Kherson Region is the youngest region in southern Ukraine, formed in 1944 in the low waters of the Dnipro River. Pry-chornomorska Lowland, where the region is situated, is a plain slightly tilted southward about 100 meters above sea level. The region is divided into two parts by the Dnipro valley, where in 1958 the largest Dnipro water reserve called Kakhovka was created. The region is a monotonous landscape of the steppe, interspersed by long sand beaches and the blue surfaces of the Black and Azov seas.
The first settlements in the region date back to the late Paleolithic era (around 20,000 years ago). This steppe was inhabited by the Persian-speaking Scythian tribes in the 7th — 2th c.c. BC. At the beginning of the new era (1st—3rd c.c. AD) the lands were conquered by the Romans, in the 3rd c. overtaken by the Goths, and later, at the end of the 4th c., by the Huns.
In the 10th c. the area was dominated by the nomadic Pechenegs, and in the first half of the 13th с. the Tatar-Mongol invasion took place. In 14th —15th c.c. for a short time the Grand Duchy of Lithuania controlled the region, until it was defeated by the recently-formed Crimean Khanate.
These large scarcely populated steppes called ‘Wild Field’ became refuge for fugitive serfs, and a unique community emerged, Zaporozke Cossackdom. Military training, strict organization and personal bravery were the basis for the Zaporozka Sich to thrive. Not only were these forces feared by the people of other religions who lived in the neighbouring lands but also the warlords of Western Europe happily used them as mercenaries.
Since the mid-18th c. Russia began a long-lasting campaign to colonize Northern Prychornomorya and Pryazovya, thus Khersonshyna was annexed to the Russian Empire. At the end of the 18th c. new settlers — peasants from the North, foreigners and retired soldiers — founded dozens of towns and villages on this land, and began its economic development. In the Soviet times a well developed irrigation system covered the plains, and it became an important agricultural region in Ukraine.
Few Orthodox edifices, administrative and civic buildings, mansions with outbuildings of the 18th—20th c.c. survived today, with many Soviet monuments remaining.
Kherson, the largest town in the region, is situated on the Dnipro’s right bank. During the 1735—39 Russo-Turkish War the Russian Army founded there the Alexander shanets (earth and paling fortification). Later, in 1778 by decree of Catherine II, the construction of a town with a fortress and a maritime wharf began to be named Kherson after the ancient Chersoneses.
Until now the fragments of ramparts with the Ochakiv Gates (18th c.), gunpowder repository (1791), and central arsenal building (1784) remain. Erect behind the ramparts is one of the oldest churches in town the 1787 St. Catherine Cathedral and the belfry (1806). The Cathedral was built on the eve of the 1787 — 91 Russo-Turkish War, and after the war the necropolis of the perished army commanders was raised around the Cathedral. Among other survived edifices of the time stand out the 1780 Greek-Sophia temple and the mansion of admiral D. Senyavin.
Kherson became the cradle of the Russian Black Sea fleet. Along with the construction of the fortress the wharfs, vessel repair shops, warehouses, etc. were built. In 1779 — 83 the construction of the first big 66-cannon ship began, and was followed by the construction of frigates Kherson, Krym and others.
With annexation of new lands of the Southern Prychornomorya by the Russian Empire, and the foundation of new port towns of Mykolayiv (1789) and Odesa (1794), it turned out that Kherson’s waters are not capable of harbouring large sea ships. In the 1790s the Admiralty was moved to Mykolayiv, and the population of Kherson shrank by the factor of 10.
Kherson was saved from the imminent decay by the assigning to it the status of ‘centre of a large guberniya’ in 1803. The war ships were still built there, and in 1806 a new commerce ship wharf began to operate, producing around 25 ships a year. The heritage of 19th c. in Kherson is a number of religious edifices such as the 1836 Holy Spirit Cathedral, the 1819 Mykolayiv Temple, the 1896 library and private residencies.
Novaya Kakhovka on the Dnipro’s left bank owes its birth to the construction of the 1950 Kakhovka hyrjropower plant. Waters of this largest water reserve are consumed by towns, villages and agricultural farms of Khersonschyna, neighbouring regions and the Crimea. Near the Eastern rim of the Oleshkivsky Sands in the delta of the Dnipro, preserved are some edifices of the Korsunsky Monastery (18th —19th c.c.): eastern-northern tower, walls, central and western gates, dining hall (1804), remnants of the Dmitri temple (1802), and others.
The town of Beryslav, the 15th -c. customs of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, is situated on the right bank of the Kakhovka Water Reserve. In the 16th c. the fortress Kizi-Kirmen of the Crimean Khanate was put up here. Beryslav was founded on the ruins of the fortress in 1784, when this land became part of the Russian empire. Its oldest edifice is the 1726 wooden Vvedenska Church (50 years older than Beryslav itself).
Tiahynka village lies at the neck of a small same-name river. In the 15th c. a fortress of Tyahyn stood here, where the 1492 fight between the Cossacks and the Turks took place, which is often deemed the first battle of the Zaporozka Sich. The new Tiahynka was founded in 1978, when peasants from the Northern guberniyas of the Russian Empire and the discharged soldiers settled there. On a tall rampart of the fortress destroyed in the 18th c. rises the 1992 Cossack Pride monument put up on the 500th anniversary of the Dnipro Cossackdom.
Askaniya-Nova is the oldest biosphere national park, which from the mid-19th c. until its nationalization by the Soviet rule it was the residency of landowners the Faltz-Feins. A series of reorganizations of the place includes the foundation of the 1930 Steppe Institute, and in 1985 it obtained the status of the National park and was allocated the area of 333.08 sq. km. On its 100th anniversary in 1998 the park was named after its founder Friderich Faltz-Fein, who in 1874 built the first large open-air cages for birds and local animals, 15 years later Askaniya-Nova was turned into a Zoo. In 1887 the Askaniya dendrology park was created, which was awarded the gold medal at the World Fair in Paris (1899) as the first ever artificially irrigated park in a drought-ridden steppe.