Thursday, March 27, 2008

Vylkove - The Ukrainian Venice

After hearing about the “Venice of Ukraine”, I was interested in learning more about it. Unfortunately there is not much information in English about this town, so I would be happy if someone commented with links to some more information. Anyway…

Vylkove (Vilkovo) is located in southern Ukraine on the border with Romania. It is located in the Kilia part of the Danube River Delta. This area is a marsh. It was founded in 1775 (according to the pamphlet, 1746 according to the Vilkovo and Danube Biosphere Reserve link). The town has a series of waterways called “yeriks”, formed when people built up small islands for their houses from sediments. The waterways still exist and are navigated by boats, but there are also boardwalks and bridges for pedestrian traffic. There is an interesting People who live on the islands need to maintain them to prevent flooding and clear the trenches for boat traffic. The traditional boat is a “seagull” boat, used by the Cossacks. They are now called “herring boats” since they are used by local fishermen to catch Danube herring.

Vylkove has an interesting history because of its location. It was under Turkish rule for the first 66 years, then under Russian rule for 44 years, than divided by Turkey and Romania for the next 22 years. It switched between Russia (40 years) and Romania (21 years), and was under USSR rule before 1991, when it became an independent town of Ukraine.

Vylkove has two churches and one chapel, all named after St. Nicholas. One church is Lipovanian. Lipovans came to the area after they broke from the Russian orthodox church following reforms by Patriarch Nikon in 1654. Lipovans in Vylkove speak an archaic form of Russian and maintain their old religious practices.

The administrative center of the Ukrainian Danube Biosphere Reserve is located in Vylkove. This reserve supports over 950 plant species and nearly 260 bird species. It was declared a biosphere reserve in 1998, and in 1999 UNESCO included it in the network of biosphere reserves.

International Danube Day is on June 29 and has been celebrated three times in Vylkove. In 2007, the theme was “Celebrate the Danube cultures”. There was a bike tour through 17 Odesa settlements and a yacht that went from Odessa to Vylkove, passing through 270 km of the Black Sea coast and the Danube delta. On June 29, 2007, there was an open-air festival in Vylkove that attracted nearly 3000 people. More information and pictures from this festival can be found here, and information and pictures from the festival in 2006 can be found here.

Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve

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