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Founded in 1595, the town keeps memory of the glorious Cossack Kosh Otaman (elected leader of the Zaporozhian Sich state) Ivan Sirko. In 1668, Ivan Sirko founded a village near Merefa which was later inherited by his daughter.

During the 17th and early 18th centuries the town was a front line fortification protecting these lands against the Tatar raids. Until 1778 Merefa remained the centre of the Cossack squadron of the Kharkiv regiment.