The Mariinskyi Park
The history of Mariinskyi Park.
This colourful Kyiv palace on the right bank of the Dnieper is next to the Ukrainian Parliament building. It was built by order of Empress Elizabeth Petrovna in 1744. This baroque structure was designed by Bartolomeo Rastrelli, the most famous architect in Russia, in the Elizabethan era. It is symbolic that it was painted in the colours of the Ukrainian flag but no one in those days made a big deal of it. One of the students of Rastrelli, Ivan Michurin with a group of other architects, completed the project in 1752. However, Elizabeth herself never found the time to visit. The first Royal person to do so was Catherine II, who visited Kyiv during her trip to the south in 1787. Her beloved Prince Potemkin tried to persuade her to move the capital of the empire to Kyiv but he failed to do so. At the turn of the 18th-19th centuries the palace with its stone ground floor and wooden first floor was the residence of governor-generals of Kyiv province. After a series of unfortunate fires the palace was a wreck. Only in 1870 did the Emperor Alexander II order it to be restored to its original design. The renovated palace, now completely built in stone took its name from Alexander’s wife, the Empress Maria, and ever since has been known as the Mariinskyi Palace. By order of the Empress in 1874 and under the control of scientist and gardener Anton Nedzelskyi, a park was laid out on the Dnieper hills opposite. It was in the English landscape style, which can be described as “well manicured nature”.
The park was renamed often: Tsarist, Mariinskyi, Victims of the Revolution, Proletarian and Soviet, but the native Kyivans only ever called it the Mariinskyi. The park is famous for its shady paths and a variety of tree species – not only traditional maples, lindens, chestnuts, oaks, acacia, but also ginkgo, Japanese sophora, Ayilant, Amur velvet and many other rare species. Early in the 20th century, a magnificent lilac garden was planted. In addition to lush flowerbeds and marble sculptures, the park was decorated with Termen fountains (architect Alexander Schiele), very popular in Kyiv. After the revolution, the park changed drastically and in 1930 the Alexander Church was demolished. After the war a monument to General Vatutin, who died in 1944, appeared in its place. The viewing area near the palace affords a magnificent view of the Dnieper
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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