‘The cradle of the East Slavic civilization’, ‘mother of all Russian cities’, ‘majestic and golden-domed’, ‘a city of parks’ – all these are the epithets given to the more than one-and-a-half thousand years-old Kyiv. It was founded at the end of the V century AD by the legendary East Slavic tribe leader Kyi (and the city is named after him, translated as ‘belonging to Kyi’), his brothers Schek and Khoriv, and also their sister Lybid. At first, Kyiv was a fortress city located on the bank of the Dnipro River at the intersection of trade routes of Greeks and Varangians (Vikings).
Soon, Kyiv became the first capital of the Kievan Rus’, first Ukrainian state (end of the IX century–1240). The city flourished in times of Grand Prince Yaroslav the Wise (1010–1054) who became relative of royal families in France, Norway, Hungary, and Poland. In the XI century Kyiv was the largest city in Europe: at the beginning of that century the present-day capital of Ukraine had population of 50 thousand. For comparison: at that time London has only 20 thousand inhabitants. XI century German chronicler Adam of Bremen called Kyiv a rival of Constantinople.
Since those legendary times and for almost one thousand years Kyiv’s skyline is adorned by domes of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra and St. Sophia Cathedral, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Between 30 January 1918 and December 1919 Kyiv was the capital of the Ukrainian People’s Republic, and between June 1934 and 1991 – the capital of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. On 24 August 1991 when Ukraine finally gained independence, Kyiv became the capital of the sovereign state Ukraine. That day marked the beginning of a new era in the city’s history. Kyiv’s main square, Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square) has changed its appearance and now pleases the eye of Kievites and visitors alike. Kyiv experiences a real construction boom: new office and retail centres are popping up all over the city. Now even those who last visited Kyiv some 10–15 years ago may not even recognize it. Various festivals, contests, fairs, arts and crafts exhibitions – all this proves the flourishing business and cultural life of the city, and the visitors to Kyiv will feel at the same time the aura of bygone times and the pulse of modern life.