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Kiev is the capital of Ukraine, and is one of the oldest and most beautiful cities in Europe. Unfortunately, it is not yet a popular tourist destination, and therefore there’s not much information about it on the internet. Below you will find the top 10 sights to see and do in Kiev – put together by a local (well, me).
Maidan Nezalezhnosti is the most central and famous location in Kiev. This is the number one place where a number of concerts, protests, festivals, and all other major events take place. You will recognize the square instantly by the famous column, called the Monument of Independence, located right in the center of the square.
Right under the square you will also find an awesome underground mall where you can buy pretty much anything – food, clothes, souvenirs, and other household items.
2. Rodina-Mat (The Motherland Statue)
This famous sight located on top of a mountain is actually taller than the New York’s Statue of Liberty. You can get to the top of the statue to snap some breathtaking pictures, however this activity is reserved solely for the bravest of hearts. You can go inside with a professional guide only, and the entrance is limited to 2-3 people per visit.
The entire visit to the top takes about 40 minutes, and you will have to take two small elevators, and climb several very narrow staircases, therefore those with a fear of heights, and claustrophobia need not apply. Inside the statue, on the first floor there is also a very interesting museum dedicated to the Second World War. The museum holds lots of memorabilia from the war, and therefore it is very informative.
3. Kievo-Pecherska Lavra (The Kiev Monastery of the Caves)
Kievo-Pecherska Lavra is a beautiful complex of various churches with gorgeous, golden domes. Inside the complex you will also find an interesting underground tunnel where a great number of monks were buried as mummies in caskets and you can visit it on your own or for a small fee with a professional guide (recommended).
Another fun activity that you can do in this area is to go on top of the Bell Tower of Dormition Catedral (for a small, separate fee) to take in some unforgettable views of the surrounding area.
4. Andriyvskiy Spusk (Andriyivskyy Descent)
Andriyvskiy Spusk is a beautiful and historic area where you can buy lots of authentic Ukrainian items and souvenirs, as well as take in some amazing sights. The area is located on a hill (as the name implies) and it is best to start your tour walking from the top to the bottom, than vice versa. One of the most famous sights in this area is the gorgeous Saint Andrew’s Church, where a scene from a very well-known Russian movie (“Za Dvymia Zaizami”) was shot.
5. Taras Shevchenko National University
This is one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in Ukraine, and actually in the World. The university is located right in the center of Kiev; and right in the center of this complex of various campuses – there’s a beautiful park. Not far from the main building you can also find a museum dedicated to Taras Shevchenko – one of the most famous Ukrainian writers. It is great to visit it to get a better insight and understanding of the Ukrainian culture.
6. Arka Dryzhba Narodiv (‘People’s Friendship Arch’) and Mariynskiy Park
Mariynskiy Park includes two of the major sights in Kiev – the part itself and the People’s Friendship Arch. The arch was made of steel and is about 50 meters in height, and was built as a symbol of friendship between Ukraine and Russia. The Maryinskiy park offers great views of the river Dnipro and is a beautiful area to walk around.
Take a cruise on the river Dnipro and you will have a chance to see some of the most beautiful sights in Kiev from its shorelines. The city of Kiev is divided into two sides – ‘the right’ and ‘the left’ banks. Both sides contain beautiful architecture, surrounded by deep vegetation, and the river cruise offers a unique opportunity to see them both from an interesting angle.
8. The Ukrainian Folk Decorative Art Museum
This small museum holds a very nice collection of Ukrainian art, that includes religious and art paintings, national jewelry and costumes, and other traditional and historic artifacts. This museum is a great introduction into Ukrainian art and the beautiful Ukrainian culture. For more information, and the opening hours, visit the official website.
This awesome area is especially fun during the Summer season, when Dnipro’s shorelines are open for swimming and sunbathing. The park offers great attractions for children and adults alike. The children can enjoy taking a ride on one of the many rollercoasters located in the park, while the adults can bask in some sun upon renting an umbrella and a beach chair from the nearby facilities.
10. Gapchinska Gallery
Gapchinska Gallery (free entrance) is a one room gallery with a nice collection of the beautiful artwork of the famous, modern Ukrainian painter Eugenia Gapchinska. The gallery is located not far from the central Independence Square (see the top sight #1 above), and the exact address is: Mykhailivs’ka Street, 16. If you haven’t heard of this artist before – check out her website and you will see why you should absolutely pay a visit to her gallery.