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Ukraine Travel & Holiday Tips

Kiev (Kyiv)

The capital of Ukraine is the third-largest city in the CIS. It is also the cradle of Russian civilisation, the origin of the Kiev Rus State founded in the 8th and 19th centuries and the city from which the Orthodox faith spread throughout Eastern Europe.

Even though many of its buildings were destroyed in World War II, Kiev still has much to offer. The Caves Monastery in the city centre is the focal point of the early Orthodox church. Visitors have to carry candles to see the church relics, which are set in a maze of catacombs. It is the headquarters of the pro-Russian Orthodox church. The 11th-century St Sofia Cathedral contains splendid icons and frescoes and is situated in beautiful grounds. The Golden Gate of Kiev is the last remnant of the 10th-century walls built to defend the city.

Other attractions include the Cathedral of St Vladimir (the headquarters of the rival pro-Ukrainian church), the Opera House, the Museum of Ukrainian Art (with its collection of the work of regional artists from the 16th century to the present) and the Historical Museum of Ukraine.

Andreyev Hill is a restored cobbled street in central Kiev now used by artists to sell their wares. There are a lot of cafes and restaurants in this area. Khreshchatik Street and Independence Square are Kiev’s main thoroughfares. The square is particularly elegant with its chestnut trees and fountains. Martinsky Palace and Parliament is the official residence of Ukraine’s President. The nearby Park of Glory is a war memorial, with a vast and controversial monument of a woman with a sword and shield overlooking the river. Locals go swimming in summer in the Dnieper River and climb onto its ice in winter to fish. It is possible to take boat trips on the river. There is a park and a beach on Trukhaniv Island.


A city of striking Baroque and Renaissance architecture, Lviv is the focal point of Ukrainian national culture. It was the centre of Ukrainian nationalist ambition at the beginning of the Soviet era. The City Castle was the first building to fly Ukraine’s blue-and-yellow national flag. Lviv is also the headquarters of Ukraine’s Greek Orthodox church.

Located by the foothills of the picturesque Carpathians, it is one of the oldest and most unusual cities in Europe. Lviv is ‘the city of lions’ – the heart and soul of Western Ukraine with a population of over 900,000. Lviv was mentioned in the Volyn chronicle in 1256 when Galycian King Danylo Galytsky founded the city and named it after his son Leo. Thanks to its advantageous location, many important trades and cultures meet in Lviv. Busy trade led to a dramatic increase in prosperity. Secular and religious gentry, rich merchants, artisans and craftspeople lived within the narrow ring of the city walls. As early as the 15th century, the city had its own mint, water supply system and regular international post. The streets were paved with cobbled stones and many new houses were built.

As the centuries passed, the varied heritage led to a wide variety of museum artifacts. The National Museum, Museum of History, Art Gallery, Antique Armoury (City Arsenal) and Museum of Ethnography and Crafts are famous for their collections. Development of the pharmaceutical trade in Ukraine is represented by the collection of the Pharmaceutical Museum – the oldest functioning pharmacy of Lviv (established in 1735). The interiors of these fabulous buildings evoke the atmosphere of times past.

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