What to see in Kiev, Ukraine
Traveling is like meeting people, there are people with whom you connect, others with whom you connect and others who you deeply. After knowing them, you change the perception of things, becoming all richer in nuances and points of view and one of these last little people in the shape of a destination is for me Ukraine and the beauty and personality of Kiev is very much responsible for it.
The capital of Ukraine is one of the most unknown cities in Europe and as you know, for me one of the most beautiful, being among my 5 favorites , I fell in love with it completely upon arrival.
- What to see in Kiev, Ukraine
- 1.1 The Monastery of the Caves, Perchersk Lavra
- 1.2 St. Sophia Cathedral in Kiev
- 1.3 Monastery of San Miguel de las Cúpulas Doradas
- 1.4 The Motherland in Kiev
- 1.5 The Kiev Metro
- 1.6 The Church of St. Andrew of Kiev
- 1.7 House of the Chimeras
- 1.8 Maidan Square
- 1.9 National Opera of Ukraine
- 1.10 The Golden Gate
- 1.11 The Cathedral of St. Vladimir of Kiev
The city of the golden domes , as it is known to the capital of Ukraine, has much to offer the traveler, beautiful buildings, spectacular churches, local markets, friendly people, very economical gastronomy and interesting history. So whether you go to Kiev for the Champions League Final or any other time of the year, here are the 11 essentials of Kiev, a brief guide to what you can not miss if you travel to the beautiful Ukrainian city.
The Monastery of the Caves, Perchersk Lavra
Founded in the 11th century by the ascetic monk Antonio Pecherski, this monastery declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1990, is the oldest in the country and one of the holy sites of Eastern Orthodox Christianity.
But what makes this place so special are the caves that give it its name. In them from the tenth to the fifteenth century, in really small cells, 2 x 2 meters, the monks lived. These cells are today a labyrinth of dark catacombs whose only illumination are the small candles that the faithful carry, leaving the bodies of the saints inside glass urns on the sides of the narrow corridors.
Although for me the interior of the caves is one of the most mystical places I have ever been , I have to say that it is not suitable for claustrophobic people.
If you are somewhat impressionable and the “incorrupt bodies” are not yours, you can enjoy the rest of the site, 28 hectares with many beautiful churches, bell towers, museums … a small religious city.
If I had to choose only one reason to visit Kiev, although choosing one is very difficult, it would be the Monastery of Lavra.
Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kiev
If you are one of those who thinks that it sees a church, all sights … in Kiev you can lose one of its great treasures. The Hagia Sophia Cathedral, a World Heritage Site and considered one of the 7 Wonders of Ukraine , houses frescoes and mosaics from the 11th century will leave you speechless.
The beautiful church owes its name to Hagia Sophia, in Constantinople, the current Istanbul.
After suffering wars, danger of demolition and being a cause of dispute between many branches of Christianity, is currently Cathedral-museum and one of the essential places if you travel to Kiev.
St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery
This beautiful church is one of the “culprits” that Kiev is known for the city of the golden domes. And it is enough just to see from afar the reflection of the sun in them to understand it.
The Monastery of San Miguel is at the other end of the avenue, in front of the Cathedral of Santa Sofia. Its completely restored exterior is much more spectacular and colorful than that of the cathedral. Although it was demolished and rebuilt in the twentieth century, the first church dates from the twelfth century.
Its beautiful blue make it one of the most beautiful churches in Kiev , complicated competition considering the amount of beautiful churches that are in the city.
The Motherland in Kiev
Visible from any point of the city, not far from the Monastery of Lavra, at the top of the hill, is the imposing statue of the Motherland. This woman of 102 meters high and 530 tons of weight, has several viewpoints and under its pedestal is the Museum of the Great Patriotic War, one of the largest museums in Ukraine.
Although you are not going to visit the Museum, I recommend a walk around, you can also see the set of expressive sculptures that surround it.
The Kiev Metro
The Metro in Kiev, besides being a very cheap and fast transport and the best way to get around the city, is historic as well as modern, since it even has free Wi-Fi. Its stations, although not as spectacular as those of the Moscow metro, are also very beautiful. But this metro has something that makes it unique, the “Arsenal” station more than 100 meters underground is the deepest metro stop in the world!
The very steep Arsenal escalators (which I was afraid to look at) are divided into two sections and the journey to the platform is more than 4 minutes long, which is eternal!
The Church of St. Andrew of Kiev
This beautiful Baroque church was built in the 18th century according to the design of the Italian architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli.
The Church owes its name to Saint Andrew who according to the chronicles arrived at that place in the 1st century AD, erected a cross and prophesied that it would become a great city.
Due to the irregularity of the land on which it was built, it had to be closed to cement the foundations, since its interior had begun to crack.
If you are looking for a place in Kiev to buy souvenirs, in the surroundings of the church there is a market with very varied objects, such as handkerchiefs, T-shirts, mugs, wooden objects, military objects … and all at a very good price.
House of the Chimeras
Can you imagine an enchanted building whose cornices are hung with animals and mythological beings?
Stop imagining, it’s in Kiev!
The house with Chimeras was built between 1901 and 1902 by the architect Vladislav Gorodetsky and although originally this Art Nouveau building was intended to house luxury homes, today it takes place in official and diplomatic ceremonies, as it is located near the office of the president of Ukraine.
But there are many legends related to this building ( … take out the popcorn, the mystery movie begins ). It is said ( and comments ) that the daughter of Gorodetsky committed suicide for love drowning in the river Dnieper, the architect went crazy and built this strange building; Another one of the legends tells that the architect was forced to leave because he could not pay the loans and then Gorodetsky cursed that place and all those who lived in it predicting misfortunes and economic hardships. This was the most forceful, since most companies that passed through that building ended up breaking.
We believe or not is this kind of mysteries, it is absolutely true that the House with Chimeras is one of the most beautiful buildings in Kiev at the same time surprising and curious.
Only with naming it makes my skin crawl, these 2 words together transmit the struggle of a people to end injustice. Maidan is discontent, revolution and desire for change.
The heart and soul of Kiev in which many revolutions have been born, but in which blood has also been spilled. The Plaza Maidan is a place that hurts, while transmitting hope, that of a people, the Ukrainian, strong as any, who never surrenders, struggles, claims and is reborn from its ashes.
National Opera of Ukraine
Also known as the Ukrainian National Opera Taras Shevchenko , this beautiful building in French Renaissance style with capacity for more than 1600 people, was inaugurated in 1901, a very fruitful period both culturally and architecturally for the city.
When the communists took power in Ukraine they changed the name of the theater, fortunately not the aesthetic, since there was a plan to give it a “proletarian style”, a socialist redesign. Fortunately, the design was not played and in 1939 the theater was renamed in honor of the famous Ukrainian poet and humanist.
If you like classical music, opera and ballet, the program of the Kiev Opera will delight you, as it is wonderful. There are representations practically every day of the likes of Carmen, Rigoletto, L’elisir d’amore, La Traviata, The Nutcracker, The Swan Lake … and at very affordable prices!
The Golden Gate
With the aim of competing with the Byzantine Empire, Yaroslav the Wise, Great Prince of Kievan Rus, ordered the Golden Gate or Golden Gate to be built in the 11th century. This place was an access road to the city. With time and invasions, the door was partially destroyed and its remains were buried until it was discovered at the beginning of the 19th century. A century later and on the occasion of the 1500th anniversary of the city, the door was rebuilt, being today one of the interesting places to see in Kiev.
At the foot of the Gate there is a bronze monument representing Yasoslav the Wise with the Cathedral of Saint Sophia in his hands.
St. Vladimir’s Cathedral in Kiev
St. Vladimir’s Cathedral is another religious jewel of the city of Kiev . Of neo-Byzantine style was built in the nineteenth century to celebrate the ninth centenary of the Christianization of Kievan Rus. Its exterior yellow, white, blue … and gold! it is something simpler than the other churches in Kiev, but in addition to its exterior beauty, its interior stands out, absolutely spectacular, its mosaics were made by Venetian artists and leaves you speechless, beautiful.
After being a museum and archive during the communist period, the cathedral is today the seat of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Patriarchate of Kiev.
It is really complicated to make a selection of the best things to see in Kiev, as there are many more than you could list. My recommendation is that you travel without expectations, let yourself go, walk and admire each of its streets, buildings and corners, which I assure you will fall in love with.