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Ukrainian Odessa: Cossack cemetery in Odessa is older than the city


The route to historical origins


Today people of Ukraine strive to penetrate to historical sources, to discover for themselves the pages of the true history of a metropolis, free from pro-imperial layers – from the time of the Cossacks to the revolutionary events of a hundred years ago and the present. Now there is a reason to argue, relying on archival documents and miraculously surviving historical monuments: Ukrainians settled here before the city was founded.

The Ministry of Culture of Ukraine is considering the inclusion in the register of Сultural heritage the Ukrainian Cossack cemetery of the XVIII-XIX centuries, located on the Hadzhibey road of Odessa, on the slope of Shkodova Mountain (Shkodova Gora).

The earliest existing grave at the “Sotnikovska Sich” cemetery is dated 1791, it appeared three years before the foundation of Odessa. Historians believe that the churchyard was created in 1775, immediately after the liquidation of the Zaporizhzhya Sich. It is named after the family of the Cossack Sotnichenko buried here.

This is the cemetery of the heirs of Zaporizhzhya Cossacks – the people who rescued us from Ottomans. They attacked Hadzhibey Fortress. Then they got land here and organized a settlement. But Catherine the Great decided to relocate them to the Kuban region in 1792. Some Cossacks did not want to resettle. And here are the graves of the former Cossacks, who supplied the stone for the construction of Odessa

Taras Goncharuk, Doctor of Historical Sciences

After the capture of the fortified city, part of the Cossacks, acting together with the Russian army, continued to liberate the Black Sea lands from Ottoman troops. And the majority of local residents, especially those Cossacks who fled from Zaporozhye in 1775 and received permission from Pasha of Ochakov to live near Hadzhibey, remained in this area. They earned money in the Kuyalnik Liman salt mine and in local quarries. These Cossack families, in fact, became residents of Hadzhibey after the Ottoman left it, and subsequently became the first inhabitants of Odessa.

In the cemetery at the burial site, you can see 32 types of ancient crosses of various sizes and shapes.

The oldest cross is dated 1791. Among the graves stands out one – in the form of a pillow with a Cossack mace.

On most of the crosses, you can still find out some words, last names, familiy names and dates. All inscriptions are fully deciphered by Odessa and Ukrainian historians.

From time to time, Cossacks and activists come here to clean the territory from thickets.

Photo by Dumskaya