Kyiv, the capital city of 2.6 million, stands astride Ukraine’s greatest river, the broad and majestic Dnieper. The modern center and the surviving parts of the old city are on the hilly west bank of the river. The main street, called the Khreshchatik, runs between two steep hills. Here are the big hotels, department stores, and government buildings.
Opposite the metro station is an open square, the Maydan, with fountains where people gather to rest and talk. On the street corners one can buy hot snacks, books, and other things at outdoor stalls. The Maydan was the principal site of the demonstrations supporting the Orange Revolution during the 2004 presidential elections.
A view of Maidan Nezalezhnosty (Independence Square) in the center of Kyiv. The huge plaza has been the site of many political protests, the most famous being the Orange Revolution of 2004. During holidays the square is the scene of parades and open air concerts. (CIA Factbook)
Back to Thumbnails Previous Image Next Image Caption The Uspensky Sobor (Dormition Cathedral) at the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra (Kyiv Monastery of the Caves) complex. Originally constructed between 1073 and 1078, it was further enlarged over the subsequent centuries. Destroyed by the Soviet Army in 1941, the cathedral was rebuilt between 1998 and 2000. (CIA Factbook)
A short trolley ride will take you up to the ancient Monastery of the Caves (Percherskaya Lavra).
A little to the west of the Khreshchatik is Old Kiev. Great damage was done to its architecture and art treasures under Stalin and during World War II, but much of the old city has now been restored. The recently reconstructed Golden Gate marks where the city’s fortified wall once stood, while the Cathedral of St. Sophia has mosaics and frescoes dating back to the 11th century.
Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kyiv was completed in 1037 during the reign of Yaroslav the Wise. The ruler was buried in the church in 1054 in a six-ton marble sarcophagus that still survives. Although the cathedral's exterior was remodeled into the Ukrainian Baroque style in the 17th century, its original Byzantine interior was preserved. It was the first Ukrainian monument to be inscribed onto the World Heritage List. (CIA Factbook)
The Soviet-era Motherland Monument, sometimes referred to as the "Iron Lady," was supposed to symbolize the Soviet "Motherland." The 62-meter-high statue stands at the National Museum of the History of World War II in Kyiv, and still displays the Soviet coat of arms on its shield. (CIA Factbook)
Above them looms the giant statue of a sword-bearing woman who represents the Soviet Motherland defying the invader. Across the bridge is the flat east bank of the Dnieper, with the newer sections of the capital, dominated by big clusters of apartment blocks and industrial zones. Approaching the river, the slopes are covered by woods and parkland.