Since 1774, the small town of Bila Tserkva belonged to the Polish Hetman of Crown Francisc Ksaveriy Branytskiy. By his order, two palaces in the Classicism style were constructed in the estate, a winter palace, and a summer palace, and a large park was established. The park was named «Oleksandria» inhonor of Branytskiy’s wife.
The park owners spared no money on improving it. To create the landscapes they invited the best architects and gardeners, and one of them, August Enns, spent 54 years working on the park. To commemorate his efforts, they have established an honorary monument in the park.
The Branytskiys came to Bila Tserkva every summer, while they spent winters in St Petersburg. Unfortunately, their summer palace situated in the park has not survived (it was called Austeria in honor of the hotel which had stood once on this site; the word «austeria» is translated from Polish as «inn» or «hotel»). On the other hand, we can still see the winter palace built in 1796, which is located outside the park, at 7, Boulevard of the 50th Anniversary of Victory. Today the palace houses a school of arts.
The famous philosopher M. O. Berdiayev, who was one of the founders of the Russian existentialism, visited the Branytskiy estate in Bila Tserkva. Here is how he recalled his being there: «Bila Tserkva and «Oleksandria» is a true feudal duchy, with the court, with many people having meals there, with huge stables of thoroughbred horses, and hunting rides attended by all aristocracy of the Southwestern region. For dinner, they i»sed to serve up to delicious and sophisticated dishes».
Even the members of the imperial family visited the Count’s estate. They also took part in creating the park: the place where the trees planted by the guests grew was called the Tsarskiy Sad («tsar’s garden»). Before the notorious rebellion of 1825, the Branytskiy estate was sometimes visited by the Decembrists – Muraviov-Apostol, Pestel, and others. In their memory, the park has a monument, the «Bench of Decembrists». O.S. Pushkin has also visited «Oleksandria» park.
Now «Oleksandria» park with the area of 297 hectares is under protection of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, but is open to everyone. There grow about 2,500 species of plants, and the park architecture has been restored. A former house of the provisor (who managed the park) was turned into a museum where works of art from the Branytskiy collection are exhibited. The main decoration of the museum is marble sculptures by Italian masters such as Canova and Pamponola.