Ukraine's most mysterious city: what to do in Kropyvnytskyi and how Ukrainian Stonehenge got there
Kropyvnytskyi is a regional city, and almost no one knows anything about it.
It's so provincial, they say, what can be remarkable there? There's no sea, no mountains either, planes don't fly there, and there aren't many trains, you don't hear about tourist routes, what to visit there at all?
A province located in the heart of Ukraine? What a paradox! How can it be that there's nothing beautiful, interesting, or remarkable in the country's center?
Rubryka has collected the most attractive places of Kropyvnytskyi, which may be of interest to anyone who wants to travel around Ukraine.
Kropyvnytskyi is one of Ukraine's most unexpected regional centers for visiting travelers. Here you can enjoy the architecture with houses in the style of European "palazzos"; the monuments of high classics and modernism, Moorish, Baroque palaces, houses with facades combining Gothic, Rococo, and Renaissance give the city a special charm.
🎭 Kropyvnytskyi Theater
Not everyone knows about it, but Kropyvnytskyi is the birthplace of Ukrainian professional theater. On October 27, 1882, the Yelisavethrad Theater hosted the first performance under the direction of Marko Kropyvnytskyi; it was in honor of this world-famous theatrical figure that the city received a new name. It was the "Natalka Poltavka" play by Ivan Kotlyarevsky. Maria Zankovetska played the role of Natalka. This date is officially considered the birthday of the first Ukrainian professional theater.
The theater has since been rebuilt, unsuccessfully repaired, it was mutilated so that the building has almost lost its original beauty. But on the occasion of the 130th anniversary of the theater, the renovation was finally made, which completely restored its former greatness. Try to estimate the scale of the restoration: 5000 square meters of the stucco was restored, 1000 square meters of gold leaf were used. Now the theater building is impressive, visitors seem to be transported to the previous century. Now the townspeople are rightly proud of the architectural masterpiece and rejoice because their city is the cradle of the Ukrainian National Academic Drama Theater.
Address: the theater is located in the center of Kropyvnytskyi, on one of the oldest and most famous streets of the city, Dvortsova Street, 4.
Dvortsova Street (or Arkhitektora Pauchenka Street) is the main pedestrian street of Kropyvnytskyi. Here, almost every house is a real work of architecture. The street is crowded but very quiet. Many cozy cafes, large windows, beautiful houses. Here you get the impression that you're in a small European town.
The largest museum in the city is the regional art museum. Expositions, interesting events, various exhibits are constantly changing there: everything is for cultural recreation. The staff of the art museum often conducts interesting popular science lectures, various masterclasses, liked by the residents of the city and its guests.
Address: Velyka Perspektyvna Street, 60
Kropyvnytskyi Museum of History and Local Lore is the best landmark of the Kirovohrad region's development history. The museum is located in the heart of the city. The splendor of its architecture pushes visitors to want to get acquainted with it in more detail. You'll be even more impressed by this architectural achievement when you enter its ancient halls, which breathe history and tell about the people of the region, their exploits, and achievements. The Kropyvnytskyi Museum of Local Lore is one of the oldest in central Ukraine, which has permanent and thematic exhibitions. The museum has more than 80,000 exhibits, and there are 6 Scythian statues in the courtyard.
Address: Arkhitektora Pauchenka Street (Dvortsova Street), 40
The famous Yelisavethrad artist Oleksandr Osmerkin's house-museum is also located on Dvortsova Street, a little further from the city center. It's located in a stunning house, built by architect Yakiv Pauchenko in 1899, the artist's uncle. It really looks like a fairy tower. Here the artist spent his childhood and adolescence.
The museum is small, intimate, but cozy and soulful. The museum has 3 halls. In one hall, there are paintings, sketches, drawings, personal belongings, photos, and documents of the artist. In others, you'll see the works of his talented students. There are art and photo exhibitions of local authors, creative and musical evenings. It's definitely worth a visit.
The Yelysavethrad Jews Historical Museum is the first Jewish museum in Ukraine, created thanks to the efforts of community volunteers who collected information and documents about Kropyvnytskyi's Jews. The process of returning to the origins, awareness of the history, and significance of Jews in society became the driving force for the creation of a historical museum.
Originally in a beautiful Moorish-style house, which was built in the mid-19th century, there was the Great Choral Synagogue. Now there is a museum. In the yard, there are a beautiful garden and benches. You can sit and listen to performances from the music school opposite.
Address: Viktora Chmilenka Stree, 90
Memorial House-Museum Of Marko Lukich Kropyvnytskyi is not located in the city center. But if you're a theatergoer, you should definitely find and visit it. The museum's collection includes many antiques, one way or another connected with Kropyvnytskyi. Here, you'll find furniture, musical instruments, clothes of that time, letters, photos, old posters. The building has a special atmosphere, a feeling as if time has stopped.
Address: Kropyvnytskoho Street, 172
🗿 Sights and cultural objects
From 1829, Yelisavethrad (Kropyvnytskyi) became the center of military settlements in the south of the Russian Empire. The headquarters of the reserve cavalry corps were located in the city, and a cadet cavalry school was being planned. In 1847, Nicholas I personally laid the foundation stone in the complex, and its full-scale construction began in the spring of 1848. When emperors or their entourage came to the city, the complex was furnished accordingly by bringing furniture and carpets from rich city houses, and the building was transformed from barracks into a palace.
The buildings of the complex can be visited only from the outside. They have always belonged to the military. The military unit has long and firmly settled inside the building. Between the buildings of the school lies the old Kovalevskyi Park (which previously had a parade ground) with a century-old fountain, as well as St. Andrew's Church. This is where Dvortsova pedestrian street starts; it's best to start your acquaintance with the city from this area.
Address: Kavaleriiska Street, 13
Everyone who comes to Kropyvnytskyi from the north or the east is met by Archangel Michael, the guardian angel of the city and all of Ukraine. The unveiling of the "Guardian Angel of Ukraine" monument in Kropyvnytskyi was timed to the 2000th anniversary of the Nativity of Christ and in honor of the 250th anniversary of the city. The monument is a majestic and impressive sight. The perimeter of the column base is marked with the inscription: "God, Save Ukraine." This is a favorite place for photos of newlyweds and guests of Kropyvnytskyi.
Address: Yevhena Malaniuka Street, 1A
The history of the Transfiguration Cathedral dates back to 1788 when a wooden single-throne church was consecrated at the request of Grigory Potemkin-Tauricheski. Ten years later, the temple burned down, and construction, which had started in 1806, ended in the temple collapsing. The new building, which has survived to this day, was consecrated in 1813. The cathedral houses the relics of saints, valuable icons, among which the main shrine of the locals, the icon of the Yelisavethrad Mother of God which is considered the patron and protector of the city.
A well-groomed yard, a flower oasis, and a small pond with a fountain create an atmosphere of tranquility. Visit this place, and you'll see everything for yourself.
Address: Preobrazhenska Street, 22
Cathedral of Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary
The stone church of the Blessed Virgin Mary with a bell tower was built at the expense of the Greek community of Yelisavethrad. Initially, this place was a wooden temple built in 1766 by Greek merchants. In 1898, the building was rebuilt. The interior preserves ancient paintings, which were restored in 1905. This cathedral is the first and oldest in the city. During its existence, it has never been closed.
Address: Velyka Perspektyvna Street, 74
The Church of the Intercession of the Holy Virgin is also located in the historical part of the city. The church was built in the early 19th century in the neo-Russian architectural style designed by the famous Russian architect Konstantin Ton. Fragments of the painting by the artist Feodosii Kozachynskyi of the late 19th century have been preserved in the church's interior. In Soviet times, the temple was closed; then it was used for repairing equipment, storing salt and glass containers. The historic territory adjacent to the temple was built up with five-floor buildings. Locals say that in our time it was restored at the private expense of a foreigner, whose parents once, before leaving the country, got married in this temple. The atmosphere is special. You can feel peace and purity.
Address: Yuriia Olefirenka Street, 14
At the corner of Dvortsova (Arkhitektora Pauchenka) and Pashutina (formerly Nevska) streets, there's a gorgeous building: Isaac Goldenberg Water Hospital (now it's the 3rd city hospital, so you're unlikely to get inside). But what you can see from the outside compensates for this little trouble. The house was designed by architect Yakiv Pauchenko in the Moorish style in the late nineteenth century. They used very unusual brickwork and decorative elements: plaster, stunningly beautiful carved doors, columns, geometric patterns. Be sure to take a selfie near these fantastic doors.
Address: Arkhitektora Pauchenka Street, 45/35
Monument to Oleksandr Pashutin
Oleksandr Pashutin is the most famous mayor of Yelisavethrad, an honorary citizen of the city, a great philanthropist. During his tenure as mayor, one of the first trams in Ukraine and the first professional Ukrainian theater appeared in the city, a water supply system was launched, several markets were equipped, and many administrative buildings were built. The monument is a statue of Oleksandr Pashutin, holding a chair, symbolizing the transfer of power to successors.
If you were in Kropyvnytskyi and didn't sit on Pashutin's chair, consider that you weren't there. That's what the townspeople say. People photograph themselves on a chair and sit down to rest. The monument itself serves as a landmark for many meetings and rendezvous.
"Public service must be the purpose of life": these words are engraved on the pedestal and serve as a guide for current and future rulers of Kropyvnytskyi.
Address: Velyka Perspektyvna Street, 41
Monument to the first tram
An electric tram was launched in Yelisavethrad in 1897. The city became the fourth owner of narrow-gauge tram lines in the Russian Empire. Horse trams were used in many cities at that time. It was a very popular mode of transport. The traffic took place on 3 routes. There were winter and summer cars. These trams were used until the occupation of the city. In 1997, a memorial sign was erected on the 100th anniversary of this memorable date. And although there have been no trams to Kropyvnytskyi for many years, the memory of them is still alive today.
Address: Yevhena Chikalenka Street, 6
"Bird of Happiness" sculptural composition
An unusual metal sculpture with the romantic name, "Bird of Happiness," is called "Dragonfly" by the city residents. The piece is created in the style of techno-art. To create it, the author needed 10 gas tanks, car doors, parts from tractors, old kettles, irons, and other scrap metals. The author of the project is Yevhen Vasylevskyi.
Address: Shevchenka Street, 17
🌳 Walks and parks
This place in Kropyvnytskyi deserves special attention in the spring when the park is covered with incredible colors of thousands of tulips! You should go there at least for the sake of a "tulip" photoshoot, which you'll definitely never forget. However, at other times of the year, the arboretum is no less beautiful and interesting. There will be something for the entire family to do. Plenty of flowers, well-groomed places, various cafes where you can relax. There are more than 40 types of attractions for children and adults: from the simplest ones for the youngest children to youth extreme ones. There's a mini zoo, a large roller coaster, and hiking trails. Great place to relax!
Address: Yevhena Telnova Street, 28
Each city has an old park or square. Kropyvnytskyi is no exception. The park is located in the city center. Next to it, there are three wonderful sights: St. Andrew's Church, Kropyvnytskyi Theater, and the complex of the Cavalry School. Dvortsova Street with many lovely old buildings also starts from the park. An old fountain and a summer stage have been preserved in the park. A nice place to sit in the shade of old trees and drink coffee.
Or the Fortress of St. Elizabeth. The construction of Yelisavethrad began with it. What the fortress was like in the distant 18th century can now be judged only by the layout of the fortress in the museum of local lore. And it was made in the form of a six-pointed star, protected by bastions, and surrounded by a deep moat with water. Judging by ancient drawings and photographs, the fortress gave the impression of an unbreakable fortress and played a role in stopping the raids of Turks and Tatars on Ukrainian lands. So far, only large earthen ramparts remain of the fortress, but throughout Europe, there are a dozen of similar fortresses even in this state, so for Ukraine, this monument is worth its weight in gold. It's best to visit the Fortress of St. Elizabeth with a guide who'll tell a lot of interesting facts about it.
Address: Ushakova Street, 1
Embankment of the Inhul River
Residents of Kropyvnytskyi say that the embankment of the Inhul River is one of the most romantic places, and also one of the most contrasting ones because here, on one side of the bridge on Velyka Perspektyvna Street, there's a view of high-rise buildings, and on the other side, there is a view of historical architecture. You can choose what to admire.
Khutir "Nadiia" Reserve-museum: two in one, both park and museum
25 kilometers from Kropyvnytskyi, near the village of Mykolaivka, there's green space, a house, and an estate, where the famous and talented Ukrainian writer and playwright Ivan Karpenko-Karyi lived. It used to be a real "oasis in the steppe," as the playwright called his own estate, and now the estate of the Tobilevych family is a state reserve museum. The estate was founded in 1871 by Ivan Karpenko-Karyi's father, Karpo Tobilevych, who named it after his wife Nadiia. Initially, the family ran their own farm here, and when Ivan returned from three years in exile, he decided to settle here permanently and turn the estate into a beautiful corner of native nature.
Getting here on your own by public transport is inconvenient, it's better to buy a tour at a travel agency or go there by car. On the territory of the estate, there is a house, a pond, a park with old oaks. The house exhibits more than 2,000 exhibits preserved by the Tobilevych family, like household items, manuscripts.
In autumn, the traditional "Veresnevi Samotsvity" theater festival takes place here.
If you're tired of architecture and history…
…You can get in a car and go to the most mystical place in the Kirovohrad region, Monastyryshche or Ukrainian Stonehenge.
Landscape reserve of national importance, "Monastyryshche," is located in the south of the Kirovohrad region between the villages of Inhulske and Zavturove, Ustynivka district, 213 km from Kropyvnytskyi. The villagers remember that when a church was being built near the village of Berezivka, they were going to start building a monastery near Zavturov, hence the name, Monastyryshche.
As a reserve, this object is unique and is a place of emergence of elements of the oldest tectonic structure of Ukraine, the Ukrainian Shield. It is believed that strange boulders appeared because of the ascent of the glacier. In fact, it's a majestic stone island in the canyon of the Inhul River in its middle course; although now it becomes a full-fledged island only in spring floods, because of many dams having dehydrated the Inhul, and the river washing it only on the right side after 1994, forming small rapids and many whirlpools, you still can access it freely from the left bank. The place surprises with its megalithic stone beauty, eccentric formations, and incredible local resemblance to the Crimean mountains. Although its height relative to the level of Inhul is only 13 meters, it is quite unusual and impressive for those who grew up in the steppe areas.
In addition to the geological component, the Monastyryshche is interesting for its extraordinary positive energy and mystery, inspired by many legends. Many people come here to treat their ailments, driven by the age-old rumor of the island's healing properties.
Here you can find a stone turtle, stones of male and female strength, and a stone that fulfills desires. At the top of the 13-meter cliff, there are three huge rounded stones. The lower part of these stones is completely black and seems to be covered with a thick layer of soot. They say, most miracles on the island take place here. Legends tell of a secret cave in which treasures are allegedly hidden, whether of Tatars or Cossacks.
Locals say that if you spend a few days in Monastyryshche, you'll discover supernatural abilities. And even if you don't, then, walking in this place, you'll feel how your mental strength is being restored, and the most difficult questions of life are finding their answers. Every year many pilgrims come here from all over the world, who claim that God hears them here and all their wishes are fulfilled.