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Thursday, 01 December 2022


Must-see in Ukraine > 

Inessa BLYUM, journalist
Specially for “Prime Excursion Bureau”


Kiev has many symbols, starting from St. Sophia`s Cathedral and St. Andre`s Church to the bell tower of Kiev Pechersk Lavra and the Motherland Mother monument. “Ladya” - the monument to the founders of Kiev: brothers Kiy, Schek, Khoriv and their sister Lybid - has been on this list for three decades. This monuments doesn`t just embodies the old legend. It holds its special place in the capital – it is especially attractive for newly-married couples. Thousands of couples have thrown flowers into “Ladya” over their shoulders, without turning round. If flowers fall into “Ladya”, the marriage is likely to be long-lasting and happy. The so-called “love tree”, decorated with numerous ribbons, has bloomed by “Ladya” as the sign of respect and continuation of this tradition. The tree made the park even more romantic.


Saga about Kiy

There was a word at first… It was the word of the chronicler, who wrote down the legend about foundation of Kiev over a thousand years ago. It was then that the first scientific –historical argument with political implication burst out in Russian chronicles. Chroniclers of Novgorod dated foundation of Kiev only 854, turning it into not even a peer, but a younger brother of the Great Novgorod. Prince Kiy was proclaimed a simple hunter or a boatman across the Dnieper. Like there was no prince at all. The “PR – specialists” of that time gave as good as they got and developed their own theory in the local chronicle. The first answer to “enemy voices” was formulated in the ceremonial form by the author of the chronicle of 1093: “There was king Romul in old days and Rome was named after him. There was Antioch and the city of Antioch, Alexandr the Macedonian and the city Alexandria named after him. And many other cities in different regions were named after kings and princes. Our country was not an exception – the great city of Kiev was named after Kiy.

Two decades later the famous chronicler Nestor searched the archives to find more accurate information about Kiy. “Advocacy from the North” must have bothered descendants of Yaroslav Mudriy, for whom it was important to fix the status of the city as the true capital of Rus, founded not by a commoner, but a prince once and for all. The following record became the result of Nestor`s historical research.

According to Nestor, if Kiy were a boatman, he couldn`t go to Tsargrad. But Kiy was a prince among his people and visited the Emperor, whose name is unknown to us, but who is known to have welcomed Kiy with honor, when the prince visited him. On his way back Kiy built a small town on Danube and offered his congeners to settle down there, but local population opposed. Population of the Danube region still calls this place “Kiyevets settlement”. Kiy returned to his native city, where eventually died. After his and his brothers` death, his dynasty ruled over Polyany land.

Nestor didn’t mention the name of the Emperor, whom the founder of the city visited. But the city didn`t become younger because of that. Relying on archeological data, historians of the 19th - 20th centuries have determined exactly – there was a settlement with active trade on the highland, which has turned into the mountains of the right bank , starting from the times of Roman Emperor Trayan (98 – 117 AD). When the Slavs started to move from forest and forest-steppe regions to Balkans, they moved along the most usual way of that time - along rivers. And the ruler, who possessed the powerful line of riverside hills to the south from the Desna confluence, bore the bag on the huge territory of the whole Dnieper basin. That’s the way the tribal center of Polyany was founded and quickly strengthened. We are not likely to get to know exactly the name of the first prince, who “locked” one of the hills in a wooden fortress. It is quite possible that there were three of them – the three owners of the neighboring fortresses on the hills. They could be brothers. And their sister Lybid could also exist. The romantic name of the main Kiev inflow of the Dnieper definitely appeals to comparison-image of a beautiful girl and a swan.


The “Hovering Lybid” by Vasiliy Boroday

When it was decided to celebrate the 1500th anniversary of Kiev in state in 1982, the city got a great number of attractions, timed to this date. Now it is impossible to imagine the capital without them. The reconstructed Golden Gate, for example. According to the initial project, the “Ladya” boat, that was to be constructed on the occasion of the jubilee, , was supposed to stand on the top of the pylon of Moskovskiy Bridge that connects new residential communities in the north of the city. However, it was decided that the composition on the top of the huge 100 –meter high pylon would not be noticed and might not be able to stand strong wind load. So it was decided to set in “overland”. A small park at the foot of the most southern Pechersk hill was chosen for this purpose.

So, in May 1982 four figures, made of hammered copper, symbolizing the four legendary founders of Kiev, appeared in the park, which was named after the revolutionary figure G. Pyatakov. There is a pool with fountains at the bottom of the sculpture. By the monument there is a symbolic stone with a quotation from the chronicle, informing about foundation of Kiev. The sculpture Vasiliy Boroday and the architect Nikolay Feshenko became the authors of the composition. By the way, the monument is officially called “Hovering Lybid”.

It is high time we told about the person, who granted this monument to us. The “father” of the monument Vasiliy Boroday worked much and fruitfully during his life. He was born in Dnepropetrovsk (Ekaterinoslav) and was the son of a postman. Boroday entered an art school in 1936. He graduated with honors and got the right to enter Leningrad Art Academy. But his studies were interrupted by the war. He headed a reconnaissance company. After returning from the front as a senior lieutenant, he became a student of Kiev Art Institute. There were many of them at that time – 30 year-old front-line soldiers, who started to study peaceful professions. It was only at the age of 36 that he finally defended his diploma project.

The figure of Lybid was taken by Boroday from the image of his daughter Galina, who was a talented painter and died at young age. To immortalize her, Vasiliy embodied his sorrow and pain in the figure of the beautiful princess. Maybe that was the reason why this most favorite and gained through much suffering figure, remained intact at that frosty February night…

For almost twenty years Boroday headed the Union of Painters of Ukraine, was in charge of the workshop at the National Academy of Applied Arts and Architecture. The famous statue of the Motherland-Mother in Kiev Great Patriotic War Museum is considered his main composition. Boroday finished this monument, embodying the idea of the brilliant Yevgeniy Vuchetich. Other metropolitan Boroday`s works are also famous and recognizable – the monument to Schors on Shevchenko Boulevard and Lesya Ukrainka in Mariinskiy Park, and it his monument to Taras Shevchenko, that was set I New York.

Like many other objects, which were finished in a frantic rush timed to the City day in 1982, “Ladya” was constructed with substantial imperfections. Figures of the Princes were made of copper, but not bronze, as the sculptor wished, and poured with glasscrete. And only “Lybid” remained hollow. All these facts predetermined the dramatic accident, which happened to the monument during the severe winter of 2010. At the night between 23d and 24th of February the figures of Schek and Khoriv crashed down together with a piece of the boat and the figure of Kiy remained by miracle. The concrete didn`t bear the frost. Vasiliy Boroday, who was almost 94 then, never saw the monument restored – he died 55 days later, in April. Maybe because post factum he was criticized for constructional defects of the monument. He didn`t live a month till the opening of the restored monuments, which took place on May 20…


Monument to love

Navodnitskiy Park, where “Ladya” is placed, is remarkable not only because of it. Its area is 11 hectares. There is a “round hall” here, surrounded by high green walls of Lombardy poplars with a flowerbed with coniferous trees in the center of it. Landscape designers of the 1980th did great job.

Let`s walk around the park. A wooden church in honor of St. Vladimir and a big white cross of unusual form, set near it, have appeared lately. The UNO Alley was laid in the park in 2005, timed to the 60th anniversary of foundation of the organization. Respective memorable mark informs about it.

Maybe the monument to the revolutionary Pyatakov, still standing on one of the loans, is not worth our attention, but the Tree of Happiness is much more interesting. It has become an addition to the “wedding” reputation of “Ladya”. Leaves and apples are hanging on the branches of this small nice tree. It may be the author`s humorous comparison with the “tree of cognition of good and evil”. Anyway, newly-married couples diligently stick to the touching ritual: first they tie a ribbon round the tree, then touch a leaf on it – a sign of happy family life, and finally – touch the fruit to make fruits of their love – their children – healthy and happy.

So, this moment attracts newly-married couples not without reason: young generations of Kiev residents express their respect for the founders of the city, where they are going to live and raise their children.

So, the monument, built on the occasion of Kiev 1500th anniversary, can be legally called the monument to love, including love for the native city.

The wonderful Dnieper view has opened from the bottom of the sculpture for many decades. Feels like “Ladya” swims along an eternal river and the mighty brothers examine the range of riverside hills, where they will eventually set the first fortifications, with mute delight. And their sister Lybid meets the wind, spreading out her arms…


June 2011


Prime Excursion Bureau invites you to take part in a Kiev city tour, during which you will have an opportunity to see the Monument to the Founders of the Capital.