May 26th and 27th was full of celebratory cheers for Kiev’s 1530th birthday! Music filled its jam-packed centre and the sky glittered with fireworks.
It is a much-adored ancient city, loved by its dwellers above all. Old by nature but with a rejuvenating soul; it’s truly a hidden gem.
Rarely do you come across non-Slavic tourists or tourists in general. Only in the last year has the West set its sights on this terrain, eyeing it suspiciously while nervously prodding the ground. For on Monday it will be overrun by European tribes, chanting war cries and waving flags, all charging at a ball.
As the squads combat on the pitch, the buried jewel glimmers beneath.
Glorious, dangerous, and tragic battles have been fought on this soil in bygone years. Not for an empty tin cup but in defence, honour, and pure survival.
Like the many leafy chestnut trees shielding its streets, Kiev’s roots run deep into this golden land. The heart of Ukraine, it has never stopped beating – overcoming the most severe attacks and shocks. Life has flowed from here since the 5th century, pumping through the main artery: The Dnipro River.
Kiev’s unassuming beauty makes her all the more captivating. Unlike chic Paris and hip London, she doesn’t flaunt her assets; you must discover them for yourself. She is as mysterious as Moscow but without its overbearing features. Once her golden gate is unlocked, amazing treasure awaits: historical richness, unique nooks, sacred monasteries, splendid parks, secret islands, charming scenery, and opal beaches are just some of it.
Skipping along in my ruby slippers under blossoming chestnut trees, while the Dnipro shimmers between beryl-green hills and gold-domed churches glisten like candles on the horizon, I pinch myself.
Even the high-rise blocks, sparkling like crystals in the sunlight, crown the skyline with a striking tiara.
I must be dreaming (or I’ve eaten Alice’s magic mushroom)!
But no, this Emerald City is real!
Get your slippers on and come follow the golden roads into the heart of Ukraine.
Happy Birthday Kiev!
A little about Kiev:
- The Chestnut leaf is its symbol
- Considered the greenest city in the world by the UN with around 20 square meters of green space per resident.
- Founded by the legendary brothers Kiy, Shchek, Khoriv and their sister Lybid.
- The first ever capital of Kievan Rus, the first Russian state (late 9th century – 1240).
- Ukraine’s first and only capital since independence Dec 1st 1991.
- Home to the holiest site in Ukraine: Kyevo-Pecherska Larvra.
- Holds the world’s smallest book in the Miniature Museum.
- Has its own scrumptious Kiev Cake, made of meringue and buttercream.
- Archangel Michael is the city’s protector and on its coat of arms.
- Explore the parks.
- Watch the sunset from the Kiev Hills.
- Enjoy a view of the Dnipro River from Parkovy (Pedestrian) Bridge where you can even bungee jump (if you have the guts!).
- Take a boat ride along the Dnipro river.
- Soak up the sun on the islands sandy beaches.
- Visit the Kyevo-Pecherka Lavra and attend an orthodox service.
- Pay your respects to the 10 million Ukrainians killed under Stalin at the Holodomor memorial.
- Go to the National Museum of The Great Patriotic War and see a panoramic view of Kiev from the top of the Motherland Statue.
- Picnic in the Pyrohovo Museum, one of the world’s largest open-air museums.
- Promenade along Khreshchatyk on the weekend when it is closed to vehicles.
- Relax near the fountains on Maydan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square).
- Check out St Michael’s Monastery then walk along to St Sophia’s Cathedral and onto the Golden Gate.
- Stop and listen to the Babushka folk singers in the underpasses and metro stations.
- See Ukraine through paintings at to the National Art Gallery.
- Follow the main golden road to the rainbow.