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About Kyiv

Podil –is a living history of old Kyiv
Kontractova Ploscha
Mysterious Kyiv
St. Andrew's Church
St. Michael's Cathedral
Golden Gates to the past
Motherland Monument
One street Museum
Chernobyl Museum
St. Sophia Cathedral
National Museum of History of Ukraine
Bulgakov Museum

Podil –is a living history of old Kyiv

Podil is one of the oldest districts of Kiev, located along the banks of the Dnipro River. Several centuries ago there was the city's main port where come ships, laden with goods, pilgrims and simple curiosity. Now Podil is one of the most prestigious areas of the city, as well as a popular place for walks of citizens and visitors.
During the times of Kiev Rus Podil was trade and craft district of Kiev. It was the city's main port, harbor and customs office. Probably only in Podil, or as it was called the Lower City, retain the old names of the streets and tracts of Kiev Rus such as Schekavitska, Kozhumyatska, Khoryva, Borysoglibska.
On the antiquity of this part of Kiev indicate the archaeological excavations, in which were found blockhouses of 10th century. At the foot of Zamkova Hora Hill in 1973 have been unearthed an entire city block and wood marshalling – the sidewalks of 9-11 centuries. Also there is information about Podil in ancient chronicles such as "Slovo o polku Igorevim" poem.
From XV to XIX century here located Magistrate, Kiev brotherhood, Kiev Academy and other citywide facilities, there were various craft shops.
Before the fire in 1811 Podil was the most populated district of Kiev - 2068 out of 3672 houses. After a fire destroyed most of the buildings Podil was re-planned (streets, which were made in that period are preserved up to now) began its restoration project of A.Melenski and V.Geste. Architects Melensky and Stanzapi developed different types of buildings. Consistent with the spirit of the time, the old designed baroque buildings and new buildings have features of four Roman styles, imagination and creativity of artists and the ease of baroque forms were driven by rigor and accuracy of the symmetric classicism. There were built Arcade, the new building of the Kiev Academy, Contract house and other buildings.
The first sight of Podil is Poshtova Ploscha Square. Here is the bottom station of the cable car in Kiev as well as reconstructed Church of the Nativity, where in May 1861 citizens said goodbye to Taras Shevchenko. Across the street from the square is located the River Station and the Dnieper embankment.
Sagaidachnogo Street leads out to Kontraktova Ploscha Square - the heart of Podil. The square got its name because in the 19th century fairs were held here and enter into "contracts" - prototypes of the current stock exchange transactions. In the center of the Kontraktova Ploscha Square, dividing it into two parts, stands Seating yard. Across the street from the Square there is the Kiev-Mohyla Academy, where in the different years studied such famous people as Grigorii Skovoroda, Gulak-Artemovsky, Pylyp Orlik and even Mikhailo Lomonosov. Another small, but no less interesting area is the construction of the rotunda, under which there is a sculpture of "Samson tearing the lion's mouth." A century ago there was a fountain and there was a legend that every person, who drunk water from the fountain, will always live in Kiev.

Kontractova Ploscha

The oldest square in Kiev – Kontraktova square (the Red Square during USSR times). It dates bacxk to the Kiev Russ period, it used to be the center of the city for some time, as the Upper City was destroyed after the tatar-mongol invasion. It is situated not far from the river port. In fact it's because of this port that the square got its name, all the trade deals were held there. ("kontrakt" – en. deal).
A few years ago there were the last stops of the trams that were leading from the Podol district to the left bank. But then the tram lines on the Patona bridge were closed and the railway is the only thing that reminds us of those times. Vast, beautiful Kontraktova Square is surrounded by many wonderful buildings, each one of them deserves a separate story.
Here you can see the former coaching inn Sinaiskoe with the bell tower. Now it is the building of the main Administration of the National Bank of Ukraine in Kiev and Kiev region. Nearby you can find the building of the Kiev Mohyla Academy, that used to hold the naval military school. There is also a fountain Samson. Inside the rotunda the Biblicalhero is tearing the lion's mouth. When it is warm the water comes from the lion's mouth.
On the Kontraktova square you can find the oldest church in Kiev – the Assumption Church Pirogoshcha – mentioned in the Tale of Igor's regiment. In the middle of the square there is a shopping arcade – "Gostinniy Dvor". The name means a long line of shops. More than 50 shops and also many workshops were opened there. There is a little public garden near the shopping arcade, where you can see the monument to hetman Petro Sagaidachnyi. On the other side, in the opposite part of the public garden there is a different monument – to Grigoryi Skovoroda, the philosopher who led the life of a traveller.
Places of attraction: the shopping arcade, Kiev Mohyla Academy, the monument to Grigoriy Skovoroda, the monument to Petro Sagaidachnyi, the fountain Samson.

Mysterious Kyiv

Kiev is a mysterious city. That's the fact. Kiev historians and such Russian literary geniuses as Gogol, Pushkin and Bulgakov wrote about it in their books. Kiev is the capital of Ukraine. But there are some evil forces in our capital city. You can feel it when you look at Kiev coat of arms. Archangel Michael is the only saint with arms in his hands. And Archangel Michael is the patron saint of our city. He is intended to protect our city against evil forces. Some local psychics presume there are so many churches in the capital of Ukraine because there is the need to balance between sinful things and righteous things in Kiev. Kiev was founded not far from the Bald Mountain. According to the local tradition the Bald Mountain is the site where local witches have their sinister parties at Walpurgis Night. There is a memorial plaque installed near the Museum of History of Ukraine. There it is written: "From this place Kiev was started" Although some historians believe that the history of Kiev was started on the site called a Castle Hill. It is also known as Kiselevka Hill or Frolovskaya Hill. And only later the ancient settlement was moved from the Castle Hill to the neighboring hill called Old Kiev Hill. Some local psychics state there are four spots on the Old Kiev Hill radiating out positive energy. And the Castle Hill was considered an "evil place" for centuries because that was the site where the criminals were executed. The area where the Kiev cable car is located now in the old days was called Devil's tenement. According to local tradition that was the spot where local witches had their parties. Some garden was situated there. And Three Saints Church was located nearby. But there was a bad reputation about the garden. In the 17th century the local researcher Peter Rozvidovsky mentioned the site as a garden of Kuchinsky or of Kukovsky. Rozvidovsky wrote the following thing about the neighborhood: "Garden of Kuchinsky, where witches flocked ..." Another local historian Max Berlinsky paid attention to the evil power of the place too calling it "the scariest site in Kiev." Some Kiev mystic sites exist only in the memories. Some old Bald Mountain was located between the Chertoriy stream and then the village Troyeshchyna. Athanasius Markovich was a husband of popular lady writer Mary Vilinsky. She is more known under her pseudonym Marko Vovchok. Athanasius Markovich wrote his "The Witch" poem in 1840. The poem was dedicated to that site. But when "Aurora" movie-theater was constructed there in the middle of previous century the mountain was erased. Rusanovka spit disappeared too. Originally it was extended to the then little village Vygurovschina. That site was mentioned as the Bald Mountain by Fundukley and Berlinsky. In the 1960s some residential district was constructed there. There is no spit there any more.

St. Andrew's Church

The Cathedral of Saint Andrew or the St. Andrew's Church can be found situated in the city of Kiev, in Podil, one of its oldest neighborhoods. Bartolomeo Rastrelli, a Russian imperial architect, built this beautiful building during the mid-eighteenth century under the command of Catherine the Great.
Bartolomeo used Baroque architecture to give this magnificent church an outward appearance of both power and wealth, while still appealing to the emotions of the local people. Catherine the Great wanted to build this beautiful religious structure as a tribute to Saint Andrew, a patron saint of Kiev. However, the church did not turn out the way Catherine had envisioned it and soon Bartolomeo Rastrelli was without work.
The church is situated on a steep hill and has a wonderful view of the surrounding area. To get to it people must first travel up Andreevsky Uzviz, a historic road that is a landmark in itself. The St. Andrew's Church is no longer used as a religious institute but now contains a museum within its walls. This change was made in 1968 when it was decided that making it a museum would be more advantageous then keeping it as a church. Amazingly the St. Andrew's Church is one of the few buildings to have survived for so long without having been changed or reconstructed in anyway.
When you walk through the doors, the first thing that strikes your attention is the amount of magnificent paintings and sculptures that are held there on display. These precious art pieces are works from well-known Ukrainian and Russian artists and are beautifully displayed for all to see. There are times when the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church uses certain parts of the St. Andrew Church occasionally for religious services.
It is said that when St. Andrew came across the hill on which the Church is situated on today, he immediately took out a cross and placed it in that exact position. From that position he prophesied about a 'great Christian city' that would later in the future be built there.
Today, the St. Andrew's Church is regarded as one of the most beautiful buildings in Kiev and an important landmark, which is visited by many people who come to the city on holiday.

St. Michael's Cathedral

The sky-blue St. Michael's Cathedral, with its fabulously shining domes, is one of the most beautiful and important Orthodox temples in Ukraine. Built in the 90s, it is a remake of the destroyed St. Michael's Cathedral, which stood on the territory of the oldest monastery of Kyivan Rus for over eight centuries.
The grandson of Yaroslav the Wise, Prince Sviatopolk, founded the cathedral in the early 12th century. It is named in honor of St. Michael - the protector of Kyiv. Its nickname, the Golden-Domed Cathedral, comes from the fact that was is the first and only church with such extravagant domes in ancient Rus. Byzantine master architects participated in the Cathedral's construction. Yet elements of Ukrainian architectural style also come through clearly. At the same time the cathedral was built, smaller buildings also sprung up around it.
The church became the most honored religious monument among the residents of Kyiv. Its importance grew in 1108, after it got its main shrine - the relics of the St. Barbara, brought to Kyiv from Constantinople. Since the original cathedral was destroyed, these relics have been kept in St. Volodymyr's Cathedral in Kyiv.
Although the monastery was severely damaged during the Mongolian Tatar invasion, it continued to prosper and grow, mostly due to the efforts of Polish kings and (later) Ukrainian Hetmans. In the 16th century, St. Michael's Monastery was one of the richest cloisters in Kyiv. One century later, it was almost completely rebuilt, adding Ukrainian baroque details.
St. Michael's Cathedral is famous for its unique mosaics and frescos, which are rightfully considered to be the greatest creations of the Old Russian monumental painting. Its mosaics are nicknamed 'glimmering,' because of their exquisiteness and shine. When the temple was completely demolished by the Soviets in 1937, the valuable mosaics were rescued. Some of them were kept in the St. Sophia Cathedral, others were taken to the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg and the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow. After the cathedral's reconstruction, all of them were returned. Today, the St. Michael's monastic complex includes, along with the rebuilt cathedral, a refectory with the Church of St. John the Divine and a bell tower, created in the 18th century. A museum dedicated to the history of the St. Michael's complex operates inside the bell tower. Its unique exhibition tells in detail about the significance and the tragic history of the cloister, along with other religious buildings in Kyiv demolished by the Bolsheviks. Fantastic views on the Ukrainian capital open up from the bell tower of the monastery.

Golden Gates to the past

Golden Gate is a unique fortification architecture monument that survived until nowadays. It was constructed in 1017-1024 and served as a main gala entrance to Kiev. The great tower with Annunciation Church delighted contemporaries and terrified enemies, die to its inaccessibility. The name of the Gate in Kiev reminds of famous entrance to Constantinople: Kiev prince Yaroslav Mudry wanted to underline that his country was as powerful as Byzantine Empire.
Yaroslav Mudry paid much attention to Kiev enlargement, consolidation and fortification. During the time of his rule the territory of the city became 10 times larger than it had used to be. Yaroslav was the one who destroyed hordes of nomads Pechenegs who regularly attacked Kiev. On the site where Yaroslav's troops won the final victory over the nomads the prince ordered to found the fortification tower that was named Golden Gate. The legend says that before the final battle with powerful Pechenegs Yaroslav Mudry prayed and begged the Virgin to help him to defeat the enemy. He promised to build the church dedicated to the Mother of God in case of success. He did not forget his promise and ordered to top Golden Gate with gilded-domed Annunciation Church. Until 1699 Golden Gate was decorated with the image of Our Lady of Kazan.
Kievers called Golden Gate "the sky gate", as every morning the sun passed through it, rose and entered "the vault of heaven". It was a splendid view, and the citizens of Kiev believed that sun and Golden Gate saved the city from darkness and death. The fortification construction of Golden Gate was totally inaccessible: nomadic tribes could never take it by assault, and even Baty-khan didn't manage to enter the city through the Gate. He stormed a less fortified city entrance and destroyed Golden Gate from inside.
In the 16th-17th centuries Golden Gate was in poor condition, but it was still used as a gala entrance to Kiev until the middle of the 18th century.
The second birth of Golden Gate occurred in 1832, when archeologists discovered the ruins of old fortification construction. In 1970 it was decided to construct a pavilion that would protect the ruins and recreate the original look of Golden Gate. The museum exposition presents items related to the history of old Kiev. The reconstructed pavilion of Golden Gate was opened in May 1982, when the country celebrated the 1,500th anniversary of Kiev.

Motherland Monument

Approaching the capital of Ukraine by car, train, boat or plane, one can see from everywhere the noble pile of the Motherland monument.The main sculpture - the figure of a woman with a shield and a sword in hands - was made of slab stainless steel and erected on a 40-meter cone pedestal. The pedestal is 62 meters high from the bottom up to the point of the sword, the total height is 102 meters, and the weight is approximately 500 tons.
n the 1950s a plan circulated of building on the spot of the current statue twin monuments of Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin, nearly 200 meters tall each.[1] However, this did not go ahead. Instead, according to legend, in the 1970s a shipload of Communist Party officials and Soviet sculptor Yevgeniy Vuchetich looked across at the hills by the Lavra and decided the panorama needed a war memorial. Vuchetich had designed the other two most famous giant Soviet war memorials, the other iron lady in Volgograd and the Soviet soldier carrying German infant constructed after the war in East Berlin.
Final plans for the statue were made in 1978, with construction beginning in 1979. It was controversial, many criticised the costs involved and claimed the funds could have been better spent elsewhere. When director of construction Ivan Petrovich was asked to confirm the costs of 9 million roubles, he responded that this was a conservative estimate. Architect Vuchetich died before the structure was completed, and it was finished under the guidance of Vasyl Borodai. The statue was opened in 1981 in a ceremony attended by then Soviet premier Leonid Brezhnev.
In modern day Kiev, the statue remains controversial, with some claiming it should be pulled down and its metal used for more functional purposes. Financial shortages mean that the flame, which uses up to 400 cubic metres of gas per hour, can only burn on the biggest national holidays, and rumours persist that the statue is built on unstable foundations, something strongly denied by the Kiev local government.

One street Museum

One Street Museum is a little charming museum located on Andrew's Descent, Kiev's historic street, where you'll find a plethora of crafts shops, galleries, cafés and museums. One Street Museum serves as a chronicle of the Descent. Indeed, the number of artists, politicians, scholars, writers and other interesting people who lived on this street is rather impressive.
The collection counts some 6,000 exhibits, among which figure a large number of antiques such as historical documents, antique books, furniture, paintings, clothes and memorabilia that immerse visitors in a nostalgic atmosphere where much attention is devoted to unraveling the stories, secrets and urban legends pertaining to the outstanding residents of the Descent, namely authors Tyutyunnyk and Bulgakov, painters Makushenko and Dyadchenko, the priest Glagolev, scientists Titov and Golubov, and sculptors Kavaleridze and Balavensky. In addition to the attention given to the people who spent some time on this street, several exhibitions focus on some of the most remarkable buildings of the area such as the St Andrew's Church and the Castle of Richard Lion Heart.
In 2002, One Street Museum was nominated for the European Museum Forum — an international organization under the auspices of the European Council and under the patronage of Queen Fabiola of Belgium. The museum remains the only Ukrainian museum to have participated in the Forum.
The One Street Museum is near the Bugalkov Museum and the Saint Andrew's Church so you can pack the visit of several sights together.

Chernobyl Museum

On the 26th of April 1986 the worst nuclear and environmental accident ever to take place occurred in Chernobyl in the Kyiv Oblast of Ukraine. Chernobyl and the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant are situated close to the borders of three countries, that being Belarus, Ukraine and Russia. Near the Power Plant is the city of Pripyat and Chernobyl, a rural village where workers lived.
When you first visit the National Museum of Chernobyl you are immediately taken back to this well-known site. An incredible job has been done to give you the true Chornobyl experience without you having to take a step onto the uninhabited property. Over seven thousand exhibits are on show in five different halls helping visitors to understand what happened that day. Some of these exhibits contain items that originate within the Power Plant as well as items that come from people who died in the disaster. Maps, secret documents, photos and items from homes give you a better understanding of the lives people led here in Chernobyl.
When you first enter into the museum you are welcomed with original road signs from Chernobyl and other towns that were situated near to the accident site. These signs lead you all the way up the stairs to the main auditorium where attendants will meet you and show you around. You might want to watch out for some of the exhibits if you are bringing children, as they are very life like and can be a little frightening.
Two of the highlights that you must remind your attendant to show you is, firstly, the video, which gives you background information into what really happened before, during and after the disaster. The second highlight is the diorama or the three-dimensional scene replicating the end result of the disaster almost true to life. When you are finished looking at all the exhibits at the Chernobyl Museum, the exit out of the building has similar signs as when you came in but this time they are crossed out showing that you are leaving.

St. Sophia Cathedral

St. Sofia Cathedral is the world famous historical and architectural monument of the first half of the 11th century. The name of the cathedral comes from Greek word "sofia", which means "wisdom". Built in the times of Yaroslav Mudry, the cathedral served as a social, political and cultural center of Kievan Rus, where foreign ambassadors were received, chronicles were recorded and the first Russian library, founded by Yaroslav Mudry himself, functioned. Yaroslav Mudry's ruling was the time when art, education and culture prospered. As of Kiev, it became one of the most beautiful cities in Europe and Asia. Construction of Sofia cathedral played an important role in Kiev's look formation.
The cathedral was founded in 1037. Originally it had 5 naves and was surrounded with 2 circled galleries. During the centuries the architectural look of the cathedral had been changing. The cathedral was badly damaged during the Tatar yoke and then restored; it was burned many times and was reconstructed again. In 1707 St. Sofia cathedral was rebuilt in the style of Ukrainian baroque and topped with typical pear-shaped cupolas. Nowadays the building of the cathedral combines constructions of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. In the temple erection in different times participated such architects as Shedel, Sparro, Zaborovsky and others.
For many years St. Sofia Cathedral served as a burial place of Kiev princes. In the cathedral remains of Yaroslav Mudry, his son Vsevolod, and Vladimir Monomakh are buried.
The cathedral is famous for its mosaics and frescos by Byzantine masters that date back to the 11th century. Marvelous frescos decorate walls, pillars and vaults. Inside, the central part of the cathedral is decorated with large mosaic depicting praying Virgin Maria. The mosaic is 6 meters high and consists of stone and glass plates of different colors and hues. Some frescos are especially interesting from both historical and artistic points of view, as they represent not only Holy Bible subjects, but also secular ones. For example, in the cathedral one can see portraits of Yaroslav Mudry family members. The belfry is decorated with paintings of the 11th century depicting scenes of the games arranged in Constantinople by Emperor Constantine in honor of Princess Olga. Paintings represent clowns, jugglers, musicians, dancers, animal trainers and chariot races.
Notes and images on the walls and architectural details of St. Sophia Cathedral, known as Sophia graffiti, are of great historical value. About 300 graffiti relate political events of ancient days and historical personalities. The earliest notes gave the historians opportunity to define time of the cathedral construction and decoration more accurately. Nowadays St. Sofia Cathedral is an architectural and historical preserve. It ranges among the most beautiful temples of Kiev and the major attractions of the capital of Ukraine.

National Museum of History of Ukraine

National Museum of History of Ukraine is one of the most attended in Kiev. More than 15 expositions are opened here. In general, museum exposition reveals the process of development of society on the territory of Ukraine from old days till present time. Everyday life items of the first Tripillya settlements, materials of the Kievan Rus period, Soviet power and Independence epochs are among the exhibits. The Museum was founded in 1904. Archeological exhibition of 1899, which used to be situated on the territory of present-day National Art Museum, became the base for its collection. Famous Ukrainian scientist – archeologists Nikolay Belyashevskiy and Vikentiy Khvoika, ethnographer Sherbakovskiy and others – became founders of the museum. At first, the museum existed on means of Maecenas and only in 1909 state annual subsidy was allocated to it. In 1944 its collection was moved to the building of the former art school on Starokievskaya Mountain, where it is still situated. Building of the Museum Visitors of the Museum examine unique coins Foundation of the Church of the Dime Archeological collections are especially valuable here. Among them there are materials of Mesinskaya and Kirillovskaya stands of antique Stone Age, Tripillya agricultural tribes and other cultures of copper-bronze epoch, period of first Slavs and Old Russian state- Kievan Rus. There are valuable collections of cold and firearms, ethnography, numismatics, bonistic and faleristic, unique editions of books, items, made of glass and porcelain in the museum. Along with the main exposition, devoted to Ukrainian history, several topical exhibitions are held in the museum – "Tripillya World", "Awards of countries of the world", "From history of money circulation in Ukraine", "Serge Lifar. Life for dance".

Bulgakov Museum

The museum of outstanding writer Mikhail Bulgakov is situated in one of the most beautiful streets of Kiev, Andreyevsky Spusk, which was mainly built up at the end of the 19th century. The street is also famous for some older constructions that are considered to be of great historical value. For example, the famous Andreevskaya Church, dating back to the 18th century, is located here as well.
The building number 13 was designed by architect I. I. Gordenin over the century ago. Bulgakov and his parents moved to this house in 1906 and lived there until 1919, when they were forced to leave the city, due to the "time of troubles". Later in this very house the writer settled the main characters of his famous book "Belaya Gvardia", or "White Guard". Several decades later Victor Nekrasov, a well-known literary critic and a writer, published an essay called "At Turbins", devoted to the life and creativity of Mikhail Bulgakov. The name of the essay turned out to be so becoming that the building at 13 Andreyevsky Spusk got the new name and under this name went down in the city folklore. Nowadays the legendary house is one of the most famous landmarks of Andreyevsky Spusk.
The Memorial Museum was founded in 1989 as a branch of the State Museum of Kiev's History. On May 15, 1991, the centenary since the writer's birth, the museum was open to the public. The solemn ceremony of the museum opening was started with the memorial service in Podol Krestovozdvizhenskaya Church, where little Mikhail, who was to become the pride of Russian literature, was christened.
The private collection of Anatoly Petrovich Konchakovsky, the founder and the director of the museum, laid the groundwork for the museum's collection. Many relatives and friends of Mikhail Bulgakov donated priceless heirlooms, writer's personal belongings, books, autographs and original photos to the museum. Thanks to them the museum boasts not typological, but authentic things, preserving the spirit of that time and recreating the atmosphere, in which Mikhail Bulgakov wrote his best books.
The permanent exhibition of the museum is devoted to two families, the Bulgakovs and the Turbins, as well as to the author and his characters. It is important to mention that the design and of interiors and decorations have been carefully recreated according to old photos and drawings.
Admirers of Bulgakov's books and those interested in literature are welcome at Turbins' House daily, except Wednesday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in summer and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in winter.
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