Is Kiev on Your Architecture Bucket List… It Should Be

Kiev is the capital of Ukraine, and like most capital cities of Europe, it’s chock-full of incredible historic sites.

But when walking the streets of Kiev, it feels like nowhere else in Europe—its architecture is equally as diverse in style as it is compelling and playfully designed. One step, art nouveau, next step, Ukrainian Baroque, turn your gaze, Soviet Modernism. This list could continue—there are over 30 unique architectural styles in Kiev’s metro area alone.

Yes, Ukraine is a little off the beaten track from the standard 30-day European tourist jaunt (U.K., France, Italy). But, architectural masters such as Bartolomeo Rastrelli, Emilio Sala, Wladyslaw Horodecki have shaped this enchanting city for the last 14 centuries (no big deal). Kiev is one of the oldest cities in Eastern Europe and is fundamental to the historical formation of the Ukrainian nation. Trust us, you won’t regret adding Kiev to your next European itinerary. The city it all: food, culture, history, and, perhaps most important, stunning architecture.

Kiev

SCOTT BAY

St. Sophia’s Cathedral.

St. Sophia’s Cathedral

Kiev has a nickname: the City of Domes. The Ukrainian capital is home to more than 950 churches and cathedrals, many of which are ordained with golden onion-shaped domes. But St. Sophia’s sticks out as one of the cities most beloved cathedrals. The 11th-century cathedral—one of the oldest in the city and the first heritage site in Ukraine to be included on the World Heritage List—was first designed to show gratitude to the citizens of Novgorod (a 6th-century  Russian city). Under the reign of the Grand Prince of Kievan Rus, aka Vladimir the Great, St. Sophia’s foundation was laid in 1011, but took nearly two decades to complete the structure. It lived on as a church until the Russian Revolution of 1917 when the government tried to destroy the cathedral. Thanks to historians of the time, the structure was preserved. And since the fall of the Soviet Union, came the Orthodox Cathedral that St. Sophia’s is today. Its history alone should draw any curious traveler as there are sections of St. Sophia that are original to its original ideation—really incredible to witness.

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