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Best things to do in Kyiv

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Where in the world: Europe  /  Ukraine  /  Kyiv

Top 15 things to do in Kyiv

2. The Holy Dormition Kyiv Caves Lavra

One of the region's most important epicenters for Eastern Orthodoxy and a World Heritage Site, The Holy Dormition Kyiv Caves Lavra offers an array of historical fortifications, churches, tombs, and ornate buildings. Wander the grounds of this extensive religious complex, which was originally founded in 1051 as a humble network of underground tunnels and living quarters. The cave system features hallways, relics, chapels, and homes. An on-site museum here houses an extensive collection of religious artifacts and artwork. Join a guided tour to see the catacombs and the tombs of Orthodox saints. Climb to the top of the 97 m (316 ft) bell tower for a panoramic view over Kiev.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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3. St. Sophia's Cathedral

Boasting an array of cupolas and a richly decorated interior, St. Sophia's Cathedral stands as Kiev's premier and oldest church, as well as a famous symbol of the city. Visit the cathedral, begun in the year 1037 as a tribute to a military victory, and marvel at its 13 Orthodox-style cupolas, the highest of which stands at 29 m (94 ft). Take time to enter the building and admire its complement of intricate frescoes, paintings, and decorations, many dating back to its earliest days and of great importance in Kiev's religious life. You'll find, among others, ornate portraits of founding fathers of the church, angels, and St. Sophia herself within, accented with shimmering gold paint and tiles. Don't miss seeing the tomb of Yaroslavl the Wise, the man who first commissioned the building's construction.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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4. Andriivskyi Descent

Paved with cobblestones and lined with notable buildings, Andriivskyi Descent connects two of Kiev's main neighborhoods. Wander the length of the 720 m (2,362 ft) street, long a part of Kiev's traditional artists' district, passing its host of souvenir stands and shops selling Orthodox- and Ukrainian-themed gifts. Stop and admire the many ornate 18th-century homes along the way--including that of the legendary Russian writer Mikhail Bulgakov--as well as the intricately decorated St. Andrew's Church from the Baroque period. Alternatively, swing by one of the many cafes or eateries along the way.
Suggested duration: 1 hour
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5. The Motherland Monument

Sword and shield raised triumphantly in the air, The Motherland Monument commemorates the Soviet Union's defense of the homeland against Nazi Germany's invasion during World War II. You can see the towering statue by visiting Kiev's World War II museum; you'll find it located nearby in an outdoor exhibition area. The titanium statue of a woman, standing 62 m (203 ft) high, represents the Soviet Union and the horrific human suffering it endured in the war against Hitler's Germany. You can hop aboard an elevator at the base and travel to a viewing platform part way up the statue for a sweeping view of Kiev.
Suggested duration: 30 minutes
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6. Khreshchatyk

Lined with Stalinist buildings and a host of shops, Khreshchatyk serves as Kiev's main thoroughfare and connects several of its primary squares. As you make your way down the 1.2 km (0.75 mi) road from European Square to Bessarabska Square, you'll pass the many centers of Kiev's city administration. Note the uniform Soviet-style architecture that defines the road, a result of its total destruction during World War II. A wide array of stores and boutiques lines the street, boasting plenty of big-name world brands. You can alternatively peruse the booths and markets set up along the way, or just kick back at a cafe.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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7. Maidan Nezalezhnosti

As Kiev's main plaza and gathering place, Maidan Nezalezhnosti has served as the site of many influential protest movements and rallies throughout Ukraine's recent history. Though the site developed as a residential area during the 1800s, the destruction during World War II caused the area to be rebuilt in Stalinist style. Visit the square for yourself to admire the triumphal sculptures and angel-topped pillar. Envision the crowds that gathered here in 1989 and 1990 at the start of Ukraine's bid for independence from the Soviet Union, in 2004 during the Orange Revolution that marked its transition into infant democracy, and again one decade later in the Euromaidan protests.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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8. St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery

Although Soviet authorities demolished the medieval-era original before World War II, St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery stands today reflecting much of its former glory. Deemed historically worthless by the Communist government and obliterated in 1936, the church was reconstructed by 2000 as a post-independence project of the Ukrainian government. Walk the cathedral grounds and marvel at the structure's array of golden domes and sky-blue paint. Admire the many depictions of its patron saint, the Archangel Michael, including the golden statue that sits high above the entrance. Be sure to visit the museum to see exhibitions displaying religious artifacts related to the cathedral and documenting its journey through history.
Suggested duration: 30 minutes
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10. Pyrohovo Open-Air Museum

Get an up-close look at Ukraine's human history at Pyrohovo Open-Air Museum, home to a collection of buildings and architectural pieces from around the country. The museum boasts 300 different building displays, the oldest of which is a church dating to 1742. Wander the grounds and view the array of primarily wooden homes, shops, mills, and more that represent the economic and social aspects of traditional Ukrainian village life. You'll find also an extensive complement of household items on display, as well as actors and museum staff dressed in traditional national clothing. Don't miss the museum's wooden windmills, one of its centerpieces, and be sure to watch the living history demonstrations.
Suggested duration: 6 hours
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11. St. Volodymyr's Cathedral

With its seven domes crowned by gilded crosses, the lavish silhouette of St. Volodymyr's Cathedral rises above the winding streets. Dating back to 1859, the church was built from donations from residents of the Russian Empire and the other churches, which took about 37 years to collect. The 49 m (161 ft) yellow-and-blue structure showcases a Neo-Byzantine architectural style, an outgrowth of Roman building techniques. Inside you'll see mosaic decorations produced by prominent Venetian artists. Notice frescoes of famous local painters, opulent bronze busts, and an iconostasis carved out of white marble from Tuscany.
Suggested duration: 1 hour
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12. Golden Gate

Although no one passes through it any more, Golden Gate stands as the remaining historical gateway to an ancient fortress, representing one of the main landmarks of the city. Dating back to 1017, the 12 m (39 ft) tall structure served as an honorary entrance for the wealthy, city politicians, and ambassadors from abroad. Although severely damaged in Mongol attacks of 1240, the gate represented the city's gala entrance until the mid-18th century. Most of the ruined part was excavated in 1832 and reattached. Pay particular attention to the top of the monument--it houses the Church of the Annunciation. If you wish, you can visit the national museum within the gate.
Suggested duration: 30 minutes
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14. National Museum of the History of Ukraine in the Second World War

One of Ukraine's most extensive exhibitions, National Museum of the History of Ukraine in the Second World War memorializes the Soviet Union's battle against Nazi Germany during World War II and displays a host of military artifacts. Visit the museum and explore its more than 300,000 exhibits dispersed throughout cavernous halls. You'll see weapons, documents, personal effects, and a wealth of other items from World War II. The museum's most famous symbol outside is hard to miss: a 62 m (203 ft) titanium "Motherland" statue depicting a woman with a sword and shield. Don't miss the outdoor exhibitions of military hardware, including armored personnel carriers, Cold War-era jets, and even some brightly painted tanks.
Suggested duration: 1 hour
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15. Park Landscape Alley

One of the city's most well-known sites, Park Landscape Alley features numerous wacky sculptures. Built in the 1980s, the path has become a place where local residents gather. Immerse yourself in a world of recreated fairytale creatures made of bright mosaic cubes and other colorful materials. Follow the winding paths through the park to see pyramids of pillows, look out for a 30 m (100 ft) cat, and ride an "Alice in Wonderland" themed carousel. You can rest on an animal-shaped bench while listening to ripples from the elephant fountain.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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