Chernihiv – Explore Archeological Sites and Historical Murals
It is believed that Chernihiv, the capital of the Chernihiv Oblast, first existed in the ninth century according to archaeological evidence excavated in the area, which included unearthed settlements and artifacts from the immensely powerful state, Khazar Khaganate. However, the first formal mention of Chernihiv came in the 907 Rus’-Byzantine Treaty. By the end of the 10th century, Chernihiv was believed to be under its own rulership from the findings made in the 19th century of one of the earliest royal mounds to be excavated in Eastern Europe, referred to as the ‘black grave’.
Chernihiv was greatly respected as the second in power and general wealth accumulated in the whole of the southern area of Kievan Rus. During the 11th century it became the seat of the great ‘Grand Principality of Chernigov’, considered the largest in Kievan Rus due to its influence and support by those in the Severian towns all the way to Murom, Tmutarakan and Ryazan, some of the remotest regions. Population numbers in the city soared, reaching 25 000 by 1239, but in that same year it was crushed under the power of Batu Khan. In turn a variety of powers dominated the region. Sadly Chernihiv was razed on two occasions in 1482 and 1497.
By 1623 Chernihiv was granted Magdeburg rights, allowing it to govern itself, and by 1635 it became the seat of the Czernihow Voivodship. Once again Chernihiv grew in power during the seventeenth century whilst the Khmelnytsky uprising was taking place. During 1667 the members of the ‘Treaty of Andrusovo’ became the main controllers of the area before surrendering it to Muscovite Russia. Chernigov still remained the self-governing centre of ‘Cossack Hetmanate’ until it was abolished, reducing it to a common administrative center belonging to the Russian Empire. However, it did become the capital of the local administrative units.
It must be noted that through most of the trying periods of Chernihiv’s history, it still managed to keep its ecclesiastical importance, being the seat of the archbishopric. To this day, standing on the outskirts of the city are the ancient caves of the Eletsky monasteries, the original residence of the bishop. Its astounding 6 pillar cathedrals were constructed between the periods ranging from the 11th to the 12th century, with traces of some of the most historical murals still seen today.