Attractions in Kiev

Must-see in kiev
Sophia Cathedral
Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kiev is an outstanding architectural monument and one of the first examples of ancient Russian architecture. Today, it is one of the city's best known landmarks and the first Ukrainian patrimony to be inscribed on the World Heritage List. Originally the cathedral was a burial place of the Kievan rulers including Vladimir Monomakh, Vsevolod Yaroslavich and of course the Cathedral's founder Yaroslav the Wise, although only the latter's grave has survived.
The Cathedral has over 3000 meters of ornate ceiling paintings and more than 260 square meters of wall paintings and there is no place like it in the whole of Europe. On the inside, it retains mosaics and frescos from the eleventh century, including a dilapidated representation of Yaroslav's family and the Virgin Orans. Having been pillaged in the 12th century, the cathedral fell into disrepair until the 17th century when many more monasteries were added around the Cathedral in the Ukrainian Baroque style.
Kiev-Pechersl Lavra
Also known as the Kiev Monastery of the Caves, Kiev Pechersk Lavra is a historic Orthodox Christian monastery in Kiev. Construction started in 111 and continued for another 900 years and the Lavra has been a preeminent center of Eastern Orthodox Christianity in Eastern Europe since. Together with the Saint-Sophia Cathedral, it is inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was named one of the Seven Wonders of Ukraine on August 21, 2007.
According to the Primary Chronicle, in the early 11th century, Antony, a Greek Orthodox monk from Esphigmenon monastery on Mount Athos, returned to Rus' and settled in Kiev as a missionary of monastic tradition to Kievan Rus'. He chose a cave at the Berestov Mount that overlooked the Dnieper River and a community of disciples soon grew.
The word pechera means cave and the monks lived in these caves which can still be found all over the monasteries and even now, you can see the sites of their graves from darkened galleries under the ground. There are numerous architectural monuments here, Cathedrals, churches and museums to name a few. The main exposition contains articles from 16 to early 20th centuries which include chalices, crucifixes, and textiles from 16-19th centuries with needlework and embroidery of Ukrainian masters. The museum also provides tours to the catacombs, which contain mummified remains of Orthodox saints or their relics.
Golden Gate
The Golden Gate of Kiev is a historic gateway in the ancient city walls of Kiev. It is commonly known as Zoloti Vorota which is also used for a nearby theatre and a station of the Kiev Metro.
This gateway was one of three constructed by Yaroslav the Wise, Prince of Kiev, in the mid-eleventh century in order to protect the City. It was such an impressive fortress that enemies were kept away by the mere design and its’ magnitude. It remained as a gate to the city through the eighteenth century, although it gradually fell into ruins.
The structure was topped with a barbican church dedicated to the Deposition of the Virgin's Robe and today you can see theatre shows and plays in the adjoining museum depicting life in Kiev during these times.
Vladimirsky Cathedral
St. Vladimirsky Cathedral, also known as the Vladimirsky Cathedral, or St. Vladimir's Cathedral is a cathedral in the centre of Kiev. It is one of the city's major landmarks and the mother cathedral of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church - Kiev Patriarchy, one of two major Ukrainian Orthodox Churches.
In 1852, metropolitan Philaret of Moscow suggested a large cathedral should be built in Kiev to commemorate the 900th anniversary of the baptism of Kievan Rus by Prince Vladimir (Volodymyr) the Great of Kiev (St. Vladimir). The design was executed in delightful Neo-Byzantine style initially by the architects I. Schtrom, P. Sparro, R. Bemhardt, K. Mayevsky, V. Nikolayev. The final version of the design belongs to A. Beretti. It is a traditional six-piered, three-apsed temple crowned by seven cupolas.
It is the cathedral's colourful interior that particularly strikes the eye. Mosaics were executed by masters from Venice: S. Kostenko, V. Kotarbinsky, M. Nesterov, M. Pymonenko, P. Swedomsky, V. Vasnetsov, M. Vrubel, V. Zamyraylo, and others. The painting of the Holy Mother of God by Vasnetsov in the altar apse of the cathedral is one of the world masterpieces of fine art.
Mariinsky Palace
Situated in the government centre Mariinsky, (Tsar's) Palace was built in 1752 at the request of Empress Elizabeth and it was originally used for ceremonial and festive occasions. It was designed by Bartolommeo Francesco Rastrelli and constructed originally under the direction of Andrei Kvasov, who was later replaced by Piotr Neyelov. The palace ensemble includes gardens, greenhouses and a confectionary and the paths of the Mariinsky Park are perfectly designed to accompany the surrounding landscape. The palace was reconstructed in 1870, and is now used for government receptions.
Andreevsky Descent
Andreevsky Descent in Kiev is regarded as the main road in much the same way as the Champs Elysee is in Paris. You will see many artists here selling handicrafts, jewellery, glass and ceramic works, wood carvings, toys, coins and much more. There are often street festivals and carnivals orchestrated by local actors and musicians which create an eclectic atmosphere for you to enjoy. The many bars and restaurants act as an oasis for the busy traveler to sit and relax while soaking up the unique environment of Kiev reminiscent of the late19th and early-20th century.
Khreschatyk Street
Khreschatyk is both a historical place and a busy shopping street. It connects Independence Square with Bessarabian Square and is blocked for traffic on weekends when you can enjoy a nice walk window shopping or relaxing in one of the many coffee bars along the way.
The entire street was completely destroyed during World War II by the retreating Red Army and rebuilt in the neo-classical style of post-war Stalinist architecture. Today, the street is the administrative and business center of the city, as well as a popular place for Kievans. You will find the Kiev City Hall here as well as the Philharmonic Concert Hall, Independence Square, cinema complexes, shops, hotels and restaurants.
Open-air Museum Pirogovo
By far one of the most popular museums is located southwest of Kiev in the picturesque setting of the village of Pirogovo – the Museum of Ukrainian Folk Architecture, Rural Life, and Folk Art.
Stretching on the vast territory of 150 kilometers, this open air museum is divided into300 sites representing everyday life between the 17th and 20th centuries from every region of Ukraine.
The museum opened to the public in 1976 and to date has over 200 individual structures including wooden churches, a mainstay of the country’s ecclesiastical history, thatch cottages, farmsteads, and windmills.
The museum has over 40,000 ethnographic exhibits exhibited in the cottages, among which are folk costumes, fabrics, embroidery, carpets, ceramics, articles of metal, wood, glassware, musical instruments, paintings, tools and household articles.
Summer months bring entertainment as well as education when museum workers enact village roles, carving wood, throwing ceramic pots, and stitching intricate embroidery. Special craft festivals welcome blacksmiths, potters, coppers, weavers, carpet makers and other craftsmen of the present to demonstrate how the masters of the past created their masterpieces. Restaurants and food vendors sell Ukrainian food and musicians play traditional music on the weekend.
Dnieper Promenade
This is one of the favorite resting places of Kiev residents and tourists alike. Take a walk from Pachtovaya Square in the port area of Kiev to Paton Bridge where you will find the central station, and take the opportunity to enjoy a leisurely barge trip down the river. In the Square is the Church of the Nativity of Christ which was completed in May 1861 and this is where the people of Kiev said their goodbyes to the deceased T.G. Shevchenko. This promenade also houses the statues of the founders of Kiev. Legend speaks of a founder-family consisting of a Slavic tribe leader Kyi, the eldest, his brothers Schek and Khoriv, and also their sister Lybid, who founded the city. Kyiv/Kiev is translated as "belonging to Kyi".
Goloseevsky National Park
This wonderful national park offers all you could wish for when contemplating a relaxing afternoon in Kiev. Within this truly magnificent forest you will find paths and nature walks with huge trees overhead providing welcome shade over the green fields and sparkling lakes. Take a picnic and a good book to really unwind, or visit one of the coffee shops along the lake to try our local brews and pastries.
Theatres
National Opera Theatre
Today, the Kiev Opera Company performs at the National Opera Theatre of Ukraine named after Taras Shevchenko. The original building was destroyed by fire in1896, and re-opened in 1901. After the fire, V.A. Shreter re-designed the Opera Theatre in Neo-Renaissance style taking into account the needs of the actors and the spectators. The interior was redesigned in a classical style and called Viennese Modern. However, his greatest achievement is considered to be the stage - one of the largest in Europe designed to the latest engineering standards.
Today you are invited to enjoy the music of Lisenko, Chaikovsky, Gulak-Artemovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Lyatoshinsky, Musorgsky, Prokophiev and many famous opera stars who come from the West on tours. Waiting for you are unforgettable performances of Verdi, Rasihi, Bisse and Mingos and the theatre program includes many plays based on the mix between composers, eras and styles.
Russian Drama Theatre
The Russian drama theatre, named after Lesya Ukrainka, produces important new and classical plays of Russian and Ukrainian dramatic art. The professionalism of actors, fresh urgent performances, interesting interpretation of classical plays and original view of each role have formed the recognizable style of the troupe and gained the popularity of the Russian drama theatre with the citizens and guests of Kiev, who do not miss an opportunity to see one of the best theatres of the Ukrainian capital.
From the very beginning many outstanding actors and writers have loved working at the Academic Theatre of Drama and Comedy, often starting their celebrated careers in its premises. Nowadays such famous Kiev actors as Romanov, Lavrov, Strelkov, Dobrzansky, Svetlovidov, Opalov, Borisov, Lavrov, Rogovzev play in the theatre. Actors and directors of the Russian drama theatre have won many prestigious theatrical awards and nowadays, this theatre attracts amateur as well as professional actors hoping to make it big.
Podol Theatre
Located at the Andreevsky Descent in the centre of town, where the cultural centre meets the ancient historical Kiev, stands the Podol theatre. Founded at the beginning of the 19th century in a house owned by philanthropist Ivan Shatrov, this was one of the first fringe theatres to appear in the Ukraine. The building is one of the oldest in Andreevsky and became the main theatre during the early 1900’s. Today plays and music evenings are still held here attended by many of the countries finest actors.
Ukraine Drama Theatre
The Ukraine Drama Theatre was built in 1898 and named after Ivan Franko the poet, journalist, writer, literary critic, economist and political activist. This Ukraine Drama Theatre situated on Nikolaevsky Square reflects the deep sense of appreciation citizens of this fascinating country have for their cultural heritage. Performances staged at the theater are of a world-class standard and audiences are assured of a few hours of memorable entertainment each time they visit the theater. More than 30 plays are shown here each year, based on both national and international classical drama.
The building which houses the Ivan Franko Drama Theater is an architectural work of art in its own right. Designed by Bradman and Shcleinker the interior represents the Rococo style of its day and the theater welcomes audiences through its three wood carved doors, above which are three pillar-flanked arches with superbly detailed embellishments. In 1920, it was renamed as the Ukraine Theatre and is regarded as one of the most important buildings in Ukrainian history.
Children’s Theatre
This theatre answers all the requirements of its target audience. It introduces youngsters to the legends and fables of old, students to the greatest authors and classical plays in history and teenagers to a world of art and culture. Each and every age group will find something of interest here.
Operetta Theatre
Kiev State Operetta Theatre was built between 1907 -1935 and was originally known as the "Kiev Theatre of the Music Comedy". It is situated in the former National Troitsky House which was built by Osmak and Antonovsky in 1902.The first performance at the theatre was "The Bat" by Y. Strauss and Ukrainian plays appeared in the repertoire a little later with the "Salesman of Birds" by K. Tseller. The Kiev State Theatre of Operetta is well known all over the world. Since it opened in 1932 over 200 plays have been performed here, among which are classic operettas by E.Kalman, F.Lahar, Y.Strauss, Offenbach, and in order to captivate the new younger generation, musicals of F.Loew, I.Poklad, J.Gershwin, musical comedies and children performances.
Drama and Comedy Left Side River
This theatre was built on the back of the democratic changes that took place in the 1970’s and today is not only one of the most popular theatres in Kiev but is also regarded as one of the best in professional circles. The first play “Love is the highest point” was premiered in 1979 and dramatized a classical Ukrainian drama through a modern prospective. This broke the mould of stereotyping and paved the way for different interpretations of well known classics.
Puppet Theatre
This is the oldest theatre in the Ukraine having been founded in 1927 and re-designed by Udin to look like a palace. There are 3 floors containing the most amazing collection of puppets plus two theatres one with a capacity of 300 and a smaller one holding an audience of 110. Members of the public are invited to touch and feel the puppets on display, included puppets on a string, and can see the evolution of puppet making through the eras as there are puppets here that have survived many generations.
Young Theatre
This theatre explores new performance styles and features productions of classical playwrights, commenting on how the recent vision correlates with historical experience. Only top level productions are shown here with the likes of Don Juan of Moliere, the tragedy of Hamlet Prince of Denmark, Gedda Gabler of Ibsen and Uncle Vanya of Chekhov. There is a lively and vibrant atmosphere here and the young audience is introduced to a whole new world of art and culture where progressive, liberal thinking is encouraged.
Museums
National Arts of Ukraine
The National Art Museum of Ukraine, or as it was once called, the City Museum of Antiques and Art, is located in the capital city of Kiev. It was established in 1897 after Bohdan Khanenko, a patron of art, began collecting money and pieces of art in an attempt to start the first museum in the country.
Today the National Art Museum has been officially running for over one hundred years and houses one of the biggest art, sculpture and National Ethnographical applied art based on different races and cultures of mankind. There are art collections that go back as far as medieval times and others that include work from the Cossacks times, such as portraits of once prominent leaders from the church and military. Also on display is a huge collection of wood paintings and as a result of the combination of modern art, realism and avant-garde, you can see the beauty, individualism and uniqueness of art in the Ukraine.
Russian Art Museum
The museum is situated right in the centre of Kiev, opposite the central building of the Taras Shevchenko National University. The building that houses the museum belonged to Fedir Tereshchenko, a wealthy industrialist and patron of art and the building now houses collections of paintings, drawings, and works of applied and decorative art from the various periods in the history of Russian art. These include icons of the 13th–18th centuries, portraits of the 18th century, and paintings of the 19th and 20th centuries.
The gallery acquired excellent works of art from the Tereshchenkos’ collection, among them paintings by a number of leading Russian artists of the nineteenth century Ivan Shishkin, Ivan Kramskoy, Viktor Vasnetsov, Vasiliy Polenov, Mikhail Vrubel, Pavel Fedotov, Vasiliy Vereshchagin, to name the most important ones.
The gallery was upgraded to a museum and the museum began to acquire new works. The pride of the museum is a number of works by Russian artists of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Peredvizhniki among them. Peredvizhniki - the Circle of the Itinerants (or Wanderers), whose works are widely represented in the museum, were a group of Russian realist artists who were in protest at academic restrictions. Among the Peredvizhniki artists were Arkhipov, Ghe, Kuindzhi (he painted beautiful landscapes of Ukraine), Kramskoy, Levitan, Perov, Polenov, Repin, Ryabushkin, Savrasov, Shishkin, Surikov, A. Vasnetsov, and V. Vasnetsov. Works of practically all of these artists are exhibited in the Museum of Russian Art in Kiev.
Toy Museum
If you are a child at heart or an avid toy collector, State Museum of Toys in Kiev is the right place for you and has something for everyone un-relating to their age. There are more than 10,000 exhibits on show which have been sourced throughout the country. The museum collection contains author’s dolls, wood, fabric and straw dolls plus many caricatures from the early 19th century. There is a working steam-engine model, and deer and horse models made from cheese.
Bulgakov Museum
One cannot imagine Kiev and the Andreevsky Descent without this museum. Opened in 1993 and named after Mikhail Bulgakov, a Kiev-born Russian writer, this museum was re-dedicated on May 15th, 1991 for the 100th anniversary of the writer's birth. It is popular with both locals and tourists alike, particularly with those who consider Bulgakov to be the “Master”. The museum contains an exposition of nearly 2500 pieces that include writer's belongings, books, postcards and photos - conveying the life and creativity of Bulgakov and his surroundings. The atmosphere of the house reflects the writer's life - as a secondary school pupil, a medicine student, a family doctor, and a writer - when Bulgakov wrote the The White Guard, The Master and Margarita, and Theatre Love Story.
Decorative Arts Museum of the Ukraine
The Ukrainian Folk Decorative Art Museum is one of the largest art museums in Ukraine. It was founded at the beginning of the 19th century and is located on the grounds of the National Kyiv-Pechersk historic-cultural preserve.
Now the reserves and displays of the museum contain over 75,000 artifacts of Ukrainian traditional folk and professional decorative art dating from 15th century to the present day. The museum’s permanent exhibition which totals some 1,500 sq. m. represents all types of Ukrainian folk art: carpet weaving, weaving, prints, embroidery, ceramics, wood carving and painting, artistic leatherwork, horn and metal work, glassware, porcelain, Easter egg painting ("pysanka"), folk painting and iconography.
The pride of the Museum is its extensive collection of Ukrainian folk costumes representing all regions of Ukraine, in which are synthesized folk arts of style, sewing, weaving, embroidery, appliqué, print, wicker-work, artistic leatherwork and metalwork. Numerous temporary exhibitions feature works by contemporary artisans as well as the exhibits stored in the Museum's repositories.
National Treasury of Ukraine
Most of the 80,000 exhibits on display are a direct result of archeological digs in the area. The collection includes the gold of the Skiffs, silver goods, coin collections and modern jewellery made from precious stones.
Book and Printing Museum
The Museum of Books and Printing in Kiev is a feast of the senses for any committed bibliophile. The Museum, established in 1973 opened to the public in 1975. Over thirty years later, the museum contains a wealth of treasures and rarities, books printed in Ukraine during the 16th and 17th centuries, and volumes printed in Latin and Cyrillic scripts. Among the exhibits you can find hand written books, samples of Byzantine printing, Ivan Fyodorov books, polygraph technology, history of fonts and graphics. The Museum of Books and Book Printing’s collection continues to swell, preserving the written word from many countries.
National Science Museum
Kiev houses one of the biggest national science museums in the world. It contains zoological, botanical, geological, paleontology and archaeology museums all of which contain a wide range of topics concerning important scientific finds from prehistoric times up to the present day. There are extensive collections of old books, coins and bills, works of art and archaeological and ethnographical findings. There are over 30,000 exhibits focusing on the creation and evolution of animal and plant life on earth plus an explanation of historical and cultural developments in the Ukraine. There are more than 30 life-size models depicting real life historical events through the ages.