturin. Work was carried out till 2009. Meanwhile, we keep in touch with Razumovskiy`s descendants, who still live in Vienna. Their first visit took place in 1998, Alexandr and Maria Razumovskaya visited us. In 2004 Alexandr brought his whole family to Baturin: his son Andrey, his wife Charlotte, his daughter-in-law and her parents. Alexandr`s children Andrey and Tatyana visited Baturin in 2008. By the way, Andrey has incredible resemblance with his ancestor Kirill Razumovskiy. Alexandr`s nephew Grigor has also visited us.

— It is surprising that they all have Slavic names…

— Exceptionally charismatic Alexandr smiled in answer to that once and said: “Henrik Razumovskiy – that would sound ridiculous”. These photos demonstrate opening of the palace, which took place on August 22, 2009. It is interesting that on August 23 there was a long queue of visitors here. About 2 thousand people examined the palace every day. Many museums can attract so many visitors only after a year of functioning.

The rooms of the palace remind of those, which surprise us in the suburbs of St. Petersburg – Pavlovskiye and so on…

— We celebrate Kirill Razumovskiy`s birthday in the family hall of the palace on March 18. There are portraits of the whole big family here – Natalia Rozumikha, her elder son Aleksey, the Empress Elizaveta, Ekaterina Naryshkina – the wife, who gave birth to his eleven children… Grigor Razumovskiy came for the opening with his whole family and brought us the broadsword, which used to belong to Kirill and must have been a present from Elizaveta. Here is Lev Razumovskiy, who became the prototype of Pier Bezukhov in the novel “War and Peace” by Lev Tolstoy.

Does the grand piano in the living-room also belong to Razumovskiy`s family?

— No, it doesn`t, but it was produced by a Vienna company in the 19th century. It was passed on our request by the State service of control over movement of cultural values across Ukrainian border. The grand piano definitely beautified the hall. When conducting excursions, our scientists sit down at the piano and play compositions, in one way or another connected with this famous family.

— It is not easy to create a museum in a palace. How did you manage that?

— We are grateful to many museum workers, who enabled that, since our collections are rather modest. We are especially grateful to Boris Voznitskiy, the General Director of Lvov Art Gallery, the Hero of Ukraine, an obsessed person, who is young in his heart and soul at the age of 84 and strives to help other people. Many very valuable things were passed to us for permanent or contemporary storage by residents of Lvov. Among them there are portraits of Polish kings, the intravital portrait of Ekaterina 2 by Aleksey Antropov. Here is the hall of hetmans. There are portraits – copies of Ukrainian hetmans. Like many other exhibits, they got here due to support of the Head of the Regional State Administration Vladimir Khomenko and the charity fund “Chernigovshina”, headed by the famous historian Alexandr Kovalenko.

Did the palace have its own church?

— You know, there are not so many documents about purpose of the premises left. But we know that there was a chapel in the palace. After considering variants, it was set in the most appropriate hall. All the exhibits were passed to us from Lvov: the icon case, the icon of St. Varvara, the patroness of Baturin from the times of Ivan Mazepa. Her relics were kept in Krupitskiy Monastery of St. Nicholas. That is why the chapel was named after St. Varvara. Filaret himself sanctified it on the day of the opening of the palace. He passed part of the relics to us. Religious services are conducted here from time to time. Some people are willing to be married in this chapel. By the way, Saturdays and Sundays are time of real pilgrimage of brides, both local, from the neighborhood and from Kiev, in the palace. Kind of a wedding boom. So we can organize wedding tourism as well.

There are thousands of roses around the palace and a lot of flowers inside… Beauty and tenderness. They make the palace look not like a museum, but an estate, still inhabited by its owners, don`t they?

— True, the territory around the palace lacked something. We spent almost 50 thousand gryvnas, earned by the reserve, at the rose bushes. And we hit the mark. And we spent the bonus to get pot plants – in 2009 the museum became the museum event of the year and got 15 thousand gryvnas for that. The flowerpots look like they have been “growing” here since past centuries…

What kind of music are we met with?

— Now we are in the Hetman`s hall, which occupies two floors. While developing this project, the developers of “UkrSRIprojectrestoration” paid special attention to decoration of the walls. There is Baturin coat of arms here, repeated fivefold in different places, hetman`s coats of arms. And the wonderful chandeliers are exact copies of those, made according to Cameron’s project and preserved in Pavlovskiy Palace near St. Petersburg. They were manufactured by Ukrainian specialists. As to the music, it is the Fifth Symphony of Beethoven. The brilliant composer devoted it to Andrey Kirillovich Razumovskiy, like the sixth one, by the way…

Here is the study of Kirill Grygoryevich. The table is of that time, but it belonged to the famous beekeeper Petr Prokopovich. And here is the library. The cupboard with folios is even older than the palace. The library is kept here temporarily, till our own is restored. And the books were provided by Chernigov Scientific Library named after Korolenko. We also maintain cooperation with private collectors. We put Meissen Porcelain into this wonderful cupboard. The owner doesn`t mind selling it. It costs 30 thousand gryvnas. And we would be glad if there is a Maecenas, ready to by this beauty for the museum. The small room next door is the “ancestral home”. Kirill Razumovskiy always remembered about his origin. He always kept several things from home with him. The loose overall, in which he was taken to St. Petersburg at the age of 14, is one of them. And this antique hall, decorated as the front dining-room, has very interesting Greek décor, so much adored by Cameron. The wonderful candlesticks on the table used to be in a private collection too, and were kept at our museum temporarily. But Nikolay Rudkovskiy visited us once and bought them as a present for the museum. We are very greatful to him for that. And this portrait of Ivan Mazepa is a work of Kiev artist Andrey Gonchar, the son of Nina Matvienko. When she visited us and sow her son`s creation, she started singing, full of feelings. Excursionists, who were just entering the hall at that moment, were astonished by such a pleasant surprise.

Let`s continue our interview in the small canteen on the third floor, sit on historical furniture, at the old table to feel the spirit of that epoch in this way too.

— So, Natalia Borisovna, when did the reserve start to work as a touristic object?

— In 1994. The determining program was adopted in 2002. But only the biggest optimists believed that it would be realized. Global works were started in 2003. Kochubey`s house was reconstructed in first turn. In 2009 the Archeological Museum was opened by the restored Citadel. Razumovskiy`s palace has been under reconstruction during all these years, as well as the two outhouses. One of them was purposed for guests when Kirill Razumovskiy was still alive (less than 50 people never sat at the hetman`s table, since Kirill Razumovskiy was a very hospitable person). The other one was meant for servants. We plan to open a hotel in one of them now, and the other one is going to be occupied by the administration of the reserve. There is a big conference hall and a library here. Restoration workshops and fund rooms will be placed in the basement. Our Baturin is extremely popular both with painters and writers. I think conferences and different forums can be held here. It would attract more attention to us. But construction of the outhouses has not been finished yet. We need approximately 20 million gryvnas to finish it.

Let`s talk about the palace. There are not many ensembles of this level in Ukraine. The complex is unique, if we don`t consider Crimean ones. These loans, fir trees, thujas, roses… Feels like you suddenly find yourself in St. Petersburg or Europe… Though, wait… Ukrainians are Europeans, famous for their art, their neatness, which is necessary to maintain such beauty in proper condition. In other words, that`s what real Ukraine should be like.

— True, our palace is not a traditional merchant`s estate. It must have imperial scale. It is evident that the ensemble was created for the ruler of the state. All details have been considered here. Even the surrounding landscapes open like in a movie. For example, the famous historian of the 19th century Fedor Gornostyaev writes that he never met such a fantastically successful combination of architecture and landscape.

— I have read that the original of Byron`s poem about Mazepa was passed to you.

— Yes, it happened with assistance of the Minister of Foreign Affairs Vladimir Ogryzko. Our Embassy in Great Britain was in charge of passing this first edition.

— It has been stated in press, that many of our rarities are represented in St. Petersburg now. Menshikov took them with him after Baturin tragedy…

— It is really true. For example, everyone thought that Mazepa`s chancellery had been burnt. But while working at the book “Ivan Mazepa” from the sequel “Life of eminent personalities” in 2004, the doctor of historical sciences, Director of the Museum of Ukrainian History under St. Petersburg University Tatyana Yakovleva – Tairova found Baturin`s archive. That was sensational. We keep in touch with the scientist. She has published one more book – “Ivan Mazepa. The history of “betrayal’ and Russian Empire”. Lady Tatyana writes that she has possessed documents, known neither to Kostomarov or Solovyev. By the way, Tatyana Nikolaevna “was not praised” in Russia for her position as to Mazepa. Since view on Baturin history is traditional there, like at Soviet times…

— Has transmission of originals been considered?

— No, it has not. But in 2008 we were allowed to copy 40 documents from Mazepa`s archive for fee (12 thousand gryvnas)… There are very many things, connected with Baturin, all over the world – In Vienna, Russia, Ukraine. But nobody is going to return them to us.

— 2000 visitors a day – was it the peak?

— Yes, it was. 212 thousand tourists visited Baturin in 2009. We had two presidential events then. 30 thousand have visited us since the beginning of this year. But touristic season is just gaining strength now.

— Is the infrastructure developing too?

— Folk master have “woken up”. We have several souvenir shops here. There is a hotel. Nice cafes have been opened. But that is just the beginning. We have good Moscow route. That` s why we often have guests from Kiev – tourists from the capital get to Baturin in two hours. They come, examine exhibits and are usually astonished, without exaggeration.

— They used to talk about opening of the military lyceum named after Bogun in Baturin.

— That`s right, as far as I know, the first project works were even started. The territory near Baturin on the bank of Seim was chosen. At the end of the 80th of the last century businessmen from Murmansk wanted to build a medical center here. They started some preparation works then. They were supposed to become the base for further construction. I don`t know what is going to happen to that project.

— How was Citadel restored?

— Archeological excavations, carried out by Chernigov Pedagogical University and headed by the famous historian Vladimir Kovalenko, was taken as the base. We have two Voskresenskaya Churches now. One of them is on the territory of Citadel. The other one is nearby. Kirill Razumovskiy built it as the patrimonial burial mound. Why is it near the palace? I think he wanted to be buried next to innocently murdered inhabitants of Baturin. The name “Voskresenskaya” is not occasional. It is in memory of Mazepa.

— And probably of the fact that memory will be revived…It is Trinity Sunday today. The Temple of the Holy Trinity was built in Baturin (at holidays bells rang in 40 churches altogether).

— That was the temple of exceptional beauty. Ivan Mazepa allocated 20 million golden coins for its construction – fantastic sum for that period. Of course, during the notorious events the temple was leveled to the ground. But people kept searching for its location. In 2006 Chernigov archeologists found the foundation on the territory of a private estate… Works were carried out during the following year. Two estates were bought back with assistance of the head of the regional administration Vladimir Khomenko. I must say that when the reserve was being reconstructed, the governor visited Baturin once or twice a week. That was half the battle. Today we are continuing the work. Due to archeologists the foundation of the temple has been brought into sight. When I saw it, I felt like I was taking part in excavations in Ancient Greece… There is a prototype, depicting the “intravital” cathedral, in the museum of archeology. Maybe one day it will rise “alive” in Baturin again.

They say there is another Mazepa`s castle in Goncharovka.

— There are appropriate documents at the museum of archeology. A photo of the palace has been found in Stockholm Museum. The building had three stores. It is described in the chronicle of Samuil Velichko and in recollections of the French Ambassador Jan de Baluz, when he expressed his impression about the meeting with Ivan Mazepa. According to him, the hetman was very well – educated and knew 8 languages. He spoke to doctors in German, to builders – in Italian. There were French newspapers on his table. And there was a great library at the palace, which contained books in Latin…

— He was definitely a charismatic personality. No wonder beautiful Motrya fell in love with him.

— Yes, Ivan Mazepa had amazing charisma. It is kind of a miracle. Like Pilyp Orlyk said he could attract anybody to his side. As to restoration of the archeological masterpieces in Baturin, built by him, we hope we will have work in future. Now we are reequipping the exposition of Kochubey`s House. We are also working at creation of the museum “Treasury” in Citadel. The National Bank has passed a very good and expensive collection to us. The exposition is almost ready. Then we will reequip the Hetman`s house in Citadel. We have a problem with exhibits here.

— Have subways been preserved?

— Underground communications were built by Poles, who started to build the fortress of Baturin. It is just a legend that they spread from Baturin to Kiev and that three horses could gallop there. Land often sinks in Baturin. General Brandenbauer documented one of such gaps in the 19th century. Personally I remember two gaps. In 2002 a truck rode and the concrete road collapsed to the depth of 7 meters after it. A well opened. Voskresenskaya Church was being built in 2008. Not on piles, like other constructions. The crypt, where remains of the people, found during the excavation, were buried is situated under the church. A subway opened in the concrete filling after a cloudburst. And some time later it was restored – 64 meters from the Seim River. Inhabitants of Donetsk, miners helped us to build the subway. The whole Ukraine helped us. Residents of Dnepropetrovsk financed construction the Hetman`s house, residents of Rovno – the treasury and the well in Citadel. People from Lvov built the wooden Voskresenskaya Church.

— Has Baturin been revived due to the reserve?

— No doubt. Gas lines have been laid in the town. Water supply system has been renewed completely. The number of work places has increased. 103 employees are involved only in the reserve. There were 16 of us, when I headed it in 2002. I was the only resident of Baturin during all the five years of studying on the pedagogical faculty of Chernigov Pedagogical University. Now our children choose the profession of a historian willingly, because they see a perspective. And young people make 80% of our team.

— Tell about some legends, connected with the palace.

— There is a scary mystical one. According to it, the palace was not restored, since devildom gather here for their sabbath… But we restored the palace, consecrated it and the aura of the buildings turned out exceptional. Girls from our team got married and went on maternity leaves one by one. So, people have quite a different opinion now – those, who cannot have children for a long time, should work at the palace for a while. So this is the kind story of the new time.

— Natalia Borisovna, how does it fell to be the hostess of such a big complex, the reserve?

— I have been working here since 1997. The task of reviving history is very captivating. While restoration was carried out, I had no free time at all, neither at night, nor at daytime. But now we are in blossom, in a true and figurative sense…

— It must take not one gardener to maintain such order on the territory.

— Naturally. Along with one thousand roses, we have 13 thousand box trees, 140 lime trees, 140 fir trees, five hectares of loans. Three persons take care of all these. And we all have a day of community work every week. We have a park by Kochubey`s house, the yard of Citadel, a square with a monument. Considering the heat, we water several hours on end every evening. There is also the apiary of Prokopovich by Kochubey`s house, an apple garden.

— Are you happy on this position?

— You know, my job contract is coming to an end in May. If it hadn`t been not prolonged, I can`t imagine how I would feel, I must confess. I have been here since the very beginning of restoration of the reserve. Sometimes, I had serious difficulties, but I never wanted to give it up. 90% of our team is obsessed with work. That is why we always wanted to overcome all difficulties and show the world what we Ukrainians are worth. That is why Baturin is the symbol of the nation, without exaggeration.

The interview was conducted by Lyudmila PARKHOMENKO, journalist.

Photos by Nikolay TISHENKO.

Media Center of “Prime Excursion Bureau”

June 2011

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Baturyn and Konotop – the towns of Cossacks’ glory


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