Zhytomyr

 Zhytomyr (Ukrainian: Жито́мир pronounced [ʒɪˈtɔmɪr], Polish: Żytomierz) is a city in the North of the western half of Ukraine. It is the administrative center of Zhytomyr Oblast (province), as well as the administrative center of the surrounding Zhytomyr Raion (district). The city of Zhytomyr is not a part of Zhytomyr Raion: the city itself is designated as its own separate raion within the oblast; moreover Zhytomyr consists of two so-called "raions in a city": Bohunskyi Raion and Koroliovskyi Raion (named in honour of Sergey Korolyov). Zhytomyr occupies an area of 65 km2 (25 sq mi). Population: 271,303 (2013 est.)

Zhytomyr is a major transportation hub. The city lies on a historic route linking the city of Kiev with the west through Brest. Today it links Warsaw with Kiev, Minsk with Izmail, and several major cities of Ukraine. Zhytomyr was also the location of Ozerne airbase, a key Cold War strategic aircraft base located 11 km (6.8 mi) southeast of the city.

Important economic activities of Zhytomyr include lumber milling, food processing, granite quarrying, metalworking, and the manufacture of musical instruments.

Zhytomyr Oblast is the main center of the Polish minority in Ukraine, and in the city itself there is a large Roman-Catholic Polish cemetery, founded in 1800. It is regarded as the third biggest Polish cemetery beyond borders of Poland, behind the Lychakivskiy Cemetery in Lviv and Rossa Cemetery in Vilnius.

Geography

Zhytomyr lies in a unique natural setting; all sides of the city are surrounded by ancient forests through which flow the Teteriv, Kamianka, Kroshenka and Putiatynka rivers. The Teteriv river generally forms the southern boundary of Zhytomyr, though there are also some small areas of Zhytomyr city territory below the southern bank of the river. The city is rich in parks and public squares.

Zhytomyr is set out on a mostly radial type of street net with the centre at the main public square of the city, named Maidan Sobornyi (or Sobornyi Square, which means Cathedral Square). A building containing courts and some other institutions is located in the west of the square. Before 1991, this building contained Zhytomyr Oblast Committee of the Communist Party. Just behind the building (that is to the west of Sobornyi Square) a small quiet park is located, bearing the name of Zamkova Gora (Castle Mountain) and containing a monument-type boulder with an inscription stating that this is a place where Zhytomyr was founded. This historical centre of Zhytomyr is located in the southern part of the city. The old part of Zhytomyr is located on three rocky hills over the river Kamenka: Okhrimova, Zamkova, and Petrovska.

The old town is surrounded by new housing estates, the names of which are often borrowed from the former suburban villages or reflect the longstanding occupations common in these places. The main streets connecting Sobornyi Maidan with the outskirts of Zhytomyr are Kyivska Street or Kiev Street (going to northeast, to the railway station and also to the main bus station of the city), Velyka Berdychivska Street (going to southeast), Czerniachowski Street (going southwest, to beaches and a forest-type park near the river of Teteriv), and Peremohy Street (going north).

The best-known street in the central part of Zhytomyr is Mykhailivska (named after St. Michael's Church located at the northern end of the street). The street is located about 500 metres to the east of Sobornyi Maidan and runs approximately from north to south, connecting some points at the above-mentioned Kyivska Street and Velyka Berdychivska. Mykhailivska Street is for pedestrian traffic: vehicles are forbidden, with the exception of some slow-moving ones. A puppet theatre is nestled in the middle of the street, while the building of the Zhytomyr City Council is located at its southern end. Several small coffee houses and cafés have sprung up here recently, frequented by locals from all walks of life and of all ages. If one crosses Velyka Berdychivska Street from the southern end of Mykhailivska Street, then one finds oneself at Korolyov Square containing the building of the Zhytomyr Oblast Council. Crossing Kyivska Street from the northern end of Mykhailivska Street, one can continue to go along Shchors Street, another important long avenue of Zhytomyr (going north).

The best-known park of Zhytomyr is named after Yuri Gagarin, located in the south of the city, at the left (northern) bank of the Teteriv river. It was formerly owned by the Baron de Chaudoir.

History

Legend holds that Zhytomyr was established about 884 by Zhytomyr, prince of a Slavic tribe of Drevlians. This date, 884, is cut in the large stone of the ice age times, standing on the hill where Zhytomyr was founded. Zhytomyr was one of the prominent cities of Kievan Rus'. The first records of the town date from 1240, when it was sacked by the Mongol hordes of Batu Khan.

In 1320 Zhytomyr was captured by the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and received Magdeburg rights in 1444. After the Union of Lublin (1569) the city was incorporated into the Crown of the Polish Kingdom and in 1667, following the Treaty of Andrusovo, it became the capital of the Kiev Voivodeship. In the Second Partition of Poland in 1793 it passed to Imperial Russia and became the capital of the Volhynian Governorate.

Following the Union of Lublin, Zhytomyr (known in Polish as Żytomierz) became an important center of local administration, seat of the starosta, and capital of Żytomierz County. Here, sejmiks of Kiev Voivodeship took place. In 1572, the town had 142 buildings, a manor house of the starosta and a castle. Following the privilege of King Zygmunt III Waza, Zhytomyr had the right for two fairs a year. The town, which enjoyed royal protection of Polish kings, prospered until the Khmelnytsky Uprising (1648), when it was captured by Zaporozhian Cossacks and their allies, Crimean Tatars. Its residents were murdered, Zhytomyr was burned to the ground, and all government files were destroyed. In 1667, Zhytomyr became capital of Kiev Voivodeship, and in 1724, a Jesuit school and monastery were opened here. By 1765, Zhytomyr had five churches, including 3 Roman-Catholic and 2 Orthodox, and 285 houses.

In 1793 Zhytomyr was annexed by the Russian Empire, and in 1804 was named capital of the Volhynian Governorate. In 1798, a Roman-Catholic Diocese of Zhytomyr was established. During the January Uprising, the town was a stronghold of Polish rebels.

During a brief period of Ukrainian independence in 1918 the city was for a few weeks the national capital. From 1920 the city was under Soviet rule. Under Soviet rule a German National District was set up in the area for the German minority, according to Soviet minorities policy before World War II.

During World War II Zhytomyr and the surrounding territory came for two and a half years (first from July 9, 1941 to November 12, 1943 and again from November 19, 1943 to December 31, 1943) under Nazi German occupation and was Heinrich Himmler's Ukrainian headquarters. The Nazi regime in what they called the "Zhytomyr General District" became what historian Wendy Lower describes as "a laboratory for… Himmler's resettlement activists… the elimination of the Jews and German colonization of the East—transformed the landscape and devastated the population to an extent that was not experienced in other parts of Nazi-occupied Europe besides Poland. While… ultimately, the exigencies of the war effort and mounting partisan warfare behind the lines prevented Nazi leaders from fully developing and realizing their colonial aims in Ukraine… In addition to the immediate destruction of all Jewish communities, Himmler insisted that the Ukrainian civilian population be brought to a 'minimum.'"

From 1991, the city has been part of the independent Ukraine.

Population history
Year     Inhabitants
1861     40,564
1891     69,785
1926     76,700 (of whom 10,500 were Russians)
1939     95,100
1941     40,100 (Russians along with Poles, Jews, and Germans in minority)
2005     277,900