Kyiv is the capital of Ukraine and, according to many, the most beautiful city in Eastern Europe. Kyiv is the center of Ukraine, not only geographically, but also economically, scientifically and politically. In addition, Kiev is one of the oldest cities in Europe.
KyivPhoto: James Hills in the public domain
Kyiv is located in the middle of northern Ukraine. The city is cut in half by the Dnieper River. The Desna River also flows through Kyiv. The landscape of Kyiv, especially on the right bank of the Dnieper River, is green, forested, and you can find hills, small rivers, and canyons. Kyiv has an area of 836 km² and around 2.7 million inhabitants.
Kyiv, like the rest of Ukraine, has a continental climate. The south of Ukraine has a warm continental climate and the northern part of the country, to which Kyiv belongs, has a temperate continental climate. The weather pattern around Kyiv is characterized by very high humidity. In the summer months the average temperature is around 22 degrees.
It is relatively dry in Ukraine with most precipitation in June, July and August.
December, January and February are the coldest months in Kyiv. The temperature can remain below zero for days. Snow falls regularly and can remain for a very long time due to the temperatures and humidity. Also, the Dnieper and Desna rivers are completely frozen in winter and totally unnavigable.
Painting depicting the founding of KyivPhoto: Public Domain
Kyiv's strategic location on two navigable rivers and between Scandinavia and Constantinople (today's Istanbul) meant that a trading settlement was established early in history. Exactly when the city was founded is not clear, but we do know that it experienced a great boom from the 9th century to the early 12th century. Kyiv was then the capital of the Eastern Slavic Kyiv Empire and the largest city in Europe with a population of over 50,000. When Prince Vladimir died in 1225, the city found itself in feudal wars and eventually the Mongols largely destroyed Kyiv.
Kyiv around 1900Photo: Public domain
It was not until around the 19th century that the city began to recover from its decline. When World War I arrived, Ukraine was conquered by various factions. The victory of the Bolsheviks made Ukraine part of the Soviet Union until its dissolution in 1991.
During World War II, 33,771 of the 175,000 Jewish residents of Communist Kyiv were murdered at the Babi Jar Ravine. During this black period, many buildings and artifacts in the city were also destroyed.
Fortunately, many were restored after the war. Only after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 did Ukraine regain true independence. Currently it is very restless in the region, the relationship with Russia is very tense.
Kyiv Babi JarPhoto: Dgri CC 3.0 Unported no changes made
An important historical landmark of Kyiv is the ravine of Babi Jar. It is not a cheerful tourist attraction, but it is important to dwell on.
Three monuments can be found at the ravine: one for the perished children, one for the perished Soviet citizens and a Menora monument for all the victims during the Holocaust.
Golden Gate KyivPhoto: Håkan Henriksson CC 3.0 Unportedno changes made
The Golden Gate is the ancient gateway to Kyiv. The gate originally dates back to the 11th century and was built by order of Prince Yaroslav "the Wise". In the 13th century the Tartars partially destroyed the gate and later the gate fell into further disrepair. In 1982 a restoration was completed on the occasion of the celebration of the 1500th anniversary of Kyiv. There is still some criticism of this restoration because the result would be a romanticized version of reality. Currently there is a museum housed in the Golden Gate about the history of the gate and the entire city of Kyiv.
Gorodetsky House KyivPhoto: DiscoverWithDima CC4.0 Internacionalno changes made
The architect Vladislav Gorodetsky built a very special house in Kyiv.
It is called House of Chimeras because he richly decorated it with sometimes strange figures such as dolphins, elephants, rhinoceroses and snakes all made of the then new material cement. (Gorodetsky owned a cement factory.) He is counted among the Arts Nouveau movement and is often compared to the famous architect Gaudi from Barcelona. The house is located on Bankovaya Street and many strange stories circulate. For example, Gorodetsky is said to have cursed it after he went bankrupt. The curse was that all subsequent residents would become unhappy and lose money.
Saint-Sophia cathedral KyivPhoto: Dezidor CC 3.0 no changes
St. Sofia Cathedral in Kyiv is also worth visiting. The oldest parts of the cathedral date back to the 11th century and it is one of the oldest buildings in the Ukrainian capital. Throughout history, the church has been destroyed and rebuilt a number of times, giving it features of 17th, 18th and 19th century architectural styles. A mosaic of the Virgin Mary with a height of no less than 6 meters is the biggest crowd pleaser in the church.
There are also 300 frescoes also known as "Sophia graffiti.
National History Museum KyivPhoto: Sasha Fujin CC 2.0 Generic no changes made
The National History Museum offers an overview of Ukraine's illustrious history. The museum opened its doors in 1994 and has a large collection of archaeological and ethnographic objects. There are also books of historical value, a large collection of coins and a number of works of art. Kyiv was once the center of power in Eastern Europe and there is a lot of focus on that period (11th and 12th centuries). The museum is located in old Kyiv and you have a nice view of the city.
A day of shopping cannot be missed when visiting Kyiv. There are many shopping centers and nice boutiques. Moreover, prices are relatively low in Kyiv.
In the heart of the center you can also find many nice souvenir shops.
Kyiv MetroPhoto: Sharon Hahn Darlin CC 2.0 Generic no changes made
The way to get from A to B in Kyiv is the metro. The metro network is well developed and you travel quickly by metro. Moreover, it is a cheap way to enjoy Kyiv.