Welcome to Kyiv

That is not an easy task describing Kyiv in few sentences. The easiest way is to start with standard phrases. Kyiv is the capital of Ukraine. Its population is about 3.5 million people. But what is Kyiv when you are lucky enough to come there?

Kyiv is an ancient city situated in the heart of the country on the picturesque banks of one of the biggest rivers in Europe Dnipro. If you drive to Kyiv from the Boryspil airport you’ll pass one of the five bridges across Dnipro. It is an excellent opportunity to feel the spirit of Kyiv. You’ll see majestic slopes of the Dnipro’s hills covered with trees and the golden domes of the churches seen here and there through the green blanket. If you once see it you’ll fall in love with Kyiv forever.

Kyiv has rich history. It’s roots go down to the hoary past. The first mentions about Kyiv date back to the forth century A.D. This city has traversed a glorious road from a settlement of the Slavonic tribe to one of the largest European cities. For more than 3 centuries Kyiv was the capital of Kyiv Rus, one of the most progressive European countries at that time. In the times of its golden age in the XI century Kyiv Rus was an important cultural and scientific center in Europe. This state was the historic ancestor of both Russia and Ukraine. Even now Kyiv is called "the mother of Rus cities".

Unfortunately not all the times were safe and sound for Kyiv. It has a lot of dramatic pages in its history. Probably just because of that pages Kyiv has became what it is. In this beautiful city the modern rubs shoulders with the past, different contradictory styles in architecture harmonically supplement each other, people of different nations and religions live in mutual tolerance and respect.

What else to tell? Kyiv would never be Kyiv without its marvellous parks and gardens. If you get a bird’s eye view you’ll see a kind of a large green sea with some buildings in it. And what is Kiev without its glorious churches and cathedrals. Their golden domes are seen from any point in the city. The next thing to mention….. It is possible to continue this list for a long time. The best thing to do it is to make your own list. So if you haven't been to Kyiv so far, you should start to pack your bags, because this city is really worth of visiting. If you have already been to Kyiv and wish to visit it once again you are welcome! In any case hospitable Ukrainians are always happy to get their gests acquainted with the Slavic culture. And for sure they’ll do their best in order to show them round the eternal city Kyiv!

Khreschatyk and Independence Square

Khreschatyk is the most famous and one of the busiest streets in Kyiv. It is a wide boulevard with plenty of chestnut trees. It stretches from European Square till Bessarabia Square and contains many important trade buildings, bank departments, luxurious restaurants, hotels and exchange house. There is no traffic on weekends and holidays and people gather to sit, chat and drink here. Every weekend there is an event or a concert taking place or at least music is played.

It is hard to believe that some time on this site used to be a valley with a river surrounded by forest. The valley was called Khreschata (Crossed) because it was intersected by many ravines. It was one of the favourite hunting places of Kyiv princes, now tourists hunt here for souvenirs in it many stores.

The Independence Square or Maidan Nezalezhnosti is the central square in Kyiv. Parades, concerts, festivals and other city arrangements and holidays take place on it. The square is a mixture of different styles. As all the Square was destroyed during the II World War most of the buildings represent the Soviet style. In the same time after the recent reconstruction some modern buildings have appeared, the modern glass hemisphere of the shopping centre, and the Monument to the Independence, a column rising 50 meters high and so on.

Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv

The National University named after Taras Shevchenko is the leading university in the country and a major centre of advanced learning and progressive thinking. One of the oldest universities in Ukraine, it was founded in 1834. Nowadays Kyiv University enjoys a special status among the establishment of higher learning in Ukraine.

The building of the University was built after the project of architect Beretti. Red colour of the building is associated with the colour of the ribbon of St. Volodymyr’s order. Physics department In order to have modern and comfortable laboratories all the natural sciences departments in the 1970s have moved to the newly built campus further away from the city centre. The building of the Physics Faculty of the University (6, Glushkov Avenue) was constructed in 1967-1973 according to the plan of the architects V.Ye. Ladny, M.P. Budylovsky, and engineer V.Ya. Dryzo. One of the characteristic features of the building, which extends for 300 m, is a cantilever on the side of the building, which contains the lecture halls for the lectures.

Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra

Kyiv Pecherska Lavra is a "must see" visit in Kyiv, the oldest Christian Orthodox monastery complex with the architectural monuments of the 12th century, museums and exhibition areas. Monastery was founded in 1051 by the monks Antonyi and Feodosyi. In the 11th c. it became the centre for the expansion and consolidation of Christianity in Kyiv Rus. In the late 16th c. it was designated a title of Lavra. "Lavra" is the term used by the Orthodox Church for the largest autonomous monasteries. Here, in the caves, the bodies of saint people lie where parishioners from all Christian World come for worshiping. Pechersk Lavra was one of the most famous monasteries in historical Kyiv Rus State and the former Russian Empire.

St. Volodymyr's Cathedral

St. Volodymyr’s Cathedral was built in 1882 for the 900th anniversary of Christianity in Ukraine. The Cathedral is famous for its inner walls. It was built in neo-Byzantine style and adorned with the paintings of the best artists of those days – Vasnetsov, Vrubel, Nesterov. It is a genuine pleasure to hear the psalms sung by the St. Volodymyr Cathedral Choir. This is the Seat of the Patriarch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate.

St. Andrew’s Descent

St. Andrew’s Descent is one of the oldest streets in Kyiv. In ancient days it was the shortest way from the Upper Town to the Podil, or the Lower Town, where merchants and craftspeople used to live. Nowadays this steep and meandering street is a traditional place for arranging concerts, art festivals and city holidays. On St. Andrew’s Descent there are many interesting picture galleries and souvenir stores. This street is often called Kyiv's Montmartre, as any time one can see here artists displaying their works. It is also the place where singers and actors give their performances.

One of the major attractions of St. Andrew’s Descent is Andriivska, or Saint Andrew Church. It is the real pearl of Ukrainian and Russian baroque style. The Russian Empress Elizabeth herself founded the church and entrusted architect Bartholomeo Rastrelli to construct it. In 1749–1754 the construction was carried out under guidance of Ivan Michurin, an architect from Moscow. The Church sprang up on the place where Apostle Andrew overshadowed for the first time this land with the Holy Cross, and it was the place where Christianity began to spread among the Eastern Slavs. This church dominates the Podil district as from any place one may see it against the background of the blue, blue sky. It seems that the church lives in the clouds.

St. Andrew’s Descent is closely connected with the name of writer Mikhail Bulgakov. In all his famous books “White Guard”, “Run”, “Master and Marguerite” he described Kyiv. Some pieces from the “White Guard” are like a hymn to the City (from the capital letter as in all Bulgakov’s books). He lived in the house number 3 in 1906–1916 and 1918–1919. In this house nowadays there is a worth visiting Museum of Bulgakov.

St. Sophia's Cathedral and St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery

St. Sofia Cathedral erected in the 11th century bears the name “Mother of Russian Churches”. Prince Yaroslav the Wise laid the foundation of this multi-domed, five-naved church in honour of his victory over the Pechenegs, in 1037. It was erected by unknown local masters. As you cross the Cathedral's threshold, you are immediately seized by its grandeur and splendour. It’s hard to overestimate the significance of this temple: the first library, the first school, place for crowning ceremonies, a burial place for kings, the place of ambassadors reception, today – the splendid piece of art with the biggest in the world collection of frescos and mosaics of the 11th century. Saint Sofia is not only a national treasure of Ukraine, it belongs to all Christian world and is under the protection of UNESCO.

St. Michael Golden Dome Cathedral (or Monastery) is the completely reconstructed, one of the most beautiful cathedrals in Ukraine. The Cathedral was completed in 12 century. It’s inner walls were adorned with beautiful mosaics and frescoes which are saved now in the Bell Tower museum. St. Michael Cathedral with its rich history and tragic pages in the biography dating back to eerie Staline’s regime.

St. Volodymyr Hill

The park St. Volodymyr Hill (Volodymyrska Girka) was settled at the end of the 19th century. It used to be the site where traditional religious procession started on the day of Saint Volodymyr. Nowadays St. Volodymyr Hill is an attractive place for both citizens of Kyiv and the guests of the city. It is the right place if you want to have a rest for a while from the seething life of modern Kyiv and to immerse into the atmosphere of the XIX century. Picturesque views, quite benches, old trees… All this will help you to relax and to get ready for future adventures in the city.

The park is often called "inspiration Mecca", as many poets, writers and painters like to spend their time on St. Volodymyr Hill and commemorate it in their works. Anna Akhmatova, Taras Shevshenko, Vladimir Mayakovsky noted St. Volodymyr Hill in their works. Russian writer Mikhail Bulgakov described this place in his famous novel “White Guard”.

One of the major attractions of St. Volodymyr Hill is monument to Prince Volodymyr, who baptized Kyiv Rus in 988.

Golden Gate

Golden Gate (Zoloti Vorota) is a unique fortification architecture monument that survived until nowadays. It was constructed in 1017–1024 and served as a main gala entrance to Kiev till the late 17th century. The Gate was incorporated into the earthwork fortification that enclosed Kyiv in the past. It presented a two-story structure surmounted by a gate church that served as a lookout tower. On the eve of the celebration of the 1500th anniversary of Kyiv foundation the Golden Gate was reconstructed.

Catholic Cathedrals

The Catholic Cathedral of Saint Nicholas

The Catholic Cathedral of Saint Nicholas was designed by S. Valovsky and built by the architect V. Horodetsky in 1899–1909. It is easily recognized by its Gothic style and its pair of needle-like towers. It was restored in 1980 and, today, is used both as a church and a concert hall.

The Catholic Cathedral of Saint Alexander

This cathedral not only the oldest one in Kyiv but is the main one. It was built in 1842 after the drawings of the famous St. Petersburg’s architect Visconty. It was a bright example of the classicism style popular for those times. The most precious relic there is the copy of the Raphael’s Madonna brought from Italy. The cathedral is named after the Russian Tzar Alexander I.

Askold's Grave, Vydubeckiy Monastery

Askold's Grave (Askoldova Mohyla) is a part of the park complex on the right bank of the Dnipro River. According to ancient chronicles, in 882, the Novgorodian Prince Oleg thought to be the founder of the Kyiv Rus, murdered Kyiv's Princes Askold and Dir on this hillside site. Shortly there after, Oleg seized Kyiv. Askold is believed to be buried here. In 1810, a brick church- rotunda designed by architect Melensky was built here and, in 1935, a colonnade was added to protect it. Vydubetsky Monastery was founded by Prince Vsevolod, the son of Prince Yaroslav the Wise and father of Volodymyr Monomakh, between 1070 and 1077. The monastery controlled the ferry across the Dnipro River. Many of the best scholars of Kyiv Rus lived and worked in the monastery. Among them, chroniclers Sylvester and Moisey, made a great contribution to writing "The Story of Bygone Days". Only a few churches of this monastery have survived over the centuries. One of these is the Church of Saint Michael. The Monastery acquired it's present appearance in the 18th century when the five-domed Saint Yuri Cathedral, Refectory, and Bell Tower were erected in the Ukrainian-Baroque style. You will not be disappointed with your visit to this interesting site.

Mariinsky Palace

Mariinsky Palace is former Tsar's Palace, built in XVIII c. by Bartholomew Rastrelli according to the order of Empress Elizabeth. Named in honour of Tsar Alexander II's wife, the Empress Maria. As all constructions of this famous architect, the Palace was built in the Baroque style with rich ornamentation. From 1752 Mariinsky Palace was a residence for the authorities and royal families, today, it is the official residence of the President of Ukraine for the ceremonial welcome of country leaders.

Botanic Gardens. Parks

The Central Botanical Garden is probably the most picturesque garden in Kyiv: the garden not only contains various kinds of plants, but also neighbours the beautiful Vydubetsky monastery. Garden’s total area equals 130 hectares and contain over 13 000 kinds and sorts of trees, shrubs, flowers and other plants from all the world continents. The Botanical Garden contains a number of hothouses, conservatories, greenhouses and rosaries. It is the place where the guests can see exotic plants, visit the flowers exhibitions, take a walk along the beautiful lilac and roses alleys, and enjoy the exquisite scents and aromas.

The Ukrainian Museum of Folk Architecture

Pyrohovo Village is The Ukrainian Museum of Folk Architecture and Peasant Homes. This open-air museum offers an exciting walk through history into Ukrainian homes, barns, mills, and wells typical of the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. The majority of the, buildings are original and were moved here for restoration. Exhibits include traditional Ukrainian clothing, house-ware, and ceramics. The most ancient of artefacts are dated the 16th and 17th centuries.

Podil and Lypky

Podil district of Kyiv is very popular for its special atmosphere, many bars, cafes and restaurants, proximity to the river and sightseeing points. It is also a district with many lives - it was destroyed by floods, fire, and enemies and planned to be demolished but it never disappeared. On Kontraktova Plosha visit Gostinny Dvor, the Church of the Blessed Virgin Pirogoshya, the former Greek monastery or the Kyiv Mohyla Academy- the oldest university. Near Poshtova Plosha there is the river station where boats depart for sightseeing tours on one side and the funicular can take you back uptown to the place were the origin of the Russian Land is on the other.

Lypki is one of a Kyiv districts were in 19 and beginning of 20 centuries situated the mansions of Kyiv aristocracy and many city authorities buildings.

Lypki is a historical region of Kyiv, part of Pechersk district. The name "Lypki" appeared in 1774, after the linden tree grove was planted here. Some time after the region was re-designed, linden trees were cut down and the place started to be built over by the mansions of Kyiv noble families. The houses of Kyiv governor-general and his office, house of Commander of Kyiv military troops, building of State Bank were situated here.

Traditions started in the beginning of 18 century have still remained till our time as the President of Ukraine administration, building of Ukrainian Parliament (Verkhovna Rada), National Bank of Ukraine, House of Government and many other power authorities buildings are situated in Lypki. But it’s not just a boring “official” district. Lypky is a beautiful place with quite streets, small yards, gardens, boulevards, and fountains. May be it is the best place to feel the soul of Kyiv, to fell in love with this city!

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