The Cherkasy Region or Cherkaschyna is the smallest region in Central Ukraine, created in 1954 to comprise chunks of the Kyiv and Poltava regions. The right-bank area lies on the Pre-Dnipro Upland with a great number of deep and branched river valleys. Left-bank Cherkaschyna lies in the Pre-Dnipro Lowland, an undulating, slightly terraced plain.
The earliest settlements in the region date back to the Later Paleolithic Era (30,000—13,000 years ago). The development of the region was linked to the rise of Pzeczpospolita (1569). In the late 16th c. several towns of the region, i.e. Korsun, Chyhyryn and Kaniv, were granted with Magdeburg Law. Later, the Right-bank Ukraine was awarded to the Russian Empire (1793), and after the 1796 Territory Reform, Cherkaschyna entered the Kiev Guberniya. The left-bank Cherkaschyna had been under the Malorosiya guberniya until 1796 and part of the Poltava guberniya until 1919.
The Cherkasy Region has numerous well-preserved 12th — 20th-c.c. religious edifices, which greatly vary in architectural style, as well as remains of ancient castles, fragmented fortifications, administrative buildings, park gazebos and monuments ofthe18th —20th c.c.
The capital of the region, Cherkasy, situated on the left bank of the Kremenchuh Water Reserve on the Dnipro, was first mentioned in 1394. After Cherkasy was passed to the Russian Empire it became a povit head town in the Voznesensk Governate (1795), and, later, the Kiev Guberniya (1797). In the early 19th c. the town used to stretch along the Dnipro, and was occasionally flooded in spring, which is why it was moved uphill in 1815.
Uman was founded in 1609. Since 1726 and for over a century the town belonged to the Potocki family, who contribuled to the construction of architectural pearls of the region. One of the renowned sites is the 1796 Sofiyivka Landscape Park of 152 ha, with its hydrotechnical installations around the Lower and Upper ponds.
The town of Kaniv, known since 1144, lies on the Dnipro bank. The foremost Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko (1814—61) bequeathed to be buried on Mt Chernecha (the Monks’) on the Dnipro Steeps. Since then the Shrine of Ukraine’s greatest poet has been a spiritual site for Ukrainians. In honour of the poet the mount was renamed after him into Mt Tarasova, and was designated as State Cultural Preserve in 1925. Beside the grave is the Shevchenko Monument, and Literary Memorial Museum.
Conveniently located, the 1923 Kaniv Nature Reserve (20.48 sq. km) is one of the largest wild nature reserves in central Ukraine. Apart from a large stretch of the Dnipro banks it covers several river isles to safeguard over 5,000 species of plants indigenous to the area.
The town of Chyhyryn began as a Cossack winter outpost in the early 16thc., located on the old trade route from Kiev to the Crimea along the Chyhyryn Mountain range. Even though the outpost was named after Mt Chyhyryn, the latter is referred to as Zamkova or Kamyana Mountain. Chyhyryn owes much of its fame to Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky, who led an uprising against Rzeczpospolita (the Liberation War of 1648—54). Then the town was the capital of the Cossack state, which was commemorated in the 1967 B. Khmelnytsky monument on Kamyana Mountain. At the Kamyana foothill lies the Chyhyryn National History and Culture Heritage Preserve.
The village of Subotiv was founded on the slopes of the Tyasmyn Valley in 1616 by M. Khmelnytsky, who served as osadchy (local governor) under Rzeczpolspolita. Later, the village passed to his son Bohdan Khmelnytsky (1595—1657). The local 1653 Illinska Orthodox Church, stylized after Polish Roman Catholic cathedrals, houses the Khmelnytsky family burial vault. The Illinska Church of Subotiv is the only rural temple in Ukraine featuring on a Ukrainian banknote.
The town of Horodysche was built on the Vilshanka River bank in the early 16th c. This town is known as the birthplace of Semen Hulak-Artemovskyy (1813—73), a famous opera singer, composer, and one of the founding fathers of Ukraine’s national opera. His Zaporozhets za Dunayem is a true pearl of Ukrainian opera. Yet another attraction of Horodysche is the 1844 Mykhailivska Church commissioned by M.Vorontsov.
Not far from Horodysche is a large village of Mliyiv, whose fame derives from its most prominent citizen Lev Symyrenko (1855—1920). Here, in the 1880s Lev Symyrenko, a famous horticulturist, set up an orchard and fruit tree planter. The territory is now in custody of Mliyiv Symyrenko Institute of Gardening with the 1984 L. Symyrenko Monument put up near it.
Kamyanka, built in the 1820s on the bank of the Tiasmyn River, sprawled around the estate of Col. V. Davydov. The estate is known as the then southern headquarters of the Decembrists, who in 1824 raised a rebellion against the Russian Tsar. The memory of the Decembrists’ Southern Society is treasured in Kamyanka with the Decembrists’ Grotto (1825), and the ‘green’ house, made into a Memorial Museum with the 1975 Decembrists’ Monument.
The town of Korsun-Shevchenkivsky surprises a visitor with an array of old architectural sites such as a palace, an entry tower, a palace outbuilding, all built in the 1780s during S. Poniatowski’s administration. On the granite banks of the Ros River rises a beautiful landscape park of the same time. Bestowed on the then Minister of Justice, Prince P. Lopukhin, by Tsar Pavel the estate now bears his name. The palace reopened in 1952 to house the Korsun-Shevchenkivskyy Battle Memorial Museum to commemorate one of the largest WWII battles on Ukraine’s territory.
On the slopes of the Kholodny Yar there used to stand the Medieval Motronynskyy Fortified Monastery. In 1804 the monastery was built anew with the simple-looking 1568 Trinity Church. The deep forests of the Kholodny Yar gave refuge to escaped serfs and rebels for hundreds of years. In 1768 it was a hotbed of the large-scale Haydamak uprising.
The village of Moryntsi is known as the birth place of Taras Shevchenko, born into a family in servitude to Gen. V. Enhel-hardt. Nowadays, there is a replica of Shevchenko’s original hut here, which houses the Shevchenko Memorial Museum with the 1956 Shevchenko Monument near it.