The cradle of the ancient Kyiv Rus civilization Kyiv today is the capital of Ukraine, the city with the history that spans over 1500 years.
There is no older city in Ukraine, Russia, Belarus. It is here that the oldest street of Eastern Europe, the legendary St. Andrew’s Descent, and the oldest Eastern Slavs Cathedral, St. Sofia of Kyiv, are. There is the same topography like it was millennia ago. Historical and cultural heritage of Kyiv is unique; there are about 2000 archeological, architectural, historical, cultural and nature monuments here.
To get acquainted with our city
we invite you to take the Kyiv is the capital of Ukraine tour.
Starting with Old Kyi’s settlement, Acropolis of Slavs, you will go along the most Kyivan street, St. Andrew’s Descent. Among old annalistic hills, from St. Andrew’s Church, the masterpiece of Baroque genius Bartholomew Rastrelli, along Uzdykhalnytsya Hill, “Richard the Lion Hearted Castle”, the house of the Bulgakovs and the Turbins (from Bulgakov’s White Guard) you’ll descent to Podil, the old trade district, the centre of Medieval town.
If you get tired or hungry there are a lot of cafes and small restaurants on “the Kyiv Montmartre”. There are also galleries, museums, exhibitions and theatres there as well as a big choice of Ukrainian souvenirs. We hope you won’t leave “the Kyiv Montmartre” without buying a gift.
Having reached Podil we’ll be in Contract Square, Kyiv’s center in the 14th – 17th cent. where we’ll see Pirogoshcha Church mentioned in The Tale of Igor’s Host (the 12th century epiс), destroyed in the 30s and reconstructed in the 90s of the 20th century. In the centre of the square there is the monument to Hetman Sahaidachny, the 17th century chieftain of Ukrainian Cossacks whose name has the nearby street.
Next to Contract Square is St. Flor’s Convent, founded in the 15th century, whose nuns, like in Novodyevichiy in Moscow, were women from noble families.
Nearby is Samson Fountain originally built in the 18th century. The popular belief of those days reads: “Those who will drink water from the fountain will stay in Kyiv forever.” Taking pictures at this site brings good luck.
We’ll also draw your attention to the Kyiv Mohyla Academy founded in 1632. It was the first school of higher education in Eastern Europe. On the wall of the first stone building of the Academy (now the library of this prestigious university) is among others the memorable plaque to Peter Mohyla, the Metropolitan and founder of the Academy.
Nearby is the monument to Skovoroda, the Ukrainian poet and philosopher of the 18th century who for some time was a student of the above Academy.
We can’t help mentioning the square that took its name from contract fairs held for over one hundred years in this area.
At the beginning of the 19th century the Contract House was built where landowners and merchants used to conclude contracts for purchase of goods, land, real estate. It was also a cultural centre where Sarah Bernardt performed, France Liszt gave a recital. The contract fairs were frequented by Pushkin, Gogol, Shevchenko, Honore de Balzac. The latter liked our city and called it “Rome of the North”.
The Upper Town is the cradle of princely times Kyiv, its spiritual center.We’ll see St. Michael’s Gold-Domed Cathedral. It marked its 900th anniversary in 2008 but unlike St. Sofia Cathedral it was destroyed in the fateful 30s and reconstructed in 2000.
Not far from St. Michael’s square is Sofiyska Square, Kyiv’s main square during Yaroslav the Wise’s reign in the 11th century. At present the square is the place of many significant events related to Ukraine’s independence. Not far is St. Sofia Cathedral, Kyiv’s oldest church to survive, named after St. Sofia Cathedral in Constantinople. Like Constantinople’s ours was also meant to glorify the wisdom of Christianity (“sophus” in Greek is “wisdom”).
The Cathedral was not only a holy place of worship for Kyivans of that time but also the political and cultural centre of Kyiv Rus and it was there that foreign ambassadors were received, treaties were signed, the first school and library were founded. And it was also there that Yaroslav the Wise was buried. In 1934 the Cathedral became a museum, since 1990 it’s been an item of the UNESCO World Heritage List. For almost 1,000 years the sacred mosaic image of Mary the Orans (Maria Oranta) on the Indestructible Altar Wall has protected Kyiv. Only in Italy in Ravenna there are mosaics comparable by beauty.
On the left from the entrance to the museum in the summer of 2008 there appeared two plaques (one in Greek) commemorating the visit of the Constantinople Patriarch on the occasion of 1020 anniversary of Christianity in Ukraine.
Not far is the Golden Gate, the former main entrance into Kyiv, a two-tier fortified structure of the 11th cent., with the Church of Annunciation on top of the gate proper. The remnant of the Golden Gate is today inside the model of 1982. For music lovers to know it’s the famous Great Gate of Mussorgsky’s music piece Pictures at an Exhibition.
Taras Shevchenko National Opera of Ukraine, built on the site of the old theatre in 1901 after architect Shreter’s design. The building is one of Kyiv’s highlights. After the 1980s major restoration, in the façade niche there appeared the bust of Shevchenko, whose name the Opera House has had since 1939. During the intermission ushers if asked can show you the place where in September 1911 the Russian Prime Minister Stolypin was deadly wounded (buried in Kyiv’s Lavra Monastery).
St. Vladimir’s Cathedral (1852-1882), built in the neo-Byzantine style. The interior murals were made by the Russian and Ukrainian painters: Vasnetsov, Nesterov, Vrubel, Yizhakevych, Kotarbinsky, Swiedomsky and others. There are holy incorruptible relics of St. Barbara (4th cent.) revered by all Christians in the world. At present the Cathedral belongs to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Kyiv’s Patriarchate).
We’ll also see Shevchenko National University that took its name from the great Ukrainian poet and artist Taras Shevchenko (1814-1861). It is one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in Ukraine, established in1834. The so-called red building was designed by Vikenty Beretti. Its red painted walls and black columns are explained by the colour of the ribbon of the order of St. Vladimir whose name the University had until 1939.
Across from the University is the monument to T. Shevchenko (1814-1861), a symbol of Ukraine, a freedom-loved poet and artist whom we owe our independence in Ukraine and whose name you can’t but hear when in our country. A lot of his monuments are abroad put up by Ukrainians.
Khreshchatyk, the main street of Kyiv. It was badly damaged during WWII and rebuilt in the neo-classical style of the post-war architecture. Today the street is the administrative and business centre of the city as well as a popular place for Kyivans. It’s divided by Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square). Following the collapse of the Soviet Union and especially after the so-called Orange Revolution of 2004 Maidan gained a wider context as a symbol of changes of the country. We proceed farther to Khreshchaty Park and see the Arch of Friendship there. This monument which is the remnant of our recent past was constructed in 1982 to celebrate an anniversary of the union of Russia and Ukraine. There is a nice view over the Dnieper River and its opposite bank.
Next to Khreshchaty along the Dnieper is Tsarsky (Royal) Park where there is Mariyinsky Palace (architect Rastrelli), built in 1750 – 1755.
Intended originally for members of the imperial family when they visited Kyiv, in the early 19th century it became the residence of Governor-Generals and now it is the Presidential state residence. You could often see its beautiful interiors on TV news programmes where summits and meetings of official delegations, awards ceremonies, presentations of credentials by ambassadors of foreign states took place. Unfortunately the Palace is under restoration at present.
Not far from the Maryinsky palace is the Park of Eternal Glory with the Alley of Heroes, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Obelisk to commemorate those who perished in WWII.
In the same park your attention will be caught by the Candle of Memory monument of the Memorial opened in November 2008 on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of holodomor, famine, artificially provoked by Communists in 1932-1933 that took lives of seven to ten million people in Ukraine. Next to the park is Kyiv Pechersky Lavra Monastery, the Holy of Holies for Orthodox believers, the oldest monastery for Eastern Slavs which was founded in 1051 in caves, hence the name: “pechera” stands for “a cave”. Lavra is a title for large men’s Orthodox monasteries. There are three Lavras in Ukraine at present. Kyiv’s Lavra consists of two parts: Upper and Lower. Holy incorruptible relics of saints which are in the caves attract a lot of pilgrims. The caves are small and narrow, stretching several hundred metres and up to 20 metres underground. The Upper Lavra attracts more tourists with its beautiful churches, museums and exhibitions (in 1926 the monastery became a museum, the men’s monastery was reopened in1988).
Here is some useful information:
- Duration of the tour – 3 h
- Our English, Hebrew, Italian, Spanish, German, French, Czech speaking guides are at your service. All our guides are high qualified licensed tour guides.
- You can order your private tour any time. We can provide you with transportation service too. There are 2, 5, 17, 22, 30 and 45 pax vehicles in our company.