Bila Tserkva, 50-richchya Peremohy Blvrd.
Stretching over the western outskirts of Bila Tserkva, not far from Kyiv, the Dendropark Oleksandriya is considered to be one of the most beautiful and charming landscape parks in the country. Created by the best European architects and gardeners, it is a vivid monument of landscape art of the 18th-19th centuries. Oleksandriya occupies a territory of 200 hectares and is, therefore, the largest landscape park in Ukraine and one of the largest ones in Eastern Europe. It is always full of guests, who are attracted by special atmosphere and an opportunity to escape the urban hustle and bustle in splendid natural surroundings.
The landscape park was named after Aleksandra von Engelhardt, the own niece of the Prince Grigory Potyomkin and the lady-in-waiting of Catherine the Great, who received the mansion in Bila Tserkva as a present from her husband, crown hetman of Poland Ksawery Branicki. Being amazed by luxurious parks in European capitals, she decided to create an as beautiful and elegant landscape park in her residence. However, on the contrary to prim park complexes of the Old World with stiffly cut trees and ideally straight lanes, the countess wanted to make the landscape of her park as close to natural as possible. She didn’t strive to change local nature, rather to bring some order in it, highlighting its beauty and richness.
Construction of the Oleksandriya Park started in the second half of the 18th century. It was coordinated by a famous French architect. Park’s compositions were based on the existing forest-steppe landscape with natural oak plantations. It was dilute with exotic plants, which were ordered from Europe and America by mansion’s master. At the same time, the works on general beautification of the arboretum were carried out: architectural constructions, bronze and marble sculptures, made by famous Russian and foreign masters, decorative compositions of large boulders and artificial earthen hills were harmoniously interwoven in its landscape. Cascades of ponds with pure spring water, original waterfalls, fountains, and arched bridges have been created on the landscape complex’s territory.
The main path runs from Oleksandriya’s entrance to the depth of the park and ends on the place, where the Branicki Palace used to stand. A fan of smaller paths forks there. One of them goes through the oak grove, which was the basis for the park; another one leads to the charming Chinese Bridge, adorned by two bronze statues – Sage and Chinese Woman. The bridge got such name because of the pavilion resembling a Chinese pagoda, which is situated on it.
Dendropark’s compositional kernel is the Big Glade, where all lanes meet. It lives up to its name in full: the glade has a territory of more than nine hectares and is covered with a carpet of succulent verdure. Its main attraction is the colonnade Echo, shaped as a horseshoe. Once it was adorned by a gallery of sculptures and elegant vases; today, the pavilion is notable only for its original acoustics: even a whispered word can be perfectly heard on the other side of the colonnade, while loud talk causes an echo.
Mansion’s masters’ ‘genealogical tree’ survived on the Big Glade: these are grown together pines, which are called ‘Two Sons’ and ‘Three Daughters.’ ‘Seven Brothers’ stand not far from them. It’s a group of bowing chestnuts, which were planted by a gardener to commemorate his nephews who died during the Crimean War.
There are several deep ponds – Mirror, Cold, Swan and Swimming – on Oleksandriya’s territory. The latter one is notable for the ‘Ruins’ located on its bank. This unusual structure, resembling ancient ruins, is actually an imitation of destroyed by time buildings. A waterfall follows from underneath the ruins, and an original fountain functions not far from them, on the Island of Dream.
However, park’s main adornment is its rich and varied vegetation. There are almost 1400 species, variations and sorts of plants. A large number of rare exotic plants grows in Oleksandriya on par with local trees – oaks, maples, pines, ash trees and birches. They create and inimitable atmosphere in the park.
You can visit the dendropark on yourself or as a part of a guided tour.