If you are planning a trip to Kiev here are three must see places to get a true feel of the city, its history and its people. The history of Kiev is integral to getting to know a city and a country that has endured s much.
Maidan Square – Heaven’s Hundred Heroes
Maidan Square is the main square in the city centre and is the location of the Alley of Heaven’s Hundred Heroes.
Previously called Instytutska Street this road was renamed the Alley of Heaven’s Hundred Heroes. This is to commemorate the 100 Euromaidan protesters that lost their lives standing up against a Ukrainian government they didn’t believe in.
In 2014 the Ukrainian government reneged on a historic deal to bring the Ukraine closer to the European Union.
In reaction to this protesters gathered in Maidan Square and went on to occupy the site for three of the coldest months of the year.
The government tried to push back and quash the demonstrators who had gathered in Maidan Square, whose numbers had swelled to up to 10,000 at one point, by passing anti-government demonstration laws.
Three months of protests finally culminated in clashes between police and protesters. On 20th February 2014, 100 demonstrators lost their lives.
Memorials, gravestones, reminders of the violence and tributes to the 100 protesters can be found all over the city.
The overriding feeling you get walking around Kiev is one of remembrance and injustice.
The longest running modern day revolution is still very keenly felt by the people of Kiev. As you explore the city you will notice that it is embedded in the way the city centre has rebuilt itself since 2014.
When you visit the Ukrainian capital you will soon become very aware that the people of Kiev will never forget the time democracy and freedom of speech was lost in favour of oppression and totalitarianism.
Holodomor Museum – History of Kiev
Discover the history of the Ukrainian genocide of 1932 – 1933 in the Holodomor Genocide Museum.
In the Holodomor Museum you will learn how millions of Ukrainians died of starvation from 1932 to 1933. The starvation was not the result of a terrible drought or failed crops. It was the due to the callous and malicious actions of the leader of the Soviet Union – Joseph Stalin.
In the year of 1932 he made the decision to acquire all Ukrainian farms. After this he exported all Ukrainian grown grain out of the country as millions of people died from starvation.
Inside the museum you can watch footage of the time, listen to stories from survivors and follow the narration of the genocide in English and Ukrainian.
The museum is small, but the story is incredibly powerful. On your journey to discover the history of Ukraine and Kiev, the Holodomor Museum is not to be missed.
Pechersk Lavra – History of Kiev
Also known as the Kiev Monastary of the Caves, Pechersk Lavra is an Orthodox Christian monastery that over looks the Dnipro River.
The site is split into two sections. The Upper Lavra is where you will find the Bell Tower and the Lower Lavra where you will find the caves.
Entrance to the caves are free and they comprise of a series of tunnels and passages where monks used to live and pray. Over 100 of these monks have been mummified and interred into the caves. Their bodies are encased in glass coffins and placed atop of marble slabs in small, dimly lit alcoves.
As you enter the caves it takes a while to compute what you are looking at. The lack of lighting, the closeness of the walls around your head and the heavy smell of burning candle wax helps to create an eerie sense of displacement. I didn’t feel this was somewhere I wanted to be for very long. Although, my keen sense of curiosity seemed to override this feeling just enough to allow me to have a good look around.
The consistent bowling of heads and kissing of coffins also made me feel very self-conscious. I felt like an impostor, interrupting moments of devout worship. It was a very unusual experience and one I shall remember for a very long time.
It’s not your usual touristy destination. Even though it’s rated the number one thing to do whilst in Kiev!