Kiev or Kyiv (Ukrainian: Київ, Russian: Киев; is the capital and the largest city of Ukraine, located in the north central part of the country on the Dnieper River. The population as of the 2001 census was 2,611,300.Kiev is an important industrial, scientific, educational and cultural centre of Eastern Europe. It is home to many high-tech industries, higher education institutions and world-famous historical landmarks. The city has an extensive infrastructure and highly developed system of public transport, including the Kiev Metro. Kiev was classified as a Beta global city as of 2004.
The name Kiev is said to derive from the name of Kyi, one of four legendary founders of the city (brothers Kyi, Shchek, Khoryv, and sister Lybid). During its history, Kiev, one of the oldest cities in Eastern Europe, passed through several stages of great prominence and relative obscurity. The city may have been founded in the 5th century as a trading post, perhaps part of the land of the early Slavs. It gradually acquired eminence as the centre of the East Slavic civilization, becoming in the tenth to twelfth centuries a political and cultural capital of Rus', a medieval East Slavic state. Completely destroyed during the Mongol invasion in 1240, the city lost most of its influence for the centuries to come. It was a provincial capital of marginal importance in the outskirts of the territories controlled by its powerful neighbors; first the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, followed by Poland and Russia.
The city prospered again during the Russian Empire's industrial revolution in the late 19th century. After the turbulent period following the Russian Revolution of 1917, from 1921 onwards Kiev was an important city of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, and, from 1934, its capital. During World War II, the city again suffered significant damage, but quickly recovered in the post-war years remaining the third largest city of the Soviet Union. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Ukrainian independence of 1991, Kiev remained the capital of Ukraine.
Alternative names of Kiev
Chiu (old Romanian), Jīfǔ - 基辅 (simplified) 基輔 (traditional) (Chinese), Kænugarður (Icelandic), Kiev (Catalan), Kiefu - キエフ (Japanese), Kiëv (Dutch), Kiev (Interlingua, Italian, Maltese, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish), Kiev - קיִעװ (Yiddish), Kijeŭ - Кіеў (Belarusian), Kíevo - Κίεβο (Greek), Kiew (German), Kiiev (Estonian), Kijev (Croatian, Hungarian, Serbian, Slovene), Kijeva (Latvian), Kijevas (Lithuanian), Kiyev (Azeri), Kijów (Polish), Kiova (Finnish), Kiyepeu / K'iyep'ŭ - 키예프 (Korean), Kiyev - Киев (Russian), Kīyif - كييف (Arabic), Kyjev (Czech, Slovak), Kyyiv, Kyiv - Київ (Ukrainian), Киев (Macedonian), Qiyev - קייב (Hebrew).
Kiev belongs to the Polesia ecological zone (a part of the European mixed woods). However, the city's unique landscape distinguishes it from the surrounding region. Kiev is located on both sides of the Dnieper River, which flows south through the city towards the Black Sea. The older right-bank (western) part of the city is represented by numerous woody hills, ravines and small rivers. It is a part of the larger Dnieper Upland adjoining the western bank of the Dnieper in its mid-flow. Kiev expanded to the Dnieper's lowland left bank (to the east) only in the 20th century. Significant areas of the left-bank Dnieper valley were artificially sand-deposited, and are protected by dams.
The Dnieper River forms a branching system of tributaries, isles, and harbors within the city limits. The city is adjoined by the mouth of the Desna River and the Kiev Reservoir in the north, and the Kaniv Reservoir in the south. Both the Dnieper and Desna rivers are navigable at Kiev, although regulated by the reservoir shipping locks and limited by winter freeze-over.
In total, there are 448 bodies of open water within boundaries of Kiev, which include Dnieper itself, its reservoirs, and several small rivers, dozens of lakes and artificially created ponds. They occupy 7949 hectares of territory. Additionally, the city boasts of 16 developed beaches (totaling 140 hectares) and 35 near-water recreational areas (covering more than 1000 hectares). Many are used for pleasure and recreation, although some of the bodies of water are not suitable for swimming.
Kiev has a continental humid climate; the warmest months are June, July, and August, with mean temperatures of 13.8 to 24.8 °C (57 to 77 °F). The coldest are December, January, and February, with mean temperatures of -4.6 to -1.1 °C (24 to 30 °F). The highest ever temperature recorded in the city was 39.4 °C (102.9 °F) on 31 July 1936. The coldest temperature ever recorded in the city was −32.2 °C (−26.0 °F) on 7 & 9 February 1929. Snow cover usually lies from mid-November to the end of March, with the frost-free period lasting 180 days on average, but surpassing 200 days in recent years.
Kiev is one of the oldest cities of Eastern Europe and has played a pivotal role in the development of the medieval East Slavic civilization as well as in the modern Ukrainian nation.It is believed that Kiev was founded in 482 CE. The legend of Kyi, Schek and Khoryv speaks of a founder-family consisting of a Slavic tribe leader Kyi, the eldest, his brothers Schek and Khoriv, and also their sister Lybid, who founded the city (The Primary Chronicle). Kyiv/Kiev is translated as "belonging to Kyi". The most enthusiastic ones managed to find the city in Ptolemy’s work as the Metro polity (the 2nd century).
The non-legendary time of the founding of the city is harder to ascertain. Scattered Slavic settlements existed in the area from the 6th century, but it is unclear whether any of them later developed into the city. 8th century fortifications were built upon a Slavic settlement apparently abandoned some decades before. It is still unclear whether these fortifications were built by the Slavs or the Khazars. If it was the Slavic peoples then it is also uncertain when Kiev fell under the rule of the Khazar Empire or whether the city was, in fact, founded by the Khazars. The Primary Chronicle (a main source of information about the early history of the area) mentions Slavic Kievans telling Askold and Dir that they live without a local ruler and pay a tribute to the Khazars in an event attributed to the 9th century. At least during the 8th and 9th centuries Kiev functioned as an outpost of the Khazar Empire. A hill-fortress, called Sambat (Old Turkic for "High Place") was built to defend the area. At some point during the late ninth or early tenth century Kiev fell under the rule of Varangians (see Askold and Dir, and Oleg of Novgorod) and became the nucleus of the Rus' polity. The date given for Oleg's conquest of the town in the Primary Chronicle is 882, but some historians, such as Omeljan Pritsak and Constantine Zuckerman, dispute this and maintain that Khazar rule continued as late as the 920s (documentary evidence exists to support this assertion — see the Kievian Letter and Schechter Letter.) Other historians suggest that the Magyar tribes ruled the city between 840 and 878, before migrating with some Khazar tribes to Hungary.
During the eighth and ninth centuries, Kiev was an outpost of the Khazar Empire. Starting in the late ninth century or early tenth century Kiev was ruled by the Varangian nobility and became the nucleus of the Rus' polity, whose 'Golden Age' (eleventh to early twelfth centuries) has from the nineteenth century become referred to as Kievan Rus'. In 968, the nomadic Pechenegs attacked and then besieged the city. In 1203 Kiev was captured and burned by Prince Rurik Rostislavich and his Kipchak allies. In the 1230s the city was besieged and ravaged by different Russian princes several times. In 1240 the Mongol invasion of Rus led by Batu Khan completely destroyed Kiev, an event that had a profound effect on the future of the city and the East Slavic civilization. At the time of the Mongol destruction, Kiev was reputed as one of the largest cities in the world, with a population exceeding one hundred thousand.
In early 1320s, a Lithuanian army led by Gediminas defeated a Slavic army led by Stanislav of Kiev at the Battle on the Irpen' River, and conquered the city. The Tatars, who also claimed Kiev, retaliated in 1324–1325, so while Kiev was ruled by a Lithuanian prince; it had to pay a tribute to the Golden Horde. Finally, as a result of the Battle of Blue Waters in 1362, Kiev and surrounding areas were incorporated into the Grand Duchy of Lithuania by Algirdas, Grand Duke of Lithuania. In 1569 (Union of Lublin), when the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was established, the Lithuanian-controlled lands of the Kiev region, Podolia, Volhynia, and Podlachia, were transferred from Grand Duchy of Lithuania to the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland, and Kiev became the capital of Kiev Voivodeship. In 1658 (Treaty of Hadiach), Kiev was supposed to become the capital of the Duchy of Rus' within Polish–Lithuanian–Ruthenian Commonwealth, but the treaty was never ratified to this extent. Kept by the Russian troops since 1654 (Treaty of Pereyaslav), it became a part of the Tsardom of Russia from 1667 on (Truce of Andrusovo) and enjoyed a degree of autonomy. In the Russian Empire Kiev was a primary Christian centre, attracting pilgrims, and the cradle of many of the empire's most important religious figures, but until the 19th century the city's commercial importance remained marginal.
In 1834, St Vladimir University was established; it is now known as the Kiev University). The poet Taras Shevchenko cooperated with its geography department as a field researcher and editor.
During the 18th and 19th centuries city life was dominated by the Russian military and ecclesiastical authorities; the Russian Orthodox Church formed a significant part of Kiev's infrastructure and business activity. In the late 1840s, the historian, Mykola Kostomarov (Russian: Nikolay Kostomarov)), founded a secret political society, the Brotherhood of Saint Cyril and Methodius, whose members put forward the idea of a federation of free Slavic people with Ukrainians as a distinct and separate group rather than a subordinate part of the Russian nation; the society was quickly suppressed by the authorities.
Following the gradual loss of Ukraine's autonomy, Kiev experienced growing Russification in the 19th century by means of Russian migration, administrative actions and social modernization. At the beginning of the 20th century, the city was dominated by Russian-speaking population, while the lower classes retained Ukrainian folk culture to a significant extent. However, enthusiasts among ethnic Ukrainian nobles, military and merchants made recurrent attempts to preserve native culture in Kiev (by clandestine book-printing, amateur theatre, folk studies etc.)
During the Russian industrial revolution in the late 19th century, Kiev became an important trade and transportation centre of the Russian Empire, specializing in sugar and grain export by railway and on the Dnieper River. As of 1900, the city also became a significant industrial centre, having a population of 250,000. Landmarks of that period include the railway infrastructure, the foundation of numerous educational and cultural facilities as well as notable architectural monuments (mostly merchant-oriented). The first electric tram line of the Russian Empire was established in Kiev (the first in the world).
Kiev prospered again during the late nineteenth century industrial revolution in the Russian Empire, when it became the third most important city of the Empire and the major centre of commerce of its southwest. In the turbulent period following the 1917 Russian Revolution, Kiev became the capital of several short-lived Ukrainian states and was caught in the middle of several conflicts: World War I, the Russian Civil War, and the Polish-Soviet War. Kiev changed hands sixteen times from the end of 1918 to August 1920.
From 1921 the city was a part of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, a founding republic of the Soviet Union. Kiev was greatly affected by all the major processes that took place in Soviet Ukraine during the interwar period: the 1920s Ukrainization as well as the migration of the rural Ukrainophone population made the recently Russophone city partly Ukrainian-speaking and propped up the development of the Ukrainian cultural life in the city; the Soviet Industrialization that started in end-1920s turned the city, a former centre of commerce and religion, into a major industrial, technological and scientific centre, the 1932–1933 Great Famine devastated the part of the migrant population not registered for the ration cards, and Joseph Stalin's Great Purge of 1937–1938 almost eliminated the city's intelligentsia
In 1934 Kiev became the capital of Soviet Ukraine. The city boomed again during the years of the Soviet industrialization as its population grew rapidly and many industrial giants were created, some of which exist to this day.
World War II
During the Second World War, Nazi Germany occupied Kiev on 19 September 1941 The Battle of Kiev proved disastrous for the Soviet side but it significantly delayed the German advances. The delay also allowed the evacuation of all significant industrial enterprises from Kiev to the central and eastern parts of the Soviet Union, away from the hostilities, where they played a major role in arming the Nazi fighting Red Army.
Before the evacuation, the Red Army planted more than ten thousand mines throughout Kiev, controlled by wireless detonators. On 24 September, when the German invaders had settled into the city, the mines were detonated, causing many of the major buildings to collapse, and setting the city ablaze for five days. More than a thousand Germans were killed.
Kiev, as seen during World War II.Babi Yar, a location in Kiev, became a site of one of the most infamous Nazi WWII war crimes. During two days in September 1941, at least 33,771 Jews from Kiev and its suburbs were massacred at Babi Yar by the SS Einsatzgruppen, according to their own reports. Babi Yar was a site of additional mass murders of captured Soviet citizens over the following years, including Roma, POWs and anyone suspected in aiding the resistance movement, perhaps as many as 60,000 additional people. The role of Ukrainian collaborators in this massacre of Jews, now thoroughly documented, is still a matter of painful debate in Ukraine.
In the "Hunger Plan" prepared ahead of the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, with the aim of ensuring that that Germans were given priority over food supplies at the expense of everyone else, the inhabitants of Kiev were defined as "superfluous eaters" who were to be "gotten rid of" by the cutting off of all food supplies to the city - the food to be diverted to feeding the Wehrmacht troops and Germany's own population. Luckily for the people of Kiev, this part of the "Hunger Plan" was never fully implemented.
An underground resistance quickly established by local patriots was active until the liberation from Nazi occupation. During the war, Kiev was heavily bombarded, especially in the beginning of the war and the city was largely destroyed including many of its architectural landmarks (only one building remained standing on the Khreschatyk, a main street of Kiev).
While the whole of Ukraine was a '[Third] Reich commissariat', under a Nazi Reichskommissar, the region surrounding Kiew (as the Germans spell its name) was one of the six subordinate 'general districts', February 1942 - 1943 Generalbezirk Kiew, under Generalkommissar Waldemar Magunia (b. 1902 - d. 1974, also NSDAP)
The city was liberated by the Soviet Army advancing westward on 6 November 1943. For its role during the War, the city was later awarded the title Hero City. Kiev quickly recovered in the post-war years, becoming once again the third most important city of the Soviet Union.
The catastrophic accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant occurred only 100 km (62 mi) north of the city. However, the prevailing northward winds blew the most substantial radioactive debris away from the city.
In the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union the Declaration of Independence of Ukraine was proclaimed in the city by the Ukrainian parliament on August 24, 1991. Kiev is the capital of independent Ukraine.
The All-Ukrainian Census conducted on December 5, 2001, According to the census, men accounted for 1,219,000 persons, or 46.7%, and women for 1,393,000 persons, or 53.3%. Comparing the results with the previous census (1989) shows the trend of population aging which, while prevalent throughout the country, is partly offset in Kiev by the inflow of working age migrants. According to the census data, more than 130 nationalities and ethnic groups reside within the territory of Kiev. Ukrainians constitute the largest ethnic group in Kiev, and they account for 2,110,800 people, or 82.2% of the population. Russians comprise 337,300 (13.1%), Jews 17,900 (0.7%), Belarusians 16,500 (0.6%), Poles 6,900 (0.3%), Armenians 4,900 (0.2%), Azerbaijanis 2,600 (0.1%), Tatars 2,500 (0.1%), Georgians 2,400 (0.1%), Moldovans 1,900 (0.1%). Both Ukrainian and Russian are commonly spoken in the city, with Russian being more widely used in the city centre despite the fact that Ukrainian is claimed as their native language by almost three times as many residents as those who claim Russian. According to a 2006 survey, Ukrainian is used at home by 23% of Kievites, as 52% use Russian and 24% switch between both. Some 1,069,700 people have higher or completed secondary education, a significant increase of 21.7% since 1989. The latest (April, 2007) municipal estimate of the city population is of 2.7 million residents, other much higher estimates are often published. For instance, the amount of bakery products sold in the city (thus including temporary visitors and commuters) gives a minimum of 3.5 million people.
Modern Kiev is a mix of the old and the new, seen in everything from the architecture to the stores and to the people themselves. Experiencing rapid population growth between the 1970s and the mid-'90s, the city has continued its consistent growth after the turn of the millennium. As a result, Kiev's "downtown" is a dotted contrast of new, modern buildings amongst the pale yellows, blues and grays of older apartments. Urban sprawl has gradually reduced, while population densities of suburbs has increased. The most expensive properties are located in the Pechersk, and Khreshchatyk areas. It is also prestigious to own a property in newly constructed buildings in the Kharkivskyi Raion or Obolon along the Dnieper.
Ukrainian independence at the turn of the millennium has heralded other changes. Western-style residential complexes, modern nightclubs, classy restaurants and prestigious hotels opened in the centre. Music from Europe and North America started appearing on Ukrainian music charts. And most importantly, with the easing of the visa rules in 2005, Ukraine is positioning itself as a prime tourist attraction, with Kiev, among the other large cities, looking to profit from new opportunities. The centre of Kiev has been cleaned up and buildings have been restored and redecorated, especially the Khreshchatyk street and the Independence Square. Many historic areas of Kiev, such as Andriyivskyy Descent, have become popular street vendor locations, where one can find traditional Ukrainian art, religious items, books, game sets (most commonly chess) as well as jewelry for sale. At the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2009 Kiev was the only CIS city to have been inscribed into the TOP30 European Green City Index (placed 30th).
Transportation in Kiev
Public transportation in Kiev includes the metro (underground), buses, trolleybuses, trams and funicular. The publicly owned and operated Kiev Metro system is the fastest, the most convenient and affordable network that covers most, but not all, of the city. The metro is continuously expanding towards the city limits to meet growing demand, while the other kinds of public transport are not that well maintained. In particular, the public bus service has an unreliable schedule. Public electric trolleybus and tram lines are more reliable, but have aged equipment and are underfunded. The historic tram system, which once was a well maintained and widely used method of transport, is now gradually being phased out in favor of buses and trolleybuses.
One unique mode of public transportation Kiev has is the funicular that climbs up the steep right bank of the Dnieper River. It transports 10,000–15,000 passengers daily.
All public road transport in Kiev is operated by the united Kyivpastrans municipal company. It is heavily subsidized by the city as large groups of passengers (pensioners, etc.) are granted free service on its lines. The Kiev public transport system uses a simple tariff system regardless of distance travelled: tickets for ground transportation must be purchased each time a vehicle boarded. Discount passes are available for grade school and higher education students. Pensioners use public transportation free. Monthly passes, which are sold at the price of 60 rides, are also available in all combinations of public transportation: metro, bus, trolley, and tram. Recently, privately owned minibuses, marshrutkas, have appeared on Kiev streets. They provide good coverage of smaller residential streets and have convenient routes. Minibuses take fewer passengers, run faster, stop on demand and are more available, although with an increased frequency of accidents. Ticket price and itinerary of private minibuses are regulated by the city government, and the cost of one ride, while higher than on public buses, is still far lower than in Western Europe.
The taxi market in Kiev is expansive but not adequately regulated. In particular, the taxi fare per kilometer is not regulated. There is strong competition between private taxi companies. Many allow scheduling a pick-up by phone. Also, it is quite common for a local with a car (or even people from other parts of Ukraine) to provide taxi service on the ad hoc basis, generally by picking up people looking for a taxi by the roadside. Traffic jams and lack of parking space are growing problems for taxi services in Kiev. Current regulations allow for parking on pavements, which pedestrians may find inconvenient.
Suburban transportation is provided by buses and short-range trains (elektrichkas). There are a few bus stations inside the city providing suburban transportation. Private minibuses (marshrutkas) provide faster and more frequent suburban service, currently winning the competition against large buses.
Elektrichkas are serviced by the publicly owned Ukrzaliznytsia Company. The suburban train service is fast, and unbeatably safe in terms of traffic accidents. But the trains are not reliable, as they may fail significantly behind schedule, may not be safe in terms of crime, and the elektrichka cars are poorly maintained and are overcrowded in rush hours.
There are 5 elektrichka directions from Kiev:
More than a dozen of elektrichka stops are located within the city allowing residents of different neighborhoods to use the suburban trains.The previously extensive riverboat service along the Dnieper featuring the Meteor and Raketa hydrofoil ships is no longer available, limiting Kiev's river transport to cargo and tour boats and private pleasure craft.
Railways are Kiev’s main mode of intercity transportation. The city has a developed railroad infrastructure including a long-distance passenger station, 6 cargo stations, depots, and repairing facilities. However, this system still fails to meet the demand for passenger service. Particularly, the Kiev Passenger Railway Station is the city's only long-distance passenger terminal (vokzal).
Construction is underway for turning the large Darnytsia Railway Station on the left-bank part of Kiev into a long-distance passenger hub, which may ease traffic at the central station. Bridges over the Dnieper River are another problem restricting the development of city’s railway system. Presently, only one Rail Bridge out of two is available for intense train traffic. A new combined rail-auto bridge is under construction, as a part of Darnytsia project.
Air passengers arrive in Kiev through one of two airports: the Boryspil Airport which is served by many international airlines, and the smaller Zhulyany Airport, serving mostly domestic flights and limited flights to nearby countries. The international passenger terminal at Boryspil is small, yet modern, being expanded in 2006. There is a separate terminal for domestic flights within walking distance. Passengers flying to other countries from Ukraine usually travel through Boryspil, as other airports in Ukraine such as Donetsk, Simferopol, Odessa, provide very limited international connections. There is also Gostomel cargo airport in Kiev's north-western suburb of Hostomel.
Kiev is notable in the world of aviation industry as the headquarters for Antonov aircraft manufacturing company.
Kiev roads are in poor technical condition and road maintenance is poor. According to the Kyivavtodor municipal road corporation 80% of the road surfaces in Kiev have been in use for 15 to 30 years, which is from 1.5 to 3 times more than the standard period (12 years).
Tourism - Attractions in Kiev
It is said that one can walk from one end of Kiev to the other in the summertime without leaving the shade of its many trees. Most characteristic are the horse-chestnuts (Ukrainian: каштани, kashtany).
Kiev is known as a green city with two botanical gardens and numerous large and small parks. The green nature of the city is probably most notable by the green hills of the right bank along the Dnieper River that have been relatively untouched by development. The World War II Museum is located here, which offers both indoor and outdoor displays of military history and equipment surrounded by verdant hills overlooking the Dnieper River.
Among the numerous islands, Venetsianskyi (or Hidropark) is the most developed. It is accessible by metro or by car, and includes an amusement park, swimming beaches, boat rentals, and night clubs. The Victory Park (Park Peremohy) located near Darnytsia subway station is a popular destination for strollers, joggers, and cyclists. Boating, fishing, and water sports are popular pastimes in Kiev. The area lakes and rivers freeze over in the winter and ice fishermen are a frequent sight, as are children with their ice skates.
However, the peak of summer draws out a greater mass of people to the shores for swimming or sunbathing, with daytime high temperatures sometimes reaching 30 to 34 °C (86–93 °F).
The centre of Kiev (Independence Square and Khreschatyk Street) becomes a large outdoor party place at night during summer months, with thousands of people having a good time in nearby restaurants, clubs and outdoor cafes. The central streets are closed for auto traffic on weekends and holidays. Andriyivskyy Descent is one of the best known historic streets and a major tourist attraction in Kiev. The hill is the site of the Castle of Richard the Lion heart; the baroque-style St Andrew's Church; the home of Kiev born writer, Mikhail Bulgakov; the monument to Yaroslav the Wise, the Grand Prince of Kiev and of
Novgorod; and numerous other monuments. A wide variety of farm produce is available in many of Kiev's farmer markets with the Besarabsky Market located in the very centre of the city being most famous. Each residential region has its own market, or rynok. Here one will find table after table of individuals hawking everything imaginable: vegetables, fresh and smoked meats, fish, cheese, honey, dairy products such as milk and home-made Smetana (sour cream), caviar, cut flowers, house wares, tools and hardware, and clothing. Each of the markets has its own unique mix of products with some markets devoted solely to specific wares such as automobiles, car parts, pets, clothing, flowers, etc...
There is also a popular book market by the Petrivka metro station.At the city's southern outskirts, near the historic Pyrohiv village, there is an outdoor museum, officially called the Museum of Folk Architecture and Life of Ukraine It has an area of 1.5 square kilometers (1 sq mi). This territory houses several "mini-villages" that represent by region the traditional rural architecture of Ukraine.
Kiev also has numerous recreational attractions like bowling alleys, go-cart tracks, paintball venues, billiard halls and even shooting ranges. The 100-year-old Kiev Zoo is located on 40 hectares and carries over 2,000 specimens.
The Museum of the Great Patriotic War: is a memorial complex commemorating the Great Patriotic War located in the hills on the right-bank of the Dnieper River in Pechersk.
The museum has moved twice before ending up in the current location, where it was ceremonially opened on May 9, 1981, Victory Day, by then Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. On June 21, 1996, the museum was accorded its current status as a National Museum by a special decree signed by Leonid Kuchma, the then President of Ukraine. It is one of the largest museums in Ukraine with over 300,000 exhibits, and is centered around the 62-meter tall Motherland statue, which has become one of the most well known landmarks in the city. The museum has been visited by over 21 million visitors.
The memorial complex covers the area of 10 hectares (approximately 24.7 acres) on the hill, overlooking the Dnieper River. It contains the giant bowl "The Glory Flame", a site with World War II military equipment, and the "Alley of the Hero Cities". One of the museums also displays the armaments used by the Soviet army post World War II. The sculptures in the alley depict the courageous defense of the Soviet border from the 1941 German invasion, terrors of the Nazi occupation, partisan struggle, devoted work on the home front, and the 1943 Battle of the Dnieper.
Kiev fortress is the 19th century fortification buildings situated in Ukrainian capital Kiev that once belonged to western Russian fortresses. These structures (once a united complex) were built in the Pechersk and neighborhoods by the Russian army. Now some of the buildings are restored and turned into museum called the Kiev Fortress, while others are in use of various military and commercial installations.
Having lost their military importance in 20th century, buildings continued to be used as barracks, storage and incarceration facilities. However, some of them played independent historical roles. The Kosyi Kaponir ("Skew Caponier") became a prison for the political inmates in the 1900s–1920s and was later turned into a Soviet museum. Now it is the center of the modern museum. A small fortress built in 1872 on the legendary Lysa Hora (Bald Mountain) in 1906 became a place of executions for convicted political inmates. It is now a landscape reserve and part of the museum complex.
Constructed in 1898, by architect Vladislav Gorodetsky, the building was originally designed as the museum for the local society of patrons of arts and antique lovers. The facade of the building conveys a classic architecture form – precise reproduction of a six-column porch of Doric order with entablature, triglyphs, metopes and frieze decoration depicting the Triumph of Arts. The architectural composition featuring figures of gryphons and large concrete lions at the top of the stairs were created by an Italian sculptor, Emilio Sala.
The National Art Museum of Ukraine is a museum dedicated to Ukrainian art. Originally called the Kiev City Museum of Antiques and Art, the founders set out to put together a collection of pieces representative of Ukrainian fine art. Ranging from medieval icons to portraits of military and church leaders during Cossack times, some depicting caricatures of Mamay. Works include those of Taras Shevchenko, Ilya Yefimovich Repin, Vladimir Borovikovsky, Vasily Andreevich Tropinin, Mykola Pimonenko, Mikhail Vrubel, Nikolai Ge, and Oleksandr Murashko. Today, the museum continues to expand its collection. Some new additions include a unique icon relief of St. George and works by the international Kiev born pioneer of Geometric abstract art Kazimir Malevich.
The current exhibition includes over 20 thousand pieces. Among many are works by the constructivist, Vasiliy Yermilov, and Cubo-Futurist Alexander Bogomazov. The Ukrainian side is represented by works by artists such as David Burliuk, Aleksandra Ekster, Vadim Meller, Kliment Red'ko, Solomon Nikritin, Victor Palmov, Maria Sinyakova, Mikhail Boichuk and Mykola Pymonenko.
The Golden Gate: is a historic gateway in the ancient city's walls. The name Zoloti Vorota is also used for a nearby theatre and a station of the Kiev Metro. This gateway was one of three constructed by Yaroslav the Wise, Prince of Kiev, in the mid-11th century. It was reputedly modeled on the Golden Gate of Constantinople, from which it took its name. In 1240 it was partially destroyed by Batu Khan's Golden Horde. It remained as a gate to the city (often used for ceremonies) through the 18th century, although it gradually fell into ruins. In 1832 the ruins were excavated and an initial survey for their conservation was undertaken. Further works in the 1970s added an adjacent pavilion, housing a museum of the gate. In the museum one can learn about the history of construction of the Golden gate as well as ancient Kiev.
In 1982, the gate was completely reconstructed for the 1500th anniversary of Kiev, although there is no solid evidence as to what the original gates looked like. Some art historians called for this reconstruction to be demolished and for the ruins of the original gate to be exposed to public view. In 1989, with the expansion of the Kiev Metro, the Zoloti Vorota station was opened nearby to serve the landmark. What makes it unique is that its architectural ensemble is very much based on the internal decorations of ancient Ruthenian churches.
The small Ukrainian National Chernobyl Museum acts as both a memorial and historical center devoted to the events surrounding the 1986 Chernobyl disaster and its effect on the Ukrainian people, the environment, and subsequent attitudes toward the safety of nuclear power as a whole.
Theater buffs will find much to choose from here. Most performances are in Ukrainian or Russian. The recently renovated Kyiv Opera House presents very good opera as well as a broad repertoire of ballets. The Kyiv Young Theater is very popular and stages innovative plays in Ukrainian or Russian. The Ivan Franko Theater is the center of Ukrainian drama, comedy, and musicals. This repertoire has just opened its 75th season and includes brilliant versions of Aeneid and Teve Tevel, the original version of Fiddler on the Roof.
The modern center with surviving parts of the old city is on the hilly west, or right bank, of the Dnipro River. The main street, Khreshchatik, runs between two steep hills. Parallel about half a kilometer west, is vulytsya Volodymyrska, the main street of the Old Kyiv area (Staryj Kyiv). From the north end of Khreshchatik, vulytsya Hrushevskoho rises southeast along a ridge to the Caves Monastery at Perchersk. Woods and parks cover most of the steep right-bank slopes. The capital's newer sections stretch out on the flat left bank. These are characterized by large housing developments and industrialized neighborhoods.
Ukrainian pottery, embroidery, and handicrafts are available throughout the city, particularly in shops on Andrievsky Uzviz, at Percherska Lavra, and St. Sophia's church. Quality and quantity vary from shop to shop. A growing number of hard currency stores stock Western food, alcohol, clothing, and electrical appliances. Most prices, in hard-currency stores, are higher than those in the West, and availability of stock is unpredictable.
Money Concerns - For any visitor coming to a foreign country for the first time money matters are very important. It is essential to know which currency is used in the country you visit, what an exchange rate is and where one can change money at favorable rate. This section of our site provides information on currency in Ukraine.
Currency - In Ukraine there are one hundred kopiykas for one hryvnia (UAH). Hryvnia, introduced on the 2nd of September, 1996, is the only legal tender in Ukraine today.
There are bills for 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 hryvnias. Coins are for 1, 2, 5, 10, 25 and 50 kopiykas. Hryvnia can be easily converted to hard currency in any authorized bank of Ukraine or in numerous currency exchange offices. Please note that they do not exchange coins in Ukraine, so only banknotes are convertible.
Banks - Banks in Ukraine usually work from 9:00 a.m. till 3:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Most banks are closed on Saturday and Sunday. A standard lunch hour is from 1:00 p.m. till 2:00 p.m. There are a lot of bank branches in the city center, so it will be easy to gain access to ATMs, cash travel checks or use other bank services. Among the first-rate banks of Ukraine are Pravex-Bank, Privat Bank, Aval Bank and Raiffeisenbank.
Using Credit Cards - There are three main credit cards accepted in major restaurants, stores, hotels and other venues. These are Visa, MasterCard and Euro card. However, note that credit cards are not widely in use in Ukraine and sometimes they will not be accepted (particularly if the matter concerns smaller shops, cafes and remote areas). We recommend that you always have some cash at hand in case your credit card won't be accepted. If you have some local store credit cards, it's better to leave them at home, as you will not need such cards in Ukraine. In case your credit card was stolen, you may immediately call the issuing bank (the bank's number is on the back of your card, so it's better to write this down somewhere else in order you can find the number fast). An emergency credit card can be delivered to you within one or two days, depending upon the bank policy.
Finally, it's a good idea to have a different credit card as a backup. With a different card you will have access to more machines. And if you have, for example, AMEX card, take Visa or MasterCard as an alternative, as American Express and Diner are less popular in Ukraine than those ones. In conclusion we must say that Ukraine operates primarily on a cash economy. You should be very careful using your credit card, and it is much recommended not to use it in any shady places.
Cash Dispensers or ATMs - All major cities of Ukraine have a huge network of cash dispensers, or simply ATMs. In Ukraine an ATM will give you money in local currency, which is in hryvnias. In order to withdraw money from ATMs one should know his personal identification number (PIN), which must contain numbers only, as Ukrainian keypads have no letters. One will pay a fee for using ATMs but this fee is considerably lower than that for traveler's checks.
When in Kiev, you will find ATMs quite easily, as almost all large hotels, stores and restaurants have cash dispensers. You can withdraw money in any bank of Ukraine as well. Although most ATMs give money in hryvnias, there are a few locations where you can get money both in hryvnias and dollars. The Kreschatik Hotel, located in the very center of Kiev, has a cash dispenser offering money in both currencies.
The Aval Bank of Ukraine has one of the widest networks of ATMs throughout the city. The central part of Kiev is crowded with Automatic Teller Machines, so you should not worry about finding one. If you want to avoid any risk of becoming a victim of credit card scam, you can go to any bank and withdraw money right there. In this case you will need to pay 6 per cent for the operation.
Traveler's Checks - Traveler's checks are not widely accepted in Ukraine. It's recommended not to bring them (or bring only as a backup), as a high commission rate and much paperwork are always expected. If you still want to take some traveler's checks on your trip, take Visa, which are the most common in Ukraine. To cash traveler's checks you will need a passport and receipt of purchase. We recommend to cash checks in VABank or Oschadbank of Ukraine.
Money Transfers - If you for some reason need to receive or send money while in Ukraine, you can do it quickly with the help of such internationally known companies as Western Union or Money Gram. These companies have a network of authorized agents throughout the country. Agents' offices are mainly located in the bank buildings. Other options for sending or receiving money while in Ukraine include a wire bank transfer and a postal money order, which are less expensive but take more time.
Tipping in Ukraine - Tipping is not mandatory but usually expected in restaurants. If you believe that the service was good, you can leave some money for the waiter. Some restaurants put "Service not included" in their menu, and you will have to pay for the service as much as you consider necessary. Tipping can be 5 to 10 % of your total bill. Check your bill before paying. Tipping is not required in fast food restaurants, cafes, and other places where you order your food at a counter.