The glorious city of Vasylkiv was founded in 988 by the grand prince Vladimir, and named after the Christian prince Vasyliy. Later, in the 16 th century, the initial name “Vasyliv” was changed for “Vasylkiv” in honor of the then owner of the city, prince Vasylko. The first Christian temple, the Church of the Transfiguration, was built here under the prince Vladimir in memory of his miraculous rescue after the defeat in a battle with the Petchenegs. The fortification on the Stuhna River fulfilled its defensive function until the Tatars destroyed it in 1240. After that the small settlement almost did not develop in course of some 300 years,. An important role in the life of Vasylkiv was played by Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra (from the latter half of the 16 th century the city belonged to the famous monastery of the caves). Gradually the lands were populated, the fortifications restored, handicrafts revived, trade became brisker. In the old days Vasylkiv had a good benefit from its geographical location – it was a city through which ran the Galician trade route. In 1586 the city was granted the Magdeburg Law. During the national-liberation war of 1648-1654 the Cossack hundred of Kyiv regiment was raised here. Before long Vasylkiv, as part of other Ukrainian lands, found itself under the Russian Crown. Starting in the first quarter of the 18 th century a new tide of economic development took place. The city was encircled with earthen ramparts; four watchtowers guarded the entrances. Unfortunately, at that time all structures were built of wood, so apart from earthen fortifications nothing has been preserved to our time, and the oldest architectural monuments date from the 18 th century. One of them is the temple with five cupolas built in 1758 in honor of the founders of the Lavra, Antonius and Theodosius. The famous Lavra architect S.Kovnir was the architect of the structure. According to a legend Theodosius Pechersky was born in Vasylkiv. For a long time there even existed the cave of the esteemed saint. The Church of St. Nicholas (1792) is yet another stone sacral structure.
The next epoch in the history of the city is linked with the activities of the Decembrists. The leaders of the Vasylkiv board of the Southern Society of Decembrists, S. Muraviov-Apostol and M.Bestuzhev-Riumin, inspired companies of the Chernihiv regiment to an uprising against the tsarist autocracy. As is well known the uprising was stifled, and the Decembrists paid a high price for it – some of them were dishonored, others, exiled, or even executed…
Time went by, the economic status of the city was increasingly growing – manufactories came into being, the ways of communication improved. However, the movement of history does not recognize monotony, so storms over the city raged again and again – the revolution, famine, the war – being later replaced by the development of artistic crafts, museums and construction again.
To get to Vasylkiv you should follow route E 95 leading to Hlevakha, then, keeping to the left, follow direction signs. It is better to start a tour of the city from visiting the Church of the Nativity of the Virgin (1859) located at the end of Dekabrystiv St. on the left side (if you arrive from the direction of Kyiv). Here, on the old post road, once stood a chapel for travelers. Having seen the wooden church proceed to the center of the city. At the intersection with Shevchenko St., on the left, there is the Church of St. Nicholas in whose yard stands the chapel “Life-giving Spring.” Another chapel with a spring is to be found 50 meters beside, in Trudova St. They say this water has healing power, and that St. Theodosius himself discovered this spring. Farther, on the hill in Soborna St., rises high the Ukrainian baroque cathedral. It is worth becoming acquainted with one of the finest examples of Ukrainian sacral architecture, as well as entering and looking at the stylish interior of the Church of SS. Antonius and Theodosius.
Moving down Soborna St. towards the Stuhna River, you will get to a spacious square with several monuments. A stele of rosy granite reminds one of the Decembrists. A two-storied red-washed building is opposite the stele. It was built in 1817 as an administrative building. In 1825 it housed the headquarters of the Chernihiv regiment. After the uprising was put down, the leaders of the Southern Society were kept in detention In one of its rooms. At a corner of Soborna Square there is the former synagogue ornamented with a fine decor.
At the intersection of Soborna and Volodymyrska streets there is an original monument to Taras Schevchenko. The poet is represented as a lively and interested interlocutor, rather than a traditionally canonical image of “the conscience of nation.”
On the first floor of the building in 2 Volodymyrska St. there is a wonderful exhibition of ceramics executed by students of M. Denysenko art studio.