Vinnitsa is also known by a variety of other names, such as Vinnytsya, Vinnitsa (Russian: Винница) and Vinnica (Polish: Winnica). Some of these reflect names in foreign languages that have had historical influences on the city. Vinnitsa (Ukrainian: Вінниця, pronounced [ˈwinnɪtsʲa]) (also known by other names) is a city located on the banks of the Southern Buh River, in central Ukraine. It is the administrative center of the Vinnytsia Oblast (province), as well as the administrative center of the surrounding Vinnytskyi Raion (district) within the oblast. The city itself is also designated as its own separate raion within the oblast, and rests in the historic region of Podillia.
Vinnytsia is located about 260 km (160 mi) from the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, 429 km (267 mi) from the port city Odessa, and 369 km (229 mi) from Lviv.It is the administrative center of the Vinnytsia Oblast (province), as well as the administrative center of the surrounding Vinnytskyi Raion (district) within the oblast. The city itself is also designated as its own separate raion within the oblast, and rests in the historic region of Podillia.
The current estimated population is 350,400.
Since the end of World War II, Vinnytsia has been the home for a major Soviet Air Forces base, including an airfield, a hospital, arsenals, and other military installations. The headquarters of the 43rd Rocket Army of the Strategic Rocket Forces was stationed in Vinnytsia from 1960 to the early 1990s. The 43rd Rocket Army's last commander was Colonel-General Vladimir Alekseevich Mikhtyuk, who served from 10.1.1991 to 8.5.1996. The Ukrainian Air Force Command has been based in Vinnytsia since 1992.
A long lasting warm summer with a sufficient quantity of moisture and a comparatively short winter is characteristic of Vinnytsia. The average temperature in January is −5.8 °C (22 °F) and 18.3 °C (64.9 °F) in July. The average annual precipitation is 638 mm (25 in).Throughout the year, 6–9 days per year includes snowstorms, 37–60 days of the year include mists during the cold period, and 3–5 days include thunder storms with hail.
History of Vinnitsa
The history of Vinnitsa is a part of the history of western part of Ukraine. It is undividedly connected with the historical development of the Ukrainian nation, with its economy, culture, with fight against foreign invaders. The basin of The South Bug was settled by Slovaks, who successfully repulsed all attacks of numerous peoples. But in the middle of the XII century hordes of Mongol- Tatar invaders, taking advantage of the feudal division, invaded nearly all-eastern Slovenian lands, including Pobuzze. At the beginning of the second half of the XIV century Podolye passed to the Lithuanian State. Vinnitsa was founded precisely in this period. Grand Lithuanian duke Olgerd strived to join Lithuania and the whole Russ together and did everything that was in his power persistently to achieve his aim. In 1362 Kievschina and Pereaslavschyna appeared under control of Olgerd. After the invasion of Kiev, the troops of Olgerd moved to the South and on the river “Blue Water” they clashed with the troops of three Tatar dukes – Kytlubag, Khodzibey and Dmytryy. Here a great battle took place between Lithuanian and Turkish troops in 1362. Tatars were defeated. This event determined the further destiny of Podolye, starting from this moment it went under the control of Lithuanian State.
One of the decisive agreements of the successful protection of the land from Mongol- Turkish invaders was the building of fortifications around cities.
For the first time Vinnitsa was mentioned in the Lithuanian chronicles in 1363. Historians explain the origin of the name of the city differently. The most evident theory is the one, saying that the word “Vinnitsa” came from ancient Russian word “vino” (means “wine”), which meant “gain”. So that, Polish lands were really the gain of Lithuanian dukes (brothers Koriatovichy got them under their power as legacy from their uncle, the grand duke of Lithuania) then, most evidently, the name “Vinnitsa” originates from “vino”.
Social and economic development of Eastern Podolye in XVI-XVI is characterized by slow but consistent process of forming “stanovs” taking into consideration their Polish model. The development of Vinnitsa was connected undividedly with the strengthening of feudalism.
After the signing of “Lyublinska Union” (1569), Vinnitsa joined Province of Bratslav. At the end of the century Vinnitsa turned into a real city. It became a trade, economic and handy-craft center of Bratslav and played an important role in the life of the country. It can be admitted with all responsibility as in 1580, 1593 and 1634 Vinnitsa got the privilege for the right on unaccustomed trade along all the Polish-Lithuanian State.
The 30th –40th of the XVII century were the years of considerable economic and cultural growth in the history of Vinnitsa. Thanks to the activity of Vinnitsa Fraternal School and Vinnitsa Fraternal Collegium, a great number of educated people from local lower middle class appeared in the city. In 1640 Vinnitsa got the right to have its own stamp. Two sabers were pictured in its emblem. These sabers symbolized that Vinnitsa was situated on the border and all inhabitants were entrusted with military obligations. They also meant that rulers decided the rights of inhabitants as during the XVI century Vinnitsa headmen prohibited the numerous departures of people of low class off the city, as it weakened forces of city protectors when Tatars attacked.
Later on, Western Ukraine was invaded by Polish gentry. During the period of feudalism the city used to be the center of popular uprisings against Polish and Ukrainian exploiters. A great number of significant events of the war for independence of Ukrainians in 1648-1654 are of close connection to Vinnitsa and Vinnitsa Regiment, which was headed by a very talented military leader Ivan Bogun.
On March 11, 1651 front line troops of Polish forces came up to Vinnitsa. Polish forces and Ukrainian ones were unequal. The garrison of three thousand people, commanded by I. Bogun, was located in Vinnitsa, when Polish army consisted only of two thousand solders. The heroic defense of Vinnitsa had been lasting from the 11 to the 20 of March 1651 and it’s one of the most famous pagers of the war for independence of the Ukrainian nation. Polish commanders decided to take possession of Vinnitsa by sudden attack and sent here the attachments headed by Lyantskoryanskiy. But Cossacks were very well prepared.
Bogun sent a small cavalry against the Lyantskoryanskiy detachment. After the short fight Cossacks pretended that they were retreating and ensnared Polish cavalry on the ice where the ice-holes were disguised by hay. At this moment cannons and guns assaulted Poles. Substantial part of Polish cavalry that got into ice-holes went down under the ice and after the decisive counter-attack of Bogun’s forces the whole detachment of Lyantskoryanskiy was practically destroyed.
Having got to know about the heroic defense of Vinnitsa, Bogdan Khmelnitskiy sent Bogun two regiments as a help. After that the demoralized remains of Polish forces passed to Bar and then to Kamyanets-Podolskiy. But after the liberation war the western part of Ukraine passed to Poland, and Vinnitsa together with the whole Podolye soon went under the power of Turkish sultan. More than two decades Turkish enslavers mastered here. Within this time the city was greatly destroyed and practically completely devastated. When at the very end of the XVII century Poland recovered Podolye, it appeared so that Vinnitsa degraded to the position of the grain-producing settlements. Only in the second part of the XVIII century it gained again the typical features of a city.
The joining of the western and eastern parts of Ukraine to the Russian empire in 1793 put a stop to unceasing, devastating assaults of Turkish-Tatar invaders and Polish oppression. But the fight in Podolye didn’t stop in the XIX century. In 10th -30th the detachments of national avenger Ustima Karmalyuk operated here that led partisan warfare against landowners-landlords. At the end of 50th the mass country movement embraced the whole province. Much earlier, in the 20th of the XIX century in Tulchin “The Southern Fellowship” of Decembrists at the head of P.Pestel started its work.
During the XIX century Vinnitsa remained a desolate provincial city. Even after the reform in 1861 Vinnitsa was in the same condition, although the development of capitalism in the country was fairly quick at that time. It can be explained by the fact that the city was located in a typical agrarian province of Podolye. Only at the end of XIX – the beginning of the XX century Vinnitsa became one of the significant commercial-economic and cultural centers of the western part of Ukraine.
Te railway line Kiev-Odessa that went through Vinnitsa was built in 1871. It assisted in the further development of the city. The history of the pre-revolutionary Vinnitsa is connected with the number of famous people. The great Ukrainian poet M.Kotsyubinskiy was born and lived here for a long period of time. The Great Russian scientist M.Pirogov and famous composer M.Leontovich worked and lived in the city of Vinnitsa. In October 1917 the new period in the history of Vinnitsa began. The period of the foreign intervention and civil war started in February 1918 and lasted till the end of 1920.
After the end of the civil war the process of the national economy revival started. It was held in incredibly severe conditions. Soon the city was completely rebuilt and its industry gained the prewar level and soon after that even surpassed it.
The Vinnytsia massacre was a mass execution of (mostly ethnic Ukrainian) people in the Ukrainian town of Vinnytsia by the Soviet secret police NKVD during Joseph Stalin's Great Purge in 1937–1938. Mass graves in Vinnytsia were discovered during the German occupation of Ukraine in 1943. The investigation of this site coincided with the discovery of a similar mass murder site of Poles in Katyn. Because the Nazis wanted to use this evidence of Communist terror to discredit the Soviet Union, it became one of the better researched sites of mass murder among many in Ukraine.
The city suffered the irretrievable loss during the years of communist regime repressions. But the most devastating loss was caused by fascist invaders, which established a special regime in Vinnytsia as the headquarters FHQ “Werwolf” was located nearby.
Adolf Hitler's World War II Eastern Front military headquarters
Führerhauptquartier Wehrwolf - was the codename used for one of Adolf Hitler's World War II Eastern Front military headquarters located in a pine forest about 12 kilometers (7.5 mi) north of Vinnytsia in Ukraine that was used between 1942 and 1943. It was one of a number of other Führer Headquarters throughout Europe, and the most easterly ever used by Hitler in person.
The name is derived from Werwolf, which is German for werewolf, but Hitler ordered it spelled as in Wehr, meaning defense (as in Wehrmacht or Feuerwehr), a spelling that had already been used by Hermann Löns in 1910 for his book Der Wehrwolf that describes resistance in the Thirty Years' War.
The complex was located in a pine forest, about 12 kilometers (7.5 mi) north of Vinnytsia in Ukraine, between the villages of Stryzhavka and Kolo-Mikhailovka on the Kiev highway. It was built between December 1941 and June 1942 under top secret conditions. The location may have been influenced by the Nazis' proposed trans-European highway to the Crimea, which would have connected with the site. The Wehrmacht had its regional headquarters in Vinnytsia, and the Luftwaffe had a strong presence at their airbase in Kalinovka, about 20 km away.
Hitler's accommodation at Wehrwolf consisted of a modest log cabin built around a private courtyard with its own concrete bunker. The rest of the complex consisted of about 20 wooden cottages and barracks and up to three "B" class bunkers, surrounded by ring of barbed wire and ground defensive positions connected by underground tunnels. A couple of observation points were set up on platforms in the oak trees surrounding the pine forest.
There was a tea house, a barber shop, a bathhouse, a sauna, a cinema theatre and even an open swimming pool for the inhabitants' use. Although this pool was primarily intended for Hitler, he never once swam in it. The facility also contained a large vegetable garden organized by the German horticultural company Zeidenspiner to provide Hitler with a secure supply of food. Two artesian wells supplied the site with water, and the site had its own power generation facilities.
The bunkers were constructed by Organization Todt (including forced labor and prisoners of war) and local Ukrainian workers. The complex was served by a daily three-hour flight connection from Berlin to the airfield in nearby Kalinowka. There was also a regular train connection from Berlin-Charlottenburg to "Eichenbein" station at Wehrwolf. The ride took 34 hours.
During his Eastern campaign, Adolf Hitler lived mainly at FHQ Wolfsschanze (near Rastenburg, Poland); he stayed at FHQ Wehrwolf only three times:
16 July to 30 October 1942. The weather was hot, up to +45C and the bunkers were humid. Hitler caught severe influenza, with a temperature running up to 40C. In this condition he gave his fateful decree no 45 and split his army group "South" into two parts, trying to reach both Stalingrad and the Caucasus oil fields simultaneously.
19 February to 13 March 1943.
27 August to 15 September 1943.
On the occasion of his departure in March 1943, a bomb was planted on his plane by a German resistance faction, but it failed to go off.
The Nazis destroyed the site, including mining access to the underground complex, on abandoning the region. The site was examined after the Nazi departure in March 1944 under the orders of Stalin, but no documentation was found. The Russians took steps to permanently seal the underground parts of the complex.
Today only the swimming pool and concrete fragments remain visible on the site, which is an open recreation area. Nearby is a memorial to the thousands of laborers and others buried by the Nazis in grave pits at Stryzhavka.
During the World War II in 1941-1945 the number of inhabitants reduced from 100 thousand to 27 thousand; only 10 of 50 industrial enterprises survived; 1880 dwelling houses were completely destroyed. Due to the heroic efforts of Vinnytsia inhabitants and people from the other regions of the country at the beginning of 1948 the city industry was nearly completely rebuilt; and the following years electronic, radio, metal-working and other industries developed rapidly in this regional center. In 1972 the city was divided into three districts.
The scientist, surgeon, founder of field military surgery, founder of Russian Red Cross, author of 4 -volume edition “Topographical (applied) Anatomy” M.I.Pyrogov, who saved the famous Italian Jiuseppe Garibaldi from gangrene, spent more than 20 last years of his life in Vinnytsia. Guests and local inhabitants always show a great interest in Memorial estate of M.I.Pyrogov with church- necropolis.
Vinnytsia inhabitants are proud of the facts that in our city Ukrainian I.Franko Academic Theatre started its creative development; famous M.D.Leontovych discovered a never-dying beauty of Ukrainian songs. Under the patronage of UNESCO in the local museum of local lore, history and economy the richest collection of Podillya icons is kept. The Municipal Choir and dance group Barvinok are famous for their masterly performance far more than outside Ukraine.
The Literary and Memorial Museum of the “great son-lover”, classical author of Ukrainian literature M.M.Kotsyubynsky, is very popular among local inhabitants and guests; it is also a place of development for creative youth. In the city numerous historical buildings are being repaired and new ones are being built.
People of Vinnytsia always keep in their memory the names of Yatsko Palagenko, executed by Polish gentry because of his fighting for the city independence; leader of Haydamaks Hryva, country philosopher Semen Oliynychuk, famous artist Nathan Altman, expert of Podillia Yosyp- Anthony Rollet, researcher of history of Vinnytsia Valentyn Otamanovsky, writer Mykhaylo Stelmakh and many others, who added a lot of glorious pages to the city history.
Upon declaration of independence of Ukraine, due to awakening of powerful democratic forces, Vinnytsia was the third city in Ukraine in which a blue-and-yellow flag fluttered on the main square by official consent of local authorities. Now Vinnytsia extends for 12 km on both picturesque banks of the Southern Buh River. It is growing steadily, becomes more beautiful, and looks more European. In new economic, social and other actual environment Vinnytsia continues to develop steadily as an industrial and administrative center of the oblast, connected with the other regions of the state.
At present in Vinnytsia there are Medical, Technical, Teacher’s Training and Agricultural Universities, which are famous even outside Ukraine. About 900 foreign students from almost all the world continents study there. Scientific potential of the city is supplemented by 5 institutes,10 institutions of specialized secondary education, 9 research institutes,10 independent research-and-development organizations and 2 research-and-design structures.
On the basis of the former Air Forces Health Center the Central Treatment-and-Diagnostic, Expert-and-Rehabilitation and Research-and-Methodological Military Medical Center of the Air Forces of Ukraine with the Department of Aerospace Medicine was established; complex treatment-and-rehabilitation techniques and methods are applied.
The Vinnytsia Tramway (Ukrainian: Вінницький Трамвай, translit.: Vinnytskyi Tramvai) network is the part of the public transportation system that since 1913 serves Vinnytsia, the administrative center of the Vinnytsia Oblast. The tram system has a narrow rail gauge of 1000 mm that only exists in Ukraine in the cities of Lviv, Zhytomyr and Yevpatoria, as well as Vinnytsia. The system currently consists of 21.2 km of tracks.
The first electric tramway in Vinnytsia started to operate on October 28, 1913. The system was built by the German company MAN AG. The operation has only been suspended during two longer periods: February 1920 – November 27, 1921 and March 1944 – June 1945.Today most of the trams are of the KT4 type, produced by the Czech ČKD Tatra Works. But since 2007 the city of Zürich has, without cost, donated used trams to the city of Vinnytsia. Eventually about 30 trams are planned to be handed over to the city of Vinnytsia. Presently there are 59 trams and 103 trolleybuses in operation in Vinnytsia
Tourist Sites of interest / Tourism
Vinnitsa Zoo - One of the youngest zoos in Ukraine, the Vinnitsa Zoo is inhabited by 45 animal and 35 bird species in total almost 400 animals. The happiest event this year in 2009 at the zoo was the birth of the American bison baby. According to the zoo keeper Vasyl Klepka, Ukraine's wild don't possess these animals at all that is why Vinnitsa bison's birth can be considered as a significant event in the world of animals.
Wehrwolf German Bunker - Adolf Hitler's World War II headquarters used to conduct operations on the Eastern Front from 1942-1943. Little to see other than ruins and several monuments to prisoners who were shot after construction of the complex were finished. (War history enthusiasts may find the site interesting.) Located just 10km north of Vinnitsa at the village of Stryzhavka.
Transfiguration Cathedral - Holy Transfiguration Cathedral was opened in 1758 as the Dominican Monastery. The monetary was closed in 1831 and used as an organ hall during the Soviet era, until it was reopened as an orthodox cathedral in 1991. It is located across from the Central Post, next to the Vinnitsa Nature and History Museum.
Vinnitsa Drama Theatre - a trip to the nationally recognized Vinnitsa Drama Theatre should be included in your visit. Tickets range from 10 hrv. To 300 hrv, depending on the show and the drama troupe.
Mykhailo Kotsybyns’ky House and Museum - While visiting the home of this famous author of Ukrainian novels and short stories, you can also experience a Ukrainian traditional dwelling of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Afghan War Museum and Slavic War Memorial Park - This charming park in the heart of Vinnitsa commemorates local soldiers from WWII and the Soviet-Afghan War. The Afghan War Museum is located in the red-brick bell tower. Exhibits include photos, letters and other artifacts representing Vinnitsa soldiers who fought in that war. The Memorial Park contains a large statue representing three different soldiers from WWII. An eternal flame burns in front of the statue. Visit the park on weekends to watch local brides come to lay flowers on the monument to those who died during WWII. This wedding custom is common throughout Ukraine, but the Slavic War Memorial Park in Vinnitsa is one of the most picturesque parks where visitors can witness this tradition.
Gorky Park - A welcome bit of green space in the summer, and a snowy, fairytale landscape in the winter, Gorky Park has something for everyone. There are benches to sit and relax for awhile, a pavilion to watch war veterans strategize over chess, a large play area for children, a grass hockey field, ice skating rink and even pavilions to sample local food and drink. Periodically, Gorky Park is host to city festivals and concerts.
Polish (Roman) Catholic Church - Vinnitsa’s most important Polish (Roman) Catholic church has mass services in Ukrainian and Polish. The organ music attracts ardent worshipers, and sometimes the church hosts classical music concerts featuring musicians from all over Europe, including Germany, Poland and Russia.
Vinnitsa Orthodox Cathedral - Originally a Dominican monastery, the Vinnitsa Orthodox Cathedral is located next to the Vinnitsa Nature and History Museum. Today it is a stunning example of Ukrainian Orthodox architecture and painting. Visitors are welcome, but please remember to be respectful of worshipers. Women should cover their heads with a small scarf while inside the church.
Vinnitsa Art Museum - The Vinnitsa Art Museum offers a good collection of local artwork. The painting collection is the largest in the museum, and includes many pieces by talented Ukrainian artists.
Vinnitsa Nature and History Museum. - This regional museum offers a glimpse of life in the Vinnitsa oblast over the last 2,000 years. Following a small exhibit on local flora and fauna, visitors may view artifacts from the area’s pre-historic inhabitants. Many rooms are dedicated to Vinnitsa’s many diverse rulers, from Polish, Austrian and Russian, to the more recent Nazi and Soviet occupations. The final exhibit includes a selection of artifacts from the Jewish community of Vinnytsa.
Close to the City Center:
Bugh Riverboat Cruise and Sabarov Park - In the summertime, a riverboat cruise on the Bugh River is a great way to cool off and see Vinnytsa from a different perspective. The cruise upriver lasts about 35 minutes, and passengers may disembark at Sabarov Park. The park features an impressive rock cliff, and several paths lead to the top for those who enjoy physical activity. The park is also a great place to enjoy a picnic lunch, and a small food kiosk sells cold drinks and ice cream for a refreshing snack. The return trip takes the same amount of time, and as you purchase one-way tickets only on the boat, you may linger at the park as long as you like.
Lesopark - “Les” means forest in the Russian language, and this city park is exactly that – a forest. There are no food kiosks, playgrounds or other activities here, only endless paths through the forest. If you want to enjoy Vinnitsa as the locals do, pack a picnic lunch from the small food bazaar across the street from the entrance and head into Lesopark. Barbeque pits are plentiful in forest clearings if you want to try shashlik (barbeque). And in the winter, the forest is a wonderland perfect for cross country skiing or snowshoeing. In any weather, don’t forget to pack out what you pack in. Vinnitsa recently embarked on an anti-littering campaign, and Lesopark is one of their big targets!
Pirogov Chapel and Mummy - Curious visitors also have the opportunity to see a very unique site in Vinnitsa. Nikolai Pirogov left instructions before his death on the preservation of his body. Today, he is the oldest of three such preserved bodies in the world. His fellow preserved compatriots? Lenin and Mao. Locals simply say “Mo-mee-ya”, or mummy. Included with the viewing of Pirogov is a glimpse into his family chapel. Various family members are buried near the chapel, albeit in more traditional methods.
Pirogov’s Home and Museum - Nikolai Pirogov (1810 – 1881) is undoubtedly Vinnitsa’s most famous citizen. Pirogov is famous for many advancements in modern medicine, most notably utilization of the first modern field medicine during the Crimean War and the use of ether in developing safe anesthesia for surgery patients. He spent his retirement years in the Vishenka region of the city, where he ran a free clinic on his estate. His home is now a museum open to the public, with exhibits on his lifetime achievements. His study remains intact, and you may also view actual instruments Pirogov used during surgery. Note the painting in the hallway depicting an intimate concert in Pirogov’s home given by his contemporary in the region, Pytor Tchykovski.
Orthodox Church of St. Mikola - this church is one of the last examples of 18th century wooden Podyllian architecture. The church is a short walk from the center of the city, and well worth the trip.
Short Distance Excursions:
Nemyriv Scythian Ruins Hike “Valli”.Location: 45 minutes by car from Vinnitsa.
If you speak Ukrainian, Russian, or have a willing guide who can point you in the right direction, don’t miss hiking to the Scythian Mounds outside of Nemyriv. The hike is 5-10 kilometers round-trip, depending on how far you go, and takes you to ancient Scythian mounds that create an enormous circle amid farmland and local scenery. There are no signs, so ask a local resident and walk right out of town through the park to begin the hike. If you need a room for the night, the Nemyriv Sanatorium has clean, comfortable rooms for approximately 50 hrv per night.
Nemyriv Princess Palace, Art Museum and Park. Location: 45 minutes by car from Vinnitsa.
In the heart of Nemyriv – a city made famous by Nemiroff brand vodka – is a beautiful palace and within it, an art museum. The palace was once owned by a Russian princess, and is on the grounds of a beautiful park. In the park is a set of connecting lakes that are perfect for a mid-afternoon picnic.