The River Port City of Oster
Located where the Oster River flows into the Desna in the Chernihiv Oblast of Ukraine, the city of Oster was established in 1098 by Vladimir Monomakh, the Grand Prince of Kievan Rus at the time. Today Oster is a bustling river port city, with reminders of its ancient history evident in landmarks such as the Saint Michael’s Church, constructed when the settlement of Oster was first established, as well as some parts of the Oster fortress from the same era.
The Saint Michael’s Church is also referred to as Yurii’s Temple, named after the son of Vladimir Monomakh, Prince Yuri Dolgoruki, also known as George I of Rus – the founder of Moscow and a prominent political figure in the history of Ukraine. It is the only church remaining from the medieval principality of Pereyaslav. With its large half-round apse, supporting pillars and semicircular arches, the architecture of the church is typical of the style associated with Pereyaslav traditions. Fresco paintings depict the Virgin Oranta with two archangels on either side and other features of this ancient building include window niches and arches painted in blue, red and green.
The settlement of Oster was destroyed by the Mongol invasion of 1240 and remained in ruins for a hundred years before a village, named Starogorodkaya, was established in its place. In the early 14th century a new settlement sprang up near the Desna River. This was named Oster, and over the years the two settlements developed until they became one.
In the mid-14th century, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania controlled Oster, and by 1569 Oster became part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. In 1622, the rapidly developing town was granted the Magdeburg rights and a coat of arms by King Jan II Casimir – the King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania. The Ukrainian War for Independence resulted in the town once again being subject to Polish rule for a time, until the Poles were ousted by the Russians and the Cossacks – a semi-military group who played a pivotal role in the development of both Russia and Ukraine during this tumultuous time. Today, Oster is an important commercial river port city in an independent Ukraine, surrounded by peaceful and picturesque countryside – far removed from the conflict of its history.