The first people appeared in our area somewhere about
150,000 years ago. According to modern historians, they
had a brain of insignificant volume, a low forehead,
massive jaws and large teeth..."
The settlements of the primitive people were found in the outskirts of the city and on Monastyrskiy Island. This unique island appears throughout the history of Prydniprovye, constantly being in the center of events.
As a matter of fact, it is also the ancient nucleus of the city. After the last Ice Age - 10 thousand years ago - the settling of the Prydniprovye area began more intensely. In ~3500-2700 BC the first farmers lived here (the so-called Tripolskaya culture people).
The mighty, broad Dnieper River (Greeks called it the Borisphen) with its picturesque islands and peaceful backwaters, lush flood-meadows and shadowy oak woods stretches along river valleys and ravines. Abundant game and fish in local forests and waters are a result of good climate and vast fertile land... All this attracted hunters, fishers, cattle-breeders and land-tillers to these parts.
3000 years ago the cattle-breeders came from the East - Cimmerians, written about by Homer and glorified by Hollywood ("Conan the Barbarian").
They gradually overcame the Scythians (~ 700 BC), who were known for their graceful creations from bronze and named as a frontier area of ancient civilization (Crimea). The invasions from the East proceeded and in 200 BC the Sarmatians came here. They won and assimilated the rests of Scythians.
Most inhabitants of the city and visitors
know and like the distinctive features of the small
square near the Museum of History - the place where
the Stony Women stay (which actually are not females...).
The visitors are amazed with the centuries-old natives
- their oval forms. They were ancient creations of the
steppe nomadic people and are a modular collection
from neighboring barrows. In the past they served as
the index points for the steppe inhabitants.
The first century of the new era was marked by fast inhabitation of the Dnieper River banks by Slavic tribes. The rocks of Monastyrskiy Island remember well the first time Slavs floated down the Dnieper River to the Black Sea and the Mediterranean.
On this island in the IX century the Monastery was founded by Byzantian monks (from it the island received its name). It existed until 1240 when it was destroyed by Tatars. The Dnieper River has for many centuries served as a border between East and West and its banks have served as arena of struggle between the Slavs and the Asian nomads.
This situation continued for many centuries until the XV century when there appeared a new force - the free people - Cossacks - Zaporiz'ki Kazaky (Zaporizhya - the lands south of Prydniprovye, translate as "The Land After the Weirs [Rapids]")...
They engaged in hunting, fishing, grain
farming and trade. They also set up numerous seasonal
farms and later built permanent farm-steads and villages.
On the map of our modern city remain many toponimic
labels of the Zaporizhians: Sukhachivka, Diyivka, Taroms'ke,
Mandrykivka and other names. The Polish-Lithuanian Kingdom
governed in Ukraine in the beginning of the XVII century.
The authority reached practically to all territories,
with the exception of the Zaporizhian Sich.
In 1635 the goal of the Polish Kingdom was to suppress the Cossacks and not allow flight to the peasants. Therefore they constructed the Kodak Fortress. In the opinion of some historians this event is the time of foundation of the city. It is underlined, however, that the town of Stari Kodaki (that was near the fortress) existed also before the time of Cossacks in these places. The fortress did not become completely Polish - practically at once it was won. The ruins of the Kodak are visible now. There is a currently a project to restore it and create a tourist center and park-museum.
After the Ukrainian revolts against the Polish feudal lords in 1648 the Prydniprovye lands were completely under the authority of Zaporizhians.
However, after the signing by Bohdan Khmel'nitsky of the agreement about the Union with Moscow, the territory officially passed under the authority of the Russians. But actually, Prydniprovye lands remained as a self-controlled, sub-borderian area up to the end of the XVIII century.
"The City of Yekaterinoslav - entirely the creation of Prince Grigoriy Potyomkin" - wrote the famous Ukrainian historian Dmytro Yavornitskyi. And the construction plans were far ahead of their time...
In the 1770s the Russian Empire bacame anxious with the problem
of Turkish domination in Asia Minor. The numerous Turkish fortresses on the Black
Sea coast and Dnieper River banks prevented border crossings to the empire to
the south. The last Slavic fortified territories were Cossacks' forts - Zaporiz'ka
Sich. Cossack AND Russian armies participated in the war with Turkey.
In 1774 Prince Grigoriy Potyomkin (1739-91) was nominated as governor of Novorossiysk gubernia (region). In that year the Turkish-Russian war was settled. Now the Cossack army as a rallied military force was not so necessary for the Empire. The fertile land of Zaporizhya had attracted Russian landowners for a long time and the new plan of Katherine II the Great was the gradual destruction of the Cossacks' state.
In 1775 Sich was destroyed. Division of the Zaporizhian lands and its gradual settling by foreigners of all nations required construction of new cities and settlements.
Then began the realisations of the large projects in glory to Katherine the Great: construction of the cities of Kherson, Nikolaev and Yekaterinoslav. The first site of the new city in 1776 was chosen rather unsuccessfully: at the confluence of Kil'chen' River into the Samara River in the area of Loshakivka.
In 1782 the city's population was 2194 inhabitants, however the next year it was ordered the site be transferred because of the unfitness of the place for construction and residing. Spring waters transformed the city into a bog. (look map of Yekaterinoslav Kil'chen).
Yekaterinoslav-2 was based in 1783 in the Zaporizhian village of Polovytsia (founded approximately at the end of 1760s), between the settlements of Old and New Kodaki. Polovitsia was settled west of the main section of the city (between Ozyorka and the present central part of the city). After some years it was absorbed by the growing city limits.
The construction plans of the city were huge: 30 verstas (Russian length unit 1 versta=~ 1 km) in length, 25 in width, up to the Mokra Sura River. The main structures would settle down on the hill. At the corona of it all would be the Preobrazhenskiy Cathedral (the size to be "unique in the whole world") In addition to the Cathedral there were construction plans to build a huge "magnificent university" (but it was not built).
The streets of the new city were to be direct and wide. On Monastyrskyi Island there was supposed to be a botanical garden. Many of these unique and unusual plans were lost in Russian red tape, defective workmanship and stealing. Structures including Potyomkin Palace were under construction very slowly. The construction site was bought from retired Cossack yesaul (colonel) Lazar' Globa, who possessed a lot of lands up to the borders of the new city (Lazar Globa is known for his gardens which partly exist now).
Prospering larceny and a change of authority (both Prince Potyomkin and Katherine II had died and the receiver Pavel the First hated favorite creations of his mother) caused all construction to stop by the end of the century. The plans were reconsidered, the size of the Cathedral was reduced (it was completed only in 1835), parts of buildings were left unfinished.
From 1797 to 1802 the city was called Novorossiysk. It eventually decayed and became a silent village. The great plans were in the past. From them there was only the spirit of what could have been greatness. So it was until 1870, when the city became alive again....
In the beginning of 19th century the city of Yekaterinoslav had only 6389 inhabitants, in 1865 - 22,816, in 1887 - 48,000 and in 1897 the population had increased to 121,200 people. For the last thirty years of the century the population of the city increased 5 times. What was reason for such a population boom?
Two men: the Englishman Mr. John Hughes
(who developed the Donetsk coal deposits) and Ukrainian
Pol', who opened the Kryvyi Rih iron ores. He found
ore casually in 1866 while involved in archaeological
research. The Donetsk coal was necessary for melting
the pig-iron of Kryvyi Rih ore and there was a need
for a connecting railway. It wasn't until 1881 that
the sanction for its construction was received and in
1884 it began to work. The constant metal bridge through
Dnieper was opened. From this moment the city began
to grow quickly.
New settlements appeared: Amur, Nizhnedniprovsk and the factory areas developed. In 1897, because of the development of the city, third in the Russian Empire, Yekaterinoslav opened the electrical tram... In 1899 the High Mining School was open and by 1913 it had grown to be the Mining Institute.
The end of 1905 was filled with blood of the first anti-tsar revolts. Some tens of people were killed and hundreds were wounded. The wave of devastation of the Jews had passed. The atmosphere in society was heated. After the revolution of 1917 and the subsequent Civil War the city was dominated by ruin and an infinite change of authorities for some years. All this resulted in a paralysis of industry and transport. During eight months of 1918, in the period of Hetman (the Chairman of Ukraine), under the decree of Hetman Pavlo Skoropads'kyi, the city was called Sicheslav.
By Skoropads'kyi's initiative the University in Yekaterinoslav was open on the basis of High Female School. Finally, the authority of the Bolshevik Party was established in Prydniprovye to the end of 1920, but there were still a few revolts up to the middle of 1921.
In 1926 the city of Yekaterinoslav was renamed - Dnipropetrovsk had appeared.... The Dnipropetrovs'k (Dnepropetrovsk in Russian) city name consists of two words: "Dnipro" (the Dnieper River) and "Petrovsk" (named for Petrovsky). Grigoriy Petrovsky (1878-1958) was the first Parliament (Soviet) leader of the new communist Ukrainian republic.
19 May 2016 the city was renamed in Dnipro (Dnepr in rus.) by the law of "Decommunisation of Ukraine".