Sofiyivsky Park – One of the Seven Wonders of Ukraine
Those who are willing to open their hearts and listen will find that the Sofiyivsky Park is a place filled with tales of romance and legends which one can imagine unfolding amongst the rocks and alleys of the park. This picturesque park has a strong sense of nostalgia, presenting the imagination with images of 17th and 18th century ladies strolling about in light colors and fabrics influenced by tender love – a love detailed so sweetly in their clothing. The magnificence of the park was a tribute to the beautiful Sofia - the wife of Count Stanislaw.
Sofiyivsky Park is one of the few landscape masterpieces of the world and is considered to be one of the Seven Wonders of Ukraine. It is located in the city of Uman and was founded in 1796. The park was founded by the noble Polish szlachcic in remembrance of his lovely wife. You’ll find that his tender love for her is evident in the old waterfalls, ponds and fountains as well as the little stone gardens. All of these are very pleasing to the eye and soothing to the senses and, when viewed as a whole, they represent a piece of delicate art interlocked with science and nature.
In the beginning of the eighteenth century, Umanshchyna estate belonged to one of the wealthiest aristocratic Polish families of the time. It was here that the family to the heir, Count Stanislaw Szczesny Potocki, resided with his delicate but influential wife Sophie de Witte. Sophie harbored the desire to create a beautiful park – thus Sofiyivsky Park came into being.
Much work had to be done to achieve this goal and Ludwig Metzel, a landscape architect and supervisor, was given the formal undertaking of getting it done. It was through his meticulous eye for design and the knowledge that he gained in his travels that his quest to “outshine any other park in Europe” was achieved. Interestingly enough, documents discovered in the estate’s many archives indicate that an estimated 800 serfs were used to establish the parks layout. The predominant style of the park was that of the Italian Baroque tradition though the new “English style” is also employed in sections and areas of the wild were left unaltered for good measure.
As the Park came to its finish, Sophia the “Beautiful Greek” was invited to view her special gift by her enchanted husband. Unfortunately Count Potocki would not see his vision fully completed with his untimely death in 1805. Later the park was confiscated and became the property of Nicholas I who subsequently presented it as a gift to his wife, renaming it “The Tsar’s Park”. In 1848 the aged architect was invited to complete his work – but he never made it for just days before arriving he fell ill and passed away.
Sofiyivsky Park went on to miraculously survive many wars and power struggles, forever expressing undying love in what ever form or fancy. As you meander through the park you cannot help but wonder what would have been if Sophia the “Beautiful Greek” had not charmed the Count Potocki.