Chernivtsi Attractions: The Central Square

Chernivtsi attractions map: area А

GPS: 48°17'33.2''N, 25°56'7.2''E

 

The Central Square of Chernivtsi was founded on the initiative of Austrian Emperor Joseph II, who had been to Chernivtsi before and gave an order to local authorities to construct a proper square for market and fair organization. In 1787, it was decided to found a square in the southern suburb of Chernivtsi at that time, which performed the function of a central square.

In a year, the square was created and the travelers of those times remembered it.

When the next Emperor Franz I visited Chernivtsi in 1817, The Central Square, by that time, was paved and covered with flagstones, so when it rained there was no such mud as before.  The pavement was laid and the square looked nice and civilized.

During the Austrian period the name Ringplatz, which meant “marketplace”, was confirmed.

 

The oldest stone building on the Central Square is house # 7, the former Schwarz Adler Hotel (The Black Eagle). At that time, when it was a one-storeyed building, a pianist and a composer, a man of genius, Ferenz List stayed there. Besides memories of two perfect concerts of his, he left an illegitimate son in the city. In the Black Eagle, the most prestigious hotel in Chernivtsi, stayed all famous people, parliament members. There was a good hall, where concerts and parties took place.

In 1787 in the opposite corner of the square appeared the first city “coffee room” in the Three Crowns Hotel (now a department of the National Bank).

 

It was also an inn hotel. On the ground floor, there was a café, the first in Chernivtsi, which one could visit since 1787 and drink a cup of coffee there.

There was also a couching inn and later on the Rusiya Hotel on the place of today’s Museum of Fine Arts.  A well-known fact is that there were the fist billiards in Chernivtsi. The Rusia Hotel existed for quite a long period of time, until the end of the XIX century, when the construction of the most beautiful building of the Central Square began. It was the building of the Museum of Fine Arts, a former directorate of the Saving Bank “Bukovyner Sparkass”.

The neighboring house, today’s Romanian Society, was Vais Hotel famous for its winter garden. The interesting fact about it is that Enrico Karuzo lived there during his tour in Chernivtsi. Mykhailo Hrushevsky, who was invited to visit Chernivtsi in November 1894 stayed in Vais Hotel too.

 

 

Opposite the Black Eagle in 1940 appeared the luxurious five-storey building of the Golden Lion Hotel in 2 Universytetska Street. The lion still reigns as a king of animals on the house tower. Today here are some shops, houses and also departments of the Chernivtsi National University. Only the lion’s bas-relief, which has stood in its heraldic posture on the top of the tower on the front corner of the house reminds of the former hotel.

Among the oldest buildings on the central square of Chernivtsi, there is Paris Hotel, today’s “Young People’s Wares”. The Chernivtsi Stock Exchange also took place there until a nice house in Poshtova Street was built. Alas, it became a victim of the bomb explosion at the end of the war. At that time, four little houses which stood on the place of the monument to Shevchenko were also lost.

In the house, where the shop “Kobzar” is situated, the Belle Vue Hotel, which means “nice view”, was founded. One can really enjoy the nice view of the Prut River from the second or even the first floor. There also used to be a restaurant in this late hotel.

 

 

In the very center of the city, near the City Hall, 10 Central Square there is a house, which impresses not only the admirers of art and culture but anyone who sees this building. It represents the magnificent construction of the Chernivtsi Museum of Fine Arts.

It was named the Olympus of the Chernivtsi City. This Vienna Secession building erected in 1900 – 1901 was soon admitted one of the most impressive and amazing in its beauty edifices of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The Chernivtsi Olympus  was constructed under the guidance of architect Hubert Gessner as a building of the directorate of the Chernivtsi Saving Bank. But since 1940, it was the communist party location.

The citizens liked to decorate the arches of their houses with the images of antique heroes and the building of the Saving Bank was not an exception.

Nowadays the Museum of Fine Arts takes place in the Chernivtsi Olympus. It was opened in 1988 for the first time, but then it changed its location and in three years the building of the directorate of the Saving Bank was assigned to it. Today the collection of the museum includes 8500 masterpieces from the XVII – XX centuries. The greatest part of them consists of the works of visual art. It is the heritage of talented artists of different nationalities and various cultural periods, who lived before 1940 in Bukovyna. We cannot omit the wonderful leather, metal, ceramic and wooden works and the extensive collections of decorative fabrics.

 

 

The central building of the square by right is RATUSHA (the City Hall).

The very word “ratusha” came from German, where it sounds “Rathaus”. “Rat” means council and “haus” is house. That is why it is the Council House. The contracted form of this word sounds “ratusha” in Ukrainian.

In 1998, the clock on the ratusha tower counted off a century and a half.

The City Hall is the most noticeable building of the Central Square.

In the end of the 18th century, the city council had no place of its own that is why since 1786 local authorities had to rent different houses.

Finally in 1825 an order to build a city hall was issued.  It was constructed according to the project engineered by the Court Building Council in Vienna.

Ratusha had been built right before the European Revolution broke out. That is probably the reason for these strong, solid walls, which were erected to show that Austria would stand firm without yielding. The walls not only held the weight of the 50-metre high tower but also influenced the citizens’ subconsciousness, produced the feeling of stability, reliability and power.

The classical tradition lays emphasis on the might of this edifice; the elements of Renaissance style stress humanism and tolerance, which were characteristic features of Bukovyna at that time.  The front part of this construction is built in the classical tradition. It is an extremely magnificent building with a massive rustic arched stone opening supported by the so-called six Doric attached columns. In ancient times, the top of the Doric attached columns symbolized the ancient Greek guard warrior. From then on such important state buildings were constructed in the Doric style.

 

 

On 12 November 2004 in the city on the Prut River a new tradition was born: at 12 o’clock sharp a trumpeter in the national costume has played “Marichka” on all four sides of the world under the clock tower of the City Hall. A huge crowd of citizens and guests could listen to the magnificent melody of a composer from Chernivtsi – Stepan Sabadash. Magistrates used to tell people local and world news in the three languages exactly from this balcony.  The interesting fact is that it was impossible for anyone to become a policeman in the end of XIX – beginning of the XX century in Chernivtsi if he didn`t know at least three languages!

In spite of its history, the ensemble of the Central Square was recently completed. In 1999, the monument to Taras Shevchenko was unveiled. By the way, Chernivtsi City Council came to the decision to build a monument to the Ukrainian national prophet as far back as 1914 on the account of the one-hundredth anniversary of the Kobzar.