Kyiv is the capital and largest city of Ukraine, located in the north central part of the country on the
Dnieper River. The population of the city about 3 million. making Kiev the 7th most populous city in
Europe. Kyiv is an important industrial, scientific, educational, and cultural center of Eastern Europe. The
city has an extensive infrastructure and highly developed system of public transport, including the Kyiv
Kiev, one of the oldest cities of Eastern Europe, played a pivotal role in the development of the medieval
East Slavic civilization as well as in the modern Ukrainian nation. During its history, Kyiv passed through
several stages of great prominence and relative obscurity. The city probably existed as a commercial
center as early as the 5th century. During World War II, the city suffered significant damage, but quickly
recovered in the post-war years, remaining the third largest city of the Soviet Union. Kyiv continued to
be Ukraine’s largest and richest city.
The city’s name is said to derive from the name of Kyi, one of its four legendary founders. During its
history, Kiev, one of the oldest cities in Eastern Europe, passed through several stages of great
prominence and relative obscurity. The city probably existed as a commercial center as early as the 5th
century. A Slavic settlement on the great trade route between Scandinavia and Constantinople, Kiev was
a tributary of the Khazars, until its capture by the Varangians (Vikings) in the mid-9th century. Under
Varangian rule, the city became a capital of the Kievan Rus’, the first East Slavic state.
The city prospered during the Russian Empire’s Industrial Revolution in the late 19th century. In 1918,
after the Ukrainian National Republic declared independence from Soviet Russia, Kiev became its
capital. From 1921 onwards Kiev was a city of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, which was
proclaimed by the Red Army, and, from 1934, Kiev was its capital. During World War II, the city again
suffered significant damage, but quickly recovered in the post-war years, remaining the third largest city
of the Soviet Union.
Modern Kiev is a mix of the old (Kiev preserved about 70 percent of more than 1,000 buildings built
during 1907–1914) and the new, seen in everything from the architecture to the stores and to the
people themselves. When the capital of the Ukrainian SSR was moved from Kharkiv to Kiev many new
buildings were commissioned to give the city “the gloss and polish of a capital”. In the discussions
centered on how to create a showcase city center the current city center of Khreshchatyk and Maidan
Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square) were not the obvious choices. Some of the early, ultimately not
materialised, ideas included a part of Pechersk, Lypky, European Square and Mykhailivska Square. The
plans of building massive monuments (of Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin) were also abandoned; due to
lack of money (in the 1930s–1950s) and because of Kiev’s hilly landscape. Experiencing rapid population
growth between the 1970s and the mid-1990s, the city has continued its consistent growth after the
turn of the millennium. As a result, Kiev’s central districts provide a dotted contrast of new, modern
buildings among the pale yellows, blues and greys of older apartments. Urban sprawl has gradually
reduced, while population densities of suburbs has increased. The most expensive properties are
located in the Pechersk, and Khreshchatyk areas. It is also prestigious to own a property in newly
constructed buildings in the Kharkivskyi Raion or Obolon along the Dnieper.
Kiev’s most famous historical architecture complexes are the St. Sophia Cathedral and the Kiev Pechersk
Lavra (Monastery of the Caves), which are recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Noteworthy
historical architectural landmarks also include the Mariyinsky Palace (designed and constructed from
1745 to 1752, then reconstructed in 1870), several Orthodox churches such as St. Michael’s Cathedral,
St. Andrew’s, St. Vladimir’s, the reconstructed Golden Gate and others.
One of Kiev’s widely recognized modern landmarks is the highly visible giant Mother Motherland statue
made of titanium standing at the Museum of the History of Ukraine in World War II on the Right bank of
the Dnieper River. Other notable sites is the cylindrical Salut hotel, located across from Glory Square and
the eternal flame at the World War Two memorial Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and the House with
Among Kiev’s best-known monuments are Mikhail Mikeshin’s statue of Bohdan Khmelnytsky astride his
horse located near St. Sophia Cathedral, the venerated Vladimir the Great (St. Vladimir), the baptizer of
Rus’, overlooking the river above Podil from Volodymyrska Hill, the monument to Kyi, Schek and Khoryv
and Lybid, the legendary founders of the city located at the Dnieper embankment. On Independence
Square in the city centre, two monuments elevate two of the city protectors; the historic protector of
Kiev Michael Archangel atop a reconstruction of one of the old city’s gates and a modern invention, the
goddess-protector Berehynia atop a tall column.
Kiev was the historic cultural centre of the East Slavic civilization and a major cradle for the
Christianization of Kievan Rus’. Kiev retained through centuries its cultural importance and even at times
of relative decay, it remained the centre of primary importance of Eastern Orthodox Christianity . Its
sacred sites, which include the Kiev Pechersk Lavra (the Monastery of the Caves) and the Saint Sophia
Cathedral are probably the most famous, attracted pilgrims for centuries and now recognized as a
UNESCO World Heritage Site remain the primary religious centres as well as the major tourist attraction.
The above-mentioned sites are also part of the Seven Wonders of Ukraine collection.