Kyiv or Kiev (Ukrainian: Київ – Kyiv, Russian: Киев – Kiev ) is the capital and the largest city of Ukraine, located in the north central part of the country on the Dnieper River. The population is 2,600,000.
Kyiv is an important industrial, scientific, educational and cultural centre of Eastern Europe. It is home to many high-tech industries, higher education institutions and world-famous historical landmarks. The city has an extensive infrastructure and highly developed system of public transport, including the Kiev Metro.
The name Kyiv is said to derive from the name of Kyi, one of four legendary founders of the city (brothers Kyi, Shchek, Khoryv, and sister Lybid). During its history, Kyiv, one of the oldest cities in Eastern Europe, passed through several stages of great prominence and relative obscurity.
The city probably existed as a commercial centre as early as the 5th century. A Slavic settlement on the great trade route between Scandinavia and Constantinople, Kyiv was a tributary of the Khazars, until seized by the Varangians (Vikings) in the mid-9th century. Under Varangians rule, the city became a capital of the Rus’, the first East Slavic state.
Completely destroyed during the Mongol invasion in 1240, the city lost most of its influence for the centuries to come. It was a provincial capital of marginal importance in the outskirts of the territories controlled by its powerful neighbours; first the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, followed by Poland and Russia.
The city prospered again during the Russian Empire’s industrial revolution in the late 19th century. In 1917, after the Ukrainian National Republic declared independence from the Russian Empire, Kyiv became its capital. And from 1921 onwards Kyiv was an important city of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, and, from 1934, its capital. During World War II, the city again suffered significant damage, but quickly recovered in the post-war years, remaining the third largest city of the Soviet Union.
Following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Ukrainian independence of 1991, Kyiv remained the capital of Ukraine.
Kyiv was the historic cultural centre of the East Slavic civilization and a major cradle for the Christianization, Kyiv retained through centuries its cultural importance and even at times of relative decay, it remained the centre of the Eastern Orthodox Christianity of the primary importance.
Its sacred sites, which include the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra (the Monastery of the Caves) and the Saint Sophia Cathedral are probably the most famous, attracted pilgrims for centuries and now recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site remain the primary religious centres as well as the major tourist attraction.
Kyiv’s theatres include, the Kyiv Opera House, Ivan Franko National Academic Drama Theatre, Lesya Ukrainka National Academic Theater of Russian Drama, the Kyiv Puppet Theater, October Palace and National Philharmonic of Ukraine and others.
Kyiv is a major crossing point for many of Ukraine’s most important roads. The city represents the focal point of the Ukrainian ‘national roads’ system and is linked by high-quality road to many of the principal cities of Ukraine.
Air passengers arrive in Kyiv through one of two airports: the Boryspil Airport which is served by many international airlines, and the smaller Zhulyany Airport, serving mostly domestic flights and limited flights to nearby countries.
Railways are Kyiv’s main mode of intercity transportation. The Kyiv Passenger Railway Station is the city’s only long-distance passenger terminal (vokzal).
Public transportation in Kyiv includes the metro (underground), buses, trolleybuses, trams and funicular.
One unusual mode of public transportation Kyiv has is the funicular, that climbs up the steep right bank of the Dnieper River.
Attractions in Kyiv
It is said that one can walk from one end of Kyiv to the other in the summertime without leaving the shade of its many trees. Most characteristic are the horse-chestnuts. Kyiv is known as a green city with two botanical gardens and numerous large and small parks.
Venetsianskyi (or Hidropark)
The Venetsianskyi is accessible by metro or by car, and includes an amusement park, swimming beaches, boat rentals, and night clubs.
Victory Park (Park Peremohy)
The Victory Park located near Darnytsia subway station is a popular destination for strollers, joggers, and cyclists. Boating, fishing, and water sports are popular pastimes in Kyiv.
Independence Square and Khreschatyk Street
The centre of Kyiv (Independence Square and Khreschatyk Street) becomes a large outdoor party place at night during summer months, with thousands of people having a good time in nearby restaurants, clubs and outdoor cafes.
Andriyivskyy Descent is one of the best known historic streets and a major tourist attraction in Kyiv.
Castle of Richard the Lionheart & St Andrew’s Church
The hill is the site of the Castle of Richard the Lionheart; the baroque-style St Andrew’s Church; the home of Kyiv born writer, Mikhail Bulgakov; the monument to Yaroslav the Wise, the Grand Prince of Kyiv and of Novgorod; and numerous other monuments.
A wide variety of farm produce is available in many of Kyiv’s farmer markets with the Besarabsky Market located in the very centre of the city being most famous.
The 100-year-old Kyiv Zoo is located on 40 hectares and according to CBC “the zoo has 2,600 animals from 328 species”.
Kyiv also has numerous recreational attractions like bowling alleys, go-cart tracks, paintball venues, billiard halls and even shooting ranges.
Kyiv is home to some 40 different museums. In 2009 they recorded a total of 4.3 million visits.
Museum of the Great Patriotic War
The Museum of the Great Patriotic War is a memorial complex commemorating the Great Patriotic War located in the hills on the right-bank of the Dnieper River in Pechersk.
The Kyiv Fortress is the 19th century fortification buildings situated in Ukrainian capital Kyiv, that once belonged to western Russian fortresses.
National Art Museum of Ukraine
The National Art Museum of Ukraine is a museum dedicated to Ukrainian art. Originally called the Kyiv City Museum of Antiques and Art, the founders set out to put together a collection of pieces representative of Ukrainian fine art.
The Golden Gate is a historic gateway in the ancient city’s walls.
This gateway was one of three constructed by Yaroslav the Wise, Prince of Kyiv, in the mid-11th century. It was reputedly modelled on the Golden Gate of Constantinople, from which it took its name.
Ukrainian National Chernobyl Museum
The small Ukrainian National Chernobyl Museum acts as both a memorial and historical center devoted to the events surrounding the 1986 Chernobyl disaster and its effect on the Ukrainian people, the environment, and subsequent attitudes toward the safety of nuclear power as a whole.
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Kyiv is one of th eight Euro 2012 host cities. The reconstructed 70,000 capacity Olympic stadium will host 3 matches in Group D, 1 quarter-final and the final. The opening ceremony took place in the presence of president Viktor Yanukovich on 8 October 2011, with the first major event being a Shakira concert which was specially planned to coincide with the stadium’s re-opening during Euro 2012.
Kyiv has many professional and amateur football clubs, including Dynamo Kyiv, Arsenal Kyiv and FC Obolon Kyiv which play in the Ukrainian Premier League.