Bila Tserkva – Be Swept Away by the Beauty of the Winter Palace

Along the Ros’ River you will find the city of Bila Tserkva, which lies in the province of the Kiev Oblast in the centre of Ukraine. Close by, just eighty kilometers to the north, you will find the national capital of Ukraine, Kiev. Bila Tserkva serves as an administrative center for the district of the Bilotserkivskyi Raion, but, interestingly, unlike the other cities it is subjected directly to the authorities of the Oblast rather than under the raion administration which is located in the city.

If you go back in history you will note that when the city was established in 1032, it was originally called ‘Yuriev’, after Yaroslav the Wise whose first name was Yuri. Interestingly, the direct translation of Bila Tserkva is ‘White Church’, which may be in reference to the white-painted cathedral that existed during the medieval times of Yuriev. In 1363 the town came under ownership of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania until 1569 when it was taken over by the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. By 1620 it was granted Magdeburg Rights to govern itself by Sigismund III Vasa.

Nevertheless, in 1651 a peace treaty was finally agreed upon by the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and what was known as Ukrainian Cossack rebels who were under Bohdan Khmelnytsky. In 1795 Bila Tserkva came into what was called Imperial Russia after Polish third partition. During the 19th century the city became well-known as a significant marketplace, however, by the time the Soviet era came about it had become a sought after industrial centre. Industries ranged from construction to machine building.

When touring around the area you will notice a lot of beautiful buildings which are architecturally astounding, such as the 1809-1814 covered market to the 1825-1831 post building complex. One of the most astounding beauties, however, belongs to the ‘Winter Palace’. The Branickis is also something to admire as a Palladian wooden building styled in the classical architectural style similar to that made famous by Andrea Palladio during the 16th century as well as the district nobility assembly, to mention a few. Some intriguing sights also include the St. Nicholas church which was only completed in 1852, nearly 146 years after it was begun. The Orthodox cathedral in Bila Tserkva was constructed from 1833 to 1839, while during that same time the Catholic Church was established.

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