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Statue at the entrance to town
Statue at the entrance to town
Flag of Khmilnyk
Coat of arms of Khmilnyk
Coat of arms
Khmilnyk is located in Ukraine
Location of Khmilnyk
Coordinates: 49°33′25″N 27°57′26″E / 49.55694°N 27.95722°E / 49.55694; 27.95722Coordinates: 49°33′25″N 27°57′26″E / 49.55694°N 27.95722°E / 49.55694; 27.95722
Country  Ukraine
Oblast Vinnytsia
Khmilnyk Raion Raion
First mentioned 1362
 • Mayor Volodymyr Ivanovych Melnychuk
 • Total 20.5 km2 (7.9 sq mi)
Highest elevation 285 m (935 ft)
Lowest elevation 250 m (820 ft)
Population (2013)
 • Total 28,209
 • Density 1,400/km2 (3,600/sq mi)
Postal code 22000-007
Area code(s) +380 4338

Khmilnyk (Ukrainian: Хмільник, Russian: Хмельник, Polish: Chmielnik) is a resort town in Vinnytsia Oblast, Ukraine. Administratively, it is incorporated as a town of oblast significance. It also serves as an administrative center of Khmilnyk Raion, one of the 27 districts of Vinnytsia Oblast, though it is not a part of the district. Population: 28,209 (2013 est.)[1].

The town is situated in the upper part of the river Southern Bug, 67 km (42 mi) northeast of Vinnytsia. It is one of the oldest towns of Podillia.


Early history[edit]

The town was first mentioned in writing in 1362. Prince Algirdas gathered a large army for the Battle of Blue Waters, in which he defeated Kotlubug, Kachubej, and Dmytro, who owned Podillia. The town includes an island which served as a hiding place for raiders during the Tatar invasions. This island was called Khmilnyk for the hop plants which grew there in abundance; in Ukrainian, "khmilnyk" means hop garden). Khmilnyk is situated not far from "Black Way", the road often used by Tatar armies.

Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth[edit]

In 1434, Khmilnyk became part of Poland's Khmilnyk district of Podillia province. After the town obtained Magdeburg rights in 1448, different crafts and trade grew. Poland considered Khmilnyk to be an advance post of its possessions, so the town was strengthened. In 1534, the Polish king fortified the town with a stone wall with towers and a castle.

After the Brest union in 1596, oppression of the local inhabitants grew, which caused rebellions against the gentry. In 1594, Khmilnyk was captured by Cossack detachments of Severyn Nalyvajko. In 1637, the Cossacks returned with Pavlyuk as their leader. In the period of the Khmelnytsky Uprising (1648–1654), rebellious detachments of Khmilnyk people joined the army of Bohdan Khmelnytsky. Maksym Kryvonis captured the castle. More than once, the town was the site of battles between Cossacks and gentry armies. As a result, the town was devastated.

In 1672–1699, Khmilnyk was held by the Turks. They fortified the castle, built a mosque, and made secret passages. Endless battles between Turks and Poles resulted in the decay of commerce, and the town's population shrank. In 1699, Khmilnyk was recaptured by Poland.

Russian Empire period[edit]

Khmilnyk coat of arms in Russian period

In 1793, Khmilnyk and Podillya towns were captured by the Russian Empire. After the formation of Bratslav province on May 22, 1795, Khmilnyk became one of its district towns, and the coat of arms was consolidated into it on January 22, 1796. In 1797 Catherine II presented Khmilnyk and its districts, with a population of 6,070 people, to Count Bezborodko.

On June 9, 1804, Khmilnyk became part of the Lityn district of Podolia Governorate and remained in this position until the October Revolution (1917). There were four Orthodox churches there until 1910. With industrial development, the town population grew, and in 1915 Khmilnyk had 18,300 people.

In 1878, a weaving mill was founded, and in 1905, a brewery, sawmill and iron foundry began operations. There were 1616 craftsmen, which included 470 seamstresses, 250 tailors and 230 furriers. At the beginning of the twentieth century Khmilnyk had undergone social changes. The economic decay of 1907-1910 was interspersed some economic revivals.

In 1911, there were 22 enterprises and 67 different workshops dealing with processing the products of cattle-breeding, woodwork, and metal, and many independent craftsmen.

In the 1920s, Soviet authorities settled in Khmilnyk to control the population and discourage intellectuals. Churches were closed down. In the 1930s, Khmilnyk became a resort.

World War II[edit]

Bridge in Venetian style

Khmilnyk was devastated in World War II. In June 1941 the front came close to Khmilnyk, and on July 16, the German army captured the town.

The Jewish population of the occupied town was decimated in a violent genocide. On two bloody Fridays (January 9 and 16, 1942), German divisions slaughtered more than 8,000 of the town's inhabitants. In Khmilnyk a total of 11,760 innocent victims were shot to death. To commemorate this, a monument was erected and a service held on August 19, 1988, at the massacre site.[2][3] On July 18, 2002, the Sorrow Memorial was opened in Khmilnyk.

On February 18, 1944, after the battle near Korsun-Shevchenkivskyi, the 1st Ukrainian Front was assigned the Proskuriv-Chernivtsi operation, which was decisive for the liberation of the town and whole district. On the morning of March 10, soldiers of 71st and 276th divisions captured the left part of Khmilnyk and the Mazurivka and Sydoryha settlements. After violent fights on March 18, 1944 the town and district were liberated from German invaders.

Current regional languages[edit]

Ukrainian and Russian languages are spoken throughout Ukraine. However, Ukrainian language is spoken in Khmilnyk region and westward. The Dnieper river divides the east from the west. On the western side of the Dnieper river you will find that people speak Ukrainian and Russian within context and the further west you go the stronger Ukrainian language is spoken. Ukrainian language differs from the Russian language in many aspects. They pronounce words much different and the alphabet of the Ukrainian language has different alpha symbols than the Russian. In Khmilnyk, Ukrainian is generally spoken and many people there prefer to speak Ukrainian.

Famous resort town[edit]

In 1934, scientists found radon water while searching for drinking water in Khmilnyk. Since 1970, Khmilnyk has been a spa resort town of some importance.

Khmilnyk is a modern balneological resort with seven health centres. It has the capacity to treat 50,000 from Ukraine and other countries every year. The main medicinal factor at the resort is radon water. The radon water is formed during circulation of water through granites of the Ukrainian crystal shield.

Culture and architecture[edit]

Ascension Church in Khmilnyk

Khmilnyk has several architectural and historical monuments. Saint Trinity Church was built in 1603 and restored in 1729. Four Orthodox churches were built between 1801 and 1910. The city has a Turkish mosque and the palace of K.I. Ksido. Monuments to Bogdan Khmelnitsky were built to commemorate his leadership in the liberation war of the Ukrainian people against Polish social and religious oppression (1648–1654). There is a red granite statue of Lenin, seated; the statue sits on the top of a hill overlooking the town centre. There is a monument to soldiers who died during the Great Patriotic War, the Glory Monument to War Heroes, and an obelisk to soldiers of 18th Army, 71st and 276th divisions that liberated Khmilnyk in March 1944. In 1991 a monument to Taras Shevchenko was built.

Holy Trinity Church[edit]

Catholic cathedral of the Holy Trinity in Khmilnyk

Holy Trinity Church was built in 1603. During the time of the Tatars occupation (1672–1699) it was ruined. At the beginning of the eighteenth century, the church was repaired, and in 1728 it was sanctified a second time.

The church is a four-pillar basilica in the Toscana baroque style. Side niches are joined by cross-like cranes and the central niche has a semicircle crane. During the 1930s and 1940s, the church was twice closed by communists. A blacksmith's shop was opened at the altar and prisoners worked there.

In the 1970s, the central entrance to the church yard was closed due to widening of the road. Now the central gates are situated on the other side. When the weather is fine, everybody in Khmilnyk can hear the ringing of the bells, recently donated to the church by the Polish government.

Castle tower and secret passages[edit]

Tower fortress

In the center of Khmilnyk, above the river, an eight sided building with loopholes and counterforts can be seen. This is the only preserved castle tower out of the six that were built. In 1534, the king fortified the castle against numerous attacks from the Turks and the Tatars. The castle was built on a man-made hill and town was surrounded with stone walls. A channel dug between the South Bug and Tasthusha rivers turned the town and fort into an island.

During the National Liberation War (1648–1654), the castle was devastated by Cossacks. From 1672 to 1699, the castle was owned by Turks. They strengthened the defensive buildings, built a mosque and secret passages passing under the river and leading to the outskirts of the city. Some of the passages were later abandoned, used as storehouses, and part was made into a nightclub. The section that passed under the river has since collapsed, and flooded. Only a small part is now accessible from the Стара Фортреця (Stara Fortretsia - "old fortress") Restaurant located directly under the castle. In the eighteenth century, the castle lost its defensive function and was gradually ruined. The preserved mosque tower was restored many times, and between 1804-1917 it was turned into an Orthodox Church.

Palace of K. I. Ksido[edit]

Palace of K. I. Ksido

Near the castle tower is a building that at first sight seems to be old. This is the palace of the local landlord K. I. Ksido. At the beginning of the twentieth century, he initiated a project to construct a large palace and park complex according to a design by the Russian architect Ivan Fomin, but it was not finished. The complex consists of the palace and an arc-like Venice bridge over the river.

The palace is an example of neoclassical architecture uniting the forms of Renaissance and Classicism. The building has two floors, and is quadratic, with towers on the main façade and corners. There was a dome rotunda on the roof but it was knocked off by a Soviet air attack during World War II.

From 1920 to 1964, the building was used for agronomic and electronic schools, storehouses, a mill, and several different establishments. Since 1964 it has been used as a hotel. Now, the building is in very poor condition, and needs major repairs.

Famous people connected with Khmilnyk[edit]


Khmilnyk: History-Culture-Tourism, 2007


External links[edit]

Media related to Khmilnyk at Wikimedia Commons