Kyiv (or Kiev) – One of Eastern Europe’s Oldest Cities

Kyiv is the Capital of the Ukraine As Well as Its Largest City:

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St. Sophia Cathedral, Kiev (Kyiv), Kiev

Kyiv or Kiev (pronounced Keeve in Ukrainian), the capital of the Ukraine, is one of the oldest cities in Eastern Europe.  The first thing we learn about the Ukrainian capital is that we’ve been pronouncing its name incorrectly, thanks to Chicken Kiev!

Brief History of Kiev

Kyiv was first mentioned in writing in the year 559 and the region was densely populated as early as the 9th century. The first considerable expansion to the city was conducted under the reign of Vladimir I (980 – 1015) who introduced Christianity as the state religion in 988. Ancient Kyivan Rus, was a center of trade routes between the Baltic and the Mediterranean and this reached its greatest period of ascendancy during the 11th and 12th centuries.

In 1240, the Mongols invaded the city of Kiev and the power of Kievan Rus was destroyed. The lands of Kievan Rus were divided into principalities located to the west and north: Galicia, Volynia, Muscovy and later, Poland, Lithuania, and Russia. In the course of history Kyiv belonged to Lithuania and Poland until it finally was united with Russia in 1654.

Ukraine was once a powerful force on the European scene, however, modern Ukrainian history, for the most part, has been defined by foreign occupation.  Ukraine’s fate in modern times has therefore been decided in the far-off capitals of its invaders.

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St Andrew's Church - Kiev

The bustling Ukrainian capital is situated on the Dnieper River (or Dnipro River) and has a population of close to 3 million people.  Kiev has preserved its charm over the centuries.  The modern centre with surviving parts of the old city are on the hilly west – called the right bank because it’s on the right as you travel down river.  The Dnieper River divides the town exactly in a north-south direction.

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 Monastery of the Caves 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 characterised by large housing developments and industrialised neighborhoods.

Kiev Sightseeing Attractions

The art and architecture of Kyiv are world treasures.  Some of the top Kiev attractions include:

  • St. Sophia Cathedral, where the princes of Kyiv were crowned in the years of Kyiv’s grandeur, has outstanding mosaics and frescoes dating back to the 11th century.
  • St. Andrew’s Church, a church much loved by Ukrainians
  • The Monastery of the Caves, the Percherska Lavra, is a short trolley ride from the center of town. It has two 11th-century cathedrals on its grounds, in addition to its world-famous catacombs, bell tower, and museum collections.
  • Golden Gate, a structure which dates back to 1037 is close to the center of town. This recently reconstructed remains of the former fortified wall of the city defined the limits of the city in centuries past.
  • Cathedral of St. Volodymyr, is a magnificent 19th-century cathedral.

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