Indeed, looking at the luxurious building decorated with rich sculpting, colonnades and sculptures, you will hardly immediately guess that decades ago passion and excitement of horse racing raged here. Until the end of the 19th century, there was an esplanade of the Pechersk Fortress on that site. Since 1885, it had been used for equestrian events. The first official races on the newly-equipped Pechersk Hippodrome took place in 1889. However, the Neo-Renaissance building one can see now did not exist then, what was in its stead was made of wood. By the way, not only horses liked to gallop across that field. In the 1910s, the first air shows were also held here. The modern building was erected in 1915–1916 based on the design of the architect V. Rykov. The Pechersk Hippodrome has gained fame as one of the best attractions for Kyiv residents and visitors. It had a restaurant, various halls and a pari-mutuel.
Unfortunately, it didn’t last long. The revolutions and the World War I hindered the development of equestrian sports. The hippodrome resumed its activities only in 1928, and in the second half of the 30s, it underwent reconstruction and, modernised, opened its doors again in 1939. But another war began soon after that. In 1945, people began to gather here to watch horse races, again. But in 1960, because of installation of the water supply system, it was decided to move the hippodrome to Teremky. They planned to build a sports complex on the site of Pechersk Hippodrome, but later they simply built high-rise buildings for the top party leadership.
Walk in the Park of Eternal Glory goes next.
In the days of Kyivan Rus, the village of Berestove was situated here; then the land was transferred to the Pechersk monastery, and at the beginning of the 19th century, it became part of the Pechersk Fortress. In 1894, the commandant of the Kyiv Fortress, A. Anosov, began to turn into reality the idea of setting up a park here. That’s why in the beginning, the park bore his name. After the founder moved from Kyiv, the park began to decline. In the beginning of the 20th century, it was somewhat restored, and musical evenings began to be held here.
In 1956, construction of the modern Park of Eternal Glory began. Its area of over 18 ha encompasses:
A number of sightseeing platforms have been arranged in the park, and through the Dnieper-overlook Terraces below, an alley has been laid to the Askold’s Grave and the Lavra.
“Did you know that in the evening, the road to Brovary looks like an airstrip from the sightseeing platform near the Memorial of Eternal Glory? Such an impression is created as a result of some features of the road combined with headlights of the cars. If you go down the stairs a bit, you may find some quiet places for a picnic.”
“The monumental sculpture of Motherland is a must-visit place in Kyiv, huge in size.”
The world’s first all-welded metal sculpture is 102 meters in height and is among the TOP-10 tallest pedestals in the world. Its grand opening, which took place on May 9, 1981, was preceded by 7 years of work by a large team, and experiments. A woman’s sculpture with a shield and a sword by Vasyl Borodai crowns the building of the Museum of the History of Ukraine in the World War II. A special pendulum is installed in the building to ensure its vibration resistance. So, it can even withstand an 9-point earthquake. In general, according to forecasts, the Motherland Monument can last a century and a half without restoration. There are 2 elevators inside the monument, one of them leads to the sightseeing platform.
"An incredible view of Paton Bridge and the left bank opens from the sightseeing platform. There are also tours offering an opportunity to come up to the monument’s shield. It’s an extraordinary experience”.
There are 2 observation platforms made available for visitors: Overlook at a height of 36.6 metres and Extreme at a height of 91 metres. The shield of the Motherland still bears the coat of arms of the Soviet Union, so the monument often becomes the subject of discussions of decommunisation.
"Pechersk Botanical Garden is the lungs of Kyiv and an ideal place for relaxation, recharging, where one can get a dose of inspiration.”
It’s one of the largest botanical gardens in Europe, which was opened in the locality named Zvirynets in 1935. Its post-war development was managed by the famous botanist Mykola Hryshko, in whose honour the garden was named. Currently, the area of 130 hectares encompasses thematic floristic complexes “Forests of the Ukrainian plains”, “Ukrainian Carpathians”, “Steppes of Ukraine”, “Crimea”, “Caucasus”, “Central Asia”, “Altai and Western Siberia”, “Far East”, presenting plants from those areas. In total, the collection of the botanic garden contains about 11,180 taxa, among them almost 3,000 are exotics that grow in huge greenhouses. Each year, thousands of visitors come to Hryshko Garden to see blossoming lilacs, roses and magnolias.
The area also has the Trinity Monastery of St. Jonas founded in 1866. In addition to the main church, a wooden belfry and a clock tower have survived till present day; a cosy cafe has now been installed there. One of the abandoned greenhouses was recently transformed into the Phytotron art space. Various festivals, holidays, concerts, tea ceremonies, yoga classes, and so on, are often held in the Pechersk Botanic Garden.
As early as in the 18th century, there was a ravine and a cemetery at this place, but in early 19th century, a trade square was formed here, to where peasants from the South, in particular from Bessarabia, brought their goods. That was how in 1881, according to one of the versions, the square took its name. Almost for a decade before that, it was named after Bohdan Khmelnytskyi because it was here that they planned to erect a monument to the hetman, which now adorns Sofiivska Square.
Elite hotels rose along the perimeter of the square, and in 1912, the first indoor market in Ukraine, Bessarabskyi Market, was built here at the expense of a sugar magnate Lazar Brodsky. Currently, the square is home to the largest private museum of modern art in Eastern Europe, Pinchuk Art Centre, the Mandaryn shopping mall, the underground Metrograd shopping centre, and a number of cult institutions.
“Street food on Besarabka; it’s very tasty to eat while perching on the steps of the house crowned with a star at 25 Khreshchatyk. From there I like to watch the frantic rhythm of the country’s main street."