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Bila Krynytsia

Bila Krynytsia is the historical center of Old Belief. It is not easy to realize this trip without a landrover. From the highway Chernivtsi – Suchava a ground road leads there through a number of villages. According to the direction sign near vil. Dubivka we turn from the highway to the right. Before long there will be another direction sign according to which we should turn left toward Vadul-Syret and Cherepkivka. On reaching Cherepkivka don’t miss the turn right near the rural council. On passing through vil. Staryi Vovchynets, beyond the railway crossing and the strip of fields, we reach, at last, our destination.

Bila Krynytsia is the land of Old Believers’ community (also called lypovany). These people, persecuted for their faith in their historical motherland, searched for a shelter in distant lands, and in Bukovyna in particular. Their descendants keep to the traditional insularity of their mode of life even today. After 1944 atheists managed to get here as well: out of two dozens of temples and other religious structures that existed here before the arrival of Soviet power, only a few remained intact.

At the beginning of the main street there is the wooden parish Church of SS. Cosmas and Damian. According to oral tradition a temple in this place appeared at the close of the 18 the century. After reconstructions and adding annexes in the 19 th century the church acquired its present-day aspect. In Soviet times the Church of SS. Cosmas and Damian remained the only one functioning Old Belief temple in Chernivtsi oblast. The adornment of the temple is its iconostasis with distinctive Old Belief icons.

In the village o f ┬áStary Vovchynets that lies close to Bila Krynytsia, surrounded by a garden and fenced off by a wall, there is the Assumption Cathedral. No doubt it is one of the most beautiful memorials of religious architecture in Bukovyna. It was built as a church of Bila Krynytsia convent, which appeared in the mid-19 th century. Its founders – the well-to-do merchant family of Gleb and Olga Ovsiannikov- raised the temple in memory of their tragically perished son, making a donation of half a million rubles in gold. The portraits of the benefactors can be seen on the wall inside the temple. The corner stone of the cathedral was laid in 1900. Construction work was carried out after the project of the Austrian architect Klik, under the supervision of the engineer Kuznetsov and contractor Triapkin who came from Moscow. Practically all building half-finished products and materials were made in Russia and then delivered to the construction site. People say that even two wagons of Russian soil were brought here. The iconostases were cut of oak in Vladimir The icons were made in part by Moscow masters of the latter half of the 19 th century, and in part at Palekh studios in the early 20 th century. The famous artist Vasnetsov was supposed to paint the interior, he even had prepared sketches, but the outbreak of World War I frustrated the plan.

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