In my previous articles I introduced you Rome and today I’m going to introduce to you Rome of the east. Now you will probably ask yourself what these both cities have in common. While Rome is a kind of cultural centre of Europe Kyiv playes a similar role for the East Slavic nations as Kyiv is the heart of the former Kievan Rus’ about which I already wrote in an article in the past. Another thing that Kyiv and Rome have in common is that both cities have been built in seven hills.
Kyiv as a travel destination
Of course Kyiv or Ukraine in general are not travel destinies that will come on your mind as popular tourism destinations. I think that’s it what makes it even more interesting. And if you go there in spring as I did you can be sure that you will have great wheather and that you will get to know Kyiv from its most lovely side. I know that you often hear scaring things about Ukraine in the media but my advice is that you shouldn’t take them too seriously. I admit that you shouldn’t go to the regions around Donezk and Lugansk at the moment but Kyiv and the rest of Ukraine is quite save. Unlike Russia or many other nations of the former Soviet Union Ukraine doesn’t require any visa from EU citizens and there are two airports in Kyiv you can reach. Borispil is the bigger airport on the eastside of Dnieper while Zhulhany is a much smaller airport on the other side of the river and it’s easier to reach the city centre of Kyiv from there. After Ukraine hosted the European football championship together with Poland in 2012 and Kyiv hosted the Eurovision Song Contest in 2005 and in 2017 tourism started growing in this country and especially in Kyiv. What I like about Kyiv is that you have almost important sights close to each other and you can reach them all by metro or make a short trip with the Funicular which is next to St. Michaels Golden-Domed Monastery. And look who I have met at the metro in Kyiv.
Vitali Klichko is the major of Kyiv and it’s quite possible that you will meet him, too. Of course by metro you will also reach the Maidan of Independence or Майдан Незалежності (Maydan Nezalezhnosti) in Ukrainian. Another symbol of Ukrainian independence is the huge Motherland Monument rising over Kyiv. In Russian it’s called Родина-Мать (Rodina Mat’) and in Ukrainian Батьківщина-Мати (Bat’kivshchyna Maty).
The most important sights
As I have mentioned Kyiv is the cultural centre both of Ukraine and the former Kievan Rus’ and you will see there many sights from this time. You should visit for instance the St. Sophia Cathedral, the St. Michaels Golden-Domed Monasteryand the Golden Gate which has been built to defend Kyiv from Mongolian and Tatar invaders. That’s how the Golden Gate looks today.
If you want to eat something and have a cold drink on a sunny day then check out the restaurants and cafés around the Golden Gate. And if the waiter offers you some vodka after your meal then take it and don’t refuse. By the way the Ukrainian don’t say водка (vodka) like the Russian do but they call it горілка (horilka). There are a few differences between Russian and Ukrainian culture and language about which you should know before visiting Ukraine.
The language situation in Ukraine
After Ukraine got its independence from the former Soviet Union back in 1991 they chose Ukrainian as their official language. Indeed almost all countries that got their Independence from the former Soviet Union declared their language as the official one. However there are many people living in all these countries who are ethnically Russian and in Kyiv you will hear and read both languages on the street. It often happened to me that I started a conversation in Ukrainian but the shopkeeper or taxi driver answered me in Russian. On the other hand many people appreciated it when I talked to them in Ukrainian as they are not prepared that somebody from abroad shows interest for their language. But about the main differences between Russian and Ukrainian as well as about some general facts about the Ukrainian language I’m going to tell you in my next article. So stay tuned and check out my blog regularly!