If you happen to be travelling around Eastern Europe, don’t miss an opportunity to visit Kiev – one of Europe’s oldest and most beautiful cities, boasting an impressive history, a vibrant cultural life, and a warm and friendly atmosphere. Standing on two banks of the magnificent Dnieper river, Ukraine’s capital offers beautiful sights, ancient churches and monasteries, modern art galleries, green parks, and, of course, an unlimited number of restaurants, cafes, and bars offering delicious Ukrainian dishes, which are the epitome of comfort food, and famously cheap drinks. So let’s look at the shortlist of five must-see places of Kiev:
1. Andriyivskyy Descent
Andriyivskyy Descent, a narrow winding cobbled street, connecting the upper part of the city to the residential and commercial Podil neighborhood, is one of the most-advertised tourist attractions. Lined on both sides with numerous stores and galleries, where you can buy everything from antique jewelry to hand-made national attire to paintings and artwork, the street is also home to the breathtakingly beautiful St Andrew’s church, a baroque masterpiece dating back to the 18th century, a gothiс castle, the house of the famous Ukrainian writer Mikhail Bulgakov, several museums and a small theater. A unique mix between a flea market, bohemian quarter, and historical oldtown, Andriyivskyy Descent is a definite must-see.
2. The Motherland Monument
For a breathtaking view over the entire left-bank part of Kiev go to the Motherland monument, commonly known as Rodina Mat, a monumental stainless steel statue that stands 62 meters tall (16 meters taller than the NY lady Liberty) on a hill rising above the river. The statue is part of the museum complex commemorating the history of Ukraine in WWII, where you can find an extensive collection of military machinery and other fascinating showpieces. The more adventurous tourists can go up to the skydeck on top of the statue for a truly unforgettable bird-eye view.
3. Kiev Pechersk Lavra
A jewel in the Kiev’s extensive collection of churches, the Pechersk Lavra is a large monastery complex located on the steep hills of the Dineper’s right bank. Dating back to the XI century, Lavra, which, despite of being one Ukraine’s most significant historical monuments, is still active, consists of a large number of churches, cathedrals and belltowers. Built in the lavish orthodox style with blinding gilded domes, colorful decorations and intricate stained-glass windows, the Lavra is a truly impressive sight to behold.
4. Pinchuk Art Centre
A center of contemporary art located in the very heart of Kiev in the historical Bessarabka district, Pinchuk Art Centre, run by the Pinchuk foundation, is the largest private museum in the Eastern Europe. The center organizes exhibitions by leading Ukrainian and international contemporary artists, as well as numerous concerts, performances, and workshops. No matter when you happen to visit Kiev, there is always something exciting to see here.
5. Pirogovo landscape museum
To get a good feel of the Ukrainian culture you definitely have to visit the Pirogovo outdoor museum of national architecture and culture. A huge park located just outside Kiev, Pirogovo is a great weekend destination. It contains numerous exhibits, representing architectural styles of different parts of the country, several national restaurants serving Ukrainian cuisine, a petting zoo, and numerous green lawns and gardens. The best way to experience the park is to rent a bike, as it is quite large and has plenty to see. The central lawn of the park has a stage where you can enjoy performances of folk musicians or dancers, and a fair selling a wide range of hand-made souvenirs, national clothes, and organic products. The Pirogovo landscape park is the perfect destination if you want to get glimpse of the rustic side of Ukrainian culture.
Kiev is a city with its own unique atmosphere and rich history that has a lot to offer both to young fun-seeking adventurers and vacationing families. The sightseeing, the cultural life, the nightlife, and the ‘wining and dining’ in Kiev will make you fall in love with this friendly and beautiful place. The fact that the prices in the city are significantly friendlier then in other European capitals is an added bonus.