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10 Things to See in Kiev

If you're Kiev for a short time and aren't quite sure what to see, here's a selection of places you can't leave without seeing.

1. St. Sophia Cathedral
Founded by Prince Yaroslav the Wise in the 11th century, the Saint Sophia cathedral or "St. Sophia of Kiev" is one of Kiev's oldest monuments. This majestic cathedral is under the patronage of UNESCO. This was the place where royal ceremonies took place, chronicles were written, foreign books were translated, and where the first library and the first school of Kievan Rus' were established. Some 260 square meters of mosaics and 3,000 square meters of unique frescoes have been preserved to this day. The cathedral was used as a royal necropolis and still houses the tomb of Yaroslav the Wise.

2. St. Michael's Monastery
Across the St. Sophia Cathedral you'll find the St. Michael's Monastery. It comprises a cathedral, the Refectory of St. John the Divine, the Economic Gates and the bell tower. The monastery's history is as dramatic as that of Ukraine itself. This monastery was built in 1113 under Prince Sviatopolk, grand-son of Yaroslav the Wise. The cathedral suffered from the Tatar invasion but it could not resist the Soviets who destroyed it in the mid-1930s. Before the demolition of the historic site, the most ancient frescoes and mosaics were moved to museums in Russia, mainly to the Hermitage in St. Petersburg. In the second half of the 1990s, the cathedral was rebuilt and it reopened its doors in 1998.

3. Holodomor Memorial Museum
Near the monastery stands a monument commemorating the millions of victims fallen to the Holodomor, the Great Famine engineered by Stalin in 1932-1933. The Holomodor Memorial Museum aims to draw public attention to the most tragic pages of Ukraine's national history. It is an integral part of Kiev's cityscape as it can be seen from many promenades, squares and public places situated on both banks of the river. It's located on the bosky, hilly banks of the Dnipro covering 4.2 ha of the Pechersk district.

4. Kiev Pecherska Lavra
The monastery was founded in a cave in 1051 by the monk Antony and expanded by his student, Theodosius, who built the first buildings on the ground. The monastic complex includes the College of the Dormition, the 316 feet tall bell tower, the Refectory, the Trinity Church, the near and far caves with underground chapels and imputrescible relics of saints. The Kiev Pechersk Lavra is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Among the most interesting sights you'll find the Museum of Historical Treasures, the Museum of Books and Print and the Museum of Microminiatures.

5. St. Andrew's Church
Built in 1749-1754 on a design by renowned Italian architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli, the church is located uphill of the St. Andrew's descent, where the Apostle Andrew proclaimed: "Here shall rise a great Christian city. " The St. Andrew's Church is an outstanding baroque monument: its airy ceremonial look, its cupolas adorned with fine gilding and its rich ornaments make it one of the must see sanctuaries of the Ukrainian capital.

6. Andrew's Descent
From the St. Andrew's church you can follow down Andrew's Descent — one of Kiev's oldest streets, that links the upper town to the lower town. This steep and winding cobblestone street is known for its open air market and festivals. You'll find numerous peculiar art galleries, cafés, museums, bars and restaurants. You're sure to find Soviet memorabilia, paintings and traditional Ukrainian crafts produced by local artists. Some Favorite tourist stops include the Bulgakov Museum and the One Street Museum.

7. St. Volodymyr’s Cathedral
The St. Volodymyr’s Cathedral was built in 1862-1882 in a pseudo-Byzantine style. Today it is the main sanctuary of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church Kiev Patriarchate. The yellow and white building is crowned with seven majestic domes and the interior of the cathedral was decorated by famous 19th century painters such as V. Vasnetsov, M. Vrubel and M. Pimonenko.

8. National Museum of Ukraine History
The museum overlooks the old Kiev hill (Starokyïvska hill) where not only was Kiev first built, but also where Kievan Rus' and Ukraine where born. There are over 800,000 items on display, including archaeological, ethnographic and numismatic collections, weapons, manuscripts, sculptures and paintings illustrating the various aspects of Ukrainian history spanning from prehistory to the present. Alongside the main exhibition, visitors can enjoy themed exhibitions that focus for example on the civilization of Trypillia, the history of money in Ukraine, or the famous dancer Serge Lifar.

9. National Museum of Chernobyl
This museum, located near the Kontraktova plochtcha metro station in Podil is devoted to the worst technogenic disaster of the twentieth century. The five spaces of the museum counts more than 7,000 exhibits including secret documents, maps, photographs, personal objects of Chernobyl residents, employees of the plant, witnesses and liquidators of the disaster.

10. House of Chimaeras
Located on a hillside across the street from the Presidential office in the historic Lypky quarter, the six-story Art Nouveau building was built between 1901 and 1902 by architect V. Gorodetsky. Gorodetsky was an avid hunter and the house takes its name from the ornaments representing various exotic animals and hunting scenes created by sculptor Emilio Sala — not from Greek mythology. Reminiscent of Gaudi's Casa Milà, this house earned Gorodetsky the nickname of Gaudí of Kiev.

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