Khortytsia Island [Хортиця; Xortycja]. The largest island in the Dnipro River, situated south of the Dnipro Hydroelectric Station and now a part of the city of Zaporizhia. It is 12 km long and 2.5 km wide, and covers an area of over 3,000 ha. The island was located on ‘the route from the Varangians to the Greeks’ and was first mentioned as Saint Gregory's Island in the mid-10th century by Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus in his De-administrando imperio. In 972 Prince Sviatoslav I Ihorovych died in battle against the Pechenegs at the nearby Dnipro Rapids. The princes of Kyivan Rus’ under Sviatopolk II Iziaslavych gathered on the island in 1103 to begin their campaign against the Cumans. In 1224 the Kyivan Rus’ princes conferred there before engaging the Tatars in battle. The island played an important role in the Cossack wars (see Cossacks) with the Tatars and Poles. In the 1550s Prince Dmytro Vyshnevetsky built a Cossack fortress 10 km north on Mala Khortytsia Island, which served as a bulwark against various invaders. In 1557 a Tatar-Turkish army attacked the stronghold and eventually destroyed it. With brief intervals, a garrison of registered Cossacks was stationed on Khortytsia Island between 1596 and 1648. Hetmans Taras Fedorovych (1630) and Ivan Sulyma (1635) launched their anti-Polish rebellions from there, and in 1648 Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky routed its Polish garrison. In the 1660s and 1670s the Zaporozhian kish otaman Ivan Sirko used the island as his military base. The island was part of the territory held by the Zaporozhian Sich until its destruction in 1775. During the Russo-Turkish War of 1735–9 a fortress and shipyard were built there in 1737; their remains have been preserved to this day.
The 18 September 1965 resolution of the government of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic entitled ‘On Eternizing the Monumental Places Related to the History of the Zaporozhian Cossacks’ decreed the island to be a historical-cultural preserve. In 2007 the Zaporozhian Sich historical complex was built there. Several health resorts and sanatoriums are located on the island which today is used primarily for recreational purposes.
Evarnitskii, D. Istoriia zaporozhskikh kozakov, vol 1 (Saint Petersburg 1892)
Kytsenko, M.; Pieshchanov, V. Khortytsia (Kyiv 1968)
[This article was updated in 2016.]
Encyclopedia of Ukraine