Ukraine’s capital and largest city, Kiev, is located in the north central part of the country. Kiev derives its name from one of the four brothers who founded it, Kyi. With a population of over 3 million, the city is considered the heartbeat of Ukraine and receives several million tourists every year who visit the city to view the historical landmarks and monuments the city is famous for. Moreover, the city will be co-hosting Euro 2012 and will be flooded with football fanatics from across Europe. No wonder why I think it should feature on your travel calendar for trip to Europe this summer! Here are some places you don’t want to miss once you set foot in Kiev.
St. Sofia Square
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, St. Sofia Square is considered one of Kiev’s most picturesque areas. It was built in the eleventh century with the purpose matching and possibly overtaking the grandeur and magnificence of Istanbul’s Hagia Sofia. The cathedral is renowned for its frescoes and houses the tombs of past princes of the city. The bell tower also provides a panoramic view of the city and is a photographer’s delight.
Kiev National Opera Hous
The exterior of the Opera House is just a teaser of what one is to experience inside the building. The theatre features Russian and Ukrainian productions and was built in 1901 by Russian architect Viktor Shreter. The ambience of the theatre is enough to leave you spellbounded. A visit here will reawaken your artistic senses and will be the cultural highlight of your trip.
The central square of Kiev, it gained international fame during the Orange Revolution in the mid-2000s when Ukrainians took to the streets against a rigged election. It is still a popular meeting place and is also popular because of an underground shopping mall called the Globe. For tourists looking for cheap souvenirs, the square is lined with street hawkers who sell Ukrainian flags, books, music and other traditional items.
The Golden Gates of Kiev are the remnant of the fortification of the ancient walls of the city. The Gates were built in the eleventh century as the main gateway to Kiev but fell into disrepair centuries later. They were restored in the 1830s and in 1970s a museum was added to the Gates to enlighten visitors about its history and that of Kiev. It is a favourite for visitors in the summer months and provides great photo opportunities as well as a cafe where tourists can relax in a pleasant atmosphere.
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