Kiev is the lively capital and largest city in Ukraine, greedily taking up both banks of the Dnieper River. Three million people call this fusion of ancient and modern architecture home. Kiev’s beautiful cathedrals and monasteries spill out onto cobblestone streets and abundant green spaces and parks. Although many buildings were destroyed during the Communist occupation, some of Ukraine’s stunning architecture was spared and serve as a testament to the city’s fierce tenacity.
First known in the 5th century as Kievan Rus, Kiev – or Kyiv – reached its greatest period of prosperity during the 11th and 12th centuries when it was a major trade route between the Baltic and the Mediterranean. My visit to Ukraine was with Jay Way Travel; here are the top 5 reasons to visit Kiev:
1. St. Sophia Cathedral
Named after the great Hagia Sofia in Istanbul, St. Sophia was the first UNESCO World Heritage site in Ukraine, and one of the city’s landmarks. In addition to the stunning green and gold-domed cathedral, the complex also includes a bell tower and the House of Metropolitan.
Centuries before the Czars, Kiev was the center of Slavic spirituality. Construction of the Byzantine cathedral, the oldest church in Kiev, first began around 1037 by Prince Yaroslav the Wise, but the cathedral took two decades to complete. St. Sophia is where the princes were crowned in Kiev’s heyday and was the burial place of the Kievan rulers.
Controversy has surrounded the church in modern times, with different religious factions laying claim to it. In 1995, a bloody riot around the funeral of Patriarch Volodymyr prevented the burial on the premises. As a consequence of this incident, the church no longer holds services, but offers the public a secular museum of Byzantine history and architecture.
Read numbers 2 – 5 Reasons to Visit Kiev in Getting on Travel.
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