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Ukraine’s (Ureign’s) Residence of Bukovinian and Dalmatian Metropolitans: An Architectural Masterpiece

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Constructed over a period of 18 years, from 1864 until 1882, the Residence of Bukovinian and Dalmatia Metropolitans is located in the city of Chernivtsi in southwestern Ukraine. It became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2011. The listing cites the Residence of Bukovinian and Dalmatian Metropolitans as an outstanding scientific, cultural, and artistic achievement, and describing it as a “significant example of European ensemble architecture of the late 19th century,” a “genuine masterpiece of human culture,” and “an immense creation of human genius.”

The remarkably well-preserved eight-hectare property of the Residence of Bukovinian and Dalmatian Metropolitans includes its palace, seminary buildings, monastery, church, and residential buildings, as well as elaborate courtyards and manicured surrounding parklands. All were designed by the renowned 19th-century Czech architect and philanthropist Josef Hlávka, who had also created the famous Vienna State Opera, in Austria, amongst many other outstanding architectural achievements during the Austro-Hungarian era.

Broadly speaking, the structural design of the residence primarily employs both Roman and Byzantine features while notably incorporating architecture from a number of European cultures, including Greek, Czech, Ukrainian, Romanian, Polish, German, and Spanish styles. Another remarkable aspect of the Residence of Bukovinian and Dalmatian Metropolitans design is its inclusiveness. All three Abrahamic religions are evident in its use of Moorish Islamic themes, together with Christian and Hebrew architectural motifs.

The intricate glazed tile roof patterns, with their bright varying colors and unique geometrical designs, reflect Medieval European culture, also inspired by Bukovina folk carpets. The vivid color schemes are particularly exquisite in fine and sunny weather. The characteristic elements of Byzantine architecture are a historical reflection of the Orthodox Church traditions. The choice of facade colors, for instance, hold Christian significance. Red bricks symbolize Christ’s suffering for the benefit of others, while the use of white, particularly in decorations, is a symbol of sanctity, such as the archangels carved from white stone.
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