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Поділля, Podolia
Medieval fortress in Kamianets-Podilskyi
Capuchin monastery in Vinnytsia
Panorama of Zalishchyky
Potocki Palace in Tulchyn
Coat of arms of Podolia
Podolia (yellow) in modern Ukraine
Podolia (yellow) in modern Ukraine
CountryUkraine, Moldova
RegionWest Ukraine, Central Ukraine
Historical capitalKamianets-Podilskyi
Largest cityVinnytsia
PartsTernopil Oblast, Khmelnytskyi Oblast, Vinnytsia Oblast, Odesa Oblast, Cherkasy Oblast
Time zoneUTC+2 (EET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+3 (EEST)

Podolia or Podilia (Ukrainian: Поділля, romanizedPodillia, IPA: [poˈd⁽ʲ⁾ilʲːɐ]; Russian: Подолье, romanizedPodolye; Romanian: Podolia; Polish: Podole; German: Podolien; Belarusian: Падолле, romanizedPadollie; Lithuanian: Podolė; Yiddish: פאדאליע, romanizedPodolie) is a historic region in Eastern Europe, located in the west-central and south-western parts of Ukraine and in northeastern Moldova (i.e. northern Transnistria).

Podolia is bordered by the Dniester River and the Eastern Bug River. Covering an area of 40,000 square kilometres (15,000 sq mi), it features an elongated plateau and fertile agricultural land. Its main rivers are the Dniester and the Southern Bug, which serve as important trade channels. Podolia is known for its cherries, mulberries, melons, gourds, and cucumbers.

The region has a rich history, dating back to the Neolithic period, with various tribes and civilizations occupying it over time. It became part of the Kingdom of Galicia–Volhynia, the Golden Horde, the Kingdom of Poland, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Ottoman Empire, the Austrian Habsburg monarchy, and the Russian Empire. In the 20th century, Podolia underwent various political changes, with both Poland and the Soviet Union controlling parts of it at different times.

Podolian culture is renowned for its folk icon-painting tradition, with red, green, and yellow colors dominating the art. Collections of these iconic works can be found in the Vinnytsya Art Museum and the Museum of Ukrainian Home Icons in Radomysl Castle.


Maps title reads Podolian Voivodeship, part of Ukraine

The name derives from Old Slavic po, meaning "by/next to/along" and dol, "valley" (see dale).[citation needed]


The area is part of the vast East European Plain, confined by the Dniester River and the Carpathian arc in the southwest. It comprises an area of about 40,000 km2 (15,000 sq mi), extending for 320 km (200 mi) from northwest to southeast on the left bank of the Dniester. In the same direction run two ranges of relatively low hills, separated by the Southern Bug. The Podolian Upland, an elongated, up to 472 ft (144 m) high plateau stretches from the Western and Southern Bug rivers to the Dniester, and includes mountainous regions with canyon-like fluvial valleys.

Podolia lies east of historic Red Ruthenia, i.e. the eastern half of Galicia, beyond the Seret River, a tributary of the Dniester. In the northwest, it borders on Volhynia. It is largely made up of the present-day Ukrainian Vinnytsia Oblast and southern and central Khmelnytskyi Oblast. The Podolian lands also include parts of the adjacent Ternopil Oblast in the west and Kyiv Oblast in the northeast. In the east it consists of the neighbouring parts of Cherkasy, Kirovohrad and Odesa Oblasts, as well as the northern half of Transnistria.

Two large rivers, with numerous tributaries, drain the region: the Dniester, which forms its boundary with Moldova and is navigable throughout its length, and the Southern Bug, which flows almost parallel to the former in a higher, sometimes swampy, valley, interrupted in several places by rapids. The Dniester forms an important channel for trade in the areas of Mohyliv-Podilskyi, Zhvanets, and other Podolian river ports.

In Podolia, 'black earth' (chernozem) soil predominates, making it a very fertile agricultural area. Marshes occur only beside the Bug. A moderate climate predominates, with average temperatures at Kamianets-Podilskyi of 9 °C (−4 °C in January, 20 °C in July).

Russian-ruled Podolia in 1906 had an estimated population of 3,543,700, consisting chiefly of Ukrainians. Significant minorities included Poles and Jews, as well as 50,000 Romanians, some Germans, and some Armenians.

The chief settlements include Kamianets-Podilskyi, the traditional capital, Vinnytsia, Khmelnytskyi, Rîbnița, Mohyliv-Podilskyi, Haisyn, Balta, Bar, Camenca, Yampil, Bratslav, and Letychiv.

Podolia is known for its cherries, mulberries, melons, gourds, and cucumbers.


The country has had human inhabitants since at least the beginning of the Neolithic period. Herodotus mentions it as the seat of the Graeco-Scythian Alazones and possibly the Neuri. Subsequently, the Dacians and the Getae arrived. The Romans left traces of their rule in Trajan's Wall, which stretches through the modern districts of Kamianets-Podilskyi, Nova Ushytsia, and Khmelnytskyi.

During the Great Migration Period, many nationalities passed through this territory or settled within it for some time, leaving numerous traces in archaeological remains. Nestor in the Primary Chronicle mentions four apparently Slavic tribes: the Buzhans and Dulebes along the Southern Bug River, and the Tivertsi and Ulichs along the Dniester. The Avars invaded in the 7th century. Later the Bolokhoveni occupied the same territory in the 13th century.

Kingdom of Ruthenia[edit]

Prince Oleg of Novgorod extended his rule over this territory known as the Ponizie, or "lowlands." These lowlands later became a part of the Rus' principalities of Volhynia, Kyiv, and Galicia. In the 13th century, Bakota served as its political and administrative centre.

Lithuanian, Polish and Ottoman rule[edit]

During the 13th century, the Mongols plundered Ponizie; Algirdas, Grand Duke of Lithuania, freed it from their rule following his victory against the Golden Horde in the Battle of Blue Waters of 1362, annexing it to Lithuania under the name of Podolia, which has the same meaning as Ponizie, and in 1366 western Podolia with Kamieniec Podolski passed under Polish sovereignty. In 1375, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Kamianets-Podilskyi was founded. Polish colonisation began in the 14th century.[citation needed]

Map of Podolia from 1769

After the death of the Grand Duke of Lithuania Vytautas in 1430, Podolia was incorporated into Podolian Voivodeship of the Kingdom of Poland, with the exception of its eastern part, the Bracław Voivodeship, which remained with Lithuania, both forming part of the Polish–Lithuanian union. With the Union of Lublin of 1569, eastern Podolia passed from Lithuania to Poland with the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. The Kamieniec Podolski Fortress was nicknamed the "gateway to Poland",[1] whereas the city of Kamieniec Podolski itself as one of Poland's major cities enjoyed voting rights during the royal election period.[2] Podolia was invaded several times by the Crimean Tatars and Turks, and during the Deluge, also by Transylvanians and Russians, with notable Polish victories at Udycz (1606), Czarny Ostrów (1657), Uścieczko (1694).

From 1672, Podolia became part of the Ottoman Empire, when and where it was known as Podolia Eyalet. During this time, it was a province, with its center being Kamaniçe, and was divided into the sanjaks of Kamaniçe, Bar, Mejibuji and Yazlovets (Yazlofça).

It returned to Poland in 1699 with the Treaty of Karlowitz.

The region was the site of two notorious massacres, the Batoh massacre of 1652, in which several thousand Poles were murdered by the Cossacks, and the Massacre of Uman of 1768, in which several thousand Poles, Jews and Uniates were murdered by haidamaks.

In 1768, the Bar Confederation was formed by the Poles, including Casimir Pulaski in Bar in Podolia. Podolia remained part of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth until its Partitions of Poland in 1772 and 1793, when the Austrian and Russian Empires annexed the western and eastern parts respectively.

Russia and Austria[edit]

Podolians, before 1878

From 1793 to 1917, part of the region was the Podolia Governorate in southwestern Russia bordering with Austria across the Zbruch River and with Bessarabia across the Dniester. Its area was 36,910 km2 (14,251 sq mi).

In 1772 First Partition of Poland, the Austrian Habsburgs had taken control of a small part of Podolia west of the Zbruch River (sometimes also called "Southern Podolia") around Borschiv, in what is today Ternopil Oblast. At this time, Emperor Joseph II toured the area, was impressed by the fertility of the soil, and was optimistic about its future prospects. Poland disappeared as a state in a third partition in 1795 but the Polish gentry continued to maintain local control in both eastern and western Podolia over a peasant population which was primarily ethnically Ukrainian whose similarity to the other East Slavs already subject to the Habsburg monarchy was showcased in a 1772 book by Adam F. Kollár and was used as an argument in favor of annexation by the Habsburgs.[3] The Ternopil (Tarnopol) region of western Podolia was briefly taken by Russia in 1809 but reverted to Austrian rule in 1815. Within the Austrian Empire, western Podolia was part of the Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria which, in 1867 with the formation of Austria-Hungary, became an ethnic Pole-administered autonomous unit under the Austrian crown. At the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth, Austrian Podolia witnessed a large-scale emigration of its peasant population to western Canada.

Several battles of the Polish uprisings of 1809, 1830–1831 and 1863–1864 were fought in Podolia.

Medieval fortress in Letychiv

As to the Jewish community in Podolia, the Haskalah or Jewish Enlightenment reached it in the 19th century, introduced by Jews from Western Europe. Says I A. Bar-Levy (Weissman), author of the "Yizkor Book" for Podolia: "It brought an end to the cultural separation of Jews from the surrounding world. Jews began to learn modern sciences and languages, read world literature and participate in the cultural life of the nations among whom they lived."[4] Just as was the case in other areas of former Poland, Jews started to learn the language of the country they lived in and to write about secular subjects. The writers of the Haskalah in Podolia included: the forerunner Isaac Satanow (1733–1805), Menachim Mendel Lapin, author and translator, Ben-Ami (Mordecai Rabinowitz), who wrote in Russian, and many others.[4]

Between Poland and the Soviet Union[edit]

Zaleszczyki in then Polish western Podolia before 1939

With the collapse of Austria-Hungary following World War I in November 1918, western Podolia was included in the West Ukrainian People's Republic, but came under Polish control in 1919 which was confirmed in the Poland–Ukrainian People's Republic agreement in April 1920. Podolia was briefly occupied in 1920 by Soviets during the course of the Polish–Soviet War. At same war, Poland briefly occupied eastern Podolia in 1919 and again in 1920. After the Peace of Riga the Polish control of western Podolia was recognized by the USSR. USSR retained eastern Podalia. There were pogroms during this period.

In Poland from 1921 to 1939, western Podolia was part of the Tarnopol Voivodeship. Eastern Podolia remained in the Ukrainian SSR and between 1922 and 1940, in the southwestern part, the Moldavian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic was created.

In 1927 there was a massive uprising of peasants and factory workers in Mohyliv-Podilskyi, Kamianets-Podilskyi, Tiraspol and other cities of southern Ukrainian SSR against Soviet authorities. Troops from Moscow were sent to the region and suppressed the unrest, causing around 4000 deaths, according to US correspondents sent to report about the insurrection, which was at the time completely denied by the Kremlin official press.[5]

In 1939 after the signing of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union and the Soviet invasion of Poland on September 17, 1939, the area became part of Soviet Ukraine. Many local inhabitants were deported to labour camps.[citation needed] In January 1940, the Czortków uprising, an unsuccessful Polish uprising against Soviet occupiers, took place in pre-war Polish Podolia. Following German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, most of Podolia was occupied by Nazi Germany and incorporated into the Reichskommissariat Ukraine. The area of Podolia between the Southern Bug below Vinnytsia and the Dniester was occupied by Axis Romania as part of Transnistria.

Starting in July 1941, the Jewish inhabitants were subjected to mass extermination by shooting in a German campaign carried out by four Einsatzgruppen ("operational groups") specially organized for the purpose. Reliable estimates including German, Soviet, and local records indicate that upwards of 1.6 million, perhaps as many as 2 million, Jews were murdered in this fashion. Most were buried in mass graves,[citation needed] but there were also instances of communities being forced en masse into community buildings or synagogues that were then burnt,[citation needed] or herded into local mines that were subsequently dynamited.[citation needed]

In 1944 the Soviets re-occupied Podolia and in 1945, when Poland's eastern border was formally realigned along the Curzon line, the whole of Podolia remained in the Ukrainian and Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republics. Most remaining Poles and Jews fled or were expelled to the People's Republic of Poland.


The Podillia's folk icon-painting tradition is well known in Ukraine. Its manifestation is long home iconostases painted on canvas at the end of the 19th to the beginning of the 20th centuries. Red, green and yellow colours prevail, the faces of the saints are a little bit longer, their eyes almond-like. On these iconostases, the most venerated family saints were painted. The collections of Podillya's folk iconostases are possessed by Vinnytsya Art Museum and The Museum of Ukrainian Home Icons in the Radomysl Castle.[6]

Notable people[edit]



  1. ^ Słownik geograficzny Królestwa Polskiego i innych krajów słowiańskich, Tom III (in Polish). Warszawa. 1882. p. 748.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  2. ^ Polska encyklopedja szlachecka, Tom I (in Polish). Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Instytutu Kultury Historycznej. 1935. p. 42.
  3. ^ Joachim Bahlcke, Ungarischer Episkopat und österreichische Monarchie: Von einer Partnerschaft zur Konfrontation (1686–1790). 2005.
  4. ^ a b Bar-Levy, I. A. (1966). Blatman, Leon S. (ed.). 'Kamenetz-Podolsk': A Memorial to a Jewish Community Annihilated by the Nazis in 1941. New York: The Sponsors of the Kamenetz-Podolsk Memorial Book. p. 14 – via Princeton University Press.
  5. ^ Disorder in the Ukraine?, Time, December 12, 1927
  6. ^ Богомолець. О. "Замок-музей Радомисль на Шляху Королів Via Regia". — Київ, 2013

External links[edit]