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Wonders of Ukraine
St Paul’s Outside the Walls
If you arrive at the little town of Terebovlya in the Land of Ternopilshchyna by train, one of the first things that you can’t help seeing is an imposing church which stands almost next door to the railroad station.
The town may be small but its history is rather long. If you take trouble to come closer to the church you will, no doubt, wonder why it looks so very different from what a typical stone church looks like in the western parts of Ukraine. Particularly amazing are the columns that stand in front of the facade in a big rectangular providing a rather majestic touch to the whole architectural design of the church.
The Church of St Peter and St Paul was designed as a replica of the famous basilica of San Paolo Fuori le Mura (St Paul’s Outside the Walls).
S. Paolo Fuori le Mura (St. Paul’s Outside the Walls) is one of the several famous basilicas of Rome, which are designated as maggiore — great (under the 1929 concordat with Vatican City, the Italian government grants them extraterritorial privileges).
S. Paolo Fuori le Mura is a basilica that was originally built by the emperor Constantine over the St Paul’s grave, outside the then walls of Rome. It was later replaced by a structure mammoth for its time, 328 by 170 feet. It was faithfully restored after a fire in 1823. By 1840, the work of restoration was completed. Though the church acquired a new facade, it remains an outstanding example of early basilical architecture. It has a single eastern apse, a lofty transept, and five majestic nave ais
les. Before the Muslim rampage around the walls in 846, the approach to the basilica was a mile-long colonnade.
It is not known why the Catholic community of the town of Terebovlya wanted a church that would look like a somewhat modified early-Christian basilica, but they did and commissioned a Polish architect, Adolf Zhivka-Bogusz, who had distinguished himself in restoration of the royal palace in Cracow, to provide a design that would be adjusted to the local conditions and yet preserve the basic features of S. Paolo Fuori le Mura.
The church in Terebovlya was built in 1924–1925 (at that time Ternopilshchyna belonged to Poland). It is a not a close replica of the famous basilica in Roma — rather its design can be described as having been inspired by S. Paolo Fuori le Mura.
Close to the entrance to the church there stand two statues — one is that of St Peter with his keys to the gate of Paradise, and the other one is that of St Paul holding a sword — it represents the sword that he was killed with.
The interior of the church also bears architectural echoes of S. Paolo Fuori le Mura: two rows of columns that run along the central nave, and the design of the vault, for example.
In the soviet times, the church was used as a klub — “a community center”, but after Ukraine’s independence, it was given back to the Catholic community of the town.
When I stood in front of the church, I felt like exclaiming, “O mamma mia, che bello!”
The Church of St Peter and St Paul in Terebovlya looks like a replica of the famous Italian church San Paolo Fuori le Mura in Rome.
San Paolo Fuori le Mura in Rome.
The columns and the coffered ceiling in the interior of the Church of St Peter and St Paul resemble similar features in the Italian church San Paolo Fuori le Mura.
Atone place on the road between the villages of Yasen and Hrynkiv which are situated in the Carpathian Mountains, you can see a strange sign that says Anhelivska pich. (Anhelska pich can mean something like “Angels’ Stove”). I could not resist the temptation to go and find out what kind of pich it was, sitting in the forested mountains.
I did find it. What I saw looked like a step pyramid from the outside, and inside it looked as though I found myself inside either a chimney or a tall medieval tower.
In fact, the strange building used to be a blast-furnace (pich in Ukrainian can mean many things — one of them is “furnace”) that belonged to a local landowner. His furnace was located at a place locally known as urochyshche Anheliv, but no angels were involved here — it was just a modified name of the local landowner who owned the furnace.
It was built close to the river Limnytsya in the early nineteenth century. In 1818, the first metal was produced by the furnace but since there was not enough ore or other necessary things for a successful operation of a blast-furnace, it was closed down several years later.
During WWI, the smithy and other buildings which located close by the furnace, were either destroyed or badly damaged by artillery shelling.
Since then, Anhelivska pich is a romantic ruin that attracts tourists.
A blast-furnace which was built in the early nineteenth century is an exotic sight indeed in the Carpathian Mountains.
The village of Kasperivtsi in the Land of Ternopilshchyna is located in a very scenic place, not far from the River Strypa and the River Dnister into which the Strypa empties.
Kasperivtsi is a small village but tourists do come to see the Church of St George which looks more like a strongpoint rather than a church. It is believed to have been built in the sixteenth century, or maybe even earlier. In those times, the area where the village is located, was a bone of contention between the rivaling powers, and was often subjected to invasions and raids.
But there is another sight in the vicinity of Kasperivtsi that has a tourist potential too — it is a stone slab that can be seen at the old cemetery close to the bank of the River Strypa.
On the slab one can see carved an image of St Onufriy the Hermit in his cave. The slab is believed to be around three hundred years old. One of the local legends has it that once a man escaped from a POWs’ camp which had been set up by the invading Tartars. He swam across the river and stayed for some hiding in the forest in the vicinity of the village. Since his successful escape took place on the Feast Day of St Onufriy, the grateful escapee carved an image of the saint on a piece of rock in a fit of thank-you enthusiasm and disappeared.
There is probably no way of finding out how true this legend may be, but St Onufriy is still there for anyone to see.
Prior to visiting the village, I had read that the archeologists who had been working in the vicinity of the village, had unearthed evidence that there had been a human settlement there that dated to the Paleolithic times. That area must have been picturesque even thousands of years ago, and such finds surely increase the village’s tourist potential.
This image is believed to be that of St Onufriy the Hermit.
By Olena Krushynska. Photos by the author[Prev][Contents][Next]
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