The material finds of ancient civilizations in the territory of present-day Kirovograd region date back to the 5 th-3 rd millennia B.C. (Trypillia culture), 7 th-4 th centuries B.C. (Scythian period), and the 1 st millennium A. D. (old Slavs). It is not worth dwelling upon this period so we move to the mid-16 th century when the Cossacks began to build in this land (which officially belonged to Poland under the Lublin union, and to Zaporozhian Sich in fact) first winter quarters. First settlers engaged in grain-growing, cattle-breeding, fishing and hunting. The households of Cossack families gradually increased in size. More than once Zaporozhian Cossacks had to defend the southern borders of their unofficial possessions against Turkish and Tatar inroads. After the Turks were defeated in the war of 1735-1739, this territory was joined to the Russian Empire, and in 1754 the construction of St. Elizabeth fortress began. This year is considered the date of the city’s foundation. The construction was carried out under the supervision of the Serbian General Ivan Khorvat-Kurtytsia. A Serbian was involved due to the fact that a few years before many Serbians had settled here escaping the Turkish oppression. Thus a frontier settlement near the fortress became an important center of New Serbia (administrative center – c. Novomyrhorod). Later it was named Elizavetgrad and united round itself southern (Kherson) military settlements. In the latter half of the 19 th century the district town, linked with the major industrial centers of the Empire by railway, witnessed the development of industry – brothers Elvorti founded machine-building workshops, which later turned into powerful enterprises specializing in agricultural machines production. As a matter of fact today sowing-machines and combine harvesters made in “Chervona Zirka” plant are much in demand among Ukrainian agricultural farms.
Kirovograd is notable for the Ukrainian culture as the cradle of the national theater. The cohort of Ukrainian luminaries such as M. Kropyvnytsy, M.Starytsky, I. Karpenko-Karyi, M.Sadovsky, P.Saksa-hansky and other famous artists set out from here to the great theatrical world. In 1882 the first Ukrainian professional company under M.Starytsky staged “Natalka-Poltavka”in the local theater; the party of the beauty Natalka was excellently performed by M.Zankovetska. A year later the company moved to another building, which is a theater today as well.
Today the center of the agrarian land produces a pleasant impression on the visitor: the hospitable provinces without bustle, but, at the same time, without irritating drowse. It’s better to start a trip around the city from the ramparts of St. Elizabeth Fortress (Usha-kov St.). To get to the historical place you should cross the Ingul River from Karl Marx Street, and turn right after the bridge, round “Tourist” hotel. The outstanding military commanders P. Rumi-antsev, A. Suvorov and M. Kutuzov contributed to strengthening the earth fortification so it became one of the most perfect frontier strongholds of the Russian Empire that managed to withstand the siege of Khan Krim-Girei during the Russian-Turkish war of 1768-1774. Later the frontier was moved to the south and the fortress lost its significance. Today the remains of the earth fortifications on the high bank of the Ingula River are decorated with cast-iron cannons near which newlyweds like to be photographed. A nice park has been laid out nearby.
The city’s name was changed several times. The first one, Elizavetgrad – in honor of St. Elizabeth -gave rise to negative emotions after the revolution of 1917; the following ones – Zinovievsk (1924-1934, in honor of the Bolshevik G. Zinoviev) and Kirove (1934-1939, in honor of another Bolshevik – S. Kirov) were not delightful both in the period of Stalinism (both Bolsheviks were killed by the regime and, naturally, today. Nowadays the city uses the name, which is symbiosis of the first and third names.
From the fortress you should turn to the center. Before the bridge there is the old building of circuit court (1865). Below, near the bridge towers up the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Holy Virgin (74 Karl Marx St.) – the former Greek church (1805-1812), the main temple of the Greek settlers in the 19 th century. Mural paintings restored in 1898 can be of certain interest. Behind the church, in Pushkin Street, there is the building of the horse-post station (40/9 Pushkin St.), which has survived to our time. In August 1824 Aleksandr Pushkin put up at this building, and a few months later, another disgraced poet, Adam Mickiewicz, stayed there as well. If you drive/walk from the station to the left by Tobilevych Street you will get to the memorial estate of Ivan Karpenko-Karyi, a well-known playwright and theatrical figure. lvan Karpovych and his family resided there until they moved to “Nadia” farmstead.
Englishmen Thomas and Robert Elvorti brought to Elizavetgrad not only factory equipment, but… football as well! The factory-owners brought uniform and balls for the football clubthey created. First football matches between the factory and local gymnasium teams took place in 1909. The factory team dominated, and, perhaps, not only because the invariable referee of the matches was the factory’s manager Jungman Elvorti…
Our trip goes on across the Ingul River. Beyond the bridge on the left there is a building, modernist style, which is occu-I )ied by the regional Art Museum. The museum collection contains paintings by prominent artists such as I. Shishkin, P. Svedomsky, A. Savrasov, V. Makovsky. The museum’s pride is a hunting gonfalon of the 17 th century made by an unknown author.
On the right of Bohdan Khmelnytsky Square, in Preobrazhenksa Street, there is the Transfiguration Church (22 Preobrazhenska St.), an architectural monument of the 18 th century. After the wooden Church of the Trinity (17 th-19 th cent.) was dismantled, the Transfiguration Church became the main temple of the city. In Soviet times it was used as a picture gallery; today it is a functioning church.
Walking further to the intersection with Kropyvnytsky Street and turning right you get to the memorial estate of Marko Lukych Kropyvnytsky, an outstanding Ukrainian playwright, producer, and actor. Cultural workers of Ukraine and luminaries of the national theater gathered in this building, and the first Ukrainian theatrical company was created there…
O.Osmiorkin memorial art museum is situated at the intersection of Kropyvnytsky and Lenin streets. It is an effective and richly decorated building. The museum exhibition contains works by the well-known painter of the 19 th-20 th centuries, photographs, documents, household utensils.
All museums of the city are located in buildings which have been registered as architectural monuments. The Museum of Local Lore is no exception. In 1929 it was placed in a nice building raised in modernist style in 1883. The city’s oldest museum, it was founded by the teacher of the zemstvo nonclassical secondary school V.Yastrebov. The museum collection contains paleontologic and archaeological finds, ethnographic articles, a collection of arms, and personal belongings of V.Vynnychenko, a prominent politician, writer and public figure. In Gogol Street there is Karol Szimanowski Museum of
Musical Culture. The well-known Polish composer (opera “The King Roger,” ballet “The Robbers”) was born in 1882 near Elizavetgrad and lived in the city for 22 years. He was one of the founders of the “Young Poland in Music” society. Nearby there is Henry Neigauz People’s Museum (1888-1964, 3 Dzerzhynsky St.), museum named after the famous pianist, professor of Kyiv conservatoire, cousin of K.Szimanowski.
Architectural monuments of the 19 th century near Kovalivsky park are the last objects of our short excursion. In place of present-day intersection of Lenin and Ordzhonikidze streets there was located the headquarters of the reserve cavalry corps more than one and a half centuries ago. A military school, palace and staff buildings, and riding-house have been preserved to our time. On the opposite side of Lenin Street under No. 4 there is M. Kropyvnytsky Music and Drama Theater. Plays by classics of Ukrainian dramatic art have been put on its stage for 125 years.
Many famous names are linked with Kirovograd region, but a few people know that the chief ideologist of the “permanent” revolution, competitor of J. Stalin on the world political arena, Lev Trotsky (L.D. Bronshtein), was born in the vicinity of Elizavetgrad in 1879. Another unexpected fact is that in the mid-19th century Andrey Dostoyevsky, the younger brother of Feo-dor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky, was the chief architect of the city. He tried to give Elizavetgrad features of a European city state – pavements, sidewalks, exquisite structures. First impression of the city (not at all pleasant) can be found in the memoirs of the architect.