Before the time of the Kyivan Rus, Obolon’ was the home of the Eastern Polans. Then during the time of Kyivan Rus and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania the land belonged to the Principality of Kyiv, and often became a battlefield as the princes fought with nomads. At the time of the Cossack Hetmanate, under Khmelnytsky and under Mazepa, Obolon’ belonged to the Kyiv Regiment. Obolon’s pastures and hay meadows were often the subject of arguments between the Cossacks, the city magistrate, monasteries and the garrison of the Tsardom of Moscovia. At one time this area was also the haunt of smugglers. In the early 19th century, military camps were situated here, and almost a century later, the aerodrome of the Kyiv Aeronautics Society was opened. Obolon’ has a chequered history. But in 1967, the redevelopment of Obolon’ began with rather more purpose when a comprehensive plan was approved by the Soviet government.
Accordingly, residential areas were to be constructed on the wetlands on both sides of the Dnieper. Hydraulic fill technology was employed to create sandbanks 4-5 m above the water level. In 1972-1980, the biggest housing estate in Kyiv was built here comprising 9 & 16 story towerblocks. Obolon’ is isolated from other parts of the city by the bays and lakes of the Dnieper river. There are six Obolonsky lakes – the Jordan (Lower), Kyryllivske (Upper), Andriivske (Bogatyrske), Opechen (Lugove), Ptashyne (Avian) and Minsk – together they originally formed Lake Opechen’. They were separated into six during the hydraulic filling process. Springs at the bottom of the lakes keeps the water clear and clean, and locals love to relax here on hot summer days. Older residents still remember the beavers who lived here not so long ago; and verdant banks with many nesting birds creates the illusion of an intact nature area. Today, you would never guess the scale of the reconstruction that took place. Lake Verbne however, also popular among Obolonians, was never a natural feature. It is entirely man-made. In recent years, the area has become even more attractive. Natalka Park (formerly Kyivan Rus Park) on the Dnieper slopes now has a completely new look. There are viewing decks, three wonderful gazebos looking over the river, imaginative flower beds – one in the form of a tortoise, an artificial football field, a small training complex and many other interesting features. This place has become a favorite recreation area not just for Obolon’ residents – Kyivans flock here from all over. One of the most unusual objects, pointed out by tour guides is “Object No. 1” (also called the “Submarine” or the “Trumpet”). This is really a strange object, a section of the Northern Tunnel of the Stalin Metro – the so-called “Obolon’ caisson” (17 meters high, 52 meters long). They planned to bury it 30 m underground depth but never got round to it for some reason, so the Submarine remains on the surface – a peculiar sight. Finally, this is the home of Obolon beer, one of the most famous Ukrainian breweries. Try one. Or two!
This article was published in the book Interesting Kyiv.
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© Sky Horse Publishing House (Kyiv) / Nahs Haus, 2019
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