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

City guide
  Metropolitan's Residence (National University)  
  Webcams  

Square of the Holy Cross

The former square of the Holy Cross was situated at the crossroads of the present streets of Sholom-Aleiknem, Shkilna and Holovna. Here at the end of XVIII century the building of the city by the newly established Austrian power has begun. The square has become, in particular, the first architectural ensemble of Austrian Chernivtsi: the stone Roman catholic church of the Exaltation of the Cross together with administrative buildings – the “General’s house”, guardhouse and neighbouring stone houses – have granted it with attractive and really European look. From that then central square, the streets dispersed into all end of the city, which were built and lengthened along with the growing of Chernivtsi.

The square of the Holy Cross, however, did not hold the status of the main for long – at the beginning of XIX century this role started being taken over by the Market square – the future Central square. Today the former square of the Holy Cross due to the “ship house” and the Roman catholic church of the Exaltation of the Cross is one of the architectural adornments of Chernivtsi.

The first stone house in Chernivtsi has appeared namely at the square of the Holy Cross. It was built for Austrian administration in 1780 – this is the so-called “General’s house”. From the beginning, there were situated the military administration and courthouse; and from 1787 this building, which has been constantly accreted with different annexes, was the seat of county elder and county chancellery, and later – of regional court and other chancellery establishments. In the yard of the “General’s house” the riding school was situated, and in the hall the concerts and shows took place.

At the beginning of October 1823, two of emperors who then owned the half of Europe stayed in the “General’s house”: Austrian emperor Franz I and Russian tsar Alexander I. Their week-long meeting in Chernivtsi was dedicated to elaboration of the common attitude towards the whole series of the urgent issues of European politics.

The Roman catholic church of the Exaltation of the Cross is located on the other side of the square. This is the first stone temple of Chernivtsi centre, which with its high spire has become architectural dominant of the city for a long time. Its construction started in 1787 by the order of Austrian emperor Josef II, who had visited Chernivtsi a year earlier. The emperor himself defined the place for a new stone temple and did not spare money for construction. The building of the church started at once, but it lasted too long – for 27 years! It was unlucky all the time: first, the tower collapsed twice because of miscalculations of the architects, and then it was on fire.

The temple is built in the Jesuit style. Its prototype is the church in Rome. This style determines the pictorial art, sculpture, applied arts of the temple. It has also incorporated a lot of baroque motives. The murals on the walls and the ceiling are filled with stylized floral motives, which symbolize the eternal tree, the tree of life. One can be impressed by the seven Gothic Revival altars, and the organ, which yet in the 70-s of the XIX century has received two medals, in Vienna and in Paris, as the best European organ by the timbre. On the side wall of the holy place the oldest in Western Ukraine sundial has preserved, which had been transferred for keeping to the church by one of Austrian monasteries. It still shows Vienna time today.

Somewhere around the end of the XIX century at the junction of current Sholom-Aleikhem and Holovna streets, the one of the remarkable architectural buildings of the old city has emerged – the “ship house”, which was called by the old-timers a “shifa”. The building with all its appearance actually reminds a ship that looks as though it sails the streets of Chernivtsi. The original architectural solution of the house has facilitated the birth of a romantic city legend, which is told from mouth to mouth by many generations of the citizens.

Allegedly, two brothers lived once: one was entrepreneur in Chernivtsi, and the other – a captain, who sailed the far seas. When the sailor resigned, the overland brother called him back to the home city. The brothers purchased a land plot in the centre of the city and erected a solid house. But since the captain missed the sea, then the house was constructed to resemble the ship: with a narrowed façade, which, like a cutwater, splits the streams of roads, with opened platform on the second floor, which resembles a deck, and with a turret looking like a mast. The fore part of “shifa” was decorated with a small fountain in the form of lion head and a basin bowl, where the townsmen drank water.


Comments

Your Name
Comment
Enter code