History of Lyubech

Present-day Lyubech is no longer referred to as a town or even as a district center. This peer of Kyiv is just an urban village in Ripky district of Chernihiv region. There is nothing to do! Years and centuries have been passing by. New cities have been growing and ancient ones have been ceasing their significance.

There are not many places in Ukraine which can compete with Lyubech in its picturesque surroundings: steep banks, hills and lakes, rivers and mashes, forests and ravines. The energy of Slavic lands streamed here because otherwise it is hard to explain the variety of historic and crucial events that took place at Lyubech’s walls or with its residents participation. And it is impossible to understand the reasons which caused oblivion of modern Lyubech.

Lyubech is one of the most ancient Russian towns. Chronicles mention it under the year of 882 as an important economic center. In 1016 on the bank of the Dnieper-river by Lyubech prince Yaroslav Volodymyrovych defeated his brother-in-law the Grand Kyiv Prince Svyatopolk. In 1097 Lyubech was the place where all princes gathered and took the decision to put an end to internecine wars and unite to resist raids of Polovtsian tribes. Nevertheless during the 12th century Lyubech got desolated. In 1148 it was burnt down by prince Rostislav and in 1158 devastated by Polovtsians. After the invasion of Batu Khan (1236-1242) fell into neglect completely.

But Lyubech is well-known not only due its significance in Medieval Rus but its castle as well. The main attraction of the present-day Lyubech is Castle Hill where impregnable Lyubech was located in time of Ancient Rus. It was an important defensive point at the Dnieper-river on the border of Chernigiv-Sivershchina. Nowadays here is just the hill overgrown with grass and placed monument to commemorate 900 year of princes meeting here in 1097 and a sign reminding us that this town has more than 1100 year history. From the flat top of the hill one can see a picturesque view over the Dniepr-river and Lyubech lakes.

According to legend born in Lyubech were epical hero Dobrynya Nikitich and his sister Malusha – mother of Kyiv Prince Volodymyr the Baptist of Rus. Here was also born the first Russian monk, the father of Russian monasticism and founder of the Kiev-Pecherskaya Laura Saint Anthony of Pechersk. There even has preserved the caves allegedly dug by St. Anthony. Till present there exist a legend in Chernihiv that caves of Lyubech, Kyiv and Chernigiv were united in ancient times and served people to escape during enemy’s attacks.

Later on in Cossack epoch Lyubech was owned by Chernihiv colonels and then Ukrainian hetmans. That period is recalled by the ruins of stone building of hetman Polubotok (end of 17th century).

There has also been preserved the Transfiguration church (1811-1817) which is a burial vault of the family of Earls Miloradoviches. For a long years Lyubech was owned by representatives of this outstanding family.

And now Lyubech having such renowned past, the place perhaps referred to yet in 1st century by Pliny is undeservedly forgotten by contemporaries. Hopefully it is not for long!

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