Bila Tserkva

Coordinates: 49°47′56″N 30°06′55″E / 49.79889°N 30.11528°E / 49.79889; 30.11528
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Bila Tserkva
Біла Церква
View of the Church of St. John the Baptist on Castle Hill
Echo Collonade
Branicki Winter Palace
  • From top, left to right: View of the Church of St. John the Baptist on Castle Hill
  • Echo Collonade
  • Branicki Winter Palace
Flag of Bila Tserkva
Coat of arms of Bila Tserkva
Bila Tserkva is located in Kyiv Oblast
Bila Tserkva
Bila Tserkva
Location of Bila Tserkva
Bila Tserkva is located in Ukraine
Bila Tserkva
Bila Tserkva
Bila Tserkva (Ukraine)
Coordinates: 49°47′56″N 30°06′55″E / 49.79889°N 30.11528°E / 49.79889; 30.11528
Country Ukraine
OblastKyiv Oblast
RaionBila Tserkva Raion
HromadaBila Tserkva urban hromada
Magdeburg Rights1589
 • Head of City
Gennadii Dykyi
 • Total67.8 km2 (26.2 sq mi)
178 m (584 ft)
 • Total207,273
 • Density3,100/km2 (7,900/sq mi)
Postal code
Area code(+380) 4563
Vehicle registrationAI/10
Sister citiesBarysaw, Jingzhou, Kaunas, Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski, Kremenchuk

Bila Tserkva (Ukrainian: Біла Церква [ˈbilɐ ˈtsɛrkwɐ] ; lit.''White Church'') is a city in Central Ukraine, located on the Ros river in the historical Right Bank region. The largest city in Kyiv Oblast (the territory of Kyiv, the regional capital, doesn't belong to the oblast), it serves as the administrative centre of Bila Tserkva Raion and Bila Tserkva urban hromada,[1] and has a population of 207,273 (2022 estimate).[2]

The oldest preserved document that mentions the city, at that time called Yuryiv, is the Ipatiev Chronicle (1115). Historically, the city has been at the centre of the Porossia (River Ros) region. Founded as a border fortification of Kyivan Rus, Bila Tserkva later became property of Polish nobility and served as a prominent commercial centre. Since the 19th century, industry and tourism have been important elements of the city's economy. Under Soviet rule, Bila Tserkva became a centre of agricultural education. During the Cold War, a major Soviet Air Force base was located near the city.

In independent Ukraine, Bila Tserkva served as a city of regional significance until 2020. In the aftermath of the administrative reform, it became the centre of one of hromadas (communities) of Kyiv Oblast.


Founded in 1032, the city was originally named Yuriiv by Yaroslav the Wise, whose Christian name was Yuri. The contemporary name of the city, literally translated, is "White Church" and may refer to the white-painted cathedral (no longer extant) of medieval Yuriiv.[3] In its long history, Bila Tserkva spent its first few hundred years privately owned, later, though the owner was typically a citizen of the ruling empire, it was organized as a fiefdom, with important trade routes to Kyiv, Hungary, the Middle East and India, passing through it.

From its earliest incarnation, Bila Tserkva was considered to provide important defense against nomadic tribes that included both the Cumans and the Tatars. However, a 13th century invasion by the Mongols devastated the city, and illustrated the fallibility of its defense.[4]

Lithuanian and Polish rule[edit]

From 1363, Bila Tserkva belonged to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and from 1569 to the Kingdom of Poland within the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, administratively in the Kijów Voivodeship, part of Lesser Poland Province. It was crown property, but in recognition of his great service, it was granted to the Castellan of Kraków, Janusz Ostrogski. The next owner was Stanisław Lubomirski (1583–1649) and during his time the town was granted Magdeburg Rights by Sigismund III Vasa in 1620.

Battle of Biała Cerkiew, 1651

After subduing the rebellious Cossacks in the 1626 Battle of Bila Tserkva [uk], the next owner of the estate was Prince Jerzy Dymitr Wiśniowiecki. The castle was successfully taken by Bohdan Khmelnytsky in 1648. In 1651, it was also the site of the Battle of Bila Tserkva between the warring Zaporozhian Cossack Army (and their Tatar allies) and the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, but Bila Tserkva was also where they made peace, and signed a Treaty.[5][6] It was also where peace was achieved with the signing of the Treaty of Bila Tserkva.[5] In 1666, six-thousand Muscovite troops laid siege to Bila Tserkva. The standoff lasted until the following year when Polish reinforcements led by Jan Stachurski with the aid of allied Cossacks and Iwan Brzuchowiecki smashed Petro Doroshenko's stranglehold.[citation needed]

The next owner was Great Crown Hetman Stanislaw Jan Jabłonowski. In 1702, the castle was taken by the Cossack leader, Semen Paliy who made it his domain. In 1708, the town was overrun by prince Golitsyn's Russian army. The next owner of the town was Jan Stanislaw Jabłonowski, then Stanisław Wincenty Jabłonowski who erected a catholic church. After him ownership passed to Jerzy August Mniszech. The town was substantially refortified.

In 1774, Bila Tserkva (Biała Cerkiew), then the seat of the sub-prefecture (Starostwo), came into the possession of Stanisław August Poniatowski who that same year granted the property to Franciszek Ksawery Branicki, Poland's Grand Hetman who then built his urban residence, the Winter Palace complex and a country residence with the "Oleksandriia" Arboretum (named after his wife Aleksandra Branicka). He founded the Catholic Church of John the Baptist, and started construction of the Orthodox church, which was completed by his successor, his son Count Władysław Grzegorz Branicki. The latter also built the gymnasium-school complex in Bila Tserkva. Aleksander Branicki, the youngest grandson of the hetman, renovated and finished Mazepa's Orthodox church. Under the rule of count Władysław Michał Branicki, Bila Tserkva developed into a regional commercial and manufacturing centre.[7][8]

Various Polish Crown Army units were stationed in the city at various times, including the 5th and 6th National Cavalry Brigades and 4th Infantry Regiment.[9]

The Russian Empire[edit]

Bila Tserkva in 1915

In 1791, Russia's Catherine II, included Bila Tserkva in the region that came to be known as the Pale of Settlement, which encompassed parts of seven contemporary nations, including large swaths of modern-day Ukraine.[10] Bila Tserkva was formally annexed into the Russian Empire as a result of the Second Partition of Poland in 1793.[11] Meanwhile, after 1861, the Czarist authorities converted Roman Catholic churches into Orthodox Churches.[12] By the late 18th century, however, Jews were already living in the region, and within a century they would comprise nearly half the population of the city.[13] An important Jewish city, as a result, by the early 1900s it was a fount of idea about politics, religion, art, and culture, with an active Zionist movement, an active branch of the Decembrist movement and a branch of the Society of United Slavs formulating"plans to assassinate Tsar Alexander I by Sergei Muravev-Apostol and his co-conspirators."[14] Home to many artists and writers, Sholem Aleichem and Shaye Shkarovsky were both writing in Yiddish, with Ivan Nechuy-Levytsky writing in Ukrainian. It also was the home of artists like Luka Dolinski and Halyna Nevinchana; as well as theater and film directors Eugene Deslaw and Les Kurbas.[citation needed].

Soviet rule and Nazi occupation[edit]

During the first two decades of the 20th century, the city's Jewish residents were subject to multiple pogroms. In 1919 and 1920 alone, pogroms were responsible for the deaths of 850 Jews.[15] In 1932–1933, as many as 22,000 of greater Bila Tserkva's residents died in the Holodomor.[16]

Fire in 1941

During World War II, Bila Tserkva was occupied by the German Army from 16 July 1941 to 4 January 1944.[17] In August 1941 Bila Tserkva was the site the Nazi massacre, now known as the Bila Tserkva massacre of the city's Jewish population, which required the separate executions of nearly 100 children.[18][19] A Monument to Jewish Children and the Holocaust was unveiled in Bila Tserkva in 2019.[20] During the Cold War, the town was host to the 72nd Guards Krasnograd Motor Rifle Division[21] and the 251st Instructor Heavy Bomber Aviation Regiment of Long Range Aviation.[22]

Independent Ukraine[edit]

Until 18 July 2020, Bila Tserkva was incorporated as a city of oblast significance and served as the administrative center of Bila Tserkva Raion even though it did not belong to the raion. In July 2020, as part of the administrative reform of Ukraine, which reduced the number of raions of Kyiv Oblast to seven, the city of Bila Tserkva was merged into Bila Tserkva Raion.[23][24]

During the Battle of Vasylkiv, a Russian Il-76, carrying over 100 paratroopers, was allegedly shot down over Bila Tserkva.[25][26][27]

Jewish history[edit]

Old synagogue

In Jewish folklore the city came to be referred to as the "Black Contamination" (Yid. Shvartse Tume), a play on its name in Russian ("White Church").[28] The earliest Jewish inhabitants have been traced to 1648.[29][15] The population, however, has risen and fallen due to outbreaks of violence and, later, pogroms.[28] By the end of the 19th century, Jews made up a slight majority of the population at 52.9% of the city's total population, or 18,720 total inhabitants.[13] According to the Jewish Virtual Library, in 1904, Jews owned 250 workshops and 25 factories engaged in light industry employing 300 Jewish workers."[28] Cossack-led attacks, Stalin's purges, pogroms and the Holocaust, including the horrors of the Bila Tserkva massacre, caused a major demographic shift. By 2001, it was mostly inhabited by ethnic Ukrainians, with a meager Jewish population of less than 0.1%.

Evolution of Bila Tserkva's population[citation needed]
1926 1939 1959 1989 2001
Jews  36.4%  19.6%  7.8%  2.0%  0.1%
Russians  3.4%  7.6%  18.6%  17.5%  10.3%
Ukrainians  57.0%  68.9%  71.0%  78.6%  87.4%
Belarusians  0.3%  1.0%  0.8%  0.6%
Poles  2.4%  2.2%  0.2%  0.2%  0.1%

In the late 1980s, Kyiv's Judaica Institute began taking form"after the tragic decades of Bolshevik repressions, Nazi genocide of the Jewish people, and bans on Jewish studies" to research and "popularize the past and the present of the Jewish community of Ukraine."[30]

In 1991, Ukraine declared independence, and two years after the 2014 Revolution of Dignity, Volodymyr Groysman became Ukraine's first Jewish prime minister. Three years later, Ukraine elected Volodymyr Zelenskyy as its first Jewish president.[31] A 2017 Pew Research study found that Ukraine was the most accepting of Jews among all Central and Eastern European countries, a later research study in 2019 confirmed those results.[32][33]


The city is ocated on the Ros River about 80 km (50 mi) south of Kyiv. Its total area is almost 68 square kilometres (26 sq mi).[34]


Bila Tserkva is located at 49°47'58.6" North, 30°06'32.9" East and is 178 metres (584 ft) above sea level. The city has a total area of 67.8 square kilometres (26.2 sq mi).

Climate data for Bila Tserkva (1981–2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) −1.1
Daily mean °C (°F) −3.8
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) −6.4
Average precipitation mm (inches) 30.8
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 7.7 7.3 6.9 7.8 7.8 9.5 9.1 6.3 7.0 6.3 7.6 8.1 91.4
Average relative humidity (%) 85.1 83.2 78.1 67.7 63.8 70.7 71.4 69.3 74.3 79.1 86.1 87.6 76.4
Source: World Meteorological Organization[35]


An important regional center during Lithuanian and, later, Polish rule, Bila Tserkva remained prominent due to its close proximity to Kyiv, and its place at the center of Europe's "breadbasket," with some of the continent's most fertile land.[14][36] The city economy first began diversifying in the late 1700s, when Alexandra Branicki, the wife of the Polish King Franciszek Ksawery Branicki had a 400-hectare landscaped park designed.[36] In 1809–14, Market Stalls were created to provide space for 85 merchants at a time when the grain trade and sugar industry also began to contribute to the growth of the city.[37] By 1850, Bila Tserkva had built its first major factory. Later, it "began to specialize in building machines for the production of feed for livestock, electrical capacitors, tires, rubber-asbestos products, shoes, clothing, furniture, and reinforced-concrete products."[36] In 1929, the Bila Tserkva National Agrarian University was founded in as a scientific research center, which now specializes in academic research focusing on environmental protection, veterinary welfare and biosafety.[38] The Oleksandriia Dendrological Park is now a part of Ukraine's National Academy of Sciences, and currently cultivates more than 1,800 endemic and exotic plant species, with more than 600 species of exotic trees and shrubs alone, in addition to publishing academic research.[36][37] Modern-day industry in the city includes Railway Brake product manufacturers "Tribo Rail", Tribo plant and a major automobile tire manufacturer "Rosava".[citation needed]


Architecturally, Bila Tserkva is known for a variety of late 18th and early 19th-century buildings, courtesy of the Branickis, who ruled there during this era. Highlights include:

The Winter Palace on the bank of the Ros River, the Summer Palace, an ensemble of postal station buildings, the Church of Saint John the Baptist (1789–1812), the Transfiguration Cathedral (1833–9), and the Church of Saint Mary Magdalene (1843). The Church of Saint Nicholas, whose construction was initiated by Hetman Ivan Mazepa and Colonel Kostiantyn Maziievsky in 1706, and was finally completed in 1852.[14]

By the late 19th century, Jews would comprise nearly half the population of the city.[13][39] An important Jewish center, it also evolved into an active center for the exchange of influential ideas about politics, religion, art, and culture, with an active Zionist movement, an active branch of the Decembrist movement and a branch of the Society of United Slavs formulating "plans to assassinate Tsar Alexander I."[14] A center of Hassidim, it also hosted vigorous factions arguing for assimilation.[citation needed] Home to many artists and writers, Sholem Aleichem and Shaye Shkarovsky spend periods writing there in Yiddish, and Ivan Nechuy-Levytsky was also writing in Ukrainian during this era.


National Agrarian University, founded in 1920

Education in Bila Tserkva is provided by many private and public institutions. Its best known is the Bila Tserkva National Agrarian University was founded in 1929 as a scientific research center publishing academic studies on modern agrobiotechnology, nature and environmental protection; the latest technologies for processing livestock products; biosafety, the veterinary welfare of livestock; regulation of bioresources and sustainable nature management; rationalization of social development of rural areas; economics of agro-industrial complex, legal sciences, linguistics and translation.[38] They partner with institutions of higher learning worldwide, and participate in programs with Erasmus+, the British Council, NATO and Fulbright, among several others.[38]


The city is home to football team FC Ros Bila Tserkva, which plays in the lower levels of competitions managed by the Football Federation of Ukraine: Kyiv Oblast Football Championship. The city is also home to hockey club Bilyi Bars, that plays on Bilyi Bars Ice Arena, built by Kostyantyn Efymenko Charitable Foundation (Благодійний фонд Костянтина Єфименка).




City sites[edit]



Domestic transport and private flights provide services via Bila Tserkva Airport (UKBC), which is located southwest of the city in Hayok district.

Bila Tserkva Air Base is located nearby.


Railway station

Ukrzaliznytsia provides railway transit to surrounding areas in Kyiv Oblast and the rest of Ukraine.

There are two railway stations in Bila Tserkva:

  • Bila Tserkva railway station
  • Rotok railway station

Public transit[edit]

Bila Tserkva has six trolleybus lines.


Bila Tserkva is the location of a few large bridges, two of which cross the Ros River.

Notable people[edit]

Sister cities[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Белоцерковская городская громада" (in Russian). Портал об'єднаних громад України.
  2. ^ Чисельність наявного населення України на 1 січня 2022 [Number of Present Population of Ukraine, as of January 1, 2022] (PDF) (in Ukrainian and English). Kyiv: State Statistics Service of Ukraine. Archived (PDF) from the original on 4 July 2022.
  3. ^ "Bila Tserkva". Retrieved 17 January 2022.
  4. ^ Kohut, Zenon E. "Mazepa's Ukraine: Understanding Cossack Territorial Vistas." Harvard Ukrainian Studies 31, no. 1/4 (2009): 1–28. [1].
  5. ^ a b PERNAL, A. B. "The Expenditures of the Crown Treasury for the Financing of Diplomacy between Poland and the Ukraine during the Reign of Jan Kazimierz." Harvard Ukrainian Studies 5, no. 1 (1981): 102–20. [2].
  6. ^ Paul Robert Magocsi, A history of Ukraine, University of Toronto Press, 1996, p. 205
  7. ^ E. A. Chernecki, L. P. Mordatenko, Bila Tserkva. Branicki family. Alexandria, Ogrody rezydencji magnackich XVIII-XIX wieku w Europie Środkowej i Wschodniej oraz problemy ich ochrony, Ośrodek Ochrony Zabytkowego Krajobrazu—Narodowa Instytucja Kultury, 2001, p. 114
  8. ^ Marek Ruszczyc, Dzieje rodu i fortuny Branickich, Delikon, 1991, p. 148
  9. ^ Gembarzewski, Bronisław (1925). Rodowody pułków polskich i oddziałów równorzędnych od r. 1717 do r. 1831 (in Polish). Warszawa: Towarzystwo Wiedzy Wojskowej. pp. 8–9, 27.
  10. ^ "The Pale of Settlement". Facing History and Ourselves. Archived from the original on 18 March 2022. Retrieved 1 April 2022.
  11. ^ "Ukraine's fraught relationship with Russia: A brief history". The Week. 8 March 2014. Retrieved 17 January 2022.
  12. ^ Lucjan Blit, The origins of Polish socialism: the history and ideas of the first Polish Socialist Party 1878–1886, Cambridge University Press, 1971, p. 21
  13. ^ a b c Архівована копія.
  14. ^ a b c d "Belaya Tserkov |". Retrieved 17 January 2022.
  15. ^ a b "Российская Еврейская Энциклопедия". Retrieved 1 April 2022.
  16. ^ Boryssenko, Valentyna, Lisa Vapné, and Anne Coldefy-Faucart. "La Famine En Ukraine (1932-1933)." Ethnologie Française 34, no. 2 (2004): 281–89. [3].
  17. ^ ", Allies support resistance in Europe". Archived from the original on 22 May 2014. Retrieved 22 May 2014.
  18. ^ Martin Dean (2018). Antisemitism Studies. 2 (2): 365. doi:10.2979/antistud.2.2.10 {{cite journal}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  19. ^ "The Untold Stories: The Murder of the Jews in the Occupied Territories of the Former USSR". Archived from the original on 8 September 2020. Retrieved 18 January 2022.
  20. ^ "Monument Jewish Children and the Holocaust Bila Tserkva – Bila Tserkva –". Retrieved 31 March 2022.
  21. ^ Carey Schofield, Inside the Soviet Army, Headline Book Publishing, 2001, 132.
  22. ^ Michael Holm, 251st Instructor Heavy Bomber Aviation Regiment, accessed December 2012.
  23. ^ "Про утворення та ліквідацію районів. Постанова Верховної Ради України № 807-ІХ". Голос України (in Ukrainian). 18 July 2020. Retrieved 3 October 2020.
  24. ^ "Нові райони: карти + склад" (in Ukrainian). Міністерство розвитку громад та територій України.
  25. ^ The Kyiv Independent [@KyivIndependent] (26 February 2022). "⚡️Second Russian Il-76 transporter downed. Ukraine's air defense near Bila Tserkva killed the second aircraft that could carry over 100 paratroopers for landing to the south of Kyiv. Source: Ukraine's State Agency for Special Communications" (Tweet). Archived from the original on 27 February 2022. Retrieved 28 February 2022 – via Twitter.
  26. ^ "US officials say 2 Russian transport planes shot down over Ukraine". Times of Israel. AP. Archived from the original on 26 February 2022. Retrieved 26 February 2022.
  27. ^ "Sorting fact, disinformation after Russian attack on Ukraine". ABC News. Associated press. Archived from the original on 26 February 2022. Retrieved 26 February 2022.
  28. ^ a b c "Belia Tserkov". Retrieved 1 April 2022.
  29. ^ Stampfer, Shaul. "What Actually Happened to the Jews of Ukraine in 1648?" Jewish History 17, no. 2 (2003): 207–27. [4].
  30. ^ "About the Center". 4 April 2017. Retrieved 5 July 2023.
  31. ^ "Ukraine's turbulent history since independence in 1991". Reuters. 24 February 2022. Retrieved 31 March 2022.
  32. ^ Wike, Richard; Poushter, Jacob; Silver, Laura; Devlin, Kat; Fetterolf, Janell; Alex; Castillo, ra; Huang, Christine (14 October 2019). "6. Minority groups". Pew Research Center's Global Attitudes Project. Retrieved 31 March 2022.
  33. ^ "For many Jews, Ukraine brings up memories of pogroms, antisemitism and Nazi collaboration. But Jewish life in Ukraine is no longer what it was". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 1 April 2022.
  34. ^ General information about the city Archived 17 January 2021 at the Wayback Machine, at Bila Tserkva official web-site Archived 20 January 2021 at the Wayback Machine
  35. ^ "World Meteorological Organization Climate Normals for 1981–2010". World Meteorological Organization. Archived from the original on 17 July 2021. Retrieved 17 July 2021.
  36. ^ a b c d "Bila Tserkva". Retrieved 17 January 2022.
  37. ^ a b "Belaya Tserkov". Ukraine Jewish Heritage: History of Jewish Communities in Ukraine. 10 July 2012. Archived from the original on 21 September 2013.
  38. ^ a b c "Bila Tserkva National Agrarian University". About University: Bila Tserkva National Agrarian University. Archived from the original on 21 April 2016.
  39. ^ "Belaya Tserkov". Ukraine Jewish Heritage: History of Jewish communities in Ukraine. 10 July 2012. Retrieved 1 April 2022.
  40. ^ "Центральный вход в церковь.Св.Георгия Победоносца. – Picture of Church of St. George, Bila Tserkva – Tripadvisor". Retrieved 1 April 2022.
  41. ^ Author:Solomon Naumovich Rabinovich  – via Wikisource.
  42. ^ Bain, Robert Nisbet (1911). "Mazepa-Koledinsky, Ivan Stepanovich" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 17 (11th ed.). p. 942.
  43. ^ "YIVO | Steinberg, Ya'akov". Retrieved 2 April 2022.
  44. ^ "Miasta Partnerskie". Archived from the original on 2 May 2014. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
  45. ^ "Vereinbarung für Solidaritätspartnerschaft mit Bila Tserkva unterzeichnet". Retrieved 18 December 2022.

External links[edit]