Huge woodlands begin to the north of Kyiv. They represent the major part of the Brovary district, which in this direction borders upon the capital of Ukraine. Its area comprises 1,188 km2, which makes 4.2% of Kyiv region area. The lands of Brovary allow the tourist to have a good rest as well as familiarize themselves with centuries – old history of this land, which in the old times was called Sivers’kyi. The past that carries away, the present that fills one with pride and the future that inspires with hope – this is what constitutes its true glory!
Since the ancient times the powerful people lived in those woods. Illia Muromets’ (buried at Kyiv Caves Monastery) fought against Solovii-Rozbiinyk (Nightingale-the-Robber) in the oak forest not far from Zazym’ia, although he was not a robber but a Sivers’k Prince, who protected homeland and his faith from foreigners. Those who wish can even now see the oak, which could have housed an ‘ambush’ of the legendary Solovii. Each villager in Zazym’ia knows how to find this glorious tree in the forest! The anticipated burial place of their famous countryman is defined as well – until the 60’s of the last century the burial mound rose next to the same village close to the lake Styhlo; its remainder can still be seen.
The natural border is formed in the western part of Brovary district by the Desna river and its meadows. Now these are favorite recreation places for the local inhabitants as well as the residents of the capital, numerous Ukrainian visitors, and tourists from all over the world. The waters of the Desna are rich in iodine and that is why the suntan on the river beaches has beautiful dark brown coloring, which is more characteristic of the sea suntan. The well — known purity of the Desna water results from the absence of polluted industry in the river basin. The air that is filled with birds’ songs, sun, fragrance of willows, unique aroma of diverse herbs and flowers at the meadow — this is the air of the Desna, unique and unforgettable! The current of the Desna is fast, it also has a wavy bed, and that is why those who prefer such kind of rest like to paddle there.
Some long time ago, approximately twelve-ten thousand years B. C. a glacier used to be at the sites of present-day villages of Rozhny, Litky, Sobolivka. When the ice melted it created a big lake called Urut with islets. They rose upon the water and one can see them even now because the modern relief of these lands is quite flat. The Sivertsy used to live on those safe islands: to fish, hunt, and develop their handicrafts… With time the lake developed into a river, and the villages grew on its banks at the site of the islets. The traces of «islet culture* are many and convincing: discoveries of the flint stone, belonging to those hunters of Tundra, who hunted the reindeer; Neolitic Age earthenware, which is six-seven years old; remains of the stone hammers…
Vasyl Onoprienko lives in the village of Sobolivka at 21 Ostrovs’kyi Street. He devoted his life to research the historical past of his homeland. Vasyl will be happy to show you the landscapes that are worth your attention, tell you about the way of life and traditions of the ancient «islanders*, and will teach you how to notice and find the smallest evidence of their existence. It isonly necessary to come to the village of Sobolivka of Brovary district, and the most interesting tour in the open air will make your holiday an unforgettable as well as an instructive one!
Sobolivka is situated 35 km from the district center and it is worth coming this way in order to see these glorious historical places, have a swim in the Desna (if you make this trip in summer), watch the sun setting down over the meadows, and breathe this unique air.
«Ukrainian land between the rivers» — this is the way one can call the part of Ukraine between the rivers of Desna, Dniper, and Trubezh. As early as the mid-first century A.D. the Roman historical sources called the lands within the Kyiv-Chernihiv-Pereiaslav triangle «the Origins of the Rus» of the whole eastern — Slavic ethnos. For over a thousand years the land of the largest ancient Slavic tribes used to be their ancestral land. Since the tenth century the Kyiv Prince had begun to exert more influence over the Sivers’k peoples in the Brovary lands. Under Prince Volodymyr the Great the towns were built along the Desna, Oster, Trubezh. «Noble men», invited from foreign countries, settled there. And notwithstanding that Pechenihs and Polovets were regular visitors to those places, settlements of courageous Brovary were spreading over the lands between the Desna and Trubezh. During 1239 — 1240 the Batu hordes drew near. Legend has it that population of the ancient Rus’ towns in Semipolky and Pukhivtsi put up a desperate and courageous fight but they could not resist the attackers. After a short-term rule of different Tartar vassals the land was handed over to Prince Roman Brians’kyi. And since 1362 Kyiv Prince Volodymyr, son of Ol’herd, handed these lands to Prince Yurii Polovets’. The Prince built his residence on the hills near Rozhny and took the name of Prince Polovets’-Rozhynovs’kyi. The first written records of Rozhny, Svityl’ne, and Litky also date back to that time.
In the early seventeenth century the Polonization began, and at the same time the former monastery possessions had been restored. In contrast to that the local population joined the rebellious detachments of Kosyns’kyi, Nalyvayko, Taras Triasylo in order to fight for their original rights, they also took part in the Cossacks’ campaigns of Hetman Petro Sahaidachnyi together with local leaders Ivan Sulyma, Nosach, Aksak, Pozhynovs’kyi. These activities culminated in an uprising led by Yakov Ostrianytsia in 1638.
With the beginning of Khmel’nyts’kyi movement the Cossacks’ companies were established in Hoholiv, Brovary, Zavorychy. As a part of Kyiv regiment they took part in the struggle against Lithuanian troops near Loev. After conclusion of the Pereiaslav Agreement the Brovary lands had been generously presented to Russian voevodes and generals: Trubets’ki, Vol’s’ki, Deviery, Kantakuzeny, Lopukhiny, Heraskovy.
In 1786 the serfdom was instituted and the Brovary lands had been passed to the «treasury» as well as into the hands of the St-Petersburg grandees Khovans’ky — Alferievy, Trepovy.
Under the Ukrainian Het’man State the lands of Brovary were under administrative control of Kyiv regiment, and after the final subjection of Ukraine by the Russian empire — to Kyiv region, during 1807 — 1917 — to Oster district of the Chernihiv province. In 1937 Brovary became the center of Brovary district. In the 30’s the total collectivization of the district had begun, which lasted until 1934. In many cases it turned into a forced one. So called «extremes» in the land ownership policy in agricultural regions led the Ukrainian people to a terrible disaster — the famine of 1933. In those times as well as later on, during the pre-war mass repressions hundreds of thousands of inhabitants of Ukraine died. Not far from Brovary, in the 19th quarter of the Bykivnia forest there is a monument, which holds the memory of those terrible and dreadful events in Ukraine during 1930—1950. The monument features a person in a wadded jacket, a typical garment for the prisoner under the Soviet Union. It is located on the right — hand side of the road that leads from Kyiv to Brovary, close to the place, where illegally repressed prisoners have been buried. The exact number of the buried people is unknown, but taking into consideration those earthen hills, which formed over the graves, there are 120 000 or more of them. Old local residents still remember those times, when at night the trucks with their lights off would bring the bodies of those executed by shooting in Kyiv, and the escorts would bury them in an offhand manner. Then the cars would return to Kyiv so that the next time they would bring the next terrible load! In the late 30’s of the last century that «conveyor» worked in the most intensive way, but even in the post-war years the forest in Bykivnia became the grave for many of the tortured.
In the 80’s those in positions of power attempted to start building a railway station at the burial site, but the Ukrainian public opposed those plans. Black iron crosses, granite stones, pine-trees with their trunks tied with blue-and-yellow ribbons, enormous earthen barrows will not let that crime be concealed, so that the same does not happen again! Traditionally the homage to the memory of those that are buried in Bykivnia forest is paid in May. On 16 May 2004 the meeting-requiem in Bykivnia was attended by many: people’s deputies led by Viktor Yuschenko, members of the Memorial All-Ukrainian Society and Ukrainian citizens gathered at the tragic site. The scale of the repressions struck Zbigniew Brzezinski, the former Advisor to the U.S. President as he took part in that event. He asked if any of the involved in that crime has been punished. And when he heard that the Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine refuses to instigate criminal proceedings based on the fact that those people have only been carrying out the criminal orders, he claimed that that was not in line with the International Law, since at the Nuremberg Tribunal against the Fascist bosses, those, who executed criminal orders, had been convicted as well!
There is a village with a loud name in the district — Peremoha (Victory). It was razed to the ground during the Second World War. Its inhabitants lived in earth – houses for a long time, even though the battles were over. Now the village has put on a prestigious look, and its proximity to the capital makes it a comfortable place to live for those who work in Kyiv. The writer Volodymyr Yavorivs’kyi settled in it as well, there is a little pond close by, and the poplars rustle in the wind. Unbending character of the «victorous» inhabitants inspires all those, who took roots in that land. Even the tree that for a number of times was struck with lighting (and it always strikes the tallest tree) demonstrates endurance as if justifying the correctness of the name of the village!
New economic environment makes the villagers take new and unusual crafts. For instance, there appeared a cement shop in Skybyn. Their quite simple, though strong fences are popular with many customers. The owners of country houses are also interested in statues that look like ancient marble figures. The lions by the shop, made from concrete, follow with their eyes the cars that pass by along the Kyiv – Chernihiv highway.
It could have been possible to finish the trip across the Brovary lands, but for those, who like to rest in rural areas having the most modern city conveniences, a visit to the old village of Kniazhychi is a must. Kniazhyi Dvir (Prince’s Yard) recreation complex is situated there. Cozy pavilions close to the water, dance floor, swimming-pool with heated water, exquisite food and exotic cocktails, sauna, Jacuzzi, comfortable hotel rooms — and it is only 15 km from the capital of Ukraine! Low prices and good service compensate the fuel costs. The rest at the hotel will help you get the true pleasure. Kniazhyi Dvir is looking forward to seeing you!