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Chernovtsi is a historical city in Western Ukraine. It is the administrative center of Chernovtsi province and district. It is an important rail and road transportation hub and has an airport too.


The history of Chernovtsi began many centuries ago. Archeological evidence indicates there was a population in the area since the neolithic era. Artifacts from the Bronze and Iron ages have been found in the city, remains of early Slavic tribes discovered in the area date back to the 2nd to 5th century and artifacts of Croatian and Tiverian people found originate from the 9th to 11th century. The fortified settlement originally located on the left bank of the river Prut is believed to have been built by the Great Prince Yaroslav Osmomysl who ruled the region in the 12th century. Legends refer to the city as Chern, meaning Black city. It is said it was because of the black walls  that protected the settlement - they were made of dark oak wood and layered with black soil that is typical for the region.

Fights for Chernovtsi

The stronghold was unfortunately destroyed during the Mongol invasion in the 13th century. Although parts of the fortification remained intact, the population later settled on the right bank of the river instead because it was more elevated and thus safer. In 1359 the city and its surroundings became a part of the neighboring Principality of Moldova. Chernovtsi is mentioned in the business corespondence between Price Alexandru cel Bun and merchants from Lvov which was then a part of Poland. In the 18th century the city became part of the Duchy of Bukovina, part of the Austrian Empire. It received Magdeburg rights soon thereafter. During the 19th and early 20th century, Chernovtsi was a center of Ukrainian nationalist movement. When the Austro-Hungarian empire fell apart in 1918, the city briefly joined the West Ukrainian People's Republic. Ukrainian sovereignity  did not flourish, however, and the area was taken by the Kingdom of Romania. In 1940 the Red Army forces claimed the region and it subsequently became part of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic of USSR. Romania re-gained control of the city and much of Southern Ukraine in 1941 as part of the Axis attack on Soviet Union during WWII. When the Axis forces were driven out by the Soviet Army, the city returned to Ukrainian SSR. Since 1991, it belongs to the independent state of Ukraine.


Apart from individual buildings from 15th to 17th centuries, the most valued and important architectural elements are located in the city center. These are mostly former administrative buildings and some residential houses built at the end of the 19th century, beginning of 20th and between the two world wars.  The major architectural styles of Chernovtsi are Viennese art deco and neoclassicism with elements of barque, late gothic, fragments of traditional Moldovan and Hungarian architecture, the Roman-Byzantium style as well as bits of cubism. The most attractive sights are the buildings of Chernovtsi Drama Theatre, Chernovtsi National University, Regional Museum of Fine Arts from (former Bukovian savings bank), Regional Council (former Palace of Justice), Palace of Culture (former Jewish National House) and the apartment house on Koblyanska Street 53 (former German National House).


One can get acquainted with Ukrainian past and present in the regional museumof local folklore, history and economy, the open air museum of architecture and way of life or the museum of the Bukovynian Diaspora. Visitors can also admire the rich collection at the museum of fine arts and the memorial museums of Olga Kobylianska, Yuri Fedkovych and Volodymyr Ivasiuk.

Community News:
Soroptimist Club Chernivtsi. Secretary Julia Lomakina E-mail: lomakinajulia@yahoo.com  

Chernovtsi National Theatre

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