Cernauti University, also known as “Yuriy Fedkovych National University,” is one of the most important universities located in the northern part of Bucovina. Cernauti, the city in which the edifice is located, used to belong to Romania, but it had become a part of the Ukrainian territory after Bucovina was invaded by the Soviet troops.
The university under discussion was constructed on the 4th of October 1875 by the Austro-Hungarian King Franz Josef, on the site of the former Orthodox Theological Seminary. The university was renowned in all the Austro-Hungarian Empire and in the beginning it went under the name of “Franz Josef University,” after its founder.
But the name constantly changed according to specific historical or cultural events. When Romania and Bucovina were united, the name of the building was changed to “King Carol I University” – after the ruler of that time.
The actual edifice which can be seen today in Ukraine dates fro 1920-1922, when the Romanian Government took it upon itself to erect the building. But the region came under Ukrainian rule once more in 1940. In 1989, the name of the university was changed to “Yuriy Fedkovych National University,” after a famous writer, representative of the Ukrainian National Renaissance period.
While the information provided up to now reflects solely the historical evolution of the edifice, it is not suggestive of its beauty. The architecture and the décor are the ones that transformed the university into the renowned tourist attraction it has become. In fact, the complex of edifices is listed as part of the UNESCO patrimony.
The magnitude of the construction is impressive. Several quarries, two brick plants and a ceramic factory all worked so as to provide the main materials used in the construction project. The architect who designed the complex was Joseph Glavka, of Czech origin, who had supervised the project throughout the 18 years it took to complete it. But other great artists made their contribution, such as I. Klein and K.Yobst from Vienna, or the local E. Bychevski. The sculptures were artistically molded by the Viennese artist K. Hoffman.
The construction work took such a long time due to the fact that the builders were doing everything to make sure that the materials used were adequate and that these were accurately placed in their designated place. This meant that only close to 100 bricks were added to the construction on a daily basis as each was thoroughly inspected beforehand.
The complex is divided into three sections. The first section, which is located in the left side of the complex, consists of the lecture-halls, the library, the seminary and the dormitory. The second section is made out of the Metropolitan Building (in the middle), whereas the third and final section is formed of a monastery, a museum, a candle factory and the priest’s school (located to the right).
It is really hard to think of another university which impresses through its beauty. And the reason is that different architectural styles have formed a synergy at the Yuriy Fedkovych National University, blending together elements pertaining to different cultures that have dwelt in this region.
Thus, tourists can admire how Byzantine and Roman elements combine with pieces of decoration specific for the Bucovina region. The interior design, consisting of marble floors, luxurious chandeliers, alabaster columns and beautiful frescoes, is remarkable, setting the university aside from any other centers of higher education in the world.