Ukrainian Hogwarts: revealing the secrets of Chernivtsi University

Albina PanchenkoNews
Chernivtsi University

We have no idea what sights tourists in other Ukrainian cities go to immediately. But we know exactly where they are heading when they arrive in Chernivtsi. Of course, to the famous university. Today we are going to tell you about it.

A little background

In the second half of the nineteenth century, Austria-Hungary experienced a real educational boom. The empire was actively building higher education institutions. But in order for a region to have its own institution, it had to win a competitive selection process.

Thus, in the 1860s and 1870s, Prague, Brno, and Trieste competed for the title of university city. But surprisingly, Chernivtsi won. In fact, there is no magic here. The university was built thanks to the Bukovinian Metropolitan Yevhen Hakman.

In his younger years, the priest managed to enter the Vienna University. And not just graduate but become one of the best students. It was then that he was noticed by Emperor Franz I and offered to teach Romanian to the heir to the Austrian Empire, Ferdinand.

During their studies, the student and teacher became close, true friends. So when the question arose of where to build a university, the monarch supported his former mentor.

Ukrainian Hogwarts: revealing the secrets of Chernivtsi University

By the way, several other factors influenced Emperor Ferdinand's decision. It turned out that it was much cheaper to build an educational institution in Chernivtsi than in any other city. At that time, only the theological faculty was being built. It was the residence of the metropolitans of Bukovyna and Dalmatia.

The language issue also played an important role. At the Sejm in 1872, Constantin Tomaszczuk proposed teaching in German and noted that students of all nationalities would be able to receive education. By the way, it was he who became the first rector.

The speech of the famous scientist and public figure bore fruit. Therefore, the grand opening took place on October 4, 1875, but the work was officially completed in 1882. There was a reason for the hurry. It was on this day that the 100th anniversary of Bukovyna's accession to Austria-Hungary was celebrated.

Of course, at that time, the scale of the ensemble was inferior to the modern one. Initially, there were only three faculties: law, philosophy, and theology. In 1955, there were eleven. The number of departments also increased.

During its existence, the university changed its name several times. First, it was named in honor of its founder Franz Joseph, and then of King Ferdinand. After the Communists came to power, the institution became simply a state university, and in 1989 it was named after Yurii Fedkovych.

Ukrainian Hogwarts: revealing the secrets of Chernivtsi University

Who worked on the complex

The Czech architect Josef Hlávka was entrusted with the development of the building plan. Interestingly, he designed more than 150 buildings in different European cities during his lifetime. But only this one was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

At that time, the construction cost a lot of money. It was, as the saying goes, "Many hands make light work." The Bukovyna Orthodox Foundation invested in the complex the most. The Austrian government and other religious denominations of Chernivtsi also contributed to the financing. The budget was over 1.75 million guilders. But the costs were worth it. A real beauty was born, and it still impresses with its appearance.

The chief architect invited famous artists to join his team. Epaminandos Buchevsky, Evgeny Maksimovich and others worked on the interiors. By the way, two brick and one tile factories were built to construct the university. Josef regretted making this decision. After all, the construction site often received low-quality materials that had to be returned.

They immediately started working on the arboretum project. Many ornamental trees, shrubs, and flowers were planted on the territory.

Ukrainian Hogwarts: revealing the secrets of Chernivtsi University


The terracotta complex is often compared to Hogwarts. And indeed, there are similarities. Inside, there are the same majestic corridors, classrooms, and departments. The walls are decorated with paintings by famous artists, and pompous chandeliers hang from the ceiling. From the outside, it looks very different from a castle from the magical world. But if you look at it from a different angle, the picture changes. There are also slender towers, and instead of sharp roofs and spires, there are rounded ones with Orthodox crosses.

No cement was used during the construction. The foundation and columns are made of sandstone. A special mortar was made to hold the materials together. To do this, they slaked lime and then mixed it with egg white, milk, and sand. Interestingly, no containers were used. Instead, two deep pits were dug in front of the central building, and the mixture for the bricks was mixed there.

By the way, the laying of the tiles was also approached with originality. Only multi-colored samples were used for the coating. Upon completion of the work, the ornament of Bukovinian carpets was drawn.

Ukrainian Hogwarts: revealing the secrets of Chernivtsi University

Present day

Today, Chernivtsi National University is known far beyond the borders of Ukraine. In 2011, the UNESCO World Organization took it under its wing.

It is one of the few universities in our country that offers guided tours. However, with the outbreak of a full-scale war, it has become more difficult to get inside its walls. Now you can be on the territory of the institution only if you are accompanied by a guide. But there is good news. You can sign up not only in advance but also on the spot.

Lectures are held every hour from 10:00 to 16:00. During the walk, visitors are shown the main buildings: The Church of the Three Saints, the Stone, Blue, and Red Halls of the Residence, as well as the courtyard.

Ukrainian Hogwarts: revealing the secrets of Chernivtsi University

The university is waiting for every tourist to visit. So be sure to check it out if you have a chance.

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