Chernivtsi - city guide: sightseeing, guided tours and trips to Bukovina

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About the city

The City of Chernivtsi is a regional centre with the population of over 250 thousand, situated at the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains in Ukraine. Built on the hills of the picturesque valley of the Prut River, it attracts with its wonderful landscapes, memorials of ancient multinational culture and charming atmosphere of old streets and squares. Wandering along these streets you feel European influences as well as the uniqueness of this unfathomable city, once called a ship of pleasures with multinational crew and passengers on board, which under sails of tolerance is conidently sailing between East and West.

There are many manifestations of modernity here – in the renovated squares and streets, lickering of evening illuminations, lows of cars. But the spirit of slow bygones in Chernivtsi is not to be destroyed by blessings of civilization. As beauty of once pearl of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and now regional centre with unique architecture, numerous tourist attractions, immortal atmosphere of tolerance lies exactly in solicitous combination of antiquity and modern.

It is a very good idea to visit this city. A warm welcome and good level of service will meet you here. Qualified guides will help you dip into the specific atmosphere of once-upon-a-time border-town of Habsburg Empire, founded on the ground of different religious and cultural traditions and glorified by famous poets and artists.PDF Guide


History

The history of the city Chernivtsi takes its start from the Chern fortress, which has probably arisen in the middle of XII century (1153), on the left bank of Prut river for guarding the trade Berlad way, which led from lower Podunavya to Halych. This city is mentioned among the others in the “List of distal and proximal Rus cities” as the Chern on Prut. Maybe, this name had originated from the black oaken walls of the fortress, laid with black soil. Apparently, the name of Chernivtsi city has as well originated from the word Chern.

In the middle of XIII century (1259) this fortress had been destroyed on demand of Mongol governor Burundai, and the inhabitants have moved to the right bank of Prut River, where they founded a new settlement in the area of modern Sahaidachny and Barbyus streets.

From the middle of XIV century, the land has joined the newly established Moldavian principality. On October 8, 1408, Chernivtsi was mentioned in historical documents for the first time – in the charter of Moldavian gospodar Oleksandr Dobry (Alexander the Good) “Establishment of taxes”. The town served as a customs post at that time, through which the trade route connecting Lviv with Northern and Western Black Sea region passed. From 1457 Chernivtsi have become the centre of a county. In 1538 the town as a part of Moldavian principality has fallen under the supremacy of the Osman Empire.

The population of Chernivtsi in the second half of XVIII century has composed of the Orthodox and the Jews, who dwelled in 200 huts. There were three orthodox churches in the town: of Assumption of the Virgin, of St. Nicholas, of St. Paraskeva, built of wood. The wooden synagogue was active in the town, and the Jews were living in their own community.

After the Russian-Turkish war of 1768-1774, the Austrian troops were sent to the northern lands of Moldova, which have occupied Chernivtsi too. In 1774 the town along with Bukovina has joined the Austria-Hungary Empire. The “Habsburg” period of its history (until November 1918) was exactly the time when Chernivtsi has obtained its image of pro-European town with a distinctive for Austria-Hungary type of architecture and town infrastructure. In this most remote city to the east of the empire, a cosmopolite and multiethnic composition of population has formed. The climate of “Habsburg” Chernivtsi was being created by various religion and culture traditions of Ukrainians, Romanians, Poles, Jews and Germans (the German influence was especially strong).

From the middle of XIX century, when the city has been connected by a railroad with Lviv and Iasi, Chernivtsi has become a border junction centre. The trains were carrying timber, sugar, livestock, wool, salt to North and South, East and West. The commodity exchange, chamber of trade and crafts, post office, telegraph, Bukovinian savings bank and branches of foreign banks were opened in the city. The European capital has come to Chernivtsi, the construction boom has started: new streets laid and paved, water supply and sewerage built. On October 4, 1875 by the decree of emperor of Austria-Hungary Franz Josef the university has been opened. The launch of the first tram in 1897 has become a great day for all Chernivtsi townsmen.

In the years of World War I, Chernivtsi have fallen into the centre of military operations, the result of which was the change of authority in the city three times in the years of war, and only on August 3, 1917, the authority of Austrian emperor has been finally restored. As a result of defeat in the war, the collapse of Austria-Hungary has started, and on October 27 the leaders of Romanian community have adopted the resolution on unification of Bukovina with other Romanian lands, and on November 3, 1918 the Ukrainians of Bukovina have adopted the decision on creation of Western-Ukrainian state and have wished for “attachment of the Ukrainian part of Austrian land to Ukraine”. On November 11, 1918 Chernivtsi were occupied by Romanian troops, and on December 30, 1918 the King of Romania Ferdinand I has signed a law decree on the unification of Bukovina and Romania.

On June 28, 1940, according to Nazi-Soviet pact of Molotov-Ribbentrop, Northern Bukovina along with Chernivtsi has passed from Romania to Soviet Ukraine. According to this pact, nearly the whole ethnic German population has been repatriated from Chernivtsi, which has caused irreparable damage to the local multiethnic flavour. On August 2, 1940, the Chernivtsi region has been established as a part of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialistic Republic.

In the years of World War II during the German occupation of 1941-1944, the Romanian authority has returned to Chernivtsi. The war did not cause the significant destruction for the city: several buildings were destroyed on the Central Square and Poshtova street, the Temple was set on fire. On March 29, 1944, the Soviet authority has returned to the city.

After obtaining the independence by Ukraine in 1991, the city gradually restores its old urbanistic flavour and returns to historical roots.


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