Kiev Top Ten
Below you will find a brief list of our recommended TOP 10 Kiev's attractions.
1 - St Sophia Cathedral
Built between 1011 and 1018 by Prince Yaroslav the Wise, it is one of the oldest surviving churches in Kiev. This majestic 13-domed church is now a museum, a national shrine and under the patronage of UNESCO. There are 260 sq. m. of unique XI century mosaics and 3000 sq. m. of frescoes preserved at St Sophia. A 6-metre-high image The Holy Virgin Oranta is best-known mosaic of Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kiev. Legend has it that the city of Kiev will stand as long as the mosaic of the Oranta remains untouched.
Tip: The Cathedral mosaics colour palette includes 177 shades!
2 - Kiev Pechersk Lavra Monastery
Situated on a hill overlooking the Dnipro River, the Kiev Pechersk Lavra Monastery was founded by monks in 1051. Its spectacular structures were added to over the years in classical Byzantine and Ukrainian Baroque styles. This functioning monastery (28 hectares) is spread over several hills and consists of numerous churches, towers, and miles of underground tunnels (catacombs) with ancient crypts and ecclesiastical objects. If you are feeling energetic, climb to the top of the 96.5-metre Lavra Bell Tower (1731-1744) for some stunning panoramic views of the city. Some of the most interesting museums of Ukraine are located on the monastery grounds such as the Museum of Historical Treasures & Jewellery, the Museum of Ukrainian Decorative and Applied Art and the Museum of Miniatures by a Ukrainian artist Mykola Siadrysty.
Tip: A visit the Museum of Miniatures is an absolute must! Its exhibits which can only be seen through a microscope include a flea wearing golden horseshoes, a rose inside a human hair, a caravan of golden camels fit into the eye of a needle an other wonders.
3 - St Andrew's Cathedral
Designed by an Italian architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli in 1749-1754, St Andrew's Cathedral sitting at the top of Andriyivsky Uzviz is a glorious example of Baroque architecture. The single-domed cathedral with its five lesser cupolas sits on the site where the Apostle Andrew erected a cross and prophesied that "here would grow a great Christian City".
Tip: Walk along the St Andrew's balustrade-protected terrace for stunning views of the historic Podil district and the Dnipro.
4 - St Volodymyr's Cathedral
Built in 1882 in neo-Byzantine style, this beautiful yellow-and-white cathedral is the Seat of the Patriarch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and should be on everyone's 'must see' list of sights in Kiev.
Tip: Visit St Volodymyr's cathedral during masses (at 9 a.m. or 5 p.m.) to enjoy an inspiring church choir singing the liturgy in Ukrainian.
5 - Ukrainian Museum & Statue to the Great Patriotic War
Weighing over 500 tonnes, the gigantic stainless-steel Mother Motherland female figure holding a sword and a shield was erected in 1981. Inside its pedestal is a museum showcasing some 15,000 exhibits which reflect the various stages and aspects of World War II. Located in grounds totalling 10 hectares, there is an eternal memorial flame, plaques honouring 'hero-cities' and a rather fine static display of vintage and more recent military equipment. There is also a museum dedicated to the Afghan war.
Tip: Watch for the statue when crossing the Dnipro on your way to the city centre from Kiev Boryspil Airport: soaring 102 metres into the sky, on a sunny day it really does shine.
6 - St Michael Cathedral
St Michael Cathedral opposite St Sophia has a history which reflects the spirit of Ukrainians. Originally built in the 10th century, Soviet authorities demolished the original cathedral in the 30’s sighting its ethos of ‘renovating’ the city of Kiev. The interior mosaics were stripped with most sent to the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, Russia. In the late 1990’s, with renewed national pride, Ukrainian authorities undertook the task of rebuilding the Cathedral as it originally stood. The result is a breathtaking monument to the undying Ukrainian spirit. Outside the walls of the cathedral is the first monument in Ukraine dedicated to the memory of the 10 million victims of Stalin’s imposed terror famine from 1932-1933, referred to as the ‘Holodomor’ with a moving statue and descriptive storyboard of the mass genocide of the Ukrainian people.
Tip: Enjoy the original St Michael Cathedral frescoes which have been returned to Ukraine in 2004 from the Hermitage museum, St. Petresburg.
7 - Mariyinsky Palace and the Parliament
The majestic Mariyinsky Palace (1750-1755) was built following an example of a Baroque-style palace by designed by Bartolomeo Rastrelli. The Palace is now the scene for official functions and state receptions for visiting dignitaries. Adjoining the Baroque masterpiece is the Verkhovna Rada, or Ukrainian Parliament building (1936-1939) which boasts a glass dome weighing over one hundred tonnes!
Tip: The grounds around or across the street from the Parliament is where you may witness Ukrainians in their peaceful fashion protesting against their politics and politicians.
8 - National Museum of History of Ukraine
The museum's 800,000 exhibits are divided into eight theme sections reflecting various aspects of Ukraine's history from prehistoric times to the present. The museum has a rich collection of archaeological and ethnographical findings, coins, weapons, works of art and antique books. An observation point behind the museum offers picturesque views of Podil, Kiev's lower town, and the river.
Tip: Have a look at the museum's most unique exhibit – Gold Scythian pectoral, or neckpiece, dating from IV century BC and weighing an impressive 1.5kg.
9 - Taras Shevchenko State Museum
The museum is dedicated to Taras Shevchenko (1814-1861), Ukraine's national hero, poet, writer, artist, public figure whose contribution to Ukrainian independence is invaluable. The museum's collection comprises more than 4000 exhibits including his personal belongings, drawings, manuscripts, almost 200 paintings. Born a serf, Shevchenko became a celebrated painter and poet whose works extolling human rights, social justice, and sovereignty for Ukraine deeply inspired the people.
Tip: Visit the Taras Shevchenko Park located across the street from the museum – one of Kiev's most picturesque park and a perfect place for a family walk.
10 - National Museum "Chernobyl"
This museum is dedicated to the worst ever environmental disaster in history, which happened on 26 April 1986 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. More than 7000 exhibits are displayed in 5 large halls - including secret documents, maps, photos, personal items and housekeeping items depicting the rural life of the Chernobyl region. There is also an audio/visual display and documentary films are shown.