Khortytsia is an island on the river Dnieper. Today it’s a part of a Ukrainian city Zaporizhzhya. Several hundreds of years ago, the island was the capital of the Zaporizhian Sich, a historical territory populated by Cossacks. Sich existed in 16th– 18th centuries, however, even before this, island played a major role in the region. Its location on the major trade route made Khortytsia a center of trade for the ancient Slavs.
Even today one can find remnants of the Slavic settlements when exploring the island. Shrines and sacred circles are there for everyone to see. You just need to know what to look for. It’s truly amazing how one can easily stumble on a pagan sacred site that is hundreds of years old. This is Khortytsia for you, a place where history and modern civilization are closely intervened.
There was a fortress called Protolche located on the island from the 5th to 9th century. Today archaeologists managed to find the remnants of this settlement. Some discoveries were made when exploring the multiple caves in the cliffs that surround the island. These cliffs are about thirty meters high. This is why Khortytsia was a perfect spot for creating an impenetrable fortress that started as a safe heaven for tradesmen that moved to and from Greece.
There is a legend about Prince Svyatoslav, one of the rulers of Kievan Rus, who supposedly died on this island when he was returning from his campaign against Bulgars. He fell in the battle of Black Rock in 972. Some evidence of this legend was discovered during the construction of Dnieper hydropower station. The builders managed to find weapons and armor that date back to the 10th century.
The island of Khortytsia was frequently visited by Slavic kings and queens. There are some historical records proving that the most prominent members of the society of that time came to Khortytsia at some point in time. This is another proof of the outstanding role that this island played in the history of Slavs.
Slavic Shrines in Khortytsia
The forests of Khortytsia hide several ancient pagan shrines that were used by the ancient Slavs. The biggest of them is a circle made of stones, located on the Bragarnya height. The archaeologists that explored this site believe that it was used by astronomers. This sacred place dates 2000 years back, and it took two archaeological digs to uncover it completely. The
stones used for building this shrine are local granite. The site consists of three cromlechs and fifteen granite steles. Historians believe that it was not constructed at once. It’s safe to assume that the complex of ritual sites grew along with the local community.
Members of the local pagan community renovated the shrines in 1997. Since that time these sites have been visited by thousands of tourists. Even today, neo-pagans perform their ritual around these ancient shrines. These people follow old traditions while wearing Slavic costumes that make them look like true Ancient Slavs.
These festivals are a sight to behold. It’s not only the grand celebration that can impress those who watch the proceedings. It’s the atmosphere that is completely magical, because it makes you feel like you’ve traveled back in time.
The Island of History
Khortytsia is literally filled with history. Taking a walk here is an extraordinary experience, because you can feel the unique atmosphere present only in places that are as ancient as time itself. Every unusual looking rock you find might have been a sacred totem two thousand years ago, and every piece of iron or ceramics definitely was a part of some tool that people used hundreds of years ago.
If your imagination is vivid enough, you will be able to see how the ancient Slavs used to live here. In case you require some visual stimulation, you can visit one of the many sacred sites that are currently renovated and well maintained.
Those who are more interested in more recent events will definitely enjoy seeing a reconstructed settlement of Cossacks from the times of Zaporizhian Sich.