The most beautiful places in the world are usually hidden away from human's eyes, or are secluded enough to be hard to reach. Numerous islands with tropical trees and fruits, vast forests with rare birds, and lakes with crystal-clear water are just some examples. What about places, abundant with nature, but founded by human, though? Krasnokutsky arboretum which lies in Kharkov is the case. Let's see what's so special about it.
Rightly considered one of the best nature reserves not only in Kharkov region, but in Ukraine, Krasnokutsky arboretum has rich history apart from its beauty. In 1654, three years after the foundation of Krasnokutsk, a men's Peter and Paul monastery was founded in the future place of arboretum. It was built by the Cossacks, who were one of the first to settle on these lands. Apart from building a monastery, they also dug up two deep ponds (which are still there and are located in the center of the arboretum) and an extensive network of underground caves — Cossack monks were hiding there during the invasion of the Crimean Tatars. The monastery stood for more than a hundred years. It withstood numerous invasion, although during one of them it was completely burned down. The monks, however, used the underground network system and fled from the fire. During the reign of Catherine II, the same network was used by rebels who opposed the regime. Hence, she decided to close the monastery. The monastic lands and structures, along with the adjoining farm, were presented in 1768 to Colonel Nazar Karazin for his services in the Russian-Turkish war of 1768-1774.
Read: Radomysl Castle: the Pearl of Polesye
Later the lands were inherited by Nazar's son, Ivan Karazin, and thus began the history of Krasnokutsky arboretum as people know it these days in Kharkov. In 1793, he designed and established an arboretum, which took up 17 hectares of land. Some of these lands have been occupied by oak forest, and individual specimens of which grow in the arboretum even nowadays. Some of them are more than 300 years old. Ivan Karazin used natural relief, carried out large construction works, built the terraces that are present nowadays, conducted water drainage works, and made sure the two ponds on the territory of park sustain a special climate crucial for them. The Karazin brothers traveled a lot and after every trip they brought home rare trees. They have assembled hundreds of trees, shrubs, flowers: plants were imported from Japan, China, America, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, and various European countries.
Unfortunately, the heyday of the arboretum has soon ended. It was very damaged during the Civil War of 1917-1921, and suffered heavily in the years of the WWII. Many exotic trees and plants were cut down, and weeds dominated in huge areas of the park, lianas expanded and turned into impenetrable thickets. Plants that grew on terraces were abandoned and soon died, wells and dams were destroyed, ponds were frozen and turned into marshes, the nursery was lost. The arboretum began to revive only in 1957, slowly rebuilding its past glory. In 1993, the arboretum celebrated its 200th anniversary. Now, more than two hundred years old, it is still home to various flora and fauna, as well as an eye-candy for locals and tourists.
A popular tourist attraction, Krasnokutsky aboretum in Kharkov is visited for different reasons: some want to explore the underground network, some have scientific interest in botany and deem this place to be a perfect site for exploration, and some just simply want to relax and enjoy the beautiful views. No matter the purpose, the arboretum has plenty attractions to lure in anyone. Firstly, two caves of the Peter and Paul Monastery welcome those who want to feel like Cossacks or rebels hiding from the regime. Some researchers assume that the length of the labyrinths in the ancient times reached 18 km and they stretched to the neighboring village of Globivka. The caves are laid with a yellow brick on a solid solution. Part of the labyrinth collapsed during the dark days of the park's history, hiding an underground church, which was located there according to numerous legends. Luckily, two caves with restored masonry are now open for tourists.
The oldest tree in the arboretum, Ginkgo, also called the tree of happiness, was brought by Karazin brothers from China. Tour guides and locals believe that if you touch the tree's trunk and make a wish, it will come true. Visitors also have a chance to see water turtles, swans and the family of roedeers among the numerous dwellers of the park — they aren't scared of people and welcome gentle attention.
Read: TOP 10 Ukrainian Locations According to Depositphotos
One of the most popular attractions, blooming water lilies, lures in lovers of Monet and Kharkov-based, as well as foreign artists, who find inspiration in this corner of Krasnokutsky arboretum. Besides, guests of the park have a unique opportunity to taste local nalyvkas — homemade liqueurs often made of fruits, which are believed to have stomach-settling and soothing properties — and local wines.
How to get there
You can reach Krasnokutsky arboterum by bus from Myrhorod or Kharkov. The latter option is more popular — shuttle bus leaves from the bus station No. 2, which is located in the downtown, near the "Central Market" metro station. It usually takes 1,5-2 hours to get to the park. Those who want to reach the park by car can use Kyiv road and rely on GPS.
Address: 10, Telmana street, Krasnokutsk, Kharkov oblast'
Photo source: shutterstock.com. All images belong to their rightful authors.