Delve Into Cossack History at Mamajeva Sloboda

Located in Kiev, just seven kilometers from the city’s famed Khreschatyk, the open-air museum of Mamajeva Sloboda covers an area of more than nine hectares with an authentic replica of an historical Cossack settlement. Surrounded by wattle fences, the settlement consists of numerous buildings in a village setting, with the Cossack three-domed wooden church being the centerpiece. Called the Church of the Most Holy Mother of God, this interesting building was constructed as a replica of churches in the times of Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky, known for leading his Cossacks during the seventh century War of Independence.

Other dwellings in the enclosed compound of Mamajeva Sloboda include the stone house of the Cossack commander, the homes of a potter, a blacksmith, a priest and a midwife, as well as a shynok (the local pub) and a watermill, all of which are authentic replicas of the buildings of the time, both the interiors and exteriors. Visitors are permitted to walk through the houses at leisure and take pictures if they wish.

As a “living” museum, visitors can expect to see craftsman at work and have the opportunity to try their hand at some pottery making or blacksmithing. Other activities to enjoy at the museum include fishing, horse riding, archery, fencing, weaving, candle-making, cooking and other traditional arts. There is also an orchard in the grounds of the museum, with fruit-picking taking place in the harvest season. The Scythe over the Goblet Restaurant prepares authentic, traditional food and drink, served in hand-made earthenware.

The museum is named in honor of the Ukrainian folklore hero Cossack Mamay, who features in folk songs, proverbs and paintings where he is generally shown sitting cross-legged, pipe in mouth and a kobza in his hands. He was featured this way on a coin minted by the National Bank of Ukraine in 1997. Legendary for his wisdom and strong stand for justice, Cossack Mamay often had a place in the corner of Cossack homes reserved for icons.

Mamajeva Sloboda is regularly the venue for different festivals, such as harvest festivals, summer festivals, Cossack and folk song festivals, as well as religious observances, traditional games and cultural events. Certainly, it is well worth visiting when exploring the city of Kiev.