(Ніжин; Нежин; Nezhin
) is a city located in the Chernihiv Oblast
of northern Ukraine
, along the Oster River
, 150 km north-east of the nation's capital, Kiev
. It is the administrative center
of the Nizhynsky Raion
, though the city itself is also designated as a district in the oblast. Its estimated population is 76,625 (as of the 2001 census).
The earliest known references to the location go back to 1147, when it was briefly mentioned as Unenezh. In the times of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
, Nizhyn was granted Magdeburg rights
(1625) as a self-governing town. Nizhyn was once a major center of Hasidic Judaism
and is the site of the Ohel
(tomb) of the Hasidic master
, Rabbi Dovber Schneuri
. It was also the seat of a major Cossack
regiment (until 1782) and of the thriving Greek community, which enjoyed a number of privileges granted by Bogdan Khmelnytsky
In the nineteenth century Nizhyn became an uyezd capital of Chernigov Guberniya and, before 1808, of Malorosiyskaya (or Little Russian) gubernia. In 1805, the Bezborodko Lyceum was established there; its graduates include Nikolai Gogol, whose statue graces one of city streets. Nizhyn has also long been noted for its famous cucumbers.
In July 1969 two Tupolev Tu-22 aircraft from the nearby air base collided in mid-air. The crew ejected and the plane flew on unpiloted for 52 minutes, threatening the city of Nezhin before crashing 0.5 km from the city's railway station.
Architecturally Nezhin was shaped in the 18th century. Foremost among its buildings must be mentioned its seven Baroque
churches: Annunciation Cathedral (1702-16, modernised 1814), Presentation Cathedral (1788), St. Michael's Church of the Greek community (1719-29), St John's Church (1752, illustrated, to the right
), Saviour's Transfiguration Church (1757), Intercession Church (1765), and the so-called Cossack Cathedral of St. Nicholas (1658, restored 1980s), a rare survival from the days of Nezhin's Cossack glory, noted for its octagonal vaults and drums crowned by archetypal pear-shaped domes (picture
). Other notable buildings include the Trinity Church (1733, rebuilt a century later), the Greek magistrate (1785), and the Neoclassical complex of the Nizhyn Lyceum
(designed by Luigi Rusca, built in 1805-17, expanded in 1876-79).