Vasylkiv – A Large Town Indeed
Situated on the Stuhna River in the Kyiv Oblast, Vasylkiv is a beautiful Ukrainian city with a long and compelling history. Today, the city serves as the administrative center of the Vasylkivskyi Raion (district). It enjoys picturesque surroundings and a stunning riverside location that only adds to its appeal. Perhaps this is what has helped to make Vasylkiv in Ukraine such a large city, since the city population is currently more than 41,000.
Vasylkiv is one of those cities that is so old that the exact founding date of the original settlement is unknown. It seems to pre-date most written records, but it must have been in existence by the early 10th century since it was recorded as being the place where Vladimir the Great placed his numerous wives. Since Vladimir the Great lived between 958 and 1015 CE it can be supposed that the city had come into existence either prior to his rule or during it. Furthermore, the surrounding area has well over 1000 years of history and since Vasylkiv is a part of this, the town likely has just as long a history as the region. Sometime after the Christianization of Kiev, brought about by Vladimir the Great, Vladimir built a fortress in the area named Vasilev after the patron saint, Saint Vasily (Basil).
In later years Vasylkiv continued to enjoy religious significance. Between 1756 and 1758, a Ukrainian baroque church was built on the supposed site of the birth of Saint Theodosius. In 1796 the town received city status. However, it would seem that despite this glorious beginning, the city later fell into obscurity. It later increased in popularity due to an anecdotal story associated with Catherine II of Russia. According to the story, the Empress was sleeping in her carriage as it passed through the city one night. She woke with a bump as the carriage lost a wheel and inquired as to the name of the town before falling asleep again. She later woke again after her servants had repaired the damaged and the carriage jolted into action to continue on its way. Once again, she inquired as to the name of the town they were in and, upon learning that it was the same as before, she remarked: “A large town, indeed.” Of course the town was not large as to take an entire night to journey through, but instead the carriage had remained stationary for the duration of her sleep – a fact of which she was unaware.
Vasylkiv also played an important role during the Cold War years as a host city for the Vasilkov Air Base. The base is still in existence as a medium-sized fighter base and is situated approximately 7 kilometers north of the city.