Kiev Introduction Walking Tour (Self Guided), Kiev

Kiev is a very old city. It was initiated approximately 1500 years ago. Since 1934, it was Soviet Ukraine's capital and remained the main city of the country with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Being one of the biggest cities in Europe, it has a very specific history, architecture and cultural life. One can never be bored in Kiev, as it has endless interesting and captivating places to see.
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Kiev Introduction Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Kiev Introduction Walking Tour
Guide Location: Ukraine » Kiev (See other walking tours in Kiev)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 16
Tour Duration: 4 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 6.7 Km or 4.2 Miles
Author: Cathy
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Saint Michael's Golden-Domed Cathedral and Monastery
  • Andreevsky Descent
  • The National Museum of Ukrainian History
  • Saint Sophia's Cathedral
  • Golden Gate
  • Opera House
  • Bessarabsky Indoor Market
  • Kiev City Council
  • Maidan Nezalezhnosti
  • Kreschyatik Street
  • October Palace
  • The House With Chimeras
  • National Bank of Ukraine
  • Verhovna Rada
  • Mariinski Palace
  • Mariinsky Park
Saint Michael's Golden-Domed Cathedral and Monastery

1) Saint Michael's Golden-Domed Cathedral and Monastery (must see)

Saint Michael’s Golden-Domed Cathedral, one of the city's most impressive architectural monuments, has a rich and tumultuous history. Its foundation was laid in 1108, by the sons of Grand Duke of Kiev, Izyaslav Yaroslavovich. In 1113, the Byzantine style cathedral was inaugurated under the aegis of Demetrius’ Monastery. A series of Mongol attacks in the later centuries inflicted great damage upon the cathedral so that by the 15th century it was in much need of repair. In 1495, the cathedral was renamed Saint Michael's in homage to Archangel Michael, the spiritual patron of Kiev.

Over the course of 18th century restorations, the cathedral was enlarged and its exterior remade into Baroque style. Partially because of that and also due to the Soviet authorities' often unfavourable stance on Christianity, the cathedral was sentenced to demolition in 1934. The edifice was fully restored in 1990, based on the old images and partially relying of the preserved original foundation. The architecture and the interior decorations resemble the original. Some of the old cathedral's relics, such as paintings, mosaics, etc., have been restored or returned to the new building.

Other than the cathedral itself, Saint Michael’s Golden-Domed complex includes a number of religious sites, namely: the Economy Gate (built in 1790), the Bell Tower (1716-1719), and the Refectory of St. John the Divine (1713).
Andreevsky Descent

2) Andreevsky Descent (must see)

Andriyivsky (Andrew's) Descent, also known as “Andreevsky Spusk”, is a 700 metre paved run linking the old part of Kiev (the two hills, known as the Royal Residence) with the lower, more modern part of the city. The bohemian style street abounds in historic attractions and, on the warmer days, is dense with numerous stalls set by local craftsmen, artists and sculptors exhibiting and selling their works right there on the side of the street.

The descent in its present form originated in 1711, when the two hills at its upper end were levelled in order to ease carriage traffic. The street is flanked by 18th-19th century buildings, of which most notable is No.13, the home of Mikhail Bulgakov, famous Russian author, who lived here from 1906 to 1913 and then in 1918-1919. Sitting atop the hill is St. Andrew’s Church, which lends its name to the street. Further down is The Castle of Richard the Lionheart, built in 1902–1904. Another key landmark is the One Street Museum. It holds circa 6,500 exhibits on the history and evolution of Andriyivsky Descent. There are also a number of statues installed recently along the street which, in turn, add more charm to the area.
The National Museum of Ukrainian History

3) The National Museum of Ukrainian History (must see)

Due to the large number of exhibits, incredibly vast time-span covered and uniqueness of collections displayed, the National Museum of Ukrainian History is rightfully considered to be one of Kiev’s most prominent tourist sites. Founded in 1904, the museum initially comprised mainly archaeological findings from private collections. In 1909, it started to receive governmental support and in 1935 the collections were moved to the Kievo-Pecherskaya Lavra for a better display. During World War II, the museum was evacuated to Ufa, the Far Eastern part of Russia. By 1944, it had returned to Kiev and remained in its current location ever since.

The collection traces the history of Ukraine from the first Trypillya settlements (dating approximately to 7000 B.C), to the Greek period, followed by Kievan Rus, the Cossack period and, finally, the Soviet era (presented somewhat differently to what it used to be under the Soviet Union). The newer exhibits, featuring Ukraine's strive for independence and the recent Orange Revolution, are also on display. Particular mention deserve collections of rare coins, weaponry, books and documents, as well as archaeological relics and ethnographic items, including rare glass and porcelain objects. A special highlight is given to Serge Lifar, famous Ukrainian dancer, who is nicknamed locally “the god of dance.”

Operation hours: Monday - Friday: 10 am - 6 pm; Saturday - Sunday: 11 am - 7pm.
Saint Sophia's Cathedral

4) Saint Sophia's Cathedral (must see)

Saint Sophia’s Cathedral is one of the most important cultural, religious and architectural landmarks of Kiev. Built in the 11th century (1011 or 1037, according to various sources), the cathedral was inspired by the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople and was meant to become a regional centre of Christianity. Initially, the cathedral had five naves and two circling galleries. It was badly damaged during Tatar invasions in the Middle Ages and later, in 1707, was rebuilt in a Byzantine style, most common among the Ukrainian orthodox churches. Over the centuries afterwards, Saint Sophia’s underwent many restorations and improvements.

Today, it boasts 13 cupolas and an impressive interior. Most of the mosaics and frescoes on the inside date back to the 11th century and depict religious and laic scenes, including those featuring Kiev's Prince Yaroslav and his family. The scenes are displayed in an ascending order, with the largest ones and most important from religious standpoint appearing on the domes. About 300 graffiti originated in the medieval period have been uncovered on the cathedral's walls during restorations, providing historians with an invaluable source of information about political and social life of that period.

The cathedral is now a museum and a cultural venue. Because of the tensions between two Ukrainian orthodox rites, it is temporarily not used for religious service. The cathedral was declared a world heritage site by UNESCO, along with the Kiev Pechersk Lavra, in 1990.
Golden Gate

5) Golden Gate (must see)

The Golden Gate is a key landmark of the Ukrainian capital and a standing reminder of its medieval past. The first mention of the gate was recorded in the 11th century. Legend has it that prior to fighting a nomadic army of the Pechenegs, Kievan Prince Yaroslav the Wise prayed to Virgin Mary and promised that, if he received divine help against the enemy, he would build a monument as a token of his gratitude. Upon his victorious return from the battle, Yaroslav kept his promise and built the gate, topped by a church. Initially it was called “the Southern Gate”, but later was renamed in keeping with the church’s golden dome.

In the 13th century, the gate was reduced to ruin by invading Mongols. Various notes left by foreign travelers, who set foot on Kiev’s land in later years, attest to the grandeur of this architectural monument, and also describe the state of degradation in which they found it. By the 18th century, the gate was almost completely covered by earth and soil erosion accelerated the destruction process.

In 1832, the ruins were excavated and the gate’s walls were examined by archaeologists and historians. It was then that the serious conservation works commenced. In the 1970s, the Golden Gate was fully reconstructed, just in time for the 1500th anniversary of Kiev, celebrated in 1982. Although there is no solid evidence suggesting that the present look of the gate matches the original, the renovated monument is a sure must-see for those genuinely interested in history and antique architecture. The monument also includes a museum featuring exhibits related to the Golden Gate’s past.
Opera House

6) Opera House (must see)

The dawn of the Ukrainian opera came in 1867 when Ferdinand Berger staged the first opera show in Kiev. He also succeeded at bringing into the country famous opera singers and musicians to form a local troupe. The latter would perform regularly at the city theater until 1897, when a great fire destroyed most of the building.

Immediately after the fire, the municipal authorities announced architectural contest for a new opera house to be built. The winner, Neoclassical-style project by Victor Schröter, proved optimal for both performers and spectators. In 1901, the new theater was completed and its inauguration was celebrated with a special performance done by local artists.

During the 20th century, the opera house changed its name several times. Today, it is known as the Ukrainian National Opera and Ballet Theater named after T. H. Shevchenko, the renowned Ukrainian poet and painter.

Before and shortly after World War I, the venue enjoyed wide popularity across Europe and was the third major opera house in the Russian Empire. After the so-called “Orange” revolution of 1991, the Opera House has been renovated and painted its original dark-green and beige colors.
Bessarabsky Indoor Market

7) Bessarabsky Indoor Market (must see)

The Bessarabsky (Bessarabian) Market lends its name to the square it lies upon, at the south-western end of Khreshchatyk in Kiev. The indoor market provides commercial space for local farmers and agricultural producers. It was built between 1910 and 1912 by architects Gai and Bobrusov, with the exterior designed by students of the famous architect, F. Balavensky. At the time of its inauguration, the market featured 31 shops and 165 stalls. Today, it contains 387 stalls and 59 outlets fitted with refrigerators for perishable goods.

Other than selling fresh produce - fruits, vegetables, meat and fish, - the market also provides space for service providers. It has a barbershop, a sewing workshop, shoe repairs, a wedding store and foreign exchange.

The name “Bessarabsky” derives from the large Bessarabian community (nowadays known as Moldovans) who used to come here often, long before the market was built, and sold their crops. Today, the market is a convenient place to buy food much as it is to meet local folk, representative of all strata of the Ukrainian society.

Operation hour: Monday - Sunday: 9 am - 8 pm
Kiev City Council

8) Kiev City Council

The Kiev Rada (City Council) is the seat of the local municipal government. The current law allows citizens of Kiev to elect their representatives into the City Council, pursuant to which 120 people are delegated every five years to regulate the city's affairs.

The Council headquarters is housed in a 10 story neoclassic Stalinist-style building, which is located on Khreschatyk, the central artery of Kiev and its commercial, administrative and cultural hub. The Council building was erected in the 1950s and features brick façade with artificial stone décor in its lower part. The upper section is embellished with stone carved decorations.

It was here that the first ceremony of raising a flag of the newly established Ukrainian state took place on July 24th, 1990. Two years later, the yellow-blue bi-colour was adopted as Ukraine's national flag and the day of July 24th was officially recognized as the National Day of Flag.
Maidan Nezalezhnosti

9) Maidan Nezalezhnosti (must see)

Maidan Nezalezhnosti, the Ukrainian for “Independence Square”, is the place which lies at the heart of Kiev. This is by far the most important and grandest square of the Ukrainian capital which has been a part of the city scape since the 10th century and seen its progression over time. In the course of the centuries, the square, much as its name, has changed a lot, without detriment to its spirit, though. Originally, the place was called Perevisyshch. Later, in the 18th century, it became known as Kozyne Boloto (Goat's Swamp) and remained vacant until the mid 19th century, when it took the name of Khrestshchatitskaya Ploshchad. At the end of the 19th century, the square was renamed Dumskaya Ploshchad (Parliament Square) and in 1919 - Soviet Square.

The current name, Maidan Nezalezhnosti, originated in 1991, reflecting the newly acquired independence of the Ukrainian state. For some locals, however, Maidan Nezalezhnosti, or simply Maidan, has gone down in history as the place of protest against the reportedly rigged presidential elections of 2004.

Today, Maidan is dominated by the statue of Archangel Michael, spiritual patron of Kiev, which is surrounded by many fountains and seedbeds. Historic buildings, flanking the square, add a great deal of charm to it, with the main attractions being just steps away, making Maidan an ideal retreat for tourists and locals who seek to rediscover the beauty of the nation's capital.
Kreschyatik Street

10) Kreschyatik Street (must see)

Khreshchatyk is the main street of Kiev and a definite must see for any guest of the city wanting to feel the rhythm of the Ukrainian capital. The street extends for about one kilometre and, together with its famous Independence Square, forms a local equivalent to Parisian Champs Elysée. Khreshchatyk houses many official buildings, including the City Executive Board, the National Television Committee and the Ukraine House exposition hall, and is also home to a number of swish restaurants and chic cafés.

As it's seen today, Khreshchatyk emerged fully in 1943. Originally, it was just a minor road that ran along the river Dnieper. In the 18th century the river valley gradually grew overcrowded and the people started to build houses along the road. In the 19th century Khreshchatyk began to take its current shape with more political and commercial establishments setting in. During World War II it suffered great damage which did not, however, diminish its role as a commercial and social hub. Khreshchatyk was quickly rebuilt and returned to the usual swing of things after the war.

On weekends and holidays, when Khreshchatyk is closed off for motor transport, it is the best to explore and mingle with the crowd.
October Palace

11) October Palace

The October Palace is a concert hall and a place where cultural events are held regularly. The palace was built at the turn of the 20th century to a design by Vikentiy Beretti, and initially hosted Institut Blagorodnyh Devits (the Noble Maidens School). After the 1917 Revolution, the building was taken over by a new government and used as the headquarters of ChK (the secret service, forefather of the KGB). It was here, during the Bolshevik period, that as many as 120,000 people - mostly intellectuals: writers, scientists, priests, teachers and actors – were executed by a firing squad.

During World War II, the building suffered great damage. It then had to undergo thorough restoration which lasted seven years, from 1952 until 1959, but largely preserved the original architecture. After the restoration, the October Palace has been used as a concert hall. Not long ago, it had a movie theater wing added in order to have more space for entertainment events.
The House With Chimeras

12) The House With Chimeras (must see)

The House with Chimeras is probably one of the most spectacular architectural sights in Kiev. Sitting on top of a hill, on unstable ground, the house was meant to shock, intrigue and please the eye in a manner previously unseen in the city. Known as “Gaudi of Kiev”, architect Gorodetsky took on this challenging project as a one-of-a-kind opportunity to create something “out of the box”. In 1902 he delivered a plan that defied all the architectonic beliefs of the century.

Made of concrete, the building is clad with numerous wall decorations and statues, both inside and outside. The dolphins, sirens, frogs, elephants, rhinos and snakes, seen on the exterior, were created by Emilio Sala. Although the building's façade shows only three floors, from the back it reveals all the six. The interior carries a big-game animal theme, with the halls, staircases and parts of the rooms decorated with animal and vegetal motifs.

This impressive building served as a residence for the upper class families until 1921, when the Bolsheviks repossessed it. Since then and until 2002, the house had accommodated a regional health clinic. As of 2005 the building has been the seat of the Ukrainian president and the venue for formal events. It is rarely open to the public, but is easy to be admired from the outside pedestrian area.
National Bank of Ukraine

13) National Bank of Ukraine

The National Bank of Ukraine is the central financial institution of the country. Its main function is to uphold the national financial system by keeping Ukraine’s currency stable. The bank was founded in 1839, as a branch of the the State Commerce Bank (of the then Russian Empire) and, since 1992, has functioned as an independent financial institution.

The National Bank is located at Institutska Street, no. 9, inside the building architected by O. Kobolyev. The exterior was done by O. Verbitskyi; interior - by famous Italian architect, Emilo Sala, with elements of Italian Renaissance “palazzo”. Upon its completion in 1905, the building boasted all of the latest amenities of the day, including central heating, ventilation and electricity. In order to successfully accommodate the personnel and documentation transferred from Kharkiv, two more floors were added to the structure in 1933. Although no visitors are allowed inside the building, you are welcome to admire its façade from the outside, which is well worth seeing.
Verhovna Rada

14) Verhovna Rada

Verkhovna Rada is Ukraine's parliament. It was first established in 1938 as the national parliament of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. Verkhovna Rada meets in a neo-classical building on Kiev's Hrushevskoho Street. The building adjoins a picturesque park and the 18th century Mariyinsky Palace, designed by Bartolomeo Rastrelli, which serves as the official residence of the President of Ukraine. After the transfer of the capital of the Ukrainian SSR from Kharkiv to Kiev in 1934, a whole set of government buildings was planned for the city. In 1936, a contest for the construction of the new parliament building was won by architect Volodymyr Zabolotny. Construction for the original building was done from 1936-38. Having been destroyed in the Second World War, the building was reconstructed in its original style in 1945-1947, with the glass dome being rebuilt one metre higher than the original one.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Mariinski Palace

15) Mariinski Palace (must see)

The Mariinsky Palace in Kiev was built between 1750 and 1755 to a design by one of the most popular Italian architects working in Russia at the time, Bartolomeo Rastrelli. Meant as a private residence for Empress Elizabeth, the palace was sited on a hilly bank of the Dnieper river, near the present Verkhovna Rada (Ukraine's Parliament). The Baroque style complex has a symmetrical composition, with a two story main building facing Mariinsky Park and two single story buildings on each of the sides. Combined, the buildings form a court which encloses a beautiful park. On the inside the buildings are decorated in a Baroque style with a touch of Renaissance.

The palace was used as a royal residence for the first and only time in 1787, during the visit by Empress Catherine II to Kiev. In the years afterwards it accommodated mostly the city's governor-generals. In the 1870s, the Mariinsky suffered severe damage from a violent fire, that ravaged nearly all of it, and demanded serious restoration. Major restoration works also took place in the late 1940s following World War Two, and the early 1980s. All the works were performed in a strict accordance with the building’s original layout and fully retained the original colours, style and decorations.

Today, the palace is used as the residence of the Ukrainian president and hosts official meetings and receptions regularly attended by foreign leaders.
Mariinsky Park

16) Mariinsky Park (must see)

Mariinsky Park is one of the largest green spaces in Kiev, venerated by many as the city's “soul.” The 8.9 hectare English-style park was commissioned in 1874 by Maria Alexandrovna, spouse of Emperor Alexander II, on a former military ground, and was laid out by O.G. Nedzelskiy. Later, shrubs and ornamental trees had been planted all over the territory. Some of them have survived WWII and can still be admired in the park. During 1918-1920, the place was used as a memorial ground for those who died during the 1917 Revolution. Many revolutionaries were buried in the park, in a mass grave.

Nowadays, the Mariinsky covers 10.7 hectares and is a home to many tourist attractions and prominent places, like the Mariinksy Palace, Water Museum, Dynamo Stadium, Kiev State Puppet Theatre, and the “Friendship of Peoples” monument. Abundant marble sculptures, statues and monuments line the park's alleys, each with its own story and significance.

The park also contains a favourite lovers' spot – a bridge decorated with hanging locks, love messages and colourful ribbons, left by sweethearts as a token of their love and affection.

Walking Tours in Kiev, Ukraine

Create Your Own Walk in Kiev

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Kiev Museum Walking Tour

Kiev Museum Walking Tour

Being the capital of Ukraine, Kiev is the city where all the Ukrainian culture and history is concentrated in museums. There are about 60 museums. Some of them are internationally renowned due to their exceptional collections of unique objects, history and their special atmosphere. They reflect Ukrainian mood and evolution in all its beauty and particularities.

Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 6.0 Km or 3.7 Miles
Kievo-Pecherskaya Lavra Tour

Kievo-Pecherskaya Lavra Tour

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Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.1 Km or 0.7 Miles
Kiev's Historical Churches

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Tour Duration: 4 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 8.6 Km or 5.3 Miles
Kiev Children Entertainment Tour

Kiev Children Entertainment Tour

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Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.1 Km or 2.5 Miles
Kiev's Architectural Jewels

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Kiev is a city with such a wide diversity of architectural styles from various periods of time. The best European, Russian and Ukrainian architects and artists worked on the buildings of the capital of Ukraine. Some of the elements are absolutely unique and can be seen exclusively in Kiev. Some of the most famed architects who contributed to the city's beauty and originality are Vikentiy...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.9 Km or 2.4 Miles
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Kiev South Pechora Tour

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Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.6 Km or 3.5 Miles

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