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        The Mykolayiv city council
16 April 2014
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Photo Exhibition: Nikolaev end of XX century >>

The City of Saint Nicholas

The territory of modern Nikolaev is situated on the banks of Bugsky estuary at the junction with the Ingul river. Since ancient times people noted its unique geographic location here the steppe, hot of sun, meets the blue waves of the Black Sea, the astringent smells of absinth and wild thyme are mixed with sea wind smelling of salt and fish. The earliest archeological monument, found within the city territory, dates back to the New Stone Age (5 - 4 thousand B.C.). Nikolaev lands remember Scythians, ancient Greeks, Slavic tribes, hordes of nomads and free Zaporozhian Cossacks.

However, the intensive settlement of the Nikolaev peninsula started in the last quarter of 18th century already after the liberation of the Northern Black Sea Coast region from the Turkish conquerors, and the Russian state having gained its access to the Black Sea. Russia needed its own fleet. So, by Duke Potyomkin's order, a new township with a dockyard was founded in 1788 in the mouth of the Ingul river. The town started to grow around the shipyard. It got its name in a year after the victorious capture by storm of the Ochakov fortress by the Russian army under the leadership of Alexander Suvorov. Ochakov fell in December 1788, on the holiday of St. Nicholas, the patron of sailors, so the new town was named in his honor. The first church built in the town in 1790, as well as the first ship 44-cannon frigate "Saint Nicholas" that was launched in August of the same year and got its baptism of fire near the Kaliakria cape in July 1791 are also connected with the name of St. Nicholas, who is one of the most honored saints in Ukraine and Russia.

Since "Saint Nicholas" launching, more than two thousand warships and other vessels have been built in Nikolaev shipyards, among them frigates, battleships, torpedo boats, submarines etc. Nikolaev is one of the two cities in the world where the heavy aircraft carriers were built. Today the city has three big shipbuilding yards.

The town was devoted to shipbuilding and fleet. For almost a century it was the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Naval Fleet. During the Crimean War (1853 - 1856) it was the main rear base for the Black Sea Fleet. The majority of city enterprises belonged to the military industry complex, and that is why for years Nikolaev was closed for foreign visitors. Even the first educational institution here the Black Sea Navigator College founded in 1798 was also connected with the fleet. This specialty left a peculiar imprint on Nikolaev's fate, character and even appearance. The first city plan created at the end of 18th century was rapidly consolidated on the landscape during the first 10 years of its existence. It is completely, without changes, preserved till nowadays, being a unique city-planning monument of the Classicism Epoch. There are not many cities that can be proud of that.

However, the town grew and developed living its own way. The opening of the commercial port in 1862 enhanced the towns transformation to a big merchant port. This fact found its reflection in the citys coat of arms that was approved in 1883 and restored in 1997. Thus, the project papers The notes on the military-port town Nikolaev coat of arms by the chief of the coat of arms sector at the Senate Gerald Department contained the following: "Because Nikolaev is one of the main ports in Southern Russia, I suggest that besides the mitre and crozier, a ship should be represented on the towns coat of arms. By the end of 19th century the Nikolaev port's foreign trade turnover grew to make it the third biggest after Petersburg and Odessa, and the biggest in the country by exporting grains that were supplied from the steppe regions. Nikolaev itself becomes a large industrial center in the South of Ukraine.

The storms of 20th century history didnt have mercy on Nikolaev. In the October days of 1917 the town was called "Ukraine's Red Piter" (Rus. short for Petersburg). In 1918 the town for the first time suffered from the foreign occupation. In 1920 Soviet power took control in Nikolaev.

During World War II Nikolaev was occupied by the Nazis for almost three years. But not a single ship left the stocks during all that time. Underground diversion and strike groups heroically resisted the enemy. Later 68 marines led by K. Ol'shansky accomplished a heroic feat of arms during the liberation of Nikolaev in March 1944. For the only time in World War II, all the 68 men who took part in the combat mission were awarded the Hero title, most of them posthumously.

The names of many outstanding people are connected with Nikolaev. It found reflection in the citys monuments, names of its streets, squares, and parks. Admirals A. Greig and M. Lazarev, the Antarctic discoverer F. Belinsgauzen and the creator of the battle fleet tactics admiral G. Butakov, the heroes of the Sevastopol defense during the Crimean War admirals P. Hakhimov and V. Kornilov, authors of the Black Sea Atlas" brothers M. and E. Manganari, and the author of 4-volume edition "Stories about the Russian Land" major-general A. Nechvolodov, corresponding member of the Petersburg Science Academy, the first director of the first in the Southern Ukraine Nikolaev observatory K. Knorre, and the creator of the first in the world maritime gas turbine unit S. Kolosov served and worked in Nikolaev. It was our city, where V. Dal being at the military service started the creation of his Explanatory Dictionary of the Living Great-Russian Language. Here in Nikolaev D. Samoylovitch (Sushchinskiy), the founder of the Russian epidemic studies, member of the 12 Western - European academies and scientific societies, completed his fundamental scientific work, and in 1790 professor . Livanov founded the first in the country School of practical agriculture in Bogoyavlensk (now the Korabelny district of the city). Nikolaev gave the first experience of the political struggle to L. Trotsky (Bronshtein). Admiral F. Ushakov, P. Sumarokov, A. Pushkin, A. Gorky, V. Mayakovsky, N. Rimsky-Korsakov visited Nikolaev; the leading lights of the Ukrainian theatre N. Sadovsky, P. Saksagansky, M. Kropivnitsky were born in Nikolaev, M. Shchepkin performed here.. The first book on the history of Ukrainian people in their native language The History of Ukraine-Russia was also written in Nikolaev. Its author N. Arkas was born in Nikolaev. The honored painter of the USSR M. Bozhy, an outstanding astronomer, academician F. Bredikhin, an Arctic explorer G. Brusilov, a famous scientist in the field of railway transport academician V. Obraztsov, a talented naval commander, oceanographer, polar explorer and inventor S. Makarov come from Nikolaev.

The city with the destiny of shipbuilding cant help being full of romantic love for sea. Thats why it is no surprise that Nikolaev residents carried out the first great marine voyage back in 1848. At that time the Admiral yacht Oreanda departed from the city around the Europe to Krondshtat, and having won the main award of the sailing race returned to the city the same way. Another yacht - Ikar - designed and built by the students and staffers of the Nikolaev Shipbuilding Institute (now the Ukrainian State Marine Technical University named after S. Makarov), with the crew of 7 people in 1987 became the first Ukrainian yacht to sail around the world.

Thanks to the everyday work, talent, intellect and patience of many generations, Nikolaev within the historically short period of time transformed from a small shipyard to a big industrial, business, political and cultural center of the Southern Ukraine. Nikolaev is open to the world for partnership and cooperation, and believes in its lucky star the small planet (8141) Nikolaev = 1982 SO4, that was discovered by the Crimean Astrophysical Observatory and named in its honor.