Straddling the two banks of the Dnepr River, Kiev is the Ukraine’s capital, as well as its economic and cultural centre. The city’s terrain varies between hilly on the right-bank of the Dnepr, to being flat on the left-bank.
Kiev is one of the oldest East-European cities. Founded by the ancient Slavs in the 5th century, and having been part of a number of empires, it became the capital of an independent Ukraine in 1991.
The most famous tourist attraction in the old part of the city is the 11th century St. Sophia Cathedral with its magnificent frescos and mosaics inside. Kreshchatyk Street, Kiev’s shopping street, full of shops and swarming with people, starts from the Cathedral.
Kiev’s other famous tourist attraction is the Lavra Pechersk Cave-Monastery which was founded in the 11th century. The monastery-complex consist of two parts – the Upper Lavra buildings which mainly contain exhibitions and museums, and the Lower Lavra which belongs to the Orthodox church, and which leads to what were once the cave-dwellings of the monks.
Both the Cathedral and the Cave-Monastery have been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1990.
The Mikola Pritysko Church, dating from 1631, with its typical green dome, is one of the most beautiful examples of the early Ukrainian Baroque style.
The Museum of Historic Treasures has an invaluable collection of Scythian gold artefacts, dating from the 4th century BC, on display.
The Chernobyl Museum is a memorial to the world’s most horrific atomic catastrophe.
At the village of Pyrohiv (Pirogovo) – some 12km form Kiev – the outdoor Museum of Ukrainian Folk Architecture and Lifestyle, has on exhibition the typical buildings of the 17th-20th centuries which reflect the folk-architecture style.