Kiev nests on the Dnieper River banks in the northern part of Ukraine. It is highly regarded as the seat of the Slavic culture. In the 1600s, Kiev was placed under Russian rule. This lasted centuries, causing both good fortune and misery. By the time of the collapse of the Soviet Union, Kiev was the third city of the Union after St Petersburg and Moscow.
Economically and culturally, Kiev seems to be the older and more sober sister of the Russian capital of Moscow. For all the flavor of an ex-Soviet capital city without the red tape (you do not need visas here), petro-dollar pretension, and autocracy, Kiev is fast becoming popular with American and European tourists.
Kiev’s influence goes far beyond Ukraine. There are many famous Kievans, including Golda Meir (the co-founder of Israel), model and Hollywood actor Milla Jovovich, the footballer Andriy Shevchenko, and the writer Mikhail Bulgakov.
Today’s visitor to the Ukrainian capital will be awed by Khreschatyk, it’s equivalent of London’s Oxford Street. It is the major artery down to Kiev’s main square, Maidan Nezalezhnosti, with its golden patron saint Archangel Michael that beams down from a 164-foot column.
At weekends Khreschatyk is pedestrianized, bringing a calm buzz to a site with a colorful and bloody history. The Red Army planted explosives on the buildings as they fled from the invading Nazis. The ruins were replaced with magnificent Stalin-era neoclassical structures after the Second World War.
In 2004 pro-democracy protesters flocked along Khreschatyk as they protest the rigged elections. Heroes of the Orange Revolution, Yulia Tymoshenko, and Victor Yushchenko addressed the crowds on Independence Square.
Political differences still erupt over the Verkhovna Rada (the country’s parliament) every now and then. But for a traveler, this has no significant effect on the sense of peace and calmness that prevails throughout the city.
When to visit Kiev?
The Ukrainian capital has so much to offer to every visitor that it is a guarantee to fall in love with this city. Kiev may not be as popular as other European destinations like Paris, London, Rome, Barcelona, and Moscow, but its rich culture and interesting history make it a great place to spend your vacation.
Kiev boasts of unique attractions and experiences that you will surely love, not to mention its developed industry, advanced science, and high-level education – enough reasons for you to visit Kiev. Those who visit the city once are impressed with this mesmerizing city and go back over and over again to savor what the city has to offer. So get acquainted with Kiev right now.
On Kiev’s southwestern outskirts, you will find the huge open-air folklore museum. Here, you will learn more about Kiev, with more than 40,000 ethnographic exhibits. It features folk costumes, paintings, musical instruments, household articles, tools, and many more.
The exclusion zone surrounding the old town of the ill-famed Chernobyl is now a major tourist attraction, giving you an insightful day excursion. This informative Chernobyl tour is heartbreaking but it will give you a remarkable experience.
When you go to Kiev, make sure to visit the almost forgotten fortress remains. It is tucked away and practically hidden from the not too distant and busy Lesi Ukrayinky Boulevard. The fortress was built as part of a major fortification system to protect Kiev from foreign invaders.
If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and if you want to relax, then it is highly recommended that you take the metro across the Dnipro and then take a walk along the beaches. You can also rest up in the city’s many green parks and lush gardens.
For stag parties, fun weekends, hen do’s, Kiev offers an excellent range of fun activities, from paintballing go-karting to pub crawls and hardcore shooting.
Kiev is not just home to beautiful and breathtaking attractions. It is also home to colorful and festive holidays that are worth for tourists to take part in.
As the capital of Ukraine, Kiev follows the country’s holidays, including observing traditional Christian holidays like Easter and Christmas. However, instead of the Gregorian calendar that’s used by the rest of the world, Ukrainian church holidays use Rome’s Julian calendar, which is 13 days behind the first. This means that while the rest of the world celebrates Christmas on December 25, in Ukraine, it is celebrated on January 7.
Christmas in Kiev
Many families in Kiev consider Christmas as one of the most important holidays in the city (and the country as well). The eve of Christmas is when families in the city get together and share the Holy Super – a big meal called in the city as Sviata Vecheria. It is called so because, during this occasion, twelve courses are served – one for each apostle of Christ. The first course served in most families’ tables is a bowl of borshch, a national dish. After all the 12 meals are served, the family then attends church services where they sing carols and give their children presents.
Easter in Kiev may not be the usual celebration you see in other parts of the globe as the capital of Ukraine observes the event based on the traditions of the old Greek Orthodox. During the 40 days of Lent preceding, the Easter religiously devout people in Kiev prepare for this event by abstaining from eating meat as well as dairy products. And when Easter finally comes, the people serve great quantities of food, which in some families, is blessed by a priest before they are eaten.
Other Non-Christian Events
Former Red Army Day
Celebrated on February 23, this holiday was for those who served in the military during the Soviet Union. Here, the women congratulate their male friends and relatives, especially their husbands and fathers.
Celebrated usually on the last weekend of May, this 2-day event is marked by various concerts by many famous artists. There are also several performances from popular actors and musicians. This event is then capped by a display of fireworks which usually starts at 10:00 pm.
Spending a vacation in Kiev will be a very rewarding experience. Combined with the opportunity to meet and make friends with warm and hospitable people, the city gives every visitor the chance to explore the magnificent ancient streets of this beautiful city and enjoy the atmosphere of joy and freedom. With your family, friends, or sweetheart by your side, visiting Kiev will definitely become a very memorable experience.
Many travelers around the world include Kiev in their list of places to go to. With the city’s authentic culture, art, architecture, and food, who would not want to experience the perks the Ukrainian capital has to offer. Read on to get an idea when planning your Kiev itineraries.
What to see and do in Kiev? In just three days (but we suggest you spend more time in this city), you can do a lot in this gorgeous capital. Besides being the home of attractive and friendly people, the city has a rich cultural heritage and offers a range of wonderful attractions. Get acquainted with ancient cathedrals and many other exquisite architectural gems. With the many museums, opera houses, theaters, gardens, and historical buildings, this European city offers great opportunities for an unforgettable vacation.
Party all night long and watch a nice movie in Kiev’s nightclubs and cinemas. You can also try your luck or have a great time at a casino. Enjoy dinner from any of the local restaurants that cater to a wide variety of taste preferences. Whether you are craving for traditional Ukrainian food or classical French, American, Italian, Russian, Chinese, or Japanese delicacies, Kiev will offer you the most suitable establishments.
Make sure that you try out mouth-watering and delightful traditional Ukrainian cuisine, featuring the famous Ukrainian borsch (beet soup), varenyky (dumplings that have different stuffing), golubtsi (cabbage rolls), and pampushki (soft rolls soaked in oil and fresh crushed garlic).
Kiev also offers a lot of activities for those who want to have an adrenaline rush and spice up their vacation. Try parachute jumping or paintball to make your Kiev experience truly memorable. The city is also the place to be if you want to relax. Indulge your body and soul at the city’s famous saunas. Pamper yourself with a wide range of beauty, health, as well as stress-relieving treatments.
Kyiv subdivisions include the formal administrative subdivision (raions) and the informal subdivision (historical neighborhoods). The first formal subdivision of the city dates back to 1810 when the Ukrainian capital was divided into Starokyiv, Pechersk, Podil (first and second parts). Following the Tsar Nicholas I’s decree in 1833-1834, Kiev was divided into 6 raions, and was later increased to 10. There were 8 Raion Councils as of 1917.
As Kiev was expanding during the Soviet time, the number of raions gradually increased. They have been named after Soviet party leaders. As the political situations and leadership changed, raion names also changed.
The last Kiev raion reorganization happened in 2001. At present, Kiev raions include: Darnytskyi Raion, Desnianskyi Raion, Dniprovskyi Raion, Holosiivskyi Raion, Obolonskyi Raion, Pecherskyi Raion, Podilskyi Raion, Shevchenkivskyi Raion, Solomianskyi Raion, and Sviatoshynskyi
Kiev also has a system of non-formal historical neighborhoods. There are dozens of such neighborhoods in Kiev. But they constitute some kind of hierarchy since most of these neighborhoods have lost their distinct topographic limits.
The oldest neighborhoods in the city got their names way back in the Middle Ages, posing a great linguistic interest. The most recent whole-built developments have residential marketing names or numeric designations.
The Right Bank contains the city’s older portions, as well as most of its governmental institutions and business areas. The Left Bank, on the other hand, was incorporated into Kiev only in the 20th century and is predominantly residential.
With so many activities to experience and sights to see, Kiev tourism is alive and well. Even if you only have one or two days in this historical and cultural center, make sure to visit the city’s top attractions. Here are the top attractions that you should not miss.
St. Sophia’s Cathedral
St. Sophia’s Cathedral is Kiev’s oldest church. It was built in 1037 by Prince Yaroslav the Wise, the country’s powerful leader whose remain is still inside the cathedral. It features 13 golden cupolas that sit above the complex of white towers, which are best viewed from the 250ft (76m) bell tower at the entrance.
St. Nicolas Catholic Cathedral
Construction of St. Nicolas Catholic Cathedral started in 1899 and was completed in 1909. The structure is placed on Chervonoarmiyska St. (one of Kiev’s central streets), and you can easily recognize it by its unique Gothic style and two beautiful needle towers. The cathedral was restored in the 1980s and is now also used as a concert hall for organ music.
Kievo-Pechersky Caves Monastery
Kievo-Pechersky Caves Monastery is a spectacular complex of churches on the Dnieper River banks. Its architecture will not fail to impress you; it is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Beneath the golden-domed churches is a network of candle-lit lavra (catacombs) where saints from Ukraine are encased in glass coffins.
Golden Gate is a fortified wall defines the city limits and used to serve as a protective barrier against foreign invaders in the past. It dates back to 1037 under the rule of Prince Yaroslav the Wise. In 1983, the Golden Gate was restored to its present condition and now also serves as a historical museum.
National Chernobyl Museum
The National Chernobyl Museum is a blend of artistic representations of the nuclear disaster and artifacts from the site itself. It also features model reconstructions that commemorate the heroics of many rescue workers who died. Signs that hang from the ceiling make a chilling memorial to the towns still too hazardous to live in.
The National Museum of the History of the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945
The National Museum of the History of the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945 is a memorial complex that commemorates the country’s controversial participation in WW II when half of Kiev’s population died under the hands of the Nazis. With more than 300,000 exhibits, it is one of the country’s largest museums. It houses a 203ft (62m) tall Brezhnev era titanium Motherland statue.
Bulgakov Museum is very interesting if unusual insight into the family life of the writer Mikhail Bulgakov, Kiev’s most famous son, as a young boy. Exhibits center on the autobiographical account (White Guard) of his experience in Kiev during the Russian civil war; they do not focus on Master and Magarita, Bulgakov’s most well-regarded masterpiece.