Sofiyivka Park

sights / Parks & gardens

Lonely Planet review

Sofia Pototsky was a legendary beauty, and Uman's stunning park is her husband Count Felix's monument to her physical perfection. Having bought Sofia for two million zloty from her former husband (she had been sold into slavery at an early age by her parents), the Polish count set to landscaping this 150-hectare site with grottoes, lakes, waterfalls, fountains, pavilions and 500 species of tree. The result, completed in 1802, was Ukraine's answer to Versailles.

A map at the park entrance describes the history of the park in English and points the way to the various highlights, most bearing sentimental names like Island of Love and Grotto of Venus . The park is such a superlative piece of landscape architecture that you do not need to be a park lover to appreciate it. In summer you can hire boats to traverse the park's many ponds. As it turns out, Sofia broke Felix's heart before he died, having an affair with his son.

Tours of the park are available in English (480uah). However, these are tediously detailed, so only commit if you're really interested. The park is about a 10-minute walk from central Uman, down vul Sadova.