“Woman, Hope, Future” Civil Society Organization
Location: village of Varnita, Moldova
Implementation period: May 2016 – May 2017
Project coordinator: Veronica Stefaniuc
Context: Problem Solved by the Project
The historical-cultural object of heritage – the “Camp of King of Sweden Charles XII in Varnita” – dates back to the early 18th century and is registered as a local branch of the National History Museum of Moldova. This place is of historical and memorial importance on the peripheral territory of the former Ottoman Empire; after his defeat near Poltava (1709) Swedish King was compelled to run here, having stopped first near the fortress of Bender, and then – from 1711 to February 1713 – in Varnita. In 1925, the place where the camp of King of Sweden was situated was marked by a commemorative monument in order to pay tribute to historical memory, to value the common Moldavian-Swedish-Turkish historical past, and to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the event called “Kalabalyk” in Varnita, the most tragic one in the history of Turkish-Swedish relations.
In 2013-2015, the Republic of Moldova, Turkey, and Sweden implemented a cultural-scientific project “When Sweden was ruled from Moldova”, and the project SITVAR is, as a matter of fact, a successor of the actions/events carried out then. Its purpose is to rehabilitate and return this object of historical heritage to the socio-cultural context of today’s Moldova, i.e.:
– to carry out scientific and public revaluation of the camp of Charles XII: archival-documentary researches, archeological excavations, and to reveal the remnants of stone constructions in the camp, to preserve them, and to restore the commemorative monument;
– to landscape the site and the territory near to it.
Unlike the previous project, SITVAR is aimed at active involving a wider circle of interested persons, including local authorities that are responsible for this territory development, as well as representatives of business and the local community. It was necessary to find its own approach to each of these groups, still appealing to the common value of this monument of history and culture dedicated to King of Sweden Charles XII in Varnita.
For the association, the strengthening of its role as an important subject in the field of protecting and using the historical-cultural heritage of this territory was not less important. For the first time, the association – with local residents’ support – tried to include the historical monument in the touristic and cultural network of the country, thus actualizing, inter alia, its economic resource for society.
The project was officially launched in April 2016 in Varnita with the assistance of diplomatic missions of Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine, and Romania, experts in the field of culture and science, the administration and the local community.
During the first stage of the project, its actions were of a scientific character. The following was done:
– Historical-documentary studies. We found a number of important documents in the National Archive of Romania concerning the camp of King of Sweden Charles XII that provided information on some historical facts, the scheme of the camp, and the commemorative monument. These documents seriously supported the working-out of the project of preservation and restoration of the monument and were the basis of several scientific reports and publications dedicated to the museumification of the camp of King of Sweden Charles XII.
– topographical and archaeological studies of the territory, during which the foundation of the building of the chancellery of Charles XII was found.
– the international scientific conference “Camp of King of Sweden Charles XII in Varnita – researches and valorization” (April 2017) with participation of experts from Romania and Sweden, whose reports were published in the collection of scientific materials “Historical Site – the camp of King of Sweden Charles XII in Varnita. To restore the memory”.
Projects on the preservation of the remnants found at this object, as well as on the restoration of the monument dedicated to King of Sweden Charles XII, developed by experts in the field of heritage, are approved by the National Board on protection of public monuments.
All scientific-research actions within the framework of the project were carried out in close cooperation with our basic partners: the National Museum of the History of Moldova and with the support of the National Agency on inspection and restoration of monuments. Huge assistance to the project was rendered by the local council of the village of Varnita and the administration of the Anenii Noi District Council.
The second stage of work was aimed at popularizing and promoting this cultural-historical sight with the attraction of the public and the local community. We managed to carry out:
– Restoration and conservation of the monument installed in 1925 and the revealed remains of the chancellery of King Charles XII; we built a fence around it; landscape gardening;
– A thematic stand at the photo-documentary exhibition “Historical Site – the camp of King of Sweden Charles XII in Varnita. History Archive”.
There were regular publications on the project course in the local mass media that informed the local community on the researches and what was found during them. We carried out several meetings, discussions with local authorities and invited experts from Moldova and abroad (Ukraine, Sweden, Turkey) where we discussed questions of preservation and restoration of the camp, participation of communities, coordination of platforms and lands, ways of finding additional financial sources. Thanks to such system efforts aimed at providing transparency and sustainability of the project, it was easier for us to involve a considerable number of representatives of the local community, pupils of school, and other cultural establishments of the village of Varnita.
Our restored historical monument has been somewhat rehabilitated and introduced into the national and international cultural and scientific network. Here are some received results that justify the idea of continuing this project, possibly, already in a new form:
– Experts from Sweden we cooperated with during the project have offered an idea of reconstructing several objects of the camp, including the house of the Swedish soldier and the chancellery of King Charles XII;
– Representatives of the local intelligentzia who participated in the implementation of the project have started an idea of further researches in the segment of the common history of Moldavian-Swedish-Turkish relations;
– Ukrainian experts propose further studies in Russian and Swedish archives concerning mutual relations between Hetman Ivan Mazepa and King Charles XII;
– The local community is ready to continue the gardening process on the site, suggesting the creation of a park and conducting of geological researches.
We are convinced that the project should be continued because the already involved local residents want to turn this historical monument into an attractive sight for tourists from Moldova and other countries. The local community considers that the territory of the camp of King of Sweden Charles XII, as an object of historical- cultural heritage of European value, should become an alive part of local and national history and culture; moreover, it is able to bring its contribution to the economic and cultural development of this district.