What is the problem?
The Ministry of Culture and Information Policy (MCIP) calculated that 664 sites of the cultural heritage of Ukraine were damaged or destroyed from February 24, 2022, to June 25, 2023. Of them, there are 211 architectural monuments, 186 architectural and urban planning sites, 179 historical sites, 18 monumental art historical sites, 17 urban planning and monumental art sites, and 16 archaeological sites.
Their reconstruction will require approximately $100 billion. However, according to the Deputy Minister of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine, Halyna Hryhorenko, these things cannot simply be restored or counted in square meters, tons of concrete, bricks, or glass. Ukrainian monuments preserve the memory, shape the identity, help Ukrainians be a society, and distinguish themselves from other nationalities and countries.
What is the solution?
The statistics of losses of the Ukrainian cultural fund will change more than once. After all, the shelling of Ukrainian cities does not stop. In addition, information on the state of monuments in the temporarily occupied territories is currently unavailable in full. MCIP notes that it will be possible to see the full picture only after the end of the war. As of today, Ukraine can only record damaged historical and architectural monuments, inspect and document all destruction and damage as much as possible, calculate the cost of reconstruction, and involve international organizations and foreign partners in these processes.
Another task is to speak loudly about all the crimes committed on Ukrainian soil by the Kremlin regime. The world must understand Russia's love for culture and spirituality is a myth. The systematic destruction of cultural monuments by the Russian occupiers shows that Ukraine is at war with a country of barbarians.
On July 23, Russia carried out one of the most massive missile attacks on Odesa: terrorists fired 19 cruise and ballistic missiles at the city. As a result of the attack, the Transfiguration Cathedral, a UNESCO heritage site, was destroyed. A Russian missile hit the central altar of the cathedral. The temple building was partially destroyed, as well as the flooring of the three lower floors. The interior decoration and icons were badly damaged, and the office premises were completely destroyed. A fire broke out in the temple, and its guard was injured. According to the Odesa City Council, one of the cathedral's walls is unstable and may collapse at any moment.
In addition to the Savior-Transfiguration Cathedral, many residential buildings and architectural monuments were mutilated by the July 23 strikes in the center of Odesa.
One of them is Count Tolstoy's mansion, built in 1830 according to the project of architects Francesco Boffo and Giorgio Torricelli, which housed the regional organization of the trade union of education and science workers of Ukraine, Odesa House of Scientists. The rocket attack damaged all the halls and premises inside the House of Scientists: due to the explosion, the windows and all the ancient stained glass windows were blown out, the ceiling partially collapsed, and the furniture, stucco, and decoration were damaged.
In total, the MCIP recorded damage to 29 architectural monuments. At the same time, the Russian defense ministry falsely stated that they had struck targets where terrorist acts against the Russian Federation were being prepared using unmanned boats, and foreign mercenaries were present at these targets.
The terrorist act of the Russian Federation against the main church of Odesa, which was in no way connected with military facilities, and the surrounding buildings of the historical center of the city, where civilians from Odesa worked and lived, became a symbol of the destruction of architectural monuments of Ukraine. However, the Russian invaders started destroying Ukraine's cultural heritage literally from the first day of the full-scale invasion.
Already on February 25, 2022, on the second day of the full-scale war, as a result of rocket fire in Chernihiv, the headquarters of the Security Service of Ukraine was on fire. It was located in the building erected in 1904 for the Chernihiv District Court. As a result of two rockets hitting the SSU building, a monument of local history, only charred walls remained. In addition, the fire completely destroyed the archive of the SSU. Considerable arrays of documentary materials were stored here: about 13,000 declassified cases of repressed Ukrainians and documents of the Soviet special service — orders, correspondence, and personal and agency files of the 20th century.
Also, in Chernihiv, the occupiers destroyed the house of Vasyl Tarnovsky, a monument of national importance. The Museum of Ukrainian Antiquities, founded in 1896, was located in this historical building, later the Chernihiv Historical Museum, and since 1980 — a library for youth. Tarnovsky's house survived shelling in 1918 and 1919. It survived World War II, but the Kremlin came and completely destroyed this architectural monument of the 19th century.
The Koenig manor, built in 1726, is a complex monument of history and architecture of national importance in Trostyanets, the Sumy region. The manor had a local history museum, an art gallery, and a chocolate museum. Retreating from Sumy the region in April 2022, the Russian army set fire to the estate's main building. In addition, as a result of the shelling, the right wing of the building, where the local history exhibition was located, was damaged. Fortunately, the museum funds were saved, but more than ₴67 million are needed to restore the Koenig Manor, destroyed by the Russians.
Another ancient building of Trostyanets did not survive the Russian invasion — the shop of the merchant F. Kurylo (1908), which is the most interesting in terms of architecture and art of commercial buildings of the 20th century in the Sumy region. As a result of the Russian shelling, the facades and roof of the architectural monument of local importance were partially destroyed.
Since the beginning of the war, the Russians have destroyed and damaged more than 100 architectural monuments in the Kharkiv region. Some of them are in such a state that they may not live to be rebuilt. The photo above shows a 190-year-old house on Poltava Road. This two-story manor house in the style of classicism with large windows on the second floor, a balcony, a four-column portico, and medallions on the facade was necessarily indicated on all plans of Kharkiv in the first half of the 19th century. The building has been well preserved to this day, but the Russians destroyed it on the night of July 6, 2022. The enemy rocket crushed almost the entire roof, floor coverings, walls and damaged all communication networks.
Three weeks later, one of the buildings of Kharkiv National Technical University of Agriculture named after P. Vasylenko, was damaged due to missile fire from the S-300 anti-aircraft missile complex in the center of Kharkiv. A 10-by-12-meter crater was formed on the territory of the university from the missile strike, and the historic building of the educational institution was partially destroyed. The explosion also blew out windows in almost the entire building.
The university building, mutilated by the Russian army, built according to the project of the architect K. O. Tolkunov in 1877, is an example of the Romanesque-Gothic style and an architectural monument of local importance.
In the village of Skovorodynivka, the Kharkiv region, the National Museum of Hryhorii Skovoroda, a famous Ukrainian philosopher and writer, was destroyed due to a direct hit by a Russian rocket. It was an 18th-century estate where he worked in the last years of his life and near which a famous Ukrainian was buried. It housed editions of Skovoroda's works, ethnographic objects, paintings, and graphic works related to Skovoroda, as well as some personal belongings of the philosopher.
On the night of May 7, 2022, a shell of Russian terrorists flew directly under the roof of the building — a fire broke out, and the fire covered all the museum's premises. The collection survived — it was moved to a safe place earlier, but more than ₴112 million must be collected to restore the museum itself. If you want to become a patron of the institution or donate an amount to restore the museum, you can do it here.
The building of the former Realschule, a type of secondary school of 1882, in the city of Izyum, was included in the list of monuments of the Kharkiv region, which were destroyed during the full-scale invasion of the Russian Federation. Until recently, it housed the Izyum Lyceum No. 4. This building became the 500th object of cultural heritage destroyed in Ukraine by the Russian invaders.
Kyiv is one of the most protected cities in Ukraine, but even here, due to Russian shelling, architectural monuments suffer. On October 10, 2022, two enemy missiles fell in the very center of the capital, in the Shevchenkivskyi district. At the explosion's epicenter was the Kyiv City Teacher's House — a unique three-story building in the architectural and artistic forms of neoclassicism built in 1901, according to the project of the architect Alyoshin.
As a result of the rocket explosion, dozens of windows were broken in the glass dome of the monument of the cultural heritage of Ukraine's national importance. The total area of lost glass was more than 550 square meters, excluding the structures of the dome and the two stained glass windows of the light ceiling. As noted in the Department of Culture of the Kyiv City State Administration, the capital's cultural institutions did not suffer such damage even during World War II.
Russian troops continue to shell Kherson daily from the temporarily occupied left bank. The historical part of the city suffers the most from their blows. In particular, one of Kherson's most beautiful old buildings — the house of Peruvian merchants was damaged. This building is unique in its architectural design; it has the shape of a streamlined ship, and its facade is decorated with Indian drawings and writings.
At the beginning of the 21st century, the facade of the building was repaired, but Russian shells nullified the efforts of the restorers. In the house of the Peruvian merchants, the windows were broken, the walls were mutilated, and a part of the ornamentation, exotic for Ukraine, was lost.
On April 10, 2023, in Kherson, another architectural monument of local importance was damaged due to enemy shelling— the Kherson Regional Art Museum building named after Oleksiy Shovkunenko. The same one that the Russians robbed in the fall of 2022, retreating from the city. At that time, the occupiers took more than 11,000 exhibits from the collection, which consisted of almost 14,000 items, to the occupied Crimea: a collection of icon paintings of the 17th-20th centuries, Ukrainian paintings of the 19th-20th centuries, and works of modern artists. The Kherson Art Museum miraculously did not suffer from flooding due to the Russian military's detonation of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant — the water stopped 250 meters from the museum building, but Russian shells mutilated it.
Damage or destruction of 33 monuments was recorded in the Zaporizhzhia region. The number is not finite — the exact number of losses can be estimated only after the region's liberation.
From what has already been recorded by Ukrainian law enforcement officers, as a result of the rocket fire, the facades, windows, and roof of architectural monuments of local importance were damaged — the old railway station Zaporizhzhia-II (Catherine Railway Building) built in 1904; the old part of the main building of the sanatorium-prophylaxis of the Dniprospetsstal plant constructed in 1930 to 1950.
The facades and roof of the Jantsen house, located in the city of Orikhiv, were damaged. In Huliaipole, four historical and cultural objects were damaged — the Profit House, the Manor House of the Meleshkovs, the synagogue, and the church of Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk.
Even at the beginning of the war, in March 2022, the Russian occupiers destroyed the famous castle palace Popov Manor in the city of Vasylivka — the only castle structure in the region. This palace was built in 1894. It is an architectural monument of the 19th century and houses a museum reserve. The soldiers stole all the valuable property, broke the office equipment, and broke all the doors and windows. Even a rare marble toilet was stolen. Museum employees share that the first time the Bolsheviks stole this toilet. Later, one of the descendants of the thieves returned the exhibit to the museum, and again, the Russian invaders were tempted by it in 2022.
On the night of July 6, 2023, Russia carried out the most massive missile attack on the civilian infrastructure of Lviv since the beginning of the full-scale war. Russians launched ten rockets into the city, of which Ukrainian soldiers shot down seven. Still, the blow affected the historic district, the buffer zone of the UNESCO World Heritage site "Lviv – Ensemble of the Historical Center." Currently, the Lviv City Council is negotiating with UNESCO, which will help to rebuild the structures — monuments of historical heritage destroyed by a Russian rocket.
Luhansk and Donetsk regions
There are currently no statistics on the loss of architectural monuments in the territories of Ukraine temporarily occupied by the Russians. Still, the most egregious cases have already become known worldwide.
On May 1, 2022, a fire broke out in the 100-year-old Lysychansk gymnasium after targeted shelling by Russian troops. The gymnasium building is part of the ensemble of the Belgian architectural heritage of Lysychansk, built at the end of the 19th century. The gymnasium, which was among the top 100 schools in the country before the war, survived two world wars and the battle for the city in 2014, but the Russian military invasion in 2022 proved fatal for the architectural monument.
The tragedy of the Donetsk Academic Regional Drama Theater in Mariupol, where more than a thousand people were hiding, became sadly famous worldwide. The theater was also a monument of architecture, history, and monumental art built from 1956 to 1960. On March 16, 2022, a Russian bomb hit the theater, almost completely destroying it. Hundreds of Mariupol residents died under its ruins. Now, the occupying so-called authorities have covered the remains of the theater with banners with portraits of Russian writers, hoping to hide the traces of their own crimes behind them.
What can be done?
It is impossible to tell about all the architectural and historical monuments of Ukraine damaged or destroyed by the Russian army in one article — their number exceeds several hundred. To be able to clearly see the extent of the destruction that Ukrainian cultural monuments have suffered, the Ukrainian Cultural Fund has created an interactive Map of Cultural Losses, and the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy launched a special portal where you can report the destruction.
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