The history of Kiev started more than 1,500 years ago, when around 950 churches, cathedrals and monuments were built. The top attractions of the city, with their primordial architecture and fascinating history, are worthwhile seeing when visiting Kiev. Here is a list of the must-see historical and contemporary attractions in the city.
Saint Sophia’s Cathedral is an outstanding complex; work started on it in 1037 and lasted for just three years. As the architectural monument has had only a few reconstructions, you can marvel at the Byzantine cathedral in close to its original form. In addition, as it is located at the intersection of the four leading roads in Kiev, climb to the cathedral’s bell tower and you’ll be rewarded with a magnificent view from the top.
Mystetskyi Arsenal is an art quarter in the heart of Kiev. Every season it holds various exhibitions, festivals and markets that promote culture in Ukraine. Among them are Ukrainian fashion week, annual book fair and contemporary art celebrations.
St. Andrew’s Church in Kiev is one of the most striking Baroque buildings. Its architecture and location are genuinely unique. The church is built on an artificial hill, overlooking one of Kiev’s oldest neighbourhoods, and the foundation for it is the terrace of a two-story building, with a cast-iron staircase. It has been twice hit by lightning, but still the church is is flourishing and is open to the public for services and sightseeing tours.
The literary and memorial museum is devoted to the famous writer Mikhail Bulgakov, who was born in Kiev. From 1906 to 1919, he lived in this house while writing his book The White Guard. Bulgakov included the building and land next to it and the internal layout of the house is exactly the same as described in his novel.
The exposition of the National Art Museum of Ukraine includes masterpieces of Ukrainian paintings and sculpture, dating back to the times of Kievan Rus (the federation of East Slavic tribes from the 9th to 13th centuries). The museum currently has about 40,000 exhibits and has one of the richest collections of ancient iconostases in Ukraine.
This place has a long history, which began in the 11th century. Kiev Pechersk Lavra is an Orthodox monastery, one of the earliest and most significant monasteries of Kievan Rus. Being famous for its ancient churches, beautiful territory and network of catacombs, the complex has served as a calling card of Kiev for many years.
This beautiful palace, formerly known as Tsarskoe, is located next to the Verkhovna Rada (Parliament) building and is the ceremonial residence of the President of Ukraine. The Mariyinsky Palace was built in 1744 by the Italian Baroque architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli. Today, it hosts various events of national importance such as receptions, summits and awards, as well as meetings of official delegates from all over the world.
The Botanical Garden is a part of the natural reserve fund of Ukraine. In addition to the rich flora, it’s well worth seeing the Trinity Monastery of St. Jonas, located on the garden, with ancient murals from the 19th century. There is also a beautiful greenhouse complex that has various kinds of tropical flowers, cacti, succulents and palm trees.
St. Michael’s Monastery is a two-minute walk from St. Andrew’s Church and St. Sophia’s Cathedral. For 900 years, it has survived several wars and even complete destruction, but it still remains one of the most significant Orthodox cathedrals in Ukraine.
The building of the National Opera of Ukraine, was built in the style of the French Neo-Renaissance and continues to be one of the most famous ballet and opera centres in Europe, on a level with the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow and the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg. At the same time, all three theatres are united by a common Russian ballet school, and their specialists often collaborate with colleagues from other cities.
The height of the sculpture on the right bank of the Dnieper River reaches 102 metres (334 feet) and this monument can be seen from almost any part of the city. The sculpture of a woman holds a sword in one hand, and a large shield in the other. The monument, according to the plan of its creators, was to embody the unswerving spirit of the people, who could stand together and overcome adversity.
Museum of the History of Ukraine in the Second World War
In the complex of the museum, in addition to The Motherland Monument, there is an alley, dedicated to all the people who fought in World War 2 and a museum, which showcases over 15,000 exhibits, including official documents, personal belongings of the soldiers, their weapons and photographs, awards, fragments of military correspondence and personal diaries.
The Pirohiv Open-Air Museum of Architecture and Life of Ukraine is located in the outskirts of Kiev. The territory of the museum is divided into traditional Ukrainian regions and the huts are decorated in accordance with local traditions. The samples of wooden constructions and everyday life of the 16th and 19th centuries have been sourced from all over the country.
St. Volodymyr’s Cathedral in Kiev was built in honour of Prince Vladimir of Kiev, who introduced Christianity in Kievan Rus in 988AD. The cathedral is decorated in the classical Old Byzantine style and its interior was painted by such famous artists as Mikhail Vrubel and Viktor Vasnetsov. Being located in the central part of the city, it is definitely in the list of the most important sights.
The Golden Gates in Kiev was constructed during the Kievan Rus period, and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The monument was part of this defensive structure and served as a grand entrance to the city. In 1970, a pavilion was built over the ancient ruins to not only protect the gates from decay, but also to recreate the original appearance of the monument.
The Chocolate House in Kiev is one of the famous Pechersk mansions. In 2009 it faced a large-scale reconstruction, which accurately replicated the building in its original form and turned the interior into a gallery and one of the branches of the Museum of Russian Art. Today, everyone can enjoy its splendour, walk through luxurious halls and rooms and view amazing paintings.
Currently, on the territory of the Expo Center are the majestic buildings of the Soviet era, exhibition pavilions and fountains. Every year, around 100 events are held at its grounds, including corporate, business, festive and even sports. Music festivals such as Atlas Weekend, are also held there. The Expocentre could well become the most ambitious leisure and entertainment park in Ukraine.
Saint Nicholas Roman Catholic Cathedral is considered a true architectural masterpiece. It attracts attention with a stylised Gothic form and spectacular exterior decoration. The facade of the building has two bell towers, 64 metres (204 feet) high. Nowadays, it functions as a concert hall for the House of Organ and Chamber Music.
Feofaniya is a charming and cosy natural park in the suburbs of Kiev, which is beautiful at any time of the year. The park was created and designed by professional landscape architects in 1912, and in 1972 it was awarded the status of a monument park. If you are tired of the noise and bustle of Kiev, Feofaniya park is a great getaway.
PinchukArtCentre is a modern art gallery where you can really escape from the daily routine and plunge into the world of art. Every season, it has new expositions with paintings, and also installations and performance art. Each of six floors has a guide, who tells the story behind the work.