The Kirovohrad Region, established in 1939 out of the periphery areas of the Dnipropetrovsk, Kyiv, Mykolayiv, Odcsa, and Poltava regions of the Ukrainian SSR, is located almost in the centre of the Ukrainian Shield rich in minerals.
The territory of the region occupies the lands between the Dnipro and the Southern (Pivdennyy) Buh, a part of the Dnipro Upland. It is an elevated gently sloping valley with lots of forests, cut from the North to the South by the well-shaped valleys of the Dripro, Southern Buh, Inhul, Inhulets, Syniukha and Synytsia rivers. Their random tributaries (rivulets, gullies and ravines) cover the map of the region with a lace of valleys, which brings a playful variety to the unpretentious landscapes of the Kirovohrad province.
The earliest human settlements on the territory of the province date back to the Lower Paleolithic era (over 20,000 years ago). In the Princely times, only a small part of the Dnipro valley region was inhabited. In the late 12th c., the fortress town of Krylov was founded in the estuary of the Tiasmyn River, but in 1240 it was destroyed by the Batu Khan Hordes to rise again only in the 16th c. and to become the site of almost constant confrontation of Poland, Muscovy and local Cossacks.
At the end of Middle Ages the territory of the present-day Kirovohrad region was the Right-bank extension of the Wild Field (Dyke Pole), a neutral zone controlled by neither the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, nor by Tatars and Turks, nor by the Tsardom of Muscovy. The Right-bank part of the Dyke Pole started to be intensively settled down only in the mid-18th c. After the 1735 — 39 Russo-Turkish war, the Russian Empire attempting to defend its new Southern borders set up the first fortresses of New Serbia (northern part of the present-day Kirovohrad region), initiated in 1751 by Serbs. New Serbia corresponded to a 30-kilometer buffer zone stretching for 200 km along the border with Poland (from the Dnipro River to the Syniukha River). During the 1768—74 Russo-Turkish War the Russian Empire conquered the lower reaches of the Dnipro and the Southern Buh River; therefore, New Serbia lost its military importance as a borderland.
Peaceful life encouraged the arrival of new settlers and relatively rapid economic development of the region. In the 1810s, the establishment of military settlements in the South of Russia began again, and Yelizavethrad became the centre of the Southern military settlements for several decades.
The Kirovohrad province has the heritage of military and civil administrative buildings of the last two centuries as well as few mainly Orthodox temples of the 18th—20th c.c.
Kirovohrad, the main city of the region, was founded in 1754 as the Fort of St. Elizabeth on the high right bank of the Inhul River. The fortification played an important role in Russia’s effort to colonize the Black Sea coast. During the 1768—74 Russo-Turkish War it was besieged by the Crimean Khan Qirim Girey in 1769, but he failed to capture it. In 1784 the fort received the status of the chief town of a district and was renamed as Yelizavetgrad. Now the only reminders about the fortress are the relics of the ground ramparts and cast-iron canons on granite gun-carriages. In 1829, the city becomes the centre of military settlements in the South of the Russian Empire and the headquarters of the reserve cavalry corps. The city still has the 1848 complex of military-administrative buildings. The most interesting remnants of the past in the present-day Kirovohrad are the administrative and residential buildings of the 19th — early 20th c.c.
Yelizavetgrad still has the building where the first Ukrainian professional theatre company founded by Marko Kropyvnytsky performed in 1869—83. An array of religious buildings among others includes the 1812 Greek Church, reminding of a large colony of Greek migrants to Yelizavetgrad, the 1819 Saviour-Transfiguration Cathedral, and the 1875 St. Intercession Church near the military headquarters, designed for the servicemen, and the 1853 synagogue, keeping the memory of the former large city’s Judaic community.
The Soviet times brought to the city new monuments and a new name. First, in 1924 it was renamed Zinovyevsk — after Zinovyev, one of the Russian Communist Party leaders, in 1934, the city was called after S. Kirov, another Communist Party leader.
The city of Novomyrhorod, on the steep slopes of the wide valley of the Big Ros River, appeared in 1740, when migrants from the outskirts of Myrhorod of the Poltava guberniya originated the settlement. It was the very place where in 1751 the Serbian colonel Jovan Horvat with a group of fellow countrymen began the creation of New Serbia on the border of the Russian Empire with Poland. Novomyrhorod became the administrative seat of New Serbia and it was defended against Tatar raids by a ground fortification. The St. Illyah Church was built in Novomyrhorod in 1766 and it is now the oldest architectural monument of the province.
Onufriyivka on the banks of the Omelnyk rivulet was bought by Count Mikhail Tolstoy who built the manor and the Onufriyivka Park with lots of ponds planted around by poplars and willows.
The village of Mykolayivka, located on the banks of the Suhokliya River, was founded in the late 18th c. In the early 1870s, Karpo Tobilevych, the father of four children who later created the most famous actor family in the history of the Ukrainian theatre, settled in the hamlet not far from it. In 1871, he built a house, where his eldest son Ivan Tobilevych (Karpenko-Karyy) returned to in 1887 after the three-year exile and decided to turn the hamlet into a picturesque corner, kind of an oasis in the steppe, and laid out a park (named after his wife Nadiya), planted a garden and ameliorated a pond. He had as guests almost all of the coryphaei of the Ukrainian theatre of that time: M. Kropyvnytskyy, M. Zankovetska, M. Starytskyy, his brothers M. Sadovskyy, P. Saksahanskyy. In Nadiya khutir (farm), Ivan Karpenko-Karyy wrote more than a dozen of his dramas, the real pearls of the Ukrainian dramatic art. In 1956, the Khutir Nadia preserve-museum, one of most frequented places in the Kirovohrad province, was established.
The dendrological park of Bokovenky, representing in miniature the natural landscapes of particular geographic zones, was founded in 1893 on the banks of the Bokovenka rivulet on bare unimportant land on the slopes of the gully by an ardent amateur of the park art Mykola Davydov.