A Park of Sculpted Iron Captures the Interest of Many

Ukraine is well-recognized for its parks built by royalty, with sprawling forests, romantic designs, and tenderly preserved flora and fauna, but one park in particular is made for the artists. The park, laid out in 2001 in the city of Donetsk, is dedicated to handcrafted wrought iron works.

Donestsk is traditionally a steel and coal town. The ironworks was founded in 1872, not by a Ukrainian but by a Welshmen named John Hughes. Coal mining and steel production developed rapidly and by 1914 there were four metallurgical plants, ten coal pits, and a population of around fifty thousand people. After the fall of the Soviet Union, Donetsk suffered when many factories closed.

As a nod to the town’s history, the wrought iron park project was born. The first such work commissioned by the city was a rose, the symbol of the town. Word spread among Ukraine’s artists and soon the park’s iron sculptures multiplied. Alleys in the park were assembled with thematic motifs like The Signs of the Zodiac, The Alley of Fairy Tales, representing characters from beloved stories, and The Alley of Arks, a collection of ten decorative arks with park benches underneath each one. Altogether, there are 55 wrought-iron sculptures in the park.

A festival, called the Festival of Smithery, honoring the ironwork started from meager beginnings, but today it is an international event. Artists from around the world along with people from every corner of Ukraine participate today. A contest, within the framework of the festival, is sponsored each year with prizes given to the winners. Master classes with skilled artists are now a fan favorite as well.

Why not come and share in the beauty of iron in Ukraine, meet some of the artisans, or just sit back and pass a beautiful summer day on a bench made just for the weary traveler.