Poltava sprang up in Taras Shevchenko’s destiny and legacy not without a reason. It was on April 22, 1838, when Shevchenko was ransomed from slavery due to fervent endeavors of Karl Briulov, Vasyl Zhukovskyi, Vasyl Hryhorovych, Yevhen Hribinka, Oleksiy Venetsianov, Ivan Soshenko and Apollon Mokrytskyi. Right upon the manumit he got down to studying at Emperor Academy for Arts. That very Autumn Ivan Kotlyarevskyi died in Poltava. To commemorate and immortalize the poet, 24-year-old Shevchenko wrote his poem “Kotliarevskyi to remember forever”, where he called the poet “the father of Ukrainian literature” and prophesied him literary immortality. When Shevchenko was still studying at the Academy, the future genius the elocutionist got acquainted with such Poltava native-born famous people as Fedot Tkachenko and his brothers Jacob, Hryhoriy and Denys, Nymofiy Holovnya, Ivan Hydovskyi, Petro Martos. A lot of aid and good was received by young Taras Shevchenko from the professor and conference-secretary of Academy of Arts - Vasyl Ivanovych Hryhorovych, a native-born of Pyryatyn.
In the summer of 1845 it became possible for Shevchenko to visit Poltava during his second trip to Ukraine. He had a dream to get a job as an Art teacher at Kyiv University, but even despite the request of V.O. Repnina, he had to wait until there was an officially vacancy open. The archaeographic commission operating at the university commissioned Taras Hryhorovych to paint and report on the historic landmark of the Left Bank Ukraine. At the beginning of the summer of 1845, having a an insignificant allowance from the university, he left Kyiv, heading through Pyryatyn, Lubny, Khorol, Bilotserkivka, and Reshetylivka. He arrived in Poltava at the beginning of July 1845.Up until today you can see those heritage assets, which were observed and painted by Taras Shevchenko, such as Monastery of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross and Ivan Kotlyarevskyi’s house. The excursion begins at the Cathedral Square. And this is totally justified, as this is where Shevchenko most likely stayed while being in Poltava. It was the home of Kotlyarevskyi’s neighbour, General Andrii Lukyanovych (now it is most probable, the territory of the “Lileya” restaurant).This is the spot where the great Kobzar (Folk Minstrel) started his acquaintance with Poltava. Natural beauty of the area, the picturesque surroundings and silver poplars along the Vorskla river captivated the poet’s heart.
Starting with the Cathedral Mount he saw the three hills of Poltava on which the city stood for centuries, the majestic church of the Repose of the Blessed Virgin. He saw three Poltava hills from the Cathedral Mount, where the city as well as the great church of the Repose of the Blessed Virgin was for centuries. You can find the plot, which Shevchenko used as a place to paint the home of Ivan Kotlyarevskyi at the background of the Dormition Cathedral at the Cathedral square. Whilst his stay in Poltava in the summer of 1845 Shevchenko had a range of important things to do: he had to make some agreements with Poltava officials to distribute prepaid tickets for the album of etchings “Picturesque Ukraine”. He was actively assisted to do this by the head of the Institute of Noble Maidens, Sofia Ivanivna Zass and her son-in-law - an official of the Poltava Chamber of State Property K. Bielyavin.
After taking a tour around the church and the monument at the resting place of Peter the Great, having told you the story about the estates donated by Razumovsky, and which were later nationalized and became the territory of the Slavonic Seminary, we are heading to the monument to the Ukrainian War Dead Cossacks. It is likely that Shevchenko was admiring the Poltava monastery from Panyansky descent; he may have painted it right from there.
Lets turn to the Constitution Square. Now we are heading to the monument to Taras Shevchenko past the picturesque parks – the Sunny Park and Petrovskyi Park. The monument was opened on March 12, 1926 on the occasion of the 65th anniversary of the poet's death designed by the project of the famous Ukrainian sculptor Kavaleridze.
You will face a magnificent building of the Poltava Administrative House right in front of the monument. This place has always been of a great significance in the visible history of Poltava: there once was the best house in Poltava which belonged to the burgomaster Ruden here. There was also a school of copyists in the beginning of the 19th century, which was one of two that existed on soil of the whole Russian Empire. Since 1908 a pearl of Ukrainian Art Nouveau - a brilliant work of art of architect Krychevskyi, which absorbed the unique features of Ukrainian national architecture has been here.
Moving from the Constitution Square to the May Day Alley, we can get acquainted with the Apartment buildings of the beginning of the 20th century, and a Land Bank. At the time of Shevchenko's arrival in Poltava it was a prestigious area of the city, and rich people lived here. You can also enjoy one of the striking examples of the architectural Empire style - the house of the poet and playwright Kapnist, built in 1805 (Shevchenko made friends with the sons of Kapnist - Oleksiy and Semen); nearby you can see the official service - the fire department and the first police station (1827). The city garden has been the beauty and the point of interest of Poltava since the beginning of 19-th century. It was due to governors-general of Poltava Prince Kurakin, Lobanov-Rostovsky, Repnin that the garden was planted and formed. There were conservatories, greenhouses, exotic trees and bushes growing here. Outside the park area at the beginning of the 19th century the building of the Poltava School of Horticulture was erected, which existed until 1841 and was later transferred to the School for Noble Maidens.
Poltava Institute of Noble Maidens was the second educational institution in Ukraine (after Kharkiv Institute) to give secondary education and the right to occupy the position of tutor or governess in landowning or merchant families. The process of personality formation of a young woman in the 19th century was very different from the present principles. Educational and economic activities of the Institute were formed to ply students with knowledge for languages, music, literature, exact sciences as well as to cultivate resilience, firm will, integrity and vital problems solutions, ability manage a household. Shevchenko came here one of the days in early July 1845 to thank the Institute's chiefs for their aid and assistance in distributing the subscription to the “Picturesque Ukraine”. Apparently, he visited the Institute, admiring the green surroundings of the Institute Hill.
On the way back, Shevchenko admired some beautiful houses of Poltava citizens. The land here was always appreciated and of great cost. Everything has changed a lot since the Shevchenko times: Anna Gogol's estate where descendants of the Pushkin-Gogol family lived was built and disappeared; in 2002 the Church of Faith, Hope, Love and their mother Sophia was erected; The classic style building of the mid-19th century which was the former orphanage sponsored by Princess Trubetska with a luxurious balcony with consoles of artistic cast iron appeals to the eye. The monument to Poltava Commandant Colonel Kelin, unveiled on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of Poltava Battle, is on the site of the ancient Mazury Tower that once guarded the Poltava Fortress. On the occasion of this event, the street was named Kelinskyi Alley.