After breezing through the Ukraine VOA process, it was time for me to get moving and start exploring!
I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t expect a whole lot from Kiev. The reality is that my time in Ukraine was purely a result of me wanting to visit the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone (stay tuned) and I had just figured that Kiev would serve as nothing more than a base from which to do such exploring.
However, the city really did take me by surprise, and it was so much more interesting to explore than I had ever imagined.
I had arrived late at night and after a rather crummy nights sleep, I woke up feeling rather average, so it only seemed fitting to start my exploring a little on the slow side and visit a museum before really pounding the pavement.
Enter the Ukranian National Chornobyl Museum.
Opened in 1992, this small but intriguing museum is dedicated to educating people about the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. It encompasses science and history to really paint the picture of what it was like for the people that had to live through the most severe nuclear disaster in history.
A huge amount of the writings and explanations are in Ukrainian, so if you really want to get a good understanding of the message that the museum is sending, it is definitely worthwhile to get an audio guide.
For example – if I hadn’t had my audio guide, I would have had no idea that the circular yellow and red symbols are not placed randomly through the museum. These symbols indicate that the person/people in that picture died as a result of the Chernobyl disaster.
The machine in this next photo was once used to detect radiation levels, and though it might look rather kitschy, after visiting the Chernobyl exclusion zone, I can tell you right now that these are still used in the modern day!
The museum is informative, engaging and at times, downright sad. It is more than worth the 10 UAH price tag (approx 50c AUD) – however it is worth noting that if you wish to take photographs it will cost you an extra 30 UAH.
After I had learned everything from the museum that I possibly could have, it was time to see some sights! Not too far from the museum is one of Kievs most famous streets – Andrews Descent. Cobblestones lead you up the steep and winding path that was once famous for being the most artistic street in Kiev. Unfortunately these days, instead of real artwork, most of what you’ll find on this street are vendors selling typical touristy garb, but despite this, it is still worth the climb.
So what makes it worth it?
Well, once you get to the top, the sight of the stunning St. Andrews Church will make you forget all about your tired muscles!
I soon came to learn that Kiev is full to the brim of gorgeous religious sites. If you continue onwards from St. Andrews Church for another 10 minutes or so, you’ll find St. Michaels golden domed monastery. Entrance to this monastery is free, but honestly, it is most impressive from the outside.
The juxtaposition of the blue with the gold is undeniably beautiful, and even if you are a non-religious human like myself, it is still the kind of place that will take your breath away for a second or two.
A short five minute walk from St. Michaels will then lead you to St. Sophias cathedral.
Saint Sophias Cathedral is one of the most famous landmarks in Kiev, and was also one of the first sites in the city to be awarded with World Heritage status. This cathedral dates back to the 11th century and though it isn’t as pretty from the outside as its monastery neighbour – it is the interior of this cathedral that is truly impressive.
Unfortunately, taking photographs inside is strictly prohibited (and there are at least 12 Ukrainian women that roam inside ready to admonish you if you so much as reach for your camera) so I cannot share the beauty that lies within, but instead I will just say – if you find yourself in Kiev – do not miss it.
After I was done admiring St. Sophia – I decided that something a little more upbeat was exactly what I needed to finish my day, so without hesitation, I was on the move and headed towards Sculptures Alley.
Sculptures Alley (also known as Peizazhna Alley – this is useful if you want any hope of finding the place on Google Maps) is a kind of open air museum. Built in 2009 and designed for kids, this place is free to visit and seems to be more popular with adults than it does kids!
Honestly though, it shouldn’t be that surprising that the alley sees more adults than children. I mean, I think a lot of us living life in adult bodies are really just kids at heart!
My favourite sculpture in the alley was most definitely this next one!
I mean, seriously? Pissing colours?
Now that’s something that you’ll only find in Kiev!
Getting to Kiev: Kiev is well serviced by two international airports – Boryspil and Zhuliany
Dream Hostel Kiev: A cheap hostel in a good location, just make sure you don’t get put in room 37!
Chernobyl Museum: Open Monday to Saturday, click here for more info
Camera: Images captured with an Olympus OM-D E-M1 in conjunction with M.Zuiko 12-40mm f2/8 lens
Random Fact: Kiev is home to the worlds deepest metro station! Arsenalna station lies 105.5m underground and travelling on the escalator is an experience in itself – however, if you are prone to claustrophobia you may want to give this one a miss
Remember: If you are looking for a city break on a budget – then you should definitely consider Kiev!