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Berdychiv: Town of Greatness

FILE - View from the sky of the Barefoot Carmelite Monastery in Berdichev, Ukraine. (Photo by ronedya via Adobe Stock)
FILE - View from the sky of the Barefoot Carmelite Monastery in Berdichev, Ukraine. (Photo by ronedya via Adobe Stock)

Berdychiv: Town of Greatness
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Editor's note: This story is one of the winning entries from the "Teach Us about Ukraine" writing contest sponsored by VOA Learning English and GoGlobal.

About 300 kilometers west, away from the crowd and the noise of the capital city of Kyiv lies the historic and picturesque town of Berdychiv.

It is a place where the sound of birds singing blends with the morning mist at sunrise. Nobody hurries here. Life goes on in Berdychiv.

The town in northern Ukraine was founded in 1430. It is a place where three world cultures, Polish, Ukrainian and Jewish, meet and are preserved.

Britannica Dictionary says the town started as a Lithuanian fortress before turning into a Polish city from 1569 until 1793. At one point, it was the fourth-largest city in Ukraine with a large Jewish population.

Overlooking the Hnylopiat River is the ancient monastery fortress of the Barefoot Carmelites, known as the Sanctuary of the Mother of God of the Holy Scapular. The complex was built in the 16th century by the Janusz Tyszkiewicz family. The Internet Encyclopedia of Ukraine says the complex, along with a school and publishing house, turned the city into an important Polish religious center.

The complex is popular with visitors who take pictures of its magnificent buildings and lifelong residents who take part in life ceremonies like weddings and graduations.

Across the Catholic church in the same complex is a museum to celebrate the life of Joseph Conrad. The English writer was born in 1857 in Berdychiv to a family of Polish patriots who fought against Russian rule. They were arrested and exiled to northern Russia where Conrad first learned English at the age of four. Conrad left Russia and traveled the world as a mariner before starting his writing career.

Down a narrow path near the complex is an old building on the river banks. It is an art school where Ukrainians study to become designers, artists, and photographers. It is a place where many modern Ukrainian artists come from and a place filled with great works of art.

In the city center is an art installation: Suit from Berdychiv. Here visitors often take pictures, eat pizza, and sit in a café with a view of the center. Not far from the city center is the Berdychiv Historical Museum. Founded in 1926, the museum has a collection of valuable fabrics and paintings.

Berdychiv is known for one event related to the world of literature. The well-known French writer Honoré de Balzac married Éveline Hanska, a Polish countess, in 1850 in St. Barbara’s Church after an 18-year courtship.

Some believe they chose the church for its beauty and history in a city of writers, and a city of love and culture.

Oleksandra Kravchenko wrote this essay.

I'm Anna Matteo.


About the Writer

Oleksandra grew up in Berdychiv (Zhytomyr region). She credits her caring teachers in Berdychiv сity lyceum No. 15 for fostering her love of the English language and learning in general.

Oleksandra obtained her advanced educational degrees in the capital of Ukraine. For more than eleven years, she has been working as an English and German teacher at college of Economics and Law and Kyiv Cooperative Institute of Business and Law and enjoys it greatly.

She has written grammar books and an English Song Book. She is also an English teacher on TikTok.

Her mission is to create inspiring educational materials so that studying and learning is a wonderful and unforgettable experience for everyone. “Teaching people foreign languages through fascinating real life stories and amazing facts about the world is my professional direction.”


Lesson Plan

Download the lesson plan for activities and ideas for teaching this story.

Berdychiv Lesson Plan
Berdychiv - Lesson Plan