Sights and attractions of Kiev

Kiev is the capital of Ukraine with the population of about 3 million citizens and thousands of tourists that come from all parts of the world to see unique attractions that an ancient city has to offer. Modern Kiev is the largest cultural, scientific and industrial center of the country.

Being one of the oldest Slavic centers and the capital of the powerful Kyivan Rus, Kiev is often called “Mother of Russian towns”. The city’s age is more than 1500 years. According to the legend, three brothers Kyi, Shchek, Khoryv and their sister Lybid founded a town on the steep right bank of the Dnipro River in late 5th - early 6th A.D. they called it Kiev (Kyiv) after their older brother.

Kiev truly has a lot to offer from unique historical monuments to vibrant night life with modern clubs and fashionable restaurants. Every person coming to the capital will definitely find something to do and to see. Make sure you leave some time to see around and visit one of the most interesting attractions, such as St.Sophia’s Cathedral, Michael’s Golden-Dome Monastery, St.Andrew’s Church, Kievo-Pecherska Lavra, Golden Gates, Maidan, Khreschatyk and many others.

Independence Square or Maidan

Independence Square also known as Maidan is the central square of Kiev located on Khreschatyk Street. The meaning of Maidan literary translates as “square” from Ukrainian and that’s the name that is often used by locals and tourists.

Until the 10th century the area of the square just like the rest of Khreschatyk was empty and was called Kozyne Boloto. First wooden buildings appeared here in 1830s and stone constructions were built in 1850s. In the 19th century the territory underwent rapid development becoming the commercial center of Kiev. It was also the location of the city’s market and various folk entertainments. In 1876 the Kiev City Duma (Parliment) was built there leading to renaming of the square from Khreschatyk Square to Dumskaya Squre (Parliament Square). Maidan has actually changed many names reflecting the political ideology or the authorities.

And just like Khreschatyk, Independence Square was destroyed during the WWII and completely rebuilt to fit into the neo-classical Stalinist architecture of the main street. The newly-constructed Kiev Central Post Office and Trade-Union house were also built at that time.

After Ukraine’s independence in 1991, the square obtained its current name Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square) and became the center of political activity in the country.

Maidan has been the city’s epicenter for generations. Today it’s one of the most visited places in the capital. Most parades, concerts, festivals, shows and other major events of the country take place here. This area is also famous for its shopping with the underground mall “Globe” and it’s very easy to get to any other place in Kiev as it’s the meeting point of all public transportation routes here.

Khreshchatyk

Khreshchatyk is the main street of Kiev with the length of 1.2 km. The street has long become the symbol of Kiev and is not only the business and administrative center of Kiev, but also a popular place for tourists and Kievans. During weekends, as well as public holidays, the street is completely closed to road traffic, and pedestrians can stroll around enjoying various sights, high class restaurants and cafés, expensive stores, and luxurious apartments.

The name Khreschatyk is derived from a Slavic word “krest” which is translated as “cross”. The street lies in a valley that is crossed by several ravines and when you look at it from the above, the area resembles a cross. A small river also named the Khreschatyk also runs along the valley, but right now it runs underground.

For a long time Khreschatyk remained undeveloped when there are other districts built around it, such as Podil and Pechersk, etc. The development of the area started only in the 19th century, and by the middle of the 19th century it became the center of Kiev’s commercial and cultural life.

In 1892 the first electric tram line of the Russian Empire appeared in Kiev. This line was extended to Khreschatyk. The street was also one of the first landmarks in Kiev serviced by Kiev Metro in 1960.

Almost the entire street was completely destroyed during WWII and rebuilt in the neo-classical style of post-war Stalinist architecture. And today one can find numerous buildings on the main street such as the Kiev City Administration, the Ministry of Agrarian Policy, the Main Post Office, the State Committee of Television and Radio Broadcasting, the Central Department Store, the Besarabka Market, ICC Kiev, etc.

St. Sophia’s Cathedral

St. Sophia’s Cathedral is the world famous historical and architectural monuments of the 11th century. This sight is under protection of UNESCO as a world heritage masterpiece. This cathedral was built in the times of Yaroslav the Wise (Prince of Kievan Rus). St.Sophia’s Cathedral was used not only for religious ceremonies including royal weddings and burial place, but also as a social, political and cultural center of Kievan Rus. Ambassadors were received here, various chronicles were recorded and even the first library was opened by Yaroslav the Wise himself.

Yaroslav the Wise wanted to build a cathedral that would overshadow Constantinople constructions of that time. And he indeed managed to do it.. The construction started in 1037 and during a decade skilled Byzantine and local artisans took part in erection and decoration of the cathedral. St. Sophia’s Cathdral being the main religious construction also played an important role in bringing fame and power to Kiev on the world arena. Kiev became one of the most beautiful cities in Europe and Asia.

St.Sophia’s cathedral is visited by numerous tourists that marvel at its unforgettable beauty and unique mosaics and frescos found nowhere else in the world. Only the colour pattern of mosaics itself consists of 177 tints. The most famous mosaic is Oranta that is a depiction of God’s Mother. It is believed that no matter how many times Kievan Rus was attacked and burnt, as long as the wall with Oranta mosaics existed Kiev would exist, too.

Golden Gates

Golden Gates is a major landmark of Kiev and a historic gateway in the ancient city fortress, located in the capital of Ukraine. Currently this place serves as a museum. Golden Gates is also listed as UNESCO heritage object. It was built in 1017-1024 at about the same time Saint Sophia Cathedral was erected. Originally named simply Southern Gate, it was one of the three main entrances to the ancient city, along with Lyadski and Zhydivski Gates. This marvelous construction was used as a gala entrance when welcoming royal and noble guests in Kiev, as well as numerous ambassadors,
prince's army, etc.

Later Southern Gate became known as Great Gate of Kiev. After the Church of Annunciation was built next to the gates, its golden domes formed a prominent landmark easily visible from outside the city. So the name changed to Golden Gates of Kiev. But just like many other monuments of that time, Golden Gates underwent destruction and in the 17th century it was partially destroyed.

The reconstruction began in 1970 and the remnants of Golden Gates were covered with a wooden pavilion protecting what was left. The monument opened in 1982 presenting a reconstruction of the sight done according to the building techniques of that period.

St. Michael's Golden-Dome Monastery

St. Michael's Golden-Dome Monastery is a functioning monastery in Kiev. It was built in the Middle Ages by Sviatopolk and comprises the Cathedral itself, the Refectory of St. John the Divine, built in 1713, the Economic Gates, constructed in 1760 and the monastery's bell tower, which was added circa 1716–1719. The exterior of the structure was rebuilt in the Ukrainian Baroque style in the 18th century while the interior remained in its original
Byzantine style.

The monastery served as a family cloister of Svyatopolk's family. It is believed that the cathedral domes were probably the first in Kievan Rus to be gilded, which wasn’t typical for that time and became popular later on. So, the monastery obtained the nickname of "golden-domed" or "golden-roofed".

The monastery had the patronage of numerous hetmans and other benefactors. After numerous restorations and enlargements during the sixteenth century, it gradually became one of the most popular and wealthiest monasteries in Ukraine. Over 240 monks resided there in the 19th and 20thcc.

The monastery contains the relics of Saint Barbara, alleged to have been brought to Kiev from Constantinople in 1108 by Sviatopolk’s wife and kept in a silver reliquary donated by Hetman Ivan Mazepa.

The original cathedral was actually demolished by the Soviet authorities in the 1930s. Later on it was reconstructed and opened in 1999 following Ukrainian independence in 1991. The frescoes were taken off the walls before the cathedral was blown up in Soviet times and transported to museums in St. Petersburg and Moscow. Later on they were partially returned to Ukraine and not are displayed in several museums in Kiev.

Kievo-Pecherska Lavra

Kievo-Pecherska Lavra is also known as Kiev Cave Monastery. It’s a historic Orthodox Monastery, a place of pilgrimage for millions of believers and a special attraction for curious tourists. With numerous churches and cathedrals as well as remnants of many saints this place is considered holy for all Christians.

Kievo-Pecherska Lavra has been a major center of Eastern Orthodox Christianity in Europe since its foundation as the cave monastery in 1051. The sight itself is inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage and is also a cultural preserve with a national status. Lavra is also known as one of the Seven Wonders of Ukraine since August 21, 2007.

The story of Lavra started with a monk Antoniy who settled in that area and lived in a cave that he dug himself. Soon other monks joined him and the community grew. The name of the monastery comes directly from the word “cave” which sounds like “pechera” in Ukrainian. And the word Lavra indicates the status of the place, only the most influential monasteries can receive such a name.

Kievo-Pecherska Lavra played a very important role in the cultural development of Ukraine. The first printing house was established here; many chroniclers, writers, scientists, painted and doctors also lived and worked in this place. One of the most famous ancient works “The Tale of Bygone Years” that is the main source of knowledge about the times of Kievan Rus was written by Chronicler Nestor in Lavra.

Today Lavra is under the jurisdiction of the state museum, National Kiev-Pechersk Historic Cultural Preserve and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchy. The place is also the residence of the religious leader Metropolitan Volodymyr.

St.Andrew’s Church

St.Andrew’s Church is a major architectural landmark of the 18th century. It was built by the order of Russian Empress Elizabeth in 1754 and has a typical Baroque style performed by a well-known architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli.

Sainted Andrew’s Church bears the name of the Saint in whose honour it was built. St.Andrew is recognized as the Apostle of Kievan Rus. According to the chronicle he was the saint who came to the Dnieper slopes in the 1st century AD and erected a cross on the current location of the church. he also made a prophesy that this uninhabited area would become a great city.

The legend says that a long time ago there was a settlement of Kiy (one of the founders of Kiev).in that area and there was a sea in the place where the Dnieper flows now. When St. Andrew came to Kiev he went atop of the hill placed a cross there and ordered the water to leave that area, but some water still stayed under St.Andrew’s Hill. St.Andrew’s Church is the only church that doesn’t have a bell tower, since it’s believed that if a bell tolls in that area it will wake up the waters and entire Kiev will be flooded.

In 1086, the Grand Prince of Kiev Vsevolod constructed a small church, dedicated to the erection of the cross by Saint Andrew. In 1215, Prince Mstyslav of Halych built the Church of the Cross nearby. However, the church did not survive after the Mongol invasion of Kievan Rus' in 1240. From that point after, wooden churches were constructed in the same place and were too destroyed and again replaced by new constructions.

After the newest reconstruction St.Andrew’s Church gives a chance to have a great panoramic view of Kiev from their viewing platform attracting more and more tourists and locals to that place.

Andrew’s Descent or Andriyivsky Spusk

Andrew’s Descent is one of the major tourist attractions of Kiev that is often mentioned as the "Montmartre of Kiev". It is a historic descent connecting Kiev's Upper Town and the historically commercial Podil district where various merchants and artisans resided in the 18th-19th cc.

The street is famous for its unique atmosphere and souvenir market with art galleries, but one can also find several other special landmarks here such as St.Andrew’s Church, the Castle of Richard the Lionheart, the house of Mikhail Bulgakov, the famous Russian writer and also numerous monuments and old houses with beautiful architecture.

In the past this street was known as the Borychiv Descent as it was mentioned by Nestor the Chronicler in his work “The Tale of Igor’s Regiment”, but the current name is derived from the name of St.Andrew’s Hill where one can find St.Andrew’s Church today. This name came into usage in 1740s. Later in 1920 it was renamed in honour of a young revolutionary Georgiy Liver, though in 1957 it was decided to bring back the initial name that we know today. The current buildings that tourists can see today on this street appeared here only in 1890-1900s.

Today the street is one of the most favourite spots for tourists and citizens of Kiev. It is famous not only for numerous souvenir stands that go down the street but also for festivals, art exhibitions and special celebrations that are held for certain holidays. The street’s location has also made this area a highly prestigious area with several new luxurious restaurants, and antique shops.

Stylized in the spirit of the times of Kievan Rus, with its cobbled streets and iron old-fashioned lamps, this street is indeed an open-air museum
like no other.

We are ideally located for business or leisure travelers.