A monument to Bohdan Khmelnytsky, a hetman and political leader of the 17th century was erected on St. Sofia Square in 1888 to mark 900 years of Christianity in the Kyivite Rus. (Khmelnytskyi plays an important though controversial role in the history of Ukraine. Some still view him as the national hero and fighter for Ukraine’s sovereignty, others believe that he had betrayed Ukraine by signing the Pereyaslav Rada Treaty with Russia in 1654, but this is a completely different story :)
The monument’s bitter/sweet story fully reflects on the time in which it has been created. The idea to erect the monument dates to 50es of the 19th century, and meant to commemorate 200 years since Khmelnytsky's death (1659). The idea resurfaced in 60es, after the Polish revolt of 1863. Finally the Tsar granted approval in 1870. the monument was commissioned to the Tsar’s favorite - a Russian architect, Mikeshyn, the author of the monument to Catharine the II.
When Mikeshyn presented his “vision” in Kyiv, it evoked a lot dispute due to its political incorrectness. (What Mikeshyn had in mind differed significantly from what one can see now). The monument was completely phobic and chauvinistic: on the back, there were supposed to be corpses of a Polish gentleman, a Jesuit monk and a Jewish lessor, kicked from the rock by Khmelnytsky’s horse. In front of the monument, united Slavs - maloros (the way a Ukrainian was called in Tsarist Russia, literary a person from the Small Russia), chervonoros (an inhabitant of Galychyna, at that time still under Austria-Hungarinan emprire), beloros and velikoros (a Russian, literary a person from Big Rus) were listening to a blind kobzar (aka Shevchenko). On the sides, three major battles were planned to be depicted on the sides – the Zbarazh Battle, the Pereyaslav Council and victorious entrance to Kyiv.
Everyone (or may be almost everyone) in Ukraine knows that Khmelnytsky’s club is pointed in Moscow's direction. But not too many know that according to Mikeshyn, the club originally was supposed to point toward Poland (not sure whether to threaten them with a new ride or for a different reason :)
But the monument’s positioning has been changed. Why? Because of the horse, or rather its croup and tail. In the original position the croup and tail would be facing the ST. Michael’s Cathedral. What’s the big deal? Both ST. Michael and ST. Sofia were places for pilgrimage. It was a customary for pilgrims to cross (bless) St. Sofia after exiting from the St. Michaels. In the case with the monument, pilgrims would also be crossing (blessing) the horse's croup. Appaled clergy wrote the letter to the Tsar – the direction of the monument has been changed :)
For whatever reason, (some say because the collected sum was insignificant, others that the Kyiv Jewish community appalled by the anti-Semite idea collected money and “persuaded” the Kyiv governor :) to exclude a Jewish lessor, thus making “historic” picture incomplete), the idea of “small groups” along with battles was dropped. At some point, to save on cost they were planning to get rid off of the club and even the horse.
It would take even longer, if it was not for the Naval Department, which had donated 15 tons scrap metal. in 1879, the hetman and the horse have been shipped to Kyiv to be stored for 9 more years in the storage of the Police Dept. because it still lacked the base (the rock). people joked that the police “arrested” Khmelnytsky.
Finally, in 1885, on the initiative of Volodymyr Nikolaev, the building of the monument finally moved to the final stage. The Kyiv Fortress donated blocks left from building the Chain Bridge for the base, while Nikolaev, who worked pro bono, on his money constructed the cross-like fence with lanterns.
the monument was opened with great festivities in 1888. it had two inscriptions: "we ask (wish) for the eastern Orthodox Tsar " and "to Bohdan Khmelnytsky from the united Russia"
The monument to Bohdan Khmelnitsky was dedicated on June 23, 1888 in Sophia Square.
Its total height is 10.85 meters.
The monument was created by sculptor M.Mikeshin and the granite pedestal was made by architect V.Nikolayev.
The monument was built on donations.
The monument is dedicated to the Cossacks’ leader Bohdan Zinovy Khmelnitsky
(1595-1657) who headed the Ukrainian people's liberation struggle against the Polish yoke in the middle of the 17th century.
The struggle was crowned by the glorious victory of the Cossacks’ Army over the Polish-Lithuanian Army in 1648.
The Ukrainian Cossacks taught the Polish knights a lesson they could never get over until the desintegration of the Polish Kingdom as such...
The monument stands at the place where Kiev residents greeted the Cossacks’ leader with his army in December 1648 after the Cossacks defeated the Polish army.
That defeat was a terrible blow to the Polish-Lithuanian Kingdom after which it could never recover and ended in complete disintegration in about a hundred years.
Cossack leader, Bohdan Khmelnitsky led Ukraine's incorporation into the Russian empire in 1654. Parts of western Ukraine were annexed by the Austrian empire and all Ukrainian lands were only united into a single territory after World War Two.
Bogdan Khmel'nitsky (1595-1657) was the leader of the Ukrainian Cossack uprising against the Poles, with the aim of achieving an independent Ukrainian state. At Christmas 1648, he made a triumphant entry into Kiev, where he was hailed as, "The Moses, saviour, redeemer, and liberator of the people from Polish captivity". The statue of him mounted on a horse is now one of the city's great monuments.
The statue of Bohdan Khlmelnystky (Bogdan in Russian) is located on St Sophia Square, right next to the Cathedral.
Bohdan is regarded by Ukrainians and Russians as a National Hero and has his face imprinted on the 5 Hryvnia note (Ukraine's currency). Some Ukrainians however heavily criticize him for his union with Russia which is a country that Ukraine have always tried to become Independent from.
Bohdan is famous for leading the revolt against the Rech Pospoliyta rule. He is regarded as an outstanding commander and leader in Ukrainian history.
The monument to Bogdan Khmelnitsky sits in the open area in front of St Sofia's Cathedral, if we arrive from the monastery complex of St Michail.
The exact date when he was born is not known but it is considered to be in 1595. He died on August 6, 1657.
He joined the Cossacks in 1620 and was Hetman (chieftain) of the Zaporozhian Cossacks from 1648 to 1657, and founder of the Hetman state which lasted 1648–1782. He was also the leader of the great uprising against Poland in 1648, one of the most important events in Ukrainian history.
From the beginning the plan was there should be dozens of smaller sculptures together with the one we can see today but there wasn't enough money for that. Also the pedestal had to wait for its completion, so during eight years the sculpture was kept in the yard of the Starokievsky police department. Eventually the pedestal was made of the leftover of the granite boulders used to build the Chain Bridge (the one in Kiev, not the famous one in Budapest).