Domestic tourism is more relevant now than ever. Closed borders and global confusion force us to take a closer look at Ukraine’s interesting sites. One of them will greet guests for the first time at the end of August in Rivne.
“Mysterious Dungeons of Rivne” will become an interactive entertainment complex for studying history for visitors of all ages. This facility is the result of bold dreams and anxiety of people who are not indifferent to their city.
From legend to pit
For a long time in Rivne there has been a legend about the branched dungeons dug under the city. There were rumors that near the central sculpture of the Shevchenko Park – the fountain “Bogatyr” – you should not jump, because there are many cavities. Many people did not take these stories seriously, but the ground really sank… Finally, in 2017, after another sink, it was decided to conduct the first excavations. Fortunately, the mayor of Rivne Volodymyr Khomko has good attitude to this idea and gave permission to archaeologists to open the veil of history.
“We took out 8 trucks of various garbage and found rooms with vaults”, recalls Taras Maksymenko, Head of the Department of Culture and Tourism of Rivne City Council.
Finally, they saw the legend with their own eyes.
And when the length of the excavated area reached 100 m, we realized that we had found something interesting. We knew about a palace, which was destroyed during the Second World War, but there was no documentary evidence or living eyewitnesses, says Taras Maksymenko.
It turned out that the constructions in this place were deliberately blown up, and this further fueled the interest. Time passed and the pit increased. A facility of this scale required great investments. It was excavated on a voluntary basis – by activists, volunteers and caring people. But now it was necessary to decide what to do with a huge pit in the central park of the city.
“Participation in this competition was like playing the lottery”
Then the initiators of the excavations decided to apply for a grant from the EU, which related to historical monuments and their maintenance, because without funding, the maximum that could be expected is to preserve the facility.
“This idea was like playing the lottery – a pitiful chance to win. They sent an application and began to think about how to get out of the situation, where to look for investors”, admits Mr. Taras.
He was ready to hear criticism to his own address, because “budget funds will go to the pit”. Many people at first were skeptical of this initiative, and some said it would be better to make the road.
“I had little faith in our chances of winning. But to my surprise, we passed the first stage of selection, where 600 projects competed, and then the second. I am convinced that it was our innovative model of further dungeon operation that allowed us to receive a grant”.
The project manager helped to develop a financial model of operation so that the museum would be self-sufficient and independent of local government donations.
Excavations and restoration of the dungeon remains were carried out according to the latest European developments, they were attended by local archaeologists, one of the leading Polish specialists in preserving the architectural heritage Piotr Mazur and Honored Architect of Ukraine Vadym Lukianchenko, who is the author of restorations of national scale, for example, Khotyn fortress and St. Volodymyr’s Cathedral in Khersones.
“Our facility is multifunctional, innovative and self-sufficient. That is why we were granted EUR 443,000, or 90% of the entire project cost”, says Mr. Taras with pride. Another 10% was added by the municipal government.
To make everyone interested
The team approached the matter creatively. Two multimedia quest rooms will be opened in the dungeon, where visitors will be able to get acquainted with history and legends of the city in an interactive form. There will be two quests: virtual and real.
Future participants of the quest – young people – were involved in the development of the virtual quest. After the workshop, where they came up with the theme of the game, experts from the Kyiv studio Sensorama developed a virtual reality, which can be immersed in using special VR helmets. The game is based on a legend, but has elements of true history of Rivne, which is known for such prominent historical figures as Swedish King Carl XII and the hero of the American Revolution, General Kosciuszko.
In addition, you can learn more about history of the city by playing a traditional quest. Its storyline is connected with the magnate family of Liubomyrskyi, who once owned the city, and especially with Kazymyr Liubomyrskyi – a famous composer in Poland, whom almost no one heard in Ukraine. His song “Powrót” and its English version “Ever Homeward” in the movie “The Miracle of the Bells” were performed by the famous Frank Sinatra.
Anatolii Haidamaka, a monumental artist and Shevchenko Award winner, worked on the creation of the dungeon exhibition. 90% of all quest rooms will be of authentic origin: things found during excavations, items from private collections, artifacts of the age. Currently, the artist does not disclose all details of the future exhibition, but promises that it will be interesting and reflect not only the life of inhabitants of the estate, but also how such monuments are disappearing because of military conflicts.
And for those who like calm rest, a special board game with dice and chips was developed.
The organizers of the initiative are sure: the atmosphere of the complex will not only allow you to have a great time, but also to learn more about Rivne. The dungeons will restore the memory of the city’s past, which lost most of its historical heritage during the Second World War.
Author: Andrii Avramenko