Discover Khortytsia Island
Khortytsia is the largest of the islands located in Ukraine’s mighty Dnipro River and is home to a wealth of historical and natural treasures, making it a popular tourism destination. The island is around twelve kilometers long and consists of varied terrain, with rocky outcrops, caves and grottos to the north, and flat, low-lying terrain to the south, which is sometimes flooded when the river is running high. The central part of Khortytsia has ravines, small hills and valleys, while streams and lakes are found scattered around the island.
This varied terrain of the island supports an abundance of diverse flora and fauna. Botanists have recorded more than six hundred species of plants, some of which are considered to be endangered. Birding enthusiasts are sure to spot some of the more than two hundred species of birds that live in the island’s marshy meadows, and over fifty species of fish can be found in Khortytsya’s streams and lakes.
From a historical point of view Khortytsya is fascinating. Archeologists believe that there is sufficient evidence to support the view that human settlements existed on the island as far back as thirty-five thousand years ago. The first documented mention of the island dates back to the late eleventh and early twelfth centuries. The strategic position of the island resulted in it playing an important role in early trade routes from north to south, as well as east to west. Archeological evidence also reveals that people of very different ethnic backgrounds were resident on the island at different times, including nomadic Scythians, early Slavs, and Turks. However, it was the Cossacks who made the most lasting impression on the island, with their oldest fortified settlement dating back to 1556 and their occupation believed to have lasted for two centuries before being disbanded by order of the then ruling Russian imperialists. Visitors to the island can view more than thirty thousand items detailing the history of Khortytsya – from the Stone Age through to the 20th Century – at the Museum of History of Zaporizhzhya Cossacks that was established in 1983.
Khortytsya was classified as a local natural preserve in 1958, and in 1993 it was granted the status of National Cultural and Historical Preserve. With extensive tourism facilities on the island, and being located close to the city of Zaporozhia, Khortytsya is easily accessed and a Ukrainian attraction worth visiting.