Kiev (Kyiv)

Kiev (Kyiv)

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Kiev was founded in the 5th century and has been an important city for all of modern Ukraine, Russia and Belarus. From the 9th to the 11th centuries, Kiev was the capital of Kievan Rus, the Slavic super-state that roughly covered the area of these three countries. Since then, Mongols have tried to invade the region, devastating fires have destroyed parts of the city and during WWII a lot was destructed too. After WWII, communist urban planning hasn't done much good either.

Despite of all this, remarkably large numbers of historic buildings have survived and Kiev's Old Town is quite an interesting place. It is concentrated on the northeastern end of vulitsya Volodymyrska and includes landmarks such as the Saint Sophia Cathedral. It was built in the 11th century and is Kiev's oldest surviving church. It also contains some of Ukraine's most beautiful mosaics and frescoes.

Not far from the Old Town is Kiev's main drag, the bustling vulitsya Khreshchatyk. It is lined with shops and at its southern end you will find numerous fruit and vegetable vendors on the aisles at the Bessarabsky Market. Another interesting street is Andriyivsky vzviz, which is lined with galleries, shops, restaurants and cafés and winds its way north from Old Town to the base of the Podil district. This district used to be historic Kiev's merchant's quarter and river port. In the center of Podil is a square that looks a bit like a park. It is called Kontraktova ploshcha for the large, white arcaded Kontraktova Dim (House of Contracts) that sits in its center. The building was constructed in 1817 and filled with restaurants, galleries and small businesses.

Not far from there is the Chernobyl Museum, where you can see everything about the worst nuclear disaster ever to happen on earth. While inside the museum, bear in mind that Chernobyl' is only 100 km (62 miles) north of Kiev. The oldest surviving structure in Podil is the nearby whitewashed Church of Mykola Prytysko, which dates from 1631. It has a green roof and is an excellent example of Ukrainian Baroque architecture.

South of Kiev's Old Town, along the Dnepr River, stretches the Pechersk district, which is connected to the rest of the city by bus. The Caves Monastery is situated in the Pechersk district. The monastery was founded in 1051 and boasts gold-domed churches, underground labyrinths, including mummified monks and elegant monastic buildings. Some of the structures have been turned into museums and one of these has displays of Scythian gold. The monastery is spread over a wide area across wooded slopes above the Dnepr River. The Dormition Cathedral is also part of the complex. It was built at the end of the 11th century and although it was heavily damaged by the Red Army during WWII, it is still one of Ukraine's most wonderful Baroque religious buildings.

The Historical Treasures Museum is not far north of the cathedral. It houses countless artifacts and precious stones and metals from Ukraine. The museums finest treasure is its collection of Scythian gold-work from the 4th century BC. In the museum you'll also find an interesting model of Kiev in the 12th century, as well as beautiful goblets, crosses, chalices and icons by Ukrainian, Russian, Polish and Lithuanian masters.

Another great museum is the Folk Architecture Museum, 12 km (7 miles) south of the city center. Although it is quite far, it is well worth the effort. The museum consists of a collection of 17th to 20th century wooden cottages, churches, farmsteads and windmills, including their original interior furnishings. There are also numerous beautiful gardens. The whole area is divided into seven small 'villages', each of which represents a certain region's traditions. The whole area is spread out over scenic rolling hills dotted with groves of trees. On the grounds are several restaurants, as well as a gift shop. Special events are held frequently. City buses connect the museum with the center of Kiev.

There are many hotels and restaurants in Kiev. Ukraine's capital lies on the Dnepr River, in the north of the country.

Because of the current situation in Ukraine it is not recommended to travel to Kiev (Kyiv), or any other destination in Ukraine at this moment.

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Miscellaneous Information

Latitude:    50 25 N
Longitude: 30 30 E
Elevation:  n/a

Population: 3,000,000
Cost-of-living compared to Washington D.C.: n/a

Hours from UTC: 2
Daylight savings time: Late March through late October

City phone code: n/a
Country phone code: 7

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