Through the roads of Slobozhanshchina. Part 2. Shadows of Forgotten Estates – Sharovka Palace
Just an hour’s drive from Kharkov, in the village Sharovka of Bogodukhiv region on the bank of the Merchik River, there is a real castle, which, although already dilapidated, still attracts tourists with its unprecedented beauty and legends. Koenig’s Palace in Sharovka, also known as “Sharovsky castle”, is one of the most magnificent palace and park complexes of Slobozhanshchina and a cultural monument of national importance.
Sharovsky palace has a rich history. At the beginning, the land was owned by a regimental Sesaul of the Akhtyrsky Regiment, Matvey Osipovich Sharaya. He bought it for 4 rubles in 1670. In 1700 on this place already appeared farmstead for 112 households, the church and several workshops. In 1836 Olkhovsky family, the first official owners of the estate, began gardening and building of the palace. In 1836 the landowner Pavel Olkhovsky wanted to build a castle with towers in the Gothic style, which would serve him as a home and a reliable fortress. Also in this year was laid the first homestead church, which has not survived to this day. Olkhovsky was the owner of the manor for many years, until he lost his charming house in cards. Then the estate passed into the hands of Christian Gebenstrein, who was famous for his love of plants and brought many curiosities to Sharovka. And at the end of the 19th century the estate was owned by German sugar magnate Leopold Koenig.
Along with the purchase of the Sharovsky palace, wealthy businessman Leopold König bought almost all the land around it. The rich man’s soul wanted complete peace and he did not want his pathetic shacks to spoil the view from his estate, so he moved the villagers deep into the then Russian Empire – to the Ufa province. But the harsh climate of Bashkiria forced the peasants to return home. They found ashes on the site of their houses – everything was ordered to be burned by König. So people had to build new houses away from the castle. That is how two villages with the same name – Sharovka – were created in Kharkov region. Maybe, for fear of retribution from deceived residents, König built at the entrance to the estate a gate with fortress teeth and a watchtower
and a whole house for the guards with lancet windows. Even now one gets the impression that the castle was ready to repel an attack.
Leopold König was extremely wealthy and the castle was greatly altered under his reign. Sugar magnate König gave the Scharovsky palace a second life by introducing newfangled elements to the architecture of the building. As a result, the castle took on a frenetic Gothic color, and with it the mystique. The estate is really striking in its architectural scale and picturesqueness. For example, at the beginning of the last century, “White Swan” got two winged annexes,
To equip the estate, the sugar king of Slobozhanshchina invited specialists from Germany – the architect Jacobi and the engineer Stolz. The mansion acquired its final look both externally and internally by 1912. Although in the Soviet 1920-1924 years to the east facade was added two-storey glazed veranda,
and on the second floor appeared two octagonal medieval towers with lancet windows and spires, giving the building the majesty of a palace.
The exquisite family manor is decorated in the Neo-Gothic style, the main decoration of which is the castle palace. It has two floors, the main entrance is decorated with two elegant octagonal towers, each with a lancet window, prongs and a spire, which tower over the second floor. The entrance is decorated with two square columns supporting a narrow balcony. A complex profile cornice girdles the entire building.
The central part of the building was supposed to have a large hall for various receptions and celebrations. The palace had 26 rooms and three halls, the decoration of which was amazing with its luxury: marble fireplaces, moldings, paintings, fine carving on dark oak, and precious parquet. Balls and plays were staged here. The palace welcomed distinguished guests. By the standards of that time it was a royal sweep.
König’s study with furniture and library is also preserved to this day.
Very beautiful staircases – the wooden one leading to the second floor,
and an openwork spiral one.
Particularly striking in the palace are the well-preserved fireplaces.
Nowadays, the Sharovsky palace is the only part of the complex that has been restored in recent years.
From the second floor of the palace offers a magnificent view of the park, where we will go after viewing the palace.
From the front entrance to the garden to the fountain and pool leads a large staircase with three terraces. Lawns with a fountain and flower beds framed with borders, hills cut by horizontal terraces, wide staircases to the pond – all this transports us to other times and worlds.
Under Koenig not only the palace was transformed, but also the park. There appeared white-stone terraces, a cascade of artificial ponds, and from the front porch to the openwork stone bridge descended stairs. There were fountains on both sides of the bridge, with water supplied from an artesian well with crystal clear drinking water, which only the landlord was allowed to taste. Staircases and terrace walls were decorated with statues, decorative vases, lanterns, and were wrapped in roses and wild grapes. There were also flower gardens on the terraces, and swans swam in the ponds. All this beauty was created by the landscape architect Georg Kufaldt, whom König invited from Riga. Terraces and ponds, though not in their original form, but survived to this day. By the way, one of the hills near the palace is called Sugar Hill. The legend says that to please his wife, who wanted to go sledging in summer, the magnate ordered to sprinkle sugar on the hill during the warm season and roll off it as if it were covered with snow!
There is also an artificial pond over which a bridge leads to Sugarloaf Hill. On either side of the bridge is a picturesque view of the once bargain property.
Descending from the stairs, we turn left, where we saw a dilapidated arbor, the columns of which, however, well preserved chimeras.
On the gentle sunny slope of the lower terrace is a garden with an equipped greenhouse, gardener’s house, vegetable garden and garden. There are also stables, a pheasantry and several outbuildings.
There is a romantic legend connected with Shavka and its last owners. After the death of König senior in 1903, his eldest son, also Leopold, became the absolute master of the place. Leopold Leopoldowicz fell in love with a local girl, whose name remains unknown. He wooed his beloved for a long time, but could not wait for reciprocal feelings. Finally he did marry the lady of his heart and for the rest of his life he tried to win her favor, indulging all her whims. Knowing the girl’s love for flowers, he built a greenhouse next to the palace with exotic plants, with automatic watering, a laboratory and a zoned microclimate (up to tropical). Thanks to this, even in winter every morning the servants placed fresh flowers with dew on their petals all over the castle. In the winter, flowers grew in Sharovka, and in the summer there was a sleigh ride. on sugar. But despite all his efforts, the Baron failed to make his wife fall in love with him. But the hothouses were of use for many years: even decades later, when Sharovsky palace was turned into a sanatorium, the hothouses grew vegetables that could feed the whole institution. And in winter, they say, there were even fruit-bearing apple trees.
On the territory of the Sharov estate also stretches a landscape park with an unusual linden alley. The composition of the König park was created by the landscape architect Georg Kufaldt. Under his leadership, about 150 species of exotic for this area plants were planted. The area of the park is about 39.3 hectares.
The highlight is that the linden trees are specially pruned so that they grow only upwards, as if they are reaching for the sun. Walking along the park, we saw the centuries-old oaks with wide branches and mighty crowns. Once upon a time, König’s friends would gather on the surrounding lawns for reading and various games. Park on the slope of a two-kilometer beam laid out back in 1836 the “father” of Sharovsky palace – landlord Paul Olhovsky. Later, when the estate was passed to the Gebenstrein brothers, the park was enriched with a variety of exotic plants, and Leopold König perfected it, in particular, by ordering the creation of a linden alley after Earl König’s wife was ill with consumption. To somehow alleviate the suffering of his wife, he laid out a park on the grounds of the palace complex. Several varieties of conifers and his wife’s favorite lime trees were planted. This amazing place, which can be admired even now, is located in the woods of the park, and it was conceived for walking or carriage rides. The peculiarity of the forest alley is that there are four rows of linden trees with upright branches.
There are other natural attractions in the park. First of all, these are several trees, which, according to experts, are more than 500 years old, and it takes a person half a minute to get around one of these old-timers. By the way, when the end of the 50s of the last century, when they compiled a species list of plants in the park, it found at least 51 species of plants.
Not only are there huge trees in the park, but the local big bastard beetle is just as big as they are.
Walking through the park, we touched a stone with which an interesting legend is connected. König’s young wife was ill with tuberculosis, and as there was no medicine for this ailment then, the younger König sent his wife to the Crimea to improve her health, where she had a love affair. Koenig himself, being a businessman, could not accompany her. During one of these trips the beauty had a stormy affair with an officer, which ended in treason. Learning of this, Leopold ordered to bring to Sharovka that same stone boulder, where the infidel indulged in sexual pleasures, and set the six-ton boulder in the garden as a silent reproof and a reminder of marital infidelity. The baron never reproached his wife for what she had done, but he took her for a walk every day near the stone, thus letting her know that he knew she had sinned. However, to others the stone only helps them in love, and they call it the “Stone of Love. It is said that if you touch the stone and make a wish, it will come true.
They say that even a walk through the territory of the estate, called the “White Swan”, will help the lovers to carry their feelings through life.
After the palace was finished, Leopold König ordered the guardhouse with a pointed roof, the gardener’s house and its front gardens, greenhouses and orangeries to be built on the estate as well as a forester’s hut in the woods.
We return after the walk through the park to the palace and see its back side.
By the beginning of the twentieth century the state of the Koenigs’ empire was estimated at 21 million rubles. The beginning of the end of the Koenig palace is dated 1917. At first the estate was nationalized, and in 1925 the Soviet authorities created a sanatorium for patients with tuberculosis in the complex. By the beginning of the XXI century, the Sharovsky Palace was in a very poor condition. Once a pearl of architecture and park art, it had become derelict. Only in the early 2000s there began a discussion about the future of the complex as a historical and cultural monument of Sloboda region, which has a huge recreational and tourist potential. Since the end of 2008 the sanatorium was moved out of the village. There were plans to restore and disinfect the complex. However, at the end of 2009 Kharkiv Regional Council significantly reduced the budget previously planned for the restoration of the manor, and now most of the structures of the manor and the park have finally fallen into disrepair. The once pearl of architecture and park art has been abandoned. Private individuals are afraid to buy the former sanatorium for tuberculosis patients, although repeated tests have shown that the tubercle bacillus is not here.
Our walk through the palace and park complex “Sharovka” came to an end. At the exit we were selling souvenirs. In addition to the traditional magnets, I noticed booklets of the main attractions of Kharkov. We already were in Old Merchik, now we are in Sharovka, and then our way goes to Parkhomovka and Natalievka. So, we will not miss anything.
The white-stone palace in Sharovka village
In the village Sharovka in Kharkov region remained estate of a rich saharovodist Leopold Koenig, which can rightly be considered a monument of manor architecture of the 19th century.
Homestead before the Revolution
The estate was owned by Leopold Koenig, the last owner of the Sharov estate before the Revolution. Before Koenig, the estate changed hands several times. It was owned by:
1) landowner Pavel Olkhovsky;
2) Gebenstrein brothers.
Homestead before the Revolution
Leopold Koenig became the owner of the estate in 1881. The new owner actively improved the palace and the park, inviting European specialists of various fields: architects, botanists, zoologists. As a result, by 1912 the owner had a beautiful estate, worthy of receiving dignitaries. The white-stone palace had 26 rooms and three big halls for receiving guests. The house was decorated with a combination of taste and unprecedented luxury: marble fireplaces, glazed tiles, modeling on the ceiling and walls, paintings and woodcarving.
Homestead before the Revolution
The park around the estate was as luxurious as the manor house. The vast territory, where pheasants, peacocks and other exotic for those times animals, brought from warm countries, found a haven. Continuing the work of the Gebenstrein brothers, one of whom was a botanist, König was not stingy in ennobling the park and greenhouses with trees and plants that were unusual for our climate. Thanks to the skilful care of trees in the park area you can see the centuries-old oaks, the oldest of which is over 600 years old. Under König, the famous linden alley for walking and horseback riding has been improved. Thanks to an unusual method of pruning, the branches of the linden trees began to grow vertically upwards.
Homestead before the Revolution
The owner of the castle did not skimp on decorating the manor. Even the outbuildings, stables and servants’ houses were built so that the manor looked attractive from all sides. There were many gazebos, statues, and fountains on the estate. Behind the mansion there is a pond, which by itself is a natural decoration of the area, but the owner also decorated it with a beautiful wide bridge and a granite embankment. Behind the pond the road goes up a fairly steep hill. There is a legend that once for the entertainment of the guests this hill was completely covered with sugar, imitating the snow and the guests had the opportunity to go down the mountain in a sleigh.
Homestead before the Revolution
Manor house after the Revolution
Leopold König was forced to leave Russia and fled to Germany in 1917. The estate was nationalized by the Bolsheviks and later given to a sanatorium for tuberculosis patients. The park area gradually began to decline, but the Soviet authorities had no time or money to preserve the rare beauty of the arboretum.
Over time, without proper care, many alien plants died out, some of them acclimatized, but lost their exotic exterior. In the backwoods, the park is gradually turning into a forest park and is unlikely to ever have the look that the specialists hired by Koenig diligently gave it. In spite of everything, it is still a gorgeous place for walks and excursions. Clean air, beautiful nature, silence and tranquility bring peace of mind to the souls of eternally hurried city dwellers.
The manor house was luckier, as the new government needed the building. The manor house was restored and its living condition was maintained. Thanks to this, you can still admire the screaming luxury with which the rich people lived before the revolution of 1917.