Skip to main content
Apr 19, 2024
3 o C
Feels like: 0 o C. .
Humidity: 90 %
USD: 40.10 / 39.50 | EUR : 43.10 / 42.10

Why was a fortress built in Kyiv in the 19th century?

Sat, 10/22/2022 - 22:41
Author: admin

The Fortress, or the New Pechersk Fortress, was a grand complex of fortifications erected by the government of the Russian Empire in Pechersk and Zverinets on the initiative of Tsar Nicholas I and according to the plans of the military engineer KI Opperman. Construction began in 1830 and lasted for several decades. The new fortress was supposed to become the support and protection of the entire "Southwest Territory" (Ukraine) in case of war with Turkey. When the Crimean War began, the fortifications had already spread over all the planned area for their construction, and the city lost huge territories occupied by residential quarters (from present-day Suvorov Street to Klovsky Descent).

The old Pechersk fortress, founded by Peter I, turned into a citadel. Vasilkovsky fortifications and a hospital, built in the form of a small fortress, adjoined it. Inside, a vast Esplanade Square was formed, stretching from St. Nicholas Cathedral and Nikolaevsky Spusk to the very end of Moskovskaya Street, on which the houses were preserved only on the right side.

Residents of Pechersk settled in free places on Shulyavka, in the Lybed valley, on the undeveloped part of Vladimirskaya street (behind the Golden Gates) and on Vasilkovskaya road, where a new residential area was formed (from Lybid to the university), called the New Building. In total, according to information, from 1832 to 1850, 800 houses were destroyed. Estates were destroyed gradually, in a certain order. Tables (“Bibikov boards”) were hung on the houses to be liquidated, indicating the time until which they could stand. It was forbidden to repair such buildings, but, as N. Leskov wrote in Pechersk Antiques, enterprising Kievans organized special workshops in which new boards were given the appearance of dilapidated dust, and at night the hurried knock of hammers was heard throughout Pechersk.

After the completion of the construction of fortifications over Pechersky Spusk and Klovsky Ravine (1848-1854), the turn came to the liquidation of the building of the Provincial Administration (Public Offices) itself, which ended up on the esplanade (exclusion zone in front of the fortress), which was done in 1853, when military action on the Danube.

For the first 30 years of its existence, the New Pechersk Fortress, without firing a single shot at the enemy, dealt several crushing blows to Kyiv itself, completely destroying and devastating the once prosperous Pechersk. Back in the 1820s, the district that competed with Podil itself turned into a semi-closed fortress zone. Moskovskaya Street ceased to be the central street of the city, giving way to this honorary role of Khreshchatyk. Numerous Pechersk shops also moved there, to Khreshchatyk. The Pechersk branches of the Podolsk workshops were closed. The university moved to Pankovshchina. Official places disappeared from the parade ground. Lost its image as the best in the city "Green Hotel". Its guests now woke up in the morning from the clanging of the shackles of captured Turks and prisoners going to work for serfs.

The dull life in the fortress zone can be judged, for example, from the notes of the engineering officer K. Khlebnikov, who served in the Kiev fortress in 1844. “
Both service activities and our social life in Kiev,” he writes, “were rather colorless. We were in need of money, we were few places and did not enjoy any public entertainment. You used to walk together, walk along the banks of the Dnieper in the evening and then go to one of us to have tea. The only living place in the fortress was the Lavra . And lieutenant Khlebnikov involuntarily became addicted to church services: “From a young age I did not like to go to church, it was tiring for me to stand still in one place, but in Kiev I sometimes approached with great pleasure the main entrance doors of the Cathedral in the Lavra, in the evening, during all-night time."

The favorite brainchild of Emperor Nicholas I, the Kiev fortress, even with its appearance, made some kind of bleak impression. Empress Maria Alexandrovna also could not stand her gloomy neighborhood, having chosen the Tsar's Palace for her autumn visits to Kyiv. The view from the windows of her apartment on the deserted Parade Square, ramparts, towers and the Nicholas Gate poisoned the whole impression of the beauties of the old Sovereign Park, and the Empress did not spare 10 thousand to cover this gloomy "knight's panorama" in the taste of the late Nikolai Pavlovich with the trees of the new Alexandrovsky Palace Park (now the Mariinsky Park).

After the Crimean campaign, there was some calm in the stubborn war of the defensive structure with the city. They resettled only the residents of those buildings that fell into final decline and could really fall apart.

In 1871, new esplanade rules came out that threatened to demolish 500 houses in Kiev and alienate new territories from the city, and in 1872, engineering general E.I. new rifled artillery in the Franco-Prussian War, the Russian government intends to retake the Kiev fortifications and expand them according to a new plan, providing for the construction of earthen forts on Lysa Gora near the mouth of the Lybid, on the site of the university, the observatory on Pavlovsk Gora and near St. Andrew's Church. The Kievans were horrified by the new wave of destruction approaching them and sent a delegation to St. Petersburg to protest against the barbaric plan of the military authorities. In June 1873, as the newspapers wrote, “joyful and important news” came from the capital:

In 1880, General Kaufman arrived in Kyiv and finally calmed the townspeople, explaining that "the defense is being transferred outside the city, where a chain of separate forts can be built along the surrounding hills." These "fortifications," one of the correspondents caustically remarked, "will really protect the city, and not smash it." In addition, the benevolent general delighted the townspeople with the news of the destruction of the esplanade rules, which were painful for their city, according to which, both inside the fortress and at a certain distance (approximately 260 meters) from it, the construction of any civil structures was prohibited.

“In order to understand the severity of these rules,” the Kievlyanin newspaper wrote about Kaufman’s promises, “it is enough to look at the city plan and the drawing of the mentioned line. This is a curve that passes through the city in the most whimsical way, not only among the streets, and on one side of the street you could build at least a five-story house, and on the other side you did not have the right to build a one-story building, but even going inside courtyards. This line runs along the noisy Bolshaya Vasylkivska Street and highlights several small circles in the Old Town. Now all this has been destroyed, you can build everywhere.”

The visit of General Kaufman marked the victory of the city in its 50-year war with the imperial stronghold. Kyiv was no longer on the defensive, but was advancing, intending to return Pechersk, which was still under the fortress, to its possessions. He waged a stubborn economic struggle against the military authorities, refusing to bear the costs of lighting the Pechersk streets, their pavements, the fire station and the police station on the grounds that, according to the existing fortress situation, Pechersk was not part of the territory controlled by the Duma, the assessment of real estate here is not the corresponding estimated fees (taxes) in favor of the city were not collected from the inhabitants of the fortress (and there were many of them here).

In 1884, the military authorities again achieved the renewal of the old esplanade rules, and from then until the abolition of the fortress in 1896, a rather extensive zone located on the territory of residential development was at the disposal of the military commandant. “The esplanade area in Kyiv,” wrote in 1889 the newspaper. "Kievlyanin" is very extensive - from the Trinity Bazaar (now the square near the Olympic complex) to Chernyshov's dacha (now - near the Lybidska metro station), the left side of Naberezhno-Lybe dekoy st. (now - Antonovich), Blacksmith - from Sovskaya (now - Fizkultury Street) to Police (now - I. Fedorova), Predslavinskaya, Sovskaya, Delovaya, Police, Laboratory, Lybidsko-Vladimirskaya (the lower part of the present Jerzy Giedroytsa), German, Zverinetskaya and Bolotnaya (now Kovpaka), the entire Menagerie,

The new economic war between the Duma and the fortress continued for more than 25 years, and as a result of the stubbornness of the military authorities, Pechersk fell into final decline. Until the mid-1890s, there was no gas lighting, no running water, no decent pavements, no public transport, no high-rise residential buildings, no bazaars. The incompatibility of the city and the fortress is evidenced, for example, by the fact that on that part of Bolshaya Vasilkovskaya Street, which fell under the esplanade rules, in 1880. one could only see wooden houses and kerosene lanterns, but from the corner of Sovskaya (Physical Culture) Street, from where the “city part of the street” began, the picture changed, gas lighting and multi-storey stone houses immediately appeared. So the invisible line separating the city from the fortress was really designated.

In 1889, the inhabitants of Pechersk turned to the Duma with a request to lay a line of the city railway for them, along which the horse-drawn carriage ran, but they were also denied this, since the commandant of the fortress did not dare to dismantle part of the wall on the isthmus that connected Alexandrovskaya and old Nikolskaya streets, and fill up a moat in this place. A breach in this "Berlin Wall", erected at the behest of Nicholas I and dividing the city into two parts for half a century, was managed by engineer-general Struve - he developed a plan for a new tram line connecting Khreshchatyk with Nikolskaya (now Arsenalnaya]) Square in Pechersk. The Duma found funds to fill in the fortress moat to the right of the Nikolsky Gates. The fortress wall in this place was dismantled. The long confrontation between the city and the fortress came to an end.

Mentions of the Pechersk esplanade are found in the press and literature until the First World War. So, for example, the compiler of the project for the development of the Kyiv outskirts, prof. G. Dubelir in 1912 complained that in his time the designer could not get close to Pechersk, since he was "still bound by esplanade restrictions." In this case, it was about restricted areas and right-of-way at military facilities, and there were quite a few of them in Pechersk, since in 1897 the fortress was not liquidated, but, as it were, redesigned, turned into a warehouse fortress.