Being a historian buff and a nationalist in his own right, my grandfather, Dedushka Andrey, was especially proud to give us a tour of Chernigiv, not only revered in Slavic culture as an important town dating back to Kyivan Rus but also a starting point for my father’s family. Before the war, when my great-grandmother was imprisoned in the Siberian gulags, my great-grandfather Gregory would ride the short trip on his carriage from his village to Chernigiv to sell the produce he had grown in his garden. After the war, a large part of my family moved to Chernigiv to work and live there. My grandfather worked in the grey administration building across the square.
On the outskirts of town, my great-aunt Pasha lives on # 33 ½ Fedorovska Street and welcomed us for a hearty dinner and offered us all a bed for the night.
Great-aunt Pasha was born the same year as my grandfather and through the years they have become great friends. She has one furry tomcat that leaves very early and comes back late at night. As many as 4 neighborhood cats arrogantly roam in her garden and her house, giving Pasha a never-ending headache.
The next day we made plans to see a cluster of ancient churches that ornate the town as well as the famous Antonyi’s caves. Beforehand, a solid half an hour was spend at the market in the dry sausage section as Zhenia and Dedushka Andrey picked out their very favourites.
Antonyi’s caves were founded by the Greek Saint Antonyi in the 11th century after Orthodoxy was adopted by Kyivan Rus as the official religion. He and his followers dug a series of caves where they worshipped, studied and lived here in recluse.