This city first rose to prominence in the fifth century A. D, making it one of the oldest in Eastern Europe. It become the capital of the Slavic world in the 10th century as Kievan Rus, a glorious city rich in art and culture. It fell from grace three centuries later when it was invaded by the Mongolians, and from then on, it witnessed annexation after annexation until it broke away from the Soviet Union. Now, it's a hip and up-and-coming democracy, uniting the old and the modern in a fascinating tapestry of cultures. Let's take a look at the best things to do when you visit Kiev.
The Chernobyl disaster happened in 1986, and from then on, nuclear technology has never been the same. The Chernobyl museum hauntingly reminds visitors of what can happen when too much power is mismanaged. Indeed, this is the most recommended site in all of Kiev. Visitors have called the museum "fascinating, " "chilling" and "difficult to forget." There are also tours of the evacuated town, Pripyat, and the Red Forest.
The Cathedral of St. Sophia is an iconic Ukranian landmark and UNESCO world heritage site. It is also one of the most spiritual places in the city as one of it's oldest churches. It contains treasure-troves of authentic mosaics and relics of the tenth and eleventh centuries, and truly exemplifies the unique architecture of the time. Go up to the bell tower for an unforgettable view of the surrounding buildings.
An interesting tourist site in the city is the Kiev Pechersk Lavra, or cave monastery. Build in 1077 by St. Antoniy, it is a complicated network of caves that were once used to house Orthodox priests who had vowed to be hermits. It was also used as a burial area for the monks who had lived and died there.
Here, the visitor is also able to marvel at some rare religious relics and icons. Take note that this is an incredibly sacred monastery - some say the most holy in all of Eastern Europe. Indeed, hundreds of devout Orthodox people make a pilgrimage to this place every year. Because of this, it is vital to stick to a modest dress code. It's also best to avoid this site if you are claustrophobic.
Kreshchatyk Street is the social and economic heart of Kiev. It's easy to see traces of the Soviet Union and Stalinism on this main strip, as it is littered with examples of neo-Classical design. It's regularly frequented by all manner of Kievans, and is therefore a good place to shop, dine, and people-watch.
The Mother Motherland stature stands at over 62 meters tall, and is a highly impressive thing to see. It depicts a tall, strong woman carrying both shield and sword, and is higher than New York's Statue of Liberty. At the time of construction, it was the tallest in the Soviet Bloc.
These are just a few heritage sites that absolutely have to be experienced when you visit Kiev. It is a unique place that has served as a dramatic stage for the fascinating historical fluctuations of Eastern Europe. It is also a modern city with a very exciting future.