The ancient town of Skvyra, the center of Skvyra district, has spread itself out at a crossroads. This is one of the most ancient towns in Ukraine, and its roots disappear in the past centuries. The first documented record of Skvyra is found in the official document of the Lithuanian Prince Volodymyr, son of Olherd, in 1390. However, the achievements of archeology and linguistics in the recent years allow assuming that Skvyra appeared a lot earlier. The linguists trace the origins of this name back to the middle first century A. D.
It is known that in the eleventh century the great Prince Yaroslav the Wise was building Yahniatyn segment of the Serpent rampart in Porossia, which also passes through the Skvyra district. It is obvious that even in those times Skvyra existed as a fortress. In general our chronicle provides evidence that Tugorkan-Khan of the Polovets owned those lands in the eleventh century. The Tale of the Bygone Years notes that in 1094 Kyiv Prince Sviatopolk married the Khan’s daughter to establish a truce. He received Skvyra lands in Porossia as a dowry, and later they have been handed down to his ances-tors. The town with its suburbs was for the first time separated as a town district of the ancient Rus’ as a watch outpost on the far avenues of approach on the south-east of Kyiv.
The notion «Skvyrschyna» had different meanings in different times because of the changes in the administrative division of Ukraine and a history of the town itself, which experienced the periods of rapid development as well as great destruction and decline. In the last quarter of the fourteenth century in the southern districts of Kyiv principality there formed new territorial entities-counties, which included several districts. Their establishment resulted from the necessity to centralize control for a more effective rebuff of regular Tatar raids. Skvyra becomes the center of a big county that included Trylisy, Fastiv and a number of other districts. However, in the fourteenth-sixteenth century the town looses its administrative functions because of repeated devastations during Tatar raids, and they were taken over by other centers.
In the early nineteenth century, not so long ago, as many other county towns in the Right-bank Ukriane Skvyra was a typical Jewish place with Ukrainians, Jews, and Poles peacefully living together. In 1615 Skvyra was granted liberties, its population was exempt from all taxes and obligations. Certainly those privileges attracted resettlers. In the early sixteenth century the town was granted the Magdeburg right, which enhanced an active development of crafts and trade that used to be the main occupation for the Jews. Polish and Jewish population was allowed to settle in the central privileged part of the town, where they developed their trade. Two brick-yards as well as four tobacco factories were functioning. The brothers Meshengisser opened a printing shop. Quite big shops of Rakhunkov, Kharyton, Doitzker, Oksyngendler, Bendytovych, and Rozvadovs’kyi began to work.
The Jews paid much attention to education. There were two Jewish schools with over 400 students in Skvyra.
There were seven synagogs, trading places, crafts and artisan workshops in the center of the town. The rabbis Tvers’kyi and Yampols’kyi had great authority. The stratum of intelligence was increasing among the Jewish population: doctors, attorneys, employees, teachers, and clergymen.
The town of Skvyra is the birthplace of the famous Jewish writer Isaak Babel. The Pole by name Herts became a famous pianist. Skvyra was also famous for its spiritual leader and wonder-maker Davyd Tvers’kyi.
The brightest event in the history of the Jewish population of Skvyra is doubtless the rise of the town of New-Skvyra on the world map. The following event preceded its establishment. In 1917 almost a thousand of Jews from Skvyra moved to America, they settled 40 kilometers from New York and established the town New Skvyra there. The immigrants were very devout, Haseadean by their religion, and their rabbi was Meer Tvers’kyi. The town has 13,000 inhabitants, Jews. These are Jews that practice the Haseadean religion. The rabbi, who is the grandson of Skvyra spiritual leader, the rabbi Meer Tvers’kyi, controls the life in the town.
Since 1989 the Haseadean delegations from New Skvyra repreatedly made pilgrimages to the Ukrainian town. At the expense of New Skvyra rabbi the old synagogue as a sacred place was restored. Besides, a new synagogue, a hotel and a dining facility for 400 visitors, as well as the house for the rabbi are being built. New Skvyra funds the building project. On the American part the representative of New Skvyra rabbi manages the project, and in Ukraine — it is Itshak Aizman and the main rabbi of Kyiv and Ukraine Yakiv Blaikh, the president of the Union of the Jewish Religious Organizations in Ukraine.
The Skvyra lands gave Ukraine the prominent literature and art figures, which made their land famous in the world.
Maksym Rul’s’kyi began his work here — a prominent Ukrainian poet, translator, public figure, academician. There is a memorial plaque on a building on Karl Marx Street, which used to house the gardening department of the county office, and later — a kindergarten. The plaque says that the famous Ukrainian poet M.T. Ryl’s’kyi had been living and working here during the first pre – revolutionary years.
The name of the famous figure in our culture, history, archeology, and museum life, Professor Karl Bolsunovs’kyi, came back from oblivion. His creative heritage includes over 30 serious scientific works. Together with Vikentii Khvoiko he was on the archeological expedition near the village of Trypillia in Obukhiv district.
Literary and artistic activities of such famous creators as Taras Shevchenko, Maria Staryts’ka, Nataliia Romanovych-Tkachenko, Dniprova Chaika, poet Leonid Kulish, dramatist Mykola Zarudnyi, painter V. F. Kondratiuk, is connected with Skvyra district.
The town of Skvyra has many interesting and historically unique buildings. A quiet and slow life pace of a district center allows carefully looking at it. In our assessment, one of the best is the two-story building of a county office, built by Kyiv construction firm of Hromov in the modern style. The building currently houses a Vlakos-Premier garment factory.
The construction of the post office building started in the beginning of the nineteenth century. It is connected with many prominent figures, which passed Skvyra and stayed in the building of the rural post office. In late September 1846 T. H. Shevchenko visited Skvyra and there is a plaque on the building of an old post office, commemorating this fact.
Well-planned private residences decorate not only the streets but also the town in general. In the early twentieth century an imposing structure with the dome — like roof grew up. It was built at the intersection of the Krasna and Ruzhyns’ka streets by the noble man and a millionaire Petro Suvchyns’kyi bases on the design by famous architect O. Kobelev in 1909. The men’s gymnasia was located here. Suvchyns’kyi sponsored the purchase of perfect equipment for the physics and chemistry classrooms, a separate classroom of natural history with stuffed animals and birds, and a rich collection of insects, brought from all over the world, a large library, copies of sculpture portraits of ancient thinkers and mythology characters. Nowadays a new type of an educational institution functions in the former gymnasia — Skvyra Multi-discipline Lyceum, which has a museum.
The building of the secondary school JYal (I—III level) was built in 1836 and is an interesting one. In the past it housed the jail of the Skvyra county.
The buildings of treasury, the County Nobility Council, and the palaces of the local noblemen were located on the former Dvorians’ka (Nobility) Street.
There are three museums in Akvyra district: Regional Studies Museum — in the town of Skvyra, museum of H. D. Koshova — in the village of Velykopolovets’ke, the Folk Regional Studies museum -in the village of Shamraivka. By the way, near this village the mounds and the remains of a Kieval Rus’ settlement (eleventh – thirteenth centuries) were found.
There is the Saint Trymifuns’kyi-the-Thaumaturge church in the village, built in 1843.
The young and energetic authorities, inspired by the European society models of decent living standards, make the modern history of the town. The new buildings are being constructed side by side with the old ones, and they do not ruin what was achieved, as well as preserve the best. The new buildings organically blend with modern reality. This equally concerns the public order as well as building activities.
In order to understand the way, in which similar problems are solved, it is necessary to visit the village of Buky, situated on the Rostavytsia river twelve kilometers from Skvyra. The ancient settlement of Bakozhyn existed at the site of Buky; and the first writen record of it goes back to 1622. Since the eighteenth century the name Bakozhyn disappears from the written sources and the modern name «Buky» appears. Trypillia and Cherniakhiv culture settlements, a township and a big burial ground, all of them belonging to the Kievan Rus’ times, have been found near the village. The ancient Rus’ sites date back to the twelfth-thirteenth centuries. It is necessary to mention the operating stone mill of 1848 among these interesting architectural sites of the first half of the nineteenth century, which remain to our time.
A modern recreational center appeared at this picturesque place, and similar facilities in the big cities can envy its architecture and equipment. The river turns the hydrogenerator shafts the same way as it used to move millstones in the past. An environmentally friendly solution to the electricity supply problem was found. The big fountain in the lake center attracts the swans, which feel as if they were masters of the lake. The local climate, which is more characteristic of the southern regions, is favorable for the abundance of plants. That is why the air is filled with fragrance of cypresses, rhododendrons, juniper, which are many in the local dendropark… The granites that spread under the local chernozems, surfaced near the river and the resourceful builders used them as the foundation for St Evhen church. The church that combines historical Ukrainian architectural traditions and modern ones animated Buky extremely. Such a beauty is not easily found, do check it for yourself! A hotel and restaurant in the complex provide the tourist with a comfortable rest.
The private children’s development house, called «Seven», is worth attention as well. It was opened in 2001. Twenty two boys and girls are being brought up here. Such type of a facility must be the first one to appear in a modern Ukrainian village. The children have an opportunity to admire local landscapes, observe the natural change of seasons, compare and analyze natural marks, live in harmony with the native land…
Such transformations of the village of Buky took place thanks to the sponsorship of the Skvyka Agrarian and Industrial Corporation and the local businessman I. M. Suslov. «Ukraine is not yet dead, nor its glory and freedom», these words of our national anthem comment such changes the best!