The once privately-owned city (by Poland) of Uman, situated in the Cherkasy Oblast in central Ukraine, is home to the beautiful 220 year old Sofiyivsky Park, a landscaped arboretum that accounts for over 2,000 types of trees and brush, and which is recognised as a scenic landmark of word gardening design at the beginning of the 19th century.
One of the Seven Wonders of Ukraine, Sofiyivsky Park was founded in 1796 by Polish noble Count Stanisław Szczęsny Potocki, and was then later presented (in 1802) to his Greek wife, the adventurous and storied beauty that was Zofia Potocka as a birthday gift.
Designed by the military engineer Ludwig Metzel, Sofiyivka was largely planned in the classic Italian Baroque gardens tradition of the time, with many concepts from Greco-Roman antiquity in full display. The story has it that by design, the park illustrates different parts of Homer’s poems Odyssey and Iliad. For example, the park has its own Elysian Fields and its own River Styx, with various statues and busts of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Apollo, Mercury and Venus gracing the alleys and groves.
Metzel also incoporated the more contemporary “English style” ideas in landscaping in his design, with so-called “wild sections” also added in for good measure.
These days Sofiyivsky Park is both a public space, a national arboretum and home to the scientific-researching institute of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (NASU Department of Biology).
Full of exotic trees, fragrant flowers, hidden pathways, and small lakes, the park is a popular recreational spot, with a reported annual visitor count of around 500,000 people.
In other words, perfect for romantic strolls and picnics then!
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