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A Historical City in Western Ukraine

Kovel, Volyn region

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A view of the railway station

A view of the railway station

I happened to visit this nice city twice, both times on my way from Germany to my home, and both times unplanned. I was in Kovel for the first time when our group had to make a stopover there on the way from Germany by bus. We stayed for a night at the local hotel. When I was there for the first time in 1993, we stayed overnight at the city hotel called "Lissova Pisnia" ("Forest Song").

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Kovel railway station

Kovel railway station


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My second stay was not planned either. On my way from Germany in September 2006, I made a short stopover in this city waiting for my train to Kiev. Therefore, I had another chance of spending some time in Kovel. I just spent an evening there.

I must say the city is very far from Luhansk where I used to live - about 1,300 km. I would have to travel via Kiev where I would change for the direct train to Kovel.

The city entry roadside marker

The city entry roadside marker


At the River Turia

At the River Turia


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At the River Turia

At the River Turia


When in Kovel, it was nice to walk downtown, to listen to the people and to try speaking some "West-Ukrainian" there... Alas, it was to no avail. The locals would "decipher" me in no time and would simply ask me if I was from the East/from Luhansk. How on earth did they do it? A good ear for music, I call it.

I found some information on this city when I arrived home. Now I know that the city of Kovel was founded in 1310 as a part of Lithuania. On July 6, 2010, the Ukrainians celebrated the 700th anniversary of the foundation of Kovel. Since 1940, Kovel has been the administrative center of Kovel District. The City Day is celebrated on July 6. On that day in 1944 the city was liberated from the Nazi invaders.

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The city is located in Polissia zone (Forest zone) and occupies an area of about 47 sq. km/18 square miles. The three-mile-long River Turia stretches through the city. The river is called Turia - a nice and picturesque Ukrainian river, I would say. There is a water reserve made on that river between two bridges. If you wish to enjoy the river landscape in and around the city, why not go to the suburbs, for example, to “Turia” Spa located at 137 St.Volodymyr Street. The spa is located right at the riverbank and offers treatment for people with heart, lungs and intestines diagnosis. They have their own mineral water well with high quality healing water. The spa exists since 1987. It occupies a huge area of about 17 hectares. You can have different baths at the first hall including herbs baths. This is the address: 137 St.Volodymyr Street, Kovel 45000, Volyn region, Ukraine. Phone: +38 03352 4 61 80. If you drive along Independence Street and then turn to Shevchenko Street, you will get to Shevchenko Park where you can a nice view of the river (water reserve), see the monument to Great Taras (1814-1861). The monument looks very unique and attracting.

At the railway station

At the railway station

Kovel is about 75 km/47 miles far from Lutsk, the regional center (by motorway) and 60 km/37 miles away from Poland.

Kovel is an ancient Ukrainian city founded in the beginning of the 11th century as an ancient Russ (Kyiv Rus) settlement. According to the old legend, the first settler ever in that area was a skilled smith (in Ukrainian “koval”), thus the village he lived in was called Kovle. Over time, the name gradually transformed into its modern version.

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On the Kovel medieval coat of arms - along with other armory attributes - one can see the outlines of a castle and a horseshoe, an old symbol of happiness and wealth. These images are fully in line with the then realities.

In 1518, by his Charter the Polish King Sigismund the First allowed Duke Basil Sangushky to turn the village of Kovle into a city and granted it the Magdeburg Rights, which promoted trade fairs and commerce, and internally established local self-government.

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Since 1543, Kovel was managed by Kovel elders, who took care of the city’s living environment, managed the king’s coffers and did justice to the nobility and peasants. Local economy was underpinned by small-sized manufacturers working to meet local market needs.

On July 6, 1944 Kovel was liberated from German invaders. Today Kovel is the second significant city of Volyn region.

The city’s coat-of-arms represents a horseshoe as a symbol of smith trade and a symbol of happiness. Three silver stars represent Volyn region. The flag was adopted on September 16, 1993 by the city council.

The city is an important railroad hub of Western Ukraine that plays an important strategic role connecting Ukraine with numerous European states. The city is a big industrial and cultural center with eleven industrial enterprises and many cultural institutions. At present about 70,000 people live at the area of about 47 square kilometers in Kovel. The city is known for its agricultural machinery enterprise and a flax-processing factory.

Kovel District was a cradle of a great number of scientists, writers, artists who covered with glory not only Volyn region but the whole of Ukraine. This land served a source of inspiration for Taras Shevchenko, Ivan Franko, Panteleimon Kulish, Mykhailo Starytsky, Mykola Lyssenko. It was here that Lesia Ukrainka (1873-1913) was inspired in her creative endeavors and the centuries-long dreams of Ukrainians about freedom were pronounced so passionately in her lyrics.

Kovel residents highly appreciate their business and friendly relations with the twin cities: Rzhev from Russia, Holma, Bzega-Dolnogo and Legionova from Poland, Pinsk from Belarus, Walsrode from Germany and Uteny from Lituania.

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Downtown Kovel

Downtown Kovel


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Downtown Kovel

Downtown Kovel

You can walk along the main streets- Independence Street and Mykhailo Hrushevsky Street - and see the oldest buildings: the old drugstore building and the building of the district polyclinic. You can also see the Resurrection Church, St.Andrew's Church, several monuments and parks.

You can see different monuments in the city (all in all 27 of them) beginning with two historical buildings: Independence Street drugstore and county polyclinic building and ending with Lesya Ukrainka monument (erected in 1991) in the park bearing the name of this outstanding Ukrainian poetess.

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Bohdan Khmelnitsky monument

Bohdan Khmelnitsky monument

There are several war memorials, the monument to Bohdan Khmelnitsky and the monument to the victims of Stalin purges as well as old church buildings.

Downtown Kovel

Downtown Kovel

There is a steam locomotive memorial at the railway station square.
This is the list of the main city monuments for you to see where to find them:

  • Common grave of the soldiers of the Russian Army, 1918, Independence Street, city cemetery.
  • Monuments on the common graves of the fallen Soviet soldiers and partisans, 1952-1958, Independence Street, city cemetery.
  • “Glory” Soviet liberators memorial, 1977, Independence Street.
  • Soviet soldiers memorial, 1956, Railway Bridge.
  • Soviet artillery soldiers monument, 1975, Lutsk-Kovel motorway in the suburbs of the city.
  • Monument to Bohdan Khmelnitsky, 1954, Khmelnitsky Street.
  • Locomotive depot workers memorial, 1969.
  • The monument to the victims of the Second World War, 1996, Independence Street, at St.Andrew’s Church.
  • Christian Jubilee Cross, 2000, crossing of Brest Street and Vatutin Street.
  • The monument to the victims of Stalin purges, 1991, Mitskevich Street.
  • Ukraine’s Freedom Fighters Memorial, 1996, Lesya Ukrainka Boulevard.

The world’s biggest monument to Shevchenko, the Bard of Ukraine (1814-1861) is located in this city. The monument to Taras Shevchenko in Kovel was dedicated on August 22, 2005.

It was erected on a four-meter hill in the city park on the bank of the Turia. The monument was called Apostle of Truth and Freedom. Its height is over seven meters and it weighs twenty tons. Volodymyr Sholudko, a graduate of the National Arts and Architecture Academy, is the author if the project. The press reports say the monument cost a pretty penny – about $900,000, among them people's donations comprised about $50,000. The monument was erected on the initiative of Shevchenko All-Ukrainian Society called “Prosvita".

At the Ukrainian-German war memorial

At the Ukrainian-German war memorial


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Like in many towns and cities in FSU countries, there are several war memorials here. I discovered this one during my evening tour of the city. The inscriptions in German and in Ukrainian run, “Zum Andenken an die Gefallene im Krieg und Gewalt mit der Mahnung zum Frieden und gegenseitige Verständigung”, which means the following, “In memory of the victims of war and violence with a reminder of peace and mutual understanding”.

Kovel was a center of large scale fighting during the Second World War. In July 1944 there were fierce battles for the liberation of Kovel from the German invaders. You can see the map of those battles at the waiting hall of the city railway station. Nine most active military units were awarded with an honorary title. They got the right to use the city name in their military unit name.
For example, the 175th infantry division that liberated the city from the German invaders became a Kovel Division. The inscription on the wall of the waiting room of the railway station represents the scheme of the battle for the liberation of Kovel and reads,
Glory to you, immortal heroes!
The people sing you eternal glory!
You lived gallantly and defeated death,
The memory of you shall never die!
They fell in the battles for life,
Their immortality shall be eternity,
Their feat is in our hearts!
Bow to them, people!

Posted by Vic_IV 04:04 Archived in Ukraine

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