In spite of the modern rate of life managed to preserve its unique historical face, combining the calm of a provincial city with a multitude of prominent historical buildings. A city of more than 800-year-old history, it was mentioned in chronicles under the names of Nezhatyn and Unenezh. It survived the Tatar-Mongol invasion, from the 14 th century it was part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and then of the Chernihiv-Siversky
province of Muscovy. In the first quarter of the 17th century it was under the Polish rule. In 1625 Nizhyn obtained the Magdeburg Law. From 1648 to 1657 the Nizhyn Cossack regiment was quartered in the city. In June 1663 Nizhyn was the scene of the famous “Black Council”in which the Ukrainian and Zaporozhian Cossacks took part. More than 40 thousand Cossacks elected new hetman -Ivan Briukhovetsky, and his competitors – Colonels V.Zolotarenko and Ya. Somko – were killed.
St. Nicholas’Cathedral (1658-1668,16Ya. Batiuk St.) was built in early Ukrainian baroque on money of the Cossack family of I. and V.Zolotarenko. As the “Chronicle of the Eye-Witness” testifies, this temple became the center of dramatic events related to the abovemen-tioned “Black Council.”On being elected, the pro-Moscow hetman together with his army took an oath of allegiance there. The architecture of the temple testifies to its exceptional significance. Inside the cathedral, on either side of the main entrance, there are special places for the regimental officers. The temple burned and was reconstructed more than once, and from 1920 to 1939 it was used as a warehouse. In 1990, after restoration, it was passed on to believers.
In the 17 th-18th centuries Nizhyn was a city where at th e noisy market one could meet merchants from all over the world. The city’s economic upsurge was to a large extent due to the Greek colonists who, on receiving privileges from Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky, settled in the vicinity of the castle. Owing to its enterprise and privileges this community shook the pagoda-tree. From 1696 there were already the brotherhood and a school there, and the Greek self-governing city council (1785,21 Ye. Hrebinka St.). The building of the council has survived to our time. The Greek community formed in Nizhyn a new street which until recently was called Greek St. (now Yevhen Hrebinka St.)
A walk along Gogol and Yavorsky streets, among the former merchant houses adjoining the old market, enables one to feel the characteristic color of the city.
The Greeks adorned Nizhyn with numerous temples. The St. Michael’s Church (1780 s, 32 Ye. Hrebinka St.). whose style is close to classicism, has a vault resting on a post located in the center. Greek motifs within the interior can be seen in the western part of the church, and in the decoration of the galleries, which are supported by the coupled Ionic columns. It is considered that by its architectural form the church is close to the temples of Bu-kovyna and the Balkans. Unfortunately, its bell tower, once the highest structure in the city, has not survived.
The Church of All Saints (second half of 1805, arch. A. Kartashevskv, Ye. Hrebinka St.) and the Trinity Church located nearby (1733) evince the Greeks’ activity in town. The latter temple was reconstructed at the close of the 19th century as a single-domed church after the widespread type of churches in Ukraine. It was given features of neo-classicism and acquired a high bell tower with a spire and exquisite internal decoration. Now it is a museum.
On completing construction work after the project of architect G. Ustinov, metropolitan Stephan Yavorsky (on whose money the transformations. There were built a stone wall, the building of cloistral cells, and there were opened a school for girls, hotel for pilgrims, and an icon-painting studio.
Since olden times nuns were able in embroidering in gold, and served the sacristy of the higher clergy of Chernihiv. Besides, well-to-do parents ordered in the convent dowries for their daughters.
In 1936 Soviet power closed the convent. Only in 1998 it began to slowly revive.
In 1805 Prince Oleksandr Andriyovych Bezborodko, fulfilling the will of his late brother Illia Andriyovych, began to build a Gymnasium of higher sciences in Nizhyn. The construction site was chosen at the Bezborodkos’ estate. The main educational building (2 Kropivyanskv St., now it is one of the buildings of N. Gogol Teachers-Training University) was built from 1805 by architecture Academician A. Ruska. Its inauguration took place in 1820. By its status it was equated with a university. The greatest changes in the original appearance of the building were brought about during repairs and reconstructions in 1836, caused by a previous fire. Among the graduating students of the establishment there were N.Gogol, Ye. Hrebinka, L.HIibov, 0. Lazarevsky In the central public garden (N.Gogol St.), among the age-old cast-iron lanterns with chains, stands an interesting monument to N.Gogol built in 1881 after the project of P.Zabila. The local students of local lore say that the monument has a secret, because the sculptor hid his own portrait in the folds of the poet’s clothes. Going round the monument on the left, you will see a human profile.
The temple of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross is situated in the outskirts of Nizhyn (46 VozdvvzhenskaSt.). It is related to the name of Petro Rozumovsky, relative of Ukrainian Hetman, Kyryl Rozumovsky. In 1753, on obtaining colonelcy, Petro Rozumovsky was sent to Nizhyn to command a regiment. A year later he married the daughter of a Pereyaslav colonel – Pelaheya. During the
Russian-Turkish war of 1768 the Cossacks under the command of P. Rozumovsky took part in the campaign of Bessarabiya. When he died his widow donated money for the construction of a stone temple in which she later buried her husband. In Soviet times the church was used as the city motion picture distribution department. In the early 1990 s it was passed on to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
The rich history of Nizhyn is well elucidated by the materials of the Nizhyn Museum of Local lore whose collection numbers over 20 thousand valuable exhibits of the 18 th-20th.