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24 Hours In Kiev

The Mother Motherland Monument in Kiev

Legend goes that the city of Kiev (or Kyiv) was founded by three brothers - Kyi (who gave his name to the city), Scheck and Khoryv - almost 1500 years ago. Since then the city has displayed a steely resilience having been ransacked no less than three times, first by Rus princes then by the Mongol hordes and finally by the retreating Red Army in World War II, but each time rising again to prominence. Let the proud city of Kiev entertain you for 24 hours with our guide to the best it has to offer.

M.M. Gryshko National Botanic Gardens

M.M Gyshko Botanic Gardens with Vydubychi Monastery

The M.M Gyshko Botanic Gardens are tended by the Ukraninan National Academy of Sciences and located along the Dnieper River. It's famous for its display of blooming lilacs, that every local will tell you is a sight to be seen, and the bizarre sight of tropical flora and fauna so far north in the middle of Kiev.

A stroll on the grounds will take you through national monuments like the Vydubychi Monastery, a sacred site of great importance to Ukranian history. It housed Vladimir II Monomakh, the ruler of Kiev during the Golden Age of the 12th century, and Sylvester of Kiev, whose carefully compiled history of the city from 850 to 1110 AD presents some of the earliest historical records of the city. If you have more than a moment to spare, a Vdubychi Choir performance is an aural experience to equal the beauty of the botanic gardens.

  • Address: 1 Tymiryazjevs'ka Street, Kyiv, 01014
  • Tel: +380 44 285 4105
  • Website: www.nbg.kiev.ua

Maidan Nezalezhnosti

Statues of Independence Square

Independence Square is the arena where Ukranian history has unfolded; from the marauding Mongol armies of the 13th century to more recent political protests, like the 2004 Orange Revolution, the square's cobbled stones have seen the nation's entire history. Atop columns at the centre of the square are two statues dedicated to the cities protectors: the older being a statue of the Archangel Michael and the newer a statue of Berehynia - the female spirit that represents Ukraine.

Great Patriotic War Museum

With its grand name and ten hectares of prime natural space, this museum is a fitting tribute to those that died on the Eastern Front in World War II. The archetypical Soviet man, straining ever forward, is a constant feature in the collection of statues littered about the park. But the statue that has come to define the city is the Mother Motherland Mounument - a mouthful to say and a sight you can not fail to see wherever you are in Kiev.

House with Chimaeras

House with Chimaeras

Can a building be art when some argue that art is just form without function? The House with Chimaeras tips the argument towards a resounding yes. The building, by noted Art Noveau architect Vladislav Gorodetsky, is adorned with grotesque mythical creatures along its edges that contrast with its otherwise clean facade. According to urban legends every occupant of the building has met with some form of misfortune, which makes it a rather macabre choice for a presidential residence.

  • Address: 10 Bankova Street, Kyiv, 02000

Boat Ride down the Dnieper River

The Dnieper River weaves its way through Kiev and offers a different perspective of the city. Prime Tours offer a luxury ferry down the river, past all of Kiev's most prominent attractions. At about £200 for a group of thirty on a two-hour meander down the river, this is a steal.

Puzata Hata

Ukraninan food is more than just Borscht, although any nation would be proud to claim it as their national dish. To get an authentic Ukranian lunch with a sideserving of culture, Puzata Hata is the franchise of choice. Not only will you get familiar with dishes, ranging from Varenyky (boiled stuffed dumplings) to pundyk (cake), but also a dollop of the exuberant rituals and traditions that accompany a hearty Kiev meal.

Saint Sophia Cathedral

Saint Sophia cathedral

The sister cathedral to the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul and its namesake in Norway, is the spiritual center of Eastern Orthodoxy in Kiev. The distinctive Byzantine architecture mirrors that of its Turkish relative, but the unique bud- and pear-shaped domes of Ukranian Baroque architecture set it apart. The blue walls and golden domes that make up the complex of buildings, including surrounding monastic buildings, have taken nine centuries to construct. Take a walk inside to see fine pieces art in an intimidatingly large setting. The attention to detail in the macro and micro of the cathedral's design makes it a must-visit site in Kiev.

  • Address: 24 Vladimirskaya Street, Kyiv, 01034
  • Tel: +380 44 228 2083

Chernobyl Museum

The 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster was the worst of its type in the world (even worse than the recent disaster in Japan). Contamination from the accident spread to much of Europe, but Ukraine, Belarus and Russia shouldered the heaviest price. The Chernobyl museum exhibits objects, presentations and relics from that unfortunate event. You'll see presentations on how the disaster progressed, images of the damage and the continuing human costs of the disaster. The experience is a sombre reminder of the lives lost, but also a celebration of the bravery of those who fought to contain the disaster.

National Art Museum of Ukraine

Bogomazov - Fire in KievA Bogomazov of the 1916 fire of Kiev

The same architect who built the House of Chimaeras is responsible for the suitably regal-looking National Art Museum - an artwork housing artworks. Like the House of Chimaeras the facade is a contrast of simple classical shapes and the grotesque mythical creatures at its edges. Forty thousand exhibits chronicling art from the Rus age to more recent art by the likes of Kazimir Malevich - a pioneer of both the Suprematism art movement and Geometric Abstract Art (both artforms melding geometry and art) - are shown in the museum. If you're unfamiliar with Eastern European art this is the perfect place to be captured by a Yermylov, a Bogomazov or an Ekster.

  • Address: 6 Hrushevskogo Street, Kyiv, 01001
  • Tel: +380 44 278 1357
  • Website: http://namu.kiev.ua

People's Friendship Arch

People's Friendship Arch

Usher out the sun by enjoying sights of Kiev slipping into darkness below this monument dedicated to the, sometimes strained, friendship between Ukraine and Russia. The 164 foot steel rainbow has views overlooking the Dnieper River and broader Kiev; the perfect place for a romantic sundowner with a special someone. See a 360 degree view from the Friendship Arch here.

  • Address: 2 Volodymyrs'kyi Descent, Kyiv, 02000

Trukhaniv Island

Trukhaniv, connected to Kiev by the Parkovy Bridge, is the more natural island getaway alternative to the commercial Hydropark. With summer sports activites, from fishing to cycling, and a range of wintersports when the cold sets in - there's always something to do on the island. But, for the more laidback, an early evening stroll is the best way to conclude a day in the city.

O'Panas

No, it's not an Irish pub, but rather a folksy and authentically Ukranian dining experience par excellence. With a summer terrace overlooking the Taras Shevchenko Park, a park frequented by chess players keen to teach you a thing or two. The restaurant is perfect for those cool evenings of idle chatter and good food. Places are limited to 150 guests so make sure you make a reservation well ahead of time.

  • Address: 10 Tereshchenkivs'ka Street, Kyiv, 01004
  • Tel: +380 44 585 0523
  • Website: www.opanas.co.ua

House of Organ and Chamber Music

The beautiful gothic St Nicholas Cathedral is the heavenly setting for the chamber music of the House of Organ and Chamber Music. Their performances are a secret attraction in Kiev, so much so that you'll find performance tickets without too much difficulty. The Czech-built Rieger-Kloss organs are the backing track to a harmony of divine singing and instruments.

  • Address: Vasylkivska, Krasnoarmeyskaya 77, Kiev
  • Tel: +380 44 528 3186
  • Website: www.organhall.kiev.ua (in Ukranian)

Arena Entertainment Complex

Succintly described as 'the premium entertainment complex' where you'll find: a beer house, a sports bar, a cabaret and a dance club. The well-heeled of Kiev spend their money at this venue, so expect luxury at a price - bring a fat wallet and be nice to the doorman.

Petrovich Club

A club exclusively for the more refined night owls. No strobe lights and headbanging here, instead old-school decor and 'well-known melodies that sound like your grandfather's phonograph.' Petrovich is adorned with gifts given to it by former guests; give a gift and you're forever a part of the family. If some of the artwork should grab your fancy, offer a price and it's yours. Better yet get their in-house artist to create a bust of you while you enjoy the clubs homely environment.

Last Updated: March 2012

Gugulethu Hlekwayo

Gugulethu Hlekwayo

A timid traveller, but a traveller none the less; Gugulethu is in his element lost and without a map - preferably with a companion willing to listen to his tall tales. He's our resident expert on the best muffins in town.