Discover Kiev

Kiev, or Kyiv in Ukrainian, is the capital of Ukraine. Kyiv is one of the oldest cities in Eastern Europe, its official history is dating back to the 5th century. Between the 10th and early 13th century it reached its golden age as the capital of the first Ukrainian state known today as Kiev Rus. The name Kyiv is said to derive from the name of Kiy, one of four legendary founders of the city (brothers Kiy, Shchek, Khoriv and their sister Lybid).

Kiev map

Modern Kiev is a mix of the old and the new, seen in everything from the architecture to the stores, and to the people themselves, but anyway, it is absolutely beautiful. An official populations of Kiev in 2007 was 2,635,300 (realistically approaching 5 million). Public transport includes subway(metro), buses, streetcars, trams, trolleybuses, and taxi.

Theaters are very important part of city's culture, and include Kiev Opera House, Lesya Ukrainka National Academic Theater of Russian Drama, Ivan Franko National Academic Drama Theater, Kiev Puppet Theater, National Conservatory, National Philharmonic, October Palace, Ukraine Palace, and many others.

Kyiv is very 'green' city. You will find here a lot of different parks, gardens, boulevards; trees and greenery are everywhere.

Places of Interest

Museums - The most important of the city's museums are Kiev State Historical Museum, National Art Museum, Museum of Western and Oriental Art, and National Museum of Russian art.

Khreschatyk Street - The main drag of the city center. It is closed to traffic on weekends and full of entertainers and people wandering around. Metro: Maidan Nezalezhnosti or Kreshchatyk.

Maidan Nezalezhnosti - Independence Square, located on Khreschatyk Street. This is a central meeting place in Kiev. Metro: Maidan Nezalezhnosti or Kreshchatyk.

Mariyinsky Palace, Mariyinsky park, and the Lovers' bridge. Between metro stations Arsenalna and Kreshchatyk.

Pecherska Lavra - The cave monastery was founded in the 11th century by St Antony. The caves were dug out by priests who lived there as hermits. Nowadays, the caves are venerated by the faithful and tourists who visit the mummified monks, and pilgrims are still allowed access to the subterranean church there. There are two parts to the modern complex: the upper lavra, owned by the state and consisting of a number of museums (entry fee); and the lower lavra, owned by the Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriach) and consisting of the caves (you'll need 1 UAH to buy a candle to enter). Do not miss the display of micro-miniatures in the upper lavra. It sounds lame, but it it fascinating. You can enter the caves in the lower part if you dress correctly (women MUST cover their hair and wear skirts, no shorts. Expensive scarves are for sale there). Women can only just get away with pants in the winter. Metro: Arsenalna.

Motherland Statue and Great Patriotic War memorial - Kyiv was destroyed during the invasion in WWII. The memorial near the Motherland statue has some amazing exhibits of military hardware. The Museum of the Great Patriotic War (WWII), which is located in the base of the statue is dedicated to the struggle and the Great Victory of Soviet Union over the Fascist Germany. Well worth the visit even if you don't speak or read any Russian (several English language tours are provided daily). It's well created and full of artifacts (including weapons, battle maps, hundreds of original photographs, and a moving installation at the end of the exhibit symbolizing the great losses suffered). There is also a small museum of the Afghan conflict nearby. Metro: Percherska, Arsenalna.

St Sophia's Cathedral - The oldest remaining church in Kiev. Parts of Sofia date from the 11th century, and is the site of the Virgin Oran's mosaic. The gatehouse and other restorations were completed in the 17th century. Outside the gates, there is a statue commemorating Bogdan Khmelnytsky, who liberated Kiev in the 17th century. Metro: Zoloti Vorota.

Zoloti Vorota - This is 1982 reconstruction of the Golden Gates of Kiev. Metro: Zoloti Vorota.

Andriyivskyi Uzviz - At the top of this quaint cobblestone street is St Andrew's Church. Andrew's Descent starts here and winds down to Kontraktova Ploscha in Podil. The street is lined with souvenir sellers, restaurants, galleries and museums. Touristy but retains charm. The One Street Museum ( Muzey odnieyi vulytsi, Andriyivskyi uzviz, 2-B Kyiv.) is dedicated to the history of the Andriyivskyi uzviz (Andrew's Descent) and its famous residents.

Babi Yar - A ravine, which was the site of massacres of Jews, Gypsies, and other civilians by the German Nazis and their Ukrainian fascist flunkies during World War II. Approximately 60,000 civilians were executed at this site during the war (over 34,000 Jews in the first two days alone). Now a memorial to "Soviet citizens" murdered by the Germans, the park can be reached via the metro.

Museum of Folk Architecture and Rural Life - Six restored rural Ukrainian villages, and very nice park area. English-speaking (sort of) guides with expertise on the whole site are available and well worth-it. Bus #156 from Respublikansky Stadion Metro station.

Where to Eat

Fast-food chains:
Puzata Khata is Ukrainian for "belly," and a khata is a traditional Ukrainian hut or shack. If you're from the states this place is like Picadilli, or any other pay-per-plate cafeteria. Popular with locals for nostalgia and prices, prepare to be in a big line at peak hours on weekends. Food is usually great, and almost entirely traditional Ukrainian. Two people can eat like absolute pigs here for under $15. You'll be full for the rest of the day, guaranteed.
Several locations - across from Bessarabski Market; through the second arch to the right of the Khreshatik Metro station [past McDonald's, turn right through the big decorative arch]; and another on the corner of Sagaidachnogo Street, opposite Bogorodytsi Pyrogoschi [a square with a church on it]. There is another one at Kontraktova Square, close to Kontraktova metro station, at the end of a downhill walk from the Andrivskyj Uzviz.
Two Geese" serves decent cafeteria-style meals. Look for the signs with two geese on yellow background. Sometimes there's a vintage car painted with their logo out front. Fast, decent, easy, all you have to do is point. No language skills needed.
Domashnia kukhnia offers a buffet with typical Ukrainian food. Some say it's nice, others get sick of it. It's a favorite for Ukrainian students.
Shvydko - pseudo-national.
Kartoplia - main dish: mashed potatoes with different kinds of salads.
MacSmak - pizza.
Potato House chain - pseudo Mexican food.
Celentano - pizza, salads.Vesuvio Pizza - 3 locations - Reytarska 25, bulvard Shevchenko 2 - near Khreschatyk, and Balzak Street 2a (Global Shopping Centre). Kyiv's first North American style pizza, probably the best in Kyiv. 25 types of pizzas, pan pizza and thin crust, pastas, lasagna, green salads. Eat in, take out and delivery 2356681 and 2783028.
Mister Snack - cheap sandwich and salad chain. Also sell hamburgers.
Korchma Bud'mo - 22a, Mikhailivska str. - national Ukrainian cuisine, simple, but tasty and cheap, pleasant atmosphere. All the major credit cards are accepted.
Viola's Birestube - cheap pub with a great variety of sausages and different meat meals. In the arc near with the market Bessarabka.


Kiev Subway / Metro Map in English

Click to enlarge

Kiev Subway / Metro Map in Russian

Click to enlarge