Chernivtsi Attractions: University

Chernivtsi attractions map: area F

GPS: 48°17'46.9''N, 25°55'30.9''E

 

Built according to the project of the Czech architect Joseph Hlavka, the Chernivtsi National University is truly a masterpiece of architecture and one of the main attractions in Chernivtsi.

It's building continued for 18 years. Outstanding masters of different countries were involved in this building. This favoured a unique combination of different styles and trends in architecture.

Why did such a magnificent construction, an architectural treasure which could enrich not only a provincial town of the eastern suburb of the Austro-Hungarian Empire but any European capital, appear in Chernivtsi?

 

First of all, the building of this ensemble is connected with the intense activity of the first Ukrainian bishop of Bukovyna Yevhen Hakman.

Yevhen Hakman was born in a poor peasant family and owing to his uncle, who was a monk and taught the Word of God at schools in Chernivtsi, Yevhen was educated. Yevhen, being one of the best students, was sent to Vienna to continue his education at the Vienna University. The special feature of this university was that the students of the Department of Theology were of different confessions: Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant Christians.

Every year the Austrian tsar Franz I granted an audience to the best students. After his visit to the gymnasium in Chernivtsi, the governor remembered Yevhen Hakman as he preferred to get acquainted with students. That is why during the audience in the palace the tsar asked if he knew the Romanian language. The student answered in the affirmative and the Emperor invited the theologian student to teach his son to speak Romanian. Yevhen taught the successor of the throne for the whole year.

Tsar Franz II died in 1835 and Yevhen Hakman became a bishop according to the decision of his former student and a new tsar. Yevhen Hakman took advantage of this and turned to the Emperor with the request to begin the building of new Orthodox Churches and the bishop’s residence as it was impossible to live and work in the old one.

Evhen Hakman was persistent and he managed to succeed in 1860. The new tsar Franz-Joseph I signed the order according to which the new residence was to be built in Chernivtsi. The building committee was founded and the bishop Evhen Hakman in person was the head of it.

 

 

The committee turned to the best architect of those times, Joseph Hlavka. He was young but extremely talented and energetic. He was a Czech, but he graduated from the best educational establishments, the Department of Architecture of the Prague Polytechnic among them. Together with other outstanding architects he continued his education at the Architecture Department of the Academy of Arts which provided the highest level of education in architecture.

 

Being a perfect student Hlavka was awarded a proper scholarship, which gave him the legal opportunity to visit many countries of Europe. Joseph Hlavka was in Italy, Germany, France, England and other countries where he studied old and new architecture. Many places of interest in Chernivtsi were built under his guidance.

At that time the transition from the style of Classicism to the so-called Historical style took place. The characteristic feature of the new style was the usage of ancient architectural elements. The Chernivtsi National University was built in New-Renaissance style.

 

Joseph Hlavka had to work thoroughly on the project of the residence. It was finished by the end of 1862 and examined by the building council in Vienna. After that, the project was submitted for the tsisar’s signature, who signed it in 1863.

This masterpiece was built by means of the national savings of the Religious fund of Bukovyna.

Hlavka presented the project of the Residence of Bukovyna metropolitan bishops at the architectural exhibition in Paris. He won the second prize for it at the world exhibition!

 

When building this Residence attention was paid to the quality of bricks. Each brick was carefully examined and tapped. If there was a single crack the brick was instantly rejected as defective. That is why it was impossible to doubt the quality of the construction.

The architectural ensemble was being built for 18 years – 1864 – 1882.

The Residence consists of three separate buildings.

The central building is actually the Residence of metropolitan bishops. There is a private church or a home chapel of the bishop on the right.

 

 

The bishop’s room and the library also took place on the first floor, to the left of the chapel. Next to the chapel there is a Marble Hall, which used to be a Synod Hall, where the bishop invited all his guests and where the liturgy was recited on Holy Days.

The next hall is called the Red Hall and it functioned as a place for the meeting of the Holy Synod. Nowadays there are many original elements there: Vienna mirrors (1878), well-preserved parquet floors, ceiling.

 

The neighbouring building on the right used to be a monastery before 1918. There was a school of psalm-readers (1918-1940) and a small museum of church art. Apart from this, there was the first printing establishment of the Bukovyna metropolitan bishops and a little candle factory.

The building on the left and the church were built for the needs of the Department of Theology. The students studied on the ground floor and lived on the first floor. Future priests studied here right up to the beginning of the Second World War. Today the Chernivtsi National University has the only Department of Theology in Ukraine which graduates future priests for Orthodox Churches.

The University was opened in Chernivtsi on September 30, 1875. It was named after the Emperor Franz Joseph, who signed the order to open a university in Chernivtsi.

 

According to some sources this construction was built by means of joint funds of Catholics, Protestants and even the Jews Hasids, whose centre was in the neighbouring Sadhora. A great number of places of interest in Chernivtsi appeared due to the united investments of different national groups living in our city.

The wide passage from the central gates of the university to its entrance is covered with pebbles. There is a drainage system under it. In hot summer days, when it is dry, water evaporates into the air. In this way the degree of humidity is stable on the whole territory of the complex. That is why the bricks do not go to pieces.

It is a well-known fact that after the building of the residence in Chernivtsi, the city was called a “small Jerusalem on the Prut River”. The city owes this name to the grand and magnificent shrines of the Central and Eastern Europe, which took place in Chernivtsi. First is the residence and second is the great shrine which belongs to the Reformist Jewish Church and is embodied in the Temple. Unfortunately this shrine has lost its original attractiveness. This magnificent building in the city centre was built by architect Zakharevych in 1877.

 

The matter is that now it is a building of the Chernivtsi Cinema. The Temple was burnt during the war and in the fifties architect Vodianskyi rebuilt it. It became the first wide-screen cinema in Ukraine. Now it is difficult to recognize that magnificent luxurious construction in it.

The building of the Temple was one of the main constructions in Chernivtsi. One could easily notice that it was on the equal level with the Ukrainian Uniat Church. The Temple was a pilgrimage shrine for all the Jews from the Eastern Europe.