Your Guide to Kyiv: 7 Historical Locations & Unexpected Spots

Kyiv is impressive, both on the ground and from a bird's-eye view. Discover the famous and hidden gems of the capital of Ukraine.

Cathedral of St. Sophia the Wisdom of God (1011/1018)CFC Big Ideas in association with the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy

Founded at the turn of the 5-6th centuries, Kyiv later became the capital of Kyivan Rus. Since then, it has only grown wider, enriched with history, architectural heritage, and distinct personalities. Discover 7 special locations in Kyiv, its amazing landscapes, and dungeons.

House with Chimaeras (Horodetsky House) (1901/1902)CFC Big Ideas in association with the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy

1. House with Chimaeras, or Horodetsky House

House with Chimeras is a unique mansion in the Art Nouveau style, decorated with fantastic chimera sculptures, inhabitants of the underwater world, and trophies of hunters. Both interior and exterior sculptures were designed and created by Italian sculptor Elio Sala.

House with Chimaeras (Horodetsky House) (1901/1902)CFC Big Ideas in association with the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy

Polish-Ukrainian architect Wladyslav Horodetsky built the house in 1901-1902.  It was constructed as an apartment complex, and the 4th floor, with a total area of 380 m2 (4100 square feet), became the residence of the Horodetsky family.

Currently, the State Protocol and Ceremonial Service of the Office of the President of Ukraine occupy the House with Chimeras. The House with Chimeras often hosts official meetings, delegations, and events.

Cathedral of St. Sophia the Wisdom of God (1011/1018)CFC Big Ideas in association with the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy

2. St. Sophia Cathedral

The grand Cathedral of St. Sophia, the Wisdom of God, has already been located in the historical centre of ancient Kyiv for one thousand years. It is the oldest Christian church in the East Slavic area that is fully preserved. 

Cathedral of St. Sophia the Wisdom of God (1011/1018)CFC Big Ideas in association with the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy

The Cathedral has seen the Kyivan Rus’ days of Volodymyr the Great and Yaroslav the Wise. Its masterpieces include the Virgin Orans, preserved since the 11th century. There was an old belief: “As long as Orans the Unbreakable Wall stands in St. Sophia, so will Kyiv.”

Today, St. Sophia Cathedral preserves excellent ancient architecture, mosaics, frescoes, and graffiti. Since 1990, the Cathedral has been an object of UNESCO.

3. The Motherland Monument

The monument was created by architect Vasyl Borodai in 1981. The sculpture is a part of the National Museum of the History of Ukraine in the Second World War and symbolizes the feat of people during the war. 

Motherland monument (Kyiv) (1981)CFC Big Ideas in association with the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy

Currently, the Motherland Monument undergoes a process of freeing itself from the Soviet symbols.

The monument is considered the tallest sculpture in Europe. Jointly with the pedestal, its total height is 102 meters (335 feet). Inside the monument, there are two viewing platforms overlooking Kyiv.

Golden Gate (1018/1024)CFC Big Ideas in association with the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy

4. Golden Gate

The Golden Gate (Zoloti Vorota) was built in the early 11th century as the main gate of Kyiv’s fortification. The Golden Gate was a military tower with a driveway and had the Gate Church of the Annunciation above the entrance.

Golden Gate (1018/1024)CFC Big Ideas in association with the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy

In 1240, the gate was partially destroyed by the Golden Horde. However, it remained a city gate and ceremonial place through the 18th century. After that, it gradually fell into ruins that had been underground until the 19th century. Since that time, it has been reconstructed on several occasions.

The reconstructed pavilion of the Golden Gate features an exposition dedicated to the history of the construction, existence, and reconstruction of the main gate of ancient Kyiv.

Zoloti Vorota (Golden Gate) metro station (1989)CFC Big Ideas in association with the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy

5. Golden Gate Metro Station

Golden Gate Metro Station is located next to the Golden Gate. It was built in 1989 on a depth of 96.5 m (317 feet) with the design resembling an ancient Kievan Rus' temple.

Zoloti Vorota (Golden Gate) metro station (1989)CFC Big Ideas in association with the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy

Given the unique mosaic composition of the interiors, the station became a symbol of cultural heritage. 

The station consists of an underground hall as well as above-ground and intermediate lobbies that are combined with escalators. Jointly, they establish a unified architectural ensemble.

St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery (1108/1113)CFC Big Ideas in association with the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy

6. St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery

The original church, named after St. Archstrategist Michael, was built in 1108–1113, during the reign of Svyatopolk Izyaslavych, the grandson of Yaroslav the Wise. At first, the church was small and wooden, but it was the only one in Kyiv with a golden dome.

St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery (1108/1113)CFC Big Ideas in association with the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy

The new Kyiv prince, Svyatopolk II Izyaslavych, built a stone church instead of the old wooden church, and decorated it with marble, mosaics, and precious icons. Over the centuries, the entire complex of buildings on the territory of the Monastery was expanded.

St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery (1108/1113)CFC Big Ideas in association with the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy

The complex of buildings underwent significant changes during the 17th and 18th centuries, when the condition of some monastic buildings and temples was improved by hetmans and magnates. The bell tower of the monastery was built in 1719 by Varlaam Lenetsky.

In the mid-1930s, after the transfer of the capital of the Ukrainian SSR from Kharkiv to Kyiv, Soviet authorities decided to demolish the cathedral. The cathedral was rebuilt in 1997-1998 with the return of some of the frescoes and mosaics that have been kept in museums for almost a century.

Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra (Kyiv Holy Dormition Caves Lavra) (1051)CFC Big Ideas in association with the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy

7. Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra caves

Anthony and Theodosius of Kyiv founded the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra in 1051. In 1057, Anthony longed for solitude and moved to another slope, where he dug a new underground cell for himself, now called the Near Caves. Soon the monks gathered around him. This is how two complexes of caves of the underground monastery arose: the Near, or Anthony Caves, and the Far, or Theodosius Caves.

Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra (Kyiv Holy Dormition Caves Lavra) (1051)CFC Big Ideas in association with the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy

The Kyiv Pechersk Lavra caves are a system of narrow underground corridors, along with numerous living areas and underground chapels. For a long time, they acted as the residence of monks, as well as the burial place of the defenders of Kyiv.

The first burial in the Near Caves was the burial of Saint Anthony in 1073, and Saint Theodosius was buried in 1074 in the Far Caves. On the virtual tour on the right, you can see the place where the imperishable relics of the princess and abbess of Saint Efrosinia were kept for 737 years before being transferred to the monastery in Polotsk.

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