Project “16 Days of Gratitude”: day 1

On the occasion of the 105th anniversary of the Day of Restoration of the State of Lithuania and as a sign of gratitude to the country and people who are supporting Ukraine in the war with Russia, we have prepared a project “16 Days of Gratitude”. Every day from February 1 to 16 we will show how Kyiv and Lithuania are related in toponymy, events, and personalities… and how Kyiv looks today, so that one day when you visit the city, it will hospitably reveal all its secrets to you.

Day 1. Lithuanian Castle in Kyiv. This is the most famous and significant landmark of Kyiv from the times of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, when we were one great and powerful state. The castle is located on the Castle Hill of the same name. The best way to get there is from the Andriiivsky Uzvoz where you can find a red granite plaque established by Lithuanian and Ukrainian politicians with information about the castle and then climb the steep steps (65 meters up). On top, you may enjoy the view of the whole city.

Zamkova Gora was inhabited by people as early that it is impossible to know the exact date. It is said that the legendary founder of the city of Kyi lived there with his brothers and a sister. From those times, life on the mountain  lasted until the 17th century. Prince Volodymyr Olherdovych of Kyiv (1362 – 1394) built a castle with a large number of administrative, residential, and warehouse buildings, three Orthodox churches and a church. Money was minted at the mint. A number of Kiev princes resided in the castly, in particular, the son of Volodymyr Olherdovich Olelka (1441 – 1454) and the grandson Semyon (1454 – 1470). In 1481, princes Mykhailo Olelkovich and Ivan Holshansky were executed in the castle for preparing a rebellion against the Polish king Casimir IV Jagiellonchik. After the liquidation of the Kyiv principality in 1471, the place became the residence of the Kyiv governors (e.g., Konstantin Vasyl Ostrozky (1559 – 1608)). Today, it is difficult to imagine how big and strong the castle was. It did not surrender even to the Zaydans from the Golden Horde and the Crimean Khanate. Between the slopes you can still see the remains of the old roads that led to the fortress, but everything has been lost in time. According to evidence in 1594, the Kyiv castle was abandoned and almost rot (it was wooden); in 1605 it burned down due to a lightning strike. The castle was finally destroyed by the Cossacks of Bohdan Khmelnytskyi in 1649 as the property of the Polish nobles, after which it began to decline, its buildings were dismantled over time. Later, what was missing here was a hayloft, a cemetery, and (destroyed by the Bolsheviks) even a “jammer” of enemy radio stations. Since 1972, Castle Mountain has been included in the Park-Museum “Ancient Kyiv” and declared an archaeological reserve.

On February 16, there is a tradition of unfurling a huge Lithuanian flag, which can be seen from outer space on the Castle Hill.

Dr. Ruslana Martseniuk – VMU Faculty of Humanities researcher at Kaunas History Center.

Photo by dr. Ruslana Martseniuk