The City of Golden Domes

Posted on August 15, 2012 in Cities

One of the oldest cities in the world, Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, lies astride the two banks of the mighty Dnipro River. Legend has it that it was founded in the late 5th century BC by three brothers, Kiy, Shchek and Khoryv, and their sister Lybid, and named after the eldest. Barely a millennium later, Kyivan Rus was one of the most powerful states in Europe and marrying into the family of the Kyivan Prince was considered an honor among European monarchs. The onslaught of the Mongol hordes over two centuries eventually destroyed the beautiful city and more modern hordes razed it once more during WWII. But Kyiv the Golden-Domed rose up again and again.

St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery. Kyiv. Ukraine Monument Princess Olga at Mikhailovskaya Square. Kyiv. Ukraine Sofiyivska Ploshcha. Kyiv. Ukraine

Today, Kyiv is on the rise once more as the cultural, administrative and financial heart of Ukraine, in addition to being one of the most beautiful capitals in Eastern Europe. It’s truly worth seeing with your own eyes the harmonious combination of antiquity and modernity, of classic artisanry with cutting-edge technology, of thousand-year-old churches and monasteries whose gleaming domes reflect the most contemporary architectural complexes.

The whole world discovered the city’s main square, Maidan Nezalezhnosti, in late 2004, when the Orange Revolution took place. Khreshchatyk, Kyiv’s chestnut-lined main street, cuts through the Maidan. On weekends and holidays, when the street is closed to cars, Khreshchatyk takes on the air of a festival as people stroll and children chase each other down the avenue, watching mimes and musicians, eating fabulous “plombir” ice cream, sipping freshly-brewed coffee at an outdoor café, checking out the latest fashions in upscale boutiques, or buying a good book from a street stand.

Maidan Nezalezhnosti. Kyiv. Ukraine Maidan Nezalezhnosti. Kyiv. Ukraine Andriyivskiy Uzviz. Kyiv. Ukraine

There is a saying among Kyivans, “Who has not seen Andriyivskiy Uzviz has not seen Kyiv.” This winding, cobbled street runs from the upper administrative center to the lower historic commercial center, Podil. Some call the Uzviz “the Montmartre of Kyiv” — but those who have seen the Parisian one will agree that the quality of art and artisanry that you can find on the Uzviz is far superior! Its charm is enhanced by the many cafés and terrace restaurants, the restored Ukrainian baroque buildings that line the Uzviz, the myriad visitors from all over the world and its atmosphere of cosmopolitan, unhurried enjoyment. At the very top of the hill is the priceless Andriyivska Tserkva — St. Andrew’s Church — , a lovely teal-blue, white and gold confection designed in the baroque style by the famed Italian architect, Bartolomeo Rastrelli. It regularly features delightful chamber concerts against the backdrop of an astonishing three-story high wooden iconostasis all in golds and reds.