Most people, when they think of interesting cities to visit, wouldn’t put Kiev at the top of their list. The city probably wouldn’t make the list at all, in fact. However, the Ukrainian capital is well worth visiting. With a history dating back to the fifth century, it’s one of the oldest centers of civilization in Eastern Europe.
A city with such a long history usually has many interesting sights to visit and Kiev is no exception. The following five places are must-sees and will give you an overview of Kiev’s and the Ukraine’s history.
1 Kiev Pechersk Lavra
The complex consists of different structures. The most prominent is the Great Lavra Belltower, a four-tiered, free-standing structure built in the first half of the eighteenth century. If you look out over Kiev’s skyline, you will see this 96.5 meter high belltower’s golden dome from afar, holding fort over the Dnieper River.
There are several churches and a cathedral on the grounds too, but probably the most fascinating part is the caverns. When Anthony founded the monastery, he moved into a cave. Others followed and over time dug out more caverns to form an underground complex. They even built an underground church. This complex became the burial ground for monks, saints, other notables and the head of Pope Clement I. Today you can see some of the mummified remains, although they are covered in cloth. If you visit the site, remember that women should cover their hair and wear a skirt. Also bear in mind that this is still an operational monastery.
2 Saint Sophia Cathedral
It is an imposing structure with no less than thirteen copulas. Inside, you can still see mosaics and frescos that date from the eleventh century. A belltower, the House of Metropolitan and other buildings form part of the complex too.
3 Babyn Jar
More massacres followed. Over the course of the war, between 70,000 and 100,000 people of Jewish, Romany, Ukrainian and Russian origin were executed and buried here. Among them were hundreds of patients from a psychiatric hospital in the city.
Today, the memorial sculptures and monuments erected at Babyn Jar are a stark reminder of the depths of human cruelty and the hope that what happened at this site will never happen again.
4 The National Museum of Chernobyl
The museum exhibits tell you what really happened at Chernobyl and how it happened. It is an assault on the senses, using audio-visual technology to bring the disaster and its aftermath to life. Particularly poignant is the road signs that show the names of towns and villages in the Exclusion Zone. For at least the next 24,000 years, these 76 places will be uninhabitable – just making you realize again that for all its benefits, when nuclear energy goes wrong, it goes wrong big time.
5 Khreshchatyk Street
Over weekends Kreshchatyk Street becomes a pedestrians-only street, closed to traffic. Street performers, artists and market stall owners then ply their trade underneath the chestnut trees and the atmosphere becomes positively festive. This is a great place to shop for souvenirs, people-watch and mingle with Ukrainians.
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