Kiev was founded over 15 Centuries ago as a settlement of nomadic tribes. It evolved into a trading hub of the Early Eastern Slavs. The golden age of the town was the period between the 11th and 12th Centuries, when Kiev operated as the political and cultural capital for the powerful state of Rus, where many trading routes between the Baltic and the Mediterranean crossed. The centuries to come brought serious trauma, however, beginning with the Mongol Invasion in 1240. The city lost its importance, as it was always surrounded by far more powerful neighbours such as the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and finally, Russia.
Nevertheless, it was during the Russian Industrial Revolution in the late 19th Century that the city gained in prosperity. It also survived the turbulent Russian Revolution of 1917, and later served as capital of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic until World War II, when Kiev suffered significant damage.
The city managed to recover, and today, as an independent capital, it maintains quite an allure with its sublimity and remnants of the past.
Visiting Kiev, you’ll have a wide range of historical and architectural landmarks to choose from. You can start from the St Sophia Cathedral and Kiev Pechersk Lavra, or the Monastery of the Caves – all have been listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It’s also recommended to visit some of the impressive Orthodox churches, including St Michael's Cathedral, St Vladimir's and St Andrew's, as well as the reconstructed Golden Gate. At the Dnieper embankment, there’s a monument dedicated to Kyi, Schek, Khoryv and Lybid, the city’s legendary founders. As the cultural centre of Ukraine, the city will impress you with its numerous museums and galleries. The National Art Museum of Ukraine, the Kiev Museum of Western and Oriental Art and the Kiev Museum of Wax Figures are just a few of the notable examples.
As the city aims at providing many tourist attractions, you can count on a variety of nightclubs, casinos, cinemas, bowling and billiard clubs. What's more, historical areas such as Khreschatyk Street, Independence Square and the Andriyivskyy Descent have been turned into popular strolling venues, with street vendors selling traditional Ukrainian art, books, jewellery and religious items. Being in Kiev, you shouldn't miss the chance of tasting traditional Ukrainian cuisine, be it the famous Ukrainian borscht with pampushki (soft rolls soaked in fresh crushed garlic and oil) or varenik (small dough pies with various fillings). There are also plenty of international restaurants in Kiev, as it attracts more and more foreigners. And last but not least, you can try some outdoor activities, including parachuting, carting and horseback riding.