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Kiev

Kiev is the capital city of Ukraine, and the largest city in the country, with a population of about three million. Ukrainians pronounce it KEY-if, although people abroad often pronounce it key-EF or key-EV. The Ukrainian government likes the city's name to be spelt Kyiv. The spelling of the city's name has changed over the centuries, but since becoming a Russian governate in 1708, and therefore with growing use of the Cyrillic alphabet, the current spelling has taken hold.

The city lies on the Dnieper river.

Along with buses, minibuses (marSHROOTki) and trolleybuses, the city also has a metro system.

Settled by the Slavs perhaps as early as the fifth century, it was taken by the Vikings in the ninth century, it was then destroyed in 1240 by invading Mongols. Later it became a part of Russia. In 1917 Ukraine declared independence from Russia as a republic, and Kiev became its capital. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Ukraine became an independent country. Northern and Western parts of Ukraine tend to be pro-European/pro-Western whereas areas in the South East such as the Crimea tend to lean more towards Russia. You will tend to hear Russian spoken in the Crimea, but you are likely to hear Ukrainian spoken in Kiev and, for example, Lviv.

Kiev covers an area of eight hundred and thirty-nine square kilometres (three hundred and twenty-four square miles).

The city's industrial development and the development of its infrastructure began to take place from the late nineteenth century onwards, when it was an important part of the Russian Empire. For a few months in 1918 Kiev was occupied by the Germans. From the end of 1918 to 1920, with the Russian Civil War raging, it changed hands over a dozen times. In 1921 it became a Soviet socialist republic, and therefore part of the Soviet Union. Industrialization continued apace.

When the Great Famine occurred in 1932-1933, the pain was felt by those of the city's immigrants who had not registered for ration cards. Afterwards growth in the city's industry and population resumed.

During World War Two the city was occupied by the Germans for almost two years from the end of 1941 to the end of 1943. The Germans had surrounded the city in 1941. The Russian secret police largely destroyed the buildings on the city's main street, Khreshchatyk, because they were being used by the Germans and the city's administration. The Germans responded by killing all the Jews they could find and massacring them over a two-day period in September 1941.

After the war growth resumed.

In 1986 there was a disaster at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant a hundred kilometres away from the city. Fortunately for Kievans, if not for other people, the radioactive clouds were blown away from the city by the wind.

Ukraine became an independent country on the 24th of August 1991.

The so-called Orange Revolution took place from the end of 2004 into early 2005 after a deeply corrupt election had taken place earlier in 2004. The protesters got their wish for a fresh election which produced a different result. Before this, as an additional cause for the Revolution, a journalist, Georgiy Gongadze, who campaigned against corruption, was murdered in the year 2000. This killing was believed by many citizens to have been ordered by the then President, Kuchma.

One consequence of the Orange Revolution was that the Ukrainian Constitution was changed to take power away from the President and give it to parliament.

Briefly at the beginning of 2010, protests were banned from taking place in Kiev's main square, Maidan Nezalezhnosti. At the end of 2013 the square was again being used for protests, this time against the current President's refusal to sign up for closer ties with the European Union. As mentioned, the South and East of Ukraine are more inclined to want to maintain ties with Russia rather than having stronger links with Europe.


Kiev has two airports - Boryspil and Zhulyany. Other ways to get into and out of the city are by train and road. You have to show your passport to buy train tickets.

For English-speakers, there can be communication problems because by no means everyone speaks English. It helps at least if you are able to read Ukrainkian/Russian. Tourists can go to the Tourist Info Center at number 19 on Khreshchatyk (where Khreshchatyk metro is).


Things To Do And See

There's a funicular that runs between Mykhaylivs’ka Ploscha (Square) to Poshtova Ploscha in Podil.

Go to see Saint Michael's Cathedral. It's at 6 Tr'okhsvyatytel's'ka Street.

Visit Saint Sophia Cathedral. It's at 24 Volodymyrska Street.

Go to the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra - Caves Monastery. It's at 21 Lavrska Street (which might show up under its old name of Mazepy Street on some maps).

Go to Saint Volodymyr's Cathedral at 20 Shevchenko Boulevard.

Go and see The House with Chimeras. You'll find it at 10 Bankova Street.

Take in an opera or two (generally at a surprisingly low price in comparison to what you have to pay to go to the opera in Western Europe) at the National Opera House of Ukraine. It's at 50 Volodymyrska.

Walk along Khreshchatyk Street with the crowds and look at the well known square, Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square).

Go and listen to some music at The National Philharmonic of Ukraine,which is at 2 Volodymyrsky Descent.

If you want to be impressed by a statue, go and see Rodina Mat (Motherland) in Zapeshchernaya Street.

For arty types there's The Pinchuk Art Centre (funded, I believe, by Ukraine's richest man, or at least one of the richest). It's at 2 Baseyna Street. There's a light, airy café at the top.

If you're interested in literature, go to the Mikhail Bulgakov Museum in the author's old home. It's at 13 Andriivskiy Descent. I guess his best known work is The Master and Margarita.

If aircraft are your thing, there's the State Aviation Museum at 1 Medova Street.

Visit the Chernobyl National Museum. It's at 1 Kharyvyj Pereulok Street.

There are plenty of other things to see and do in and around Kiev. It all depends on what interests you. You can find a lot more attractions by doing a search on the internet or going to the Tourist Info Centre on Khreshchatyk. Of course there are plenty of interesting places to eat and drink, and to stay.


Europe | Ukraine


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