On 13th July, 2008 in Friesoythe (Germany) Donetsk was unanimously accepted as an active member of the Ring of European Cities with Iron Works. The number 13 appeared to be lucky as well as token for us. Our city became the 13th member of the association that counts such cities as Bad Hall, Ybbsitz (Austria), Lipnik (Czech Republic), Friesoythe, Stolberg, Olbernhau, Kolbermoor (Germany), Mogliano Veneto, Stia (Italy), Gniew (Poland), Mynämäki (Finland) and Oude Ijsselstreek (Netherlands).
As accurately noticed Nikolay Yurenko, the head of the Donetsk City Council culture department, owning to Donetsk entry into the Ring, the diameter of this association has increased to 2,500 km. Donetsk is the first city of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) to join this great and active European organization of cities with iron works. The Ring unites cities with deep forging traditions. Art blacksmithing and tourism are often the main source of income for these cities. Each member of the Ring has its history of development and art blacksmithing support. Each community is proud of its world-known blacksmiths-artists, blacksmiths schools and architecture richly decorated with forged works. Donetsk was accepted to the Ring without hesitation and cordially welcomed with prolonged applause.
There are some reasons for it.
First of all, forging is deeply rooted in Donetsk. It was the forge that gave birth to the city. In summer 1869 the manager of the New Russia Company Limited John Hughes started to build the ironworks and its first department was a forge on the bank of the river Kalmius. Later in 1990 at the international industrial exhibition in Paris the Grand Prix was given to the forged palm made out of the rail by Aleksey Mertsalov, blacksmith from Hughesovka. In honour of this event the palm is depicted on the Donetsk region coat of arms.
Secondly, seven years ago by efforts of the Ukrainian Gefest blacksmiths enterprise and under the direction of Victor Burduk, the master of decorative and applied arts, the Forged Figures Park was established.
Developing from year to year, it has become the most famous attraction for Donetsk citizens and guests of the millionaire-city. There are works by masters from all parts of Ukraine presented in the Park. It was possible owing to the support of the Donetsk City Council. Just active support of art blacksmithing development by the mayor’s office is one of the main factors that influence the process of accepting new members to the Ring.
Thirdly, the Forged Figures Park is not the only one forged attraction in Donetsk. There is a forged Boat and a Palm of Damask Steel on the Pushkin’s Boulevard. There is also a forged Mertsalov’s Palm depicted on the Donetsk region coat of arms. It has been symbolizing high level of blacksmiths art development in our region for about one hundred years. The Scherbakov’s Park has been recently restored. It was also decorated with forged works mostly.
Fourthly, there is one of the greatest blacksmiths festivals on the territory of the CIS hold in Donetsk. This year the Donbass Blacksmiths Guild and the Donetsk City Council are actively preparing for the holding of the 10th anniversary Forged Figures Park-2008 blacksmiths art festival. There are already 300 delegates from different countries invited to participate in the festival. All the planned for the festival events will take place on September 19–21 in the public garden of the City executive committee, where the Forged Figures Park is situated. This year the main project of the blacksmiths festival is an opening of the Ring Alley devoted to the entry of Donbass capital into the Rings. The Alley will be decorated with ten one-meter-high author’s rings from different parts of the CIS. Five-meter-high European Ring, produced by joint efforts of all the festival participants, will be installed at the head if the Arch Alley. By the way, in 2012 the meeting of the Ring members is to take place in Donetsk.