“The embankment in Obolon is one of the most beautiful places in Kyiv in any season. It’s always nice to walk here alone, with friends or a loved one.”
The landscape where the embankment now runs, was formed due to hydraulic filling for the construction of the Obolon housing estate in the 1970s and 1980s. For a long time, there was a sandy wasteland, and the area began to take on a modern appearance only in the early 2000s. In some areas, construction works ended literally a few years ago. Today, Obolon embankment stretches for several kilometres along the Dnieper bay of the same name. It is completely pedestrianised and equipped with bike paths, modern public spaces, atmospheric facilities, a public beach, sports pitches and children’s playgrounds. You can spend a whole day on the embankment, because, in addition to the cool nature and infrastructure, there is a number of interesting places here:
We are moving down the Dnieper river, and another iconic location is waiting for us.
Laid out in 1874 on the slopes above the Dnieper around the palace of the same name, Mariinskyi Park is one of the oldest parks in Kyiv. Its modern name is associated with the name of Empress Maria Alexandrovna, but in different periods of its existence, the park was renamed several times. In the early 20th century, mass graves of participants of the October and January armed uprisings of 1917–1918, who were moved from here in the 1930s, had been arranged here. In 1944, General N. Vatutin who had commanded the liberation of Kyiv in 1943, was buried in Mariinskyi Park. His grave was crowned with a monument to the hero.
“The park has well-equipped recreation areas and sightseeing platforms offering a view of the Dnieper and its Left Bank. Open-air dance parties are also often held here, and anyone who feels like it can join in.”
Moreover, there are many interesting monuments from different eras. Those are in particular:
a cast-iron fountain that has survived since 1900;
Bridge of Lovers, also known as Paton’s Small Bridge;
The Mariinskyi Palace built in the mid 18th century and designed by Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli;
the building of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine;
summer theatre Mushlia (The Shell)
a monument to Lesya Ukrainka and a number of park sculptures.
Then Hryhorii takes the initiative and takes us to his favourite park.
Laying out of the park on the upper and middle terraces of St. Volodymyr Hill began in the 1930s. In 1853, a monument to Prince Volodymyr the Baptiser of Rus was erected here, which gave the name to the entire park, and today, is considered the oldest sculptural monument in Kyiv.
In 1972, Volodymyrska Hirka Park was recognised a park monument of garden art of national significance. Almost 100 types of trees from all over the world grow here, and in their shade, Kyivites love to rest in the summer. People come here for walks, runs, yoga, picnics, reading books in hammocks, slackline training, listening to street musicians or eating ice cream while contemplating Kyiv vistas.
It is because of the incredible panoramas that Hryhorii adores this place so much.
“St. Volodymyr Hill, with its view of evening Kyiv. Panoramas of the Dnieper, Podil, Left Bank, and Pechersk Hills. Add to this, you can ride the funicular here.”
And by the way, this is one of Nastia’s recommendations.
“The funicular has resumed its operation. So especially now, when the leaves have not yet fallen, but the trees have already dressed themselves in autumn colours, do not miss the opportunity to enjoy this atmosphere.”
Kyiv became the second Ukrainian city after Odesa, which gifted its citizens with a miracle of transport that connected the Upper City with Podil, the funicular. It happened in 1905. At the time, its route was shorter and was considered part of the tram route. Kyiv funicular is the safest transport in the capital, because for over a century of its functioning, there has been only 1 accident, but even then, it was without casualties. Following it, in 1928, the first overhaul was carried out; it was when the wooden carriages were replaced with semi-metallic ones and the route was extended to Sahaidachnoho Street. The last and largest reconstruction took place in the 1980s. Then the rolling stock was replaced and modern station pavilions were built; those were decorated with artistic stained glass windows by Ivan-Valentyn Zadorozhnyi.
Every summer, Kyiv funicular is closed for scheduled repairs of which the completion is always awaited by Kyiv residents and guests of the capital. After all, this is not just transport but one of the tourist attractions of the city.
Now, let’s go down to Podil and through Sahaidachnoho Street and Kontraktova Ploshcha (Square of Contracts), which are always full of noise and aromas of dozens of establishments, make our way to Andriivskyi Descent.
“It’s one of the most picturesque streets of Kyiv. It has a special atmosphere, ancient architecture, museums and cosy establishments where you will definitely want to stop for a delicious coffee or dinner.”
Andriivskyi Descent is one of the oldest streets of Kyiv, used by ancient princes of Rus to make their way from the Old City down to Podil. The street probably got its modern name only in the mid 18th century when St. Andrew’s Church was built here. In the imperial time, the street sandwiched between four Kyiv mountains was famous for its brothels, and now, for numerous galleries, institutions, antique and souvenir shops, and street artists. Often enough, Andriivskyi Descent is compared with Montmartre. Main construction activities on the street took place in the 90s of the 19th century and in the early 20th century. Today, 40 cultural heritage sites are located here! That means that almost every building is an outstanding history. Here are just several examples:
From Andriivskyi, through Landscape Alley, we go to another street, Yaroslaviv Val. It combines the roles of a history and architecture reserve in an incredible way and the venue for the youth parties. Hryhorii as an actor could not help pointing out to that fact.
Since the times of Kyivan Rus, a rampart passed through this area, which was part of the city fortifications built by Yaroslav the Wise. It had existed almost until the mid 19th century, and later, a street, which preserves the history of Yaroslav’s ancient ramparts in its name, was laid along its path. Only two structures remain from the original built-up environment, and most of the buildings of modern Yaroslaviv Val were built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Among them, 12 have the status of architectural landmarks, and there are almost 50 cultural heritage sites on the street!
The most famous of those are:
Modern Yaroslaviv Val is one of the most famous gastronomic venues of the capital. There is a huge number of incredibly atmospheric establishments that compete to feed you with something interesting, and give you a drink. Be certain, no one will pass by the smell of baked bread coming from the iconic oldest bakery Yaroslava or will be able to refuse ice cream from the top confectionery Honey.
“After a delicious lunch, don’t forget to take a walk to the Golden Gate with an interesting museum exhibition currently open in the building.”
It would be strange if this couple did not say a word about cinema, but in fact, it is going to be space cinema rather than classical one.
A unique educational project of the University of Modern Knowledge under the Knowledge of Ukrainian Society, Kyiv Planetarium is the oldest and largest in Ukraine. It moved to a modern building near Olimpiiska metro station in 1988, and before that, from 1952, it had been housed in the former St. Alexander Cathedral. After reconstruction in 2011, Kyiv Planetarium opened a family scientific, cultural and entertainment centre ATMASFERA 360. Now it hosts screenings of films in full-dome environment in 360 format, video lectures and studies on natural sciences and space creativity. By the way, the dome of our planetarium is the second largest in Europe. On its screen, you can watch a meteor shower, the movement of comets, the flyby of bolides, the change of phases of the Moon, the eclipse of the Sun, and even the aurora borealis.
“An interesting and extremely romantic place where you can learn about the universe and enjoy its beauty to the accompaniment of music.”
Picking up on his wife’s romantic and creative mood, Hryhorii also recalls he knows the place with the same atmosphere.
The Roman-Catholic Cathedral dedicated to St. Nicholas.
Neo-Gothic Roman-Catholic Cathedral designed by S.W. Wołowski was built in 1899–1909 under the supervision of the famous architect Władysław Horodecki. The exteriors were designed by the Italian sculptor Elio Salya who is also known for decorating the building of the National Bank of Ukraine and the Kyiv Opera House. St. Nicholas had become the second Roman-Catholic Cathedral in Kyiv, after St. Alexander Cathedral. In the 30s of the 20th century, the Soviet authorities turned it into a warehouse, which later housed an archive, and radio antennas were installed in the towers. Religious services resumed only after Independence.
“Since 1980, it has been housing the Organ and Chamber Music Hall, which is also a must-visit place”.
In his TOP five, Hryhorii saved for last a place that is located a little away from the centre but is definitely worth paying attention to.
Kyiv Botanic Garden in Pechersk founded in 1935 is one of the largest in Europe in terms of size, variety of collections, and the level of scientific research.
“It was laid out in accordance with the principle of geographical zones: there are areas of “Steppes of Ukraine”, “Ukrainian Carpathians”, “Crimea” “Far East”, “Caucasus”, “Central Asia”, etc., as well as mono-gardens (a magnolia garden, a beech forest, a birch grove, a rose garden and a syringarium, a huge garden with dozens of lilac varieties).”
The collection of the Hryshko Botanic Garden includes about 11,180 taxa from all botanical and geographical regions of the world. In particular, here you can see the best collection of dogwood on the planet, the largest collection of oaks, maples, lindens, birches, walnuts, lilacs, and wild fruit plants in Eastern Europe; the only orchidarium in Ukraine; dozens of endemic and rare plants, etc. And the greenhouse complex will instantly transport you to the tropics with hundreds of species of a wide variety of exotic plants.
By the way, the Hryshko Botanical Garden was also included in the top Kyiv locations by travel influencer Veronika Synytsia. Read what else the blogger advises to see on the way. And now, following Nastia’s recommendation, we are moving to the southern suburbs of Kyiv, to Pyrohiv.
Establishment of an open-air museum in the area of Pyrohiv began in 1969 but its official opening took place in 1976. On an area of about 133.5 hectares, architectural and landscape features of all the historical and ethnographic regions of Ukraine were recreated here. Those are: Polissia, Sloboda Ukraine, Poltava Region, Carpathians, Dnieper Ukraine, Podilia and Southern Ukraine. Here you can see about 300 monuments of traditional Ukrainian architecture of the 16th–20th centuries, with the Volyn hut of 1587, which is the oldest among them! Each structure is a separate museum where hundreds of authentic Ukrainian artifacts are presented: clothes, furniture, tools, products of folk craftsmen, paintings and decorative painting on the walls, musical instruments, children’s toys, etc. In total, the complex has about 100,000 exhibits in its funds!
It is worth coming here for the entire day, walking on your own or with guides, or arranging picnics and photo sessions. Ethnographic fairs, master classes, festivities on traditional holidays showing interesting rites and customs are also regularly held on the territory of the museum.
“This is a picturesque place with historical value. It’s an open air museum where you can find wonderful monuments of culture and history of various regions of our country.”