Chernihiv (Chernigov) is a small and charming city not to be missed around 3 hours from Kiev by train. First mentioned in the Rus’-Byzantine Treaty of 907 it is over 1,000 years old and is the site of several very beautiful and historical monasteries and cathedrals and it its own set of Orthodox caves (Antoniy caves) with the relics.
Once one of the most important cities of Kiev-Rus the Lonely Planet remarks that it is hard to imagine that was the case. I disagree.. The plethora of beautiful churches albeit in a small city speak of a beautiful historical place.
Where I am in agreement with the Lonely Planet that Chernihiv is more a relaxing city. And in my opinion that is a good thing.
The city It has been razed (twice) by Crimean khan Meñli I Giray in 1492 and 1497 and has in various time in its history passed into the hands of the Lithuanians, Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth and the Grand duchy of Moscow.
However one gets the impression, and influence of a small but beautiful Ukrainian city. In contrast to Lviv where the influence of other countries is more strongly evident.
I had read about the city from The Bradt guide (which incidentally I like), however it was woefully short of practical information regarding Chernihiv. There are no maps at all. However it is not a place to be missed
Approaching on the train the beautiful golden domes of the churches can be seen amongst the country side.
On the train I made a new friend Dmitri (Check) who spoke very good English. He also helped me to get a reasonable price from the taxi as I arrived.
The oldest church is St Saviour’s cathedral of 1030 and it is, like other churches of Chernihiv, a place well worth seeing.
In Chernihiv I was fortunate to stay by Oksana and her kind family.
I was in Chernihiv for 5 days and it seemed far too short both through their kindness, that of my other friends and the lovely city itself. While by Oksana I met some kind Belarusians who also stayed for a day.
Alex and I went to some places in the morning. Including the obligatory Soviet war memorials and the Antoniy caves. Inside the caves (near the entrance) visitors stood in one of the porches in order to receive good energy, swapping places in a circle
I then met my wonderful friends Alina and Olga, Alina being a penfriend of mine. They took me to many places in Chernihiv. One of the nicest places was a view of the river Desna.
Like elsewhere in Ukraine, the Jews in Chernihiv suffered greatly in the Nazi occupation. In 1897 there were 11,000 Jews out of a population 27,006. There is just a fraction of that today.
A very beautiful church is St Catherine church. With wonderful architecture and in the most beautiful surroundings the church is unfortunately featured in a dispute between the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyivan Patriarchate (UOC-KP) which is not recognised by the Eastern Orthodox church as being canonical and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, which has canonical authority.
By government decree, St Catherine’s church is under the control of the Kiev patriarchate and therefore there has been a long standing protest in tents by those in support of the Moscow Patriarchate
I could have stayed in Chernihiv for much longer if I had the time. I have fallen in love with the city. It is a place worth visiting..many times.
Internet cafes or Gambling dens?
Don’t confuse Internet shops which although they have the IE logo, you cannot see inside are not Internet cafes at all. Although the IE logo itself might be a reason worth avoiding in this case of ‘internet cafes’ you can’t see inside they may be illegal gambling places. They exist in Kiev and I suspect in Chernihiv too.