SPOTLIGHT ON UKRAINE:
By Olivia Chamberlain
Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, is one of Europe’s most beautiful and vibrant cities. From its classic architecture to historic monuments, Kyiv’s old-time beauty is a perfect destination for all to visit at least once in their lives.
While the war in Ukraine cannot be ignored, it is important to appreciate the history and culture of Kyiv as they face unspeakable tragedy.
Kyiv is known for several types of architecture; the capital’s Soviet monumental neoclassicism style is especially prominent on Khreschatyk Street, the city’s most popular main street. Home to restaurants, cafes, and various shops, Khreschatyk was destroyed in WWII, but built up again when Ukraine achieved independence.
On many of these beautifully-constructed streets, you can find street art, which is highly influenced by political events and Ukrainian culture. Many famous artists have contributed to the art on the streets of Kyiv, such as Brisbane’s Fintan Magee and Portugal’s Vhils.
Kyiv is also known as “the city of golden domes,” with the most famous example being the Headquarters of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, named St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery. This UNESCO World Heritage site was originally built in 1760, and demolished in the 1930s, thankfully being reconstructed again in 1999. Religion and the Orthodox Church play a major role in Ukrainian culture, so don’t be surprised when you see beautifully decorated churches and temples around every corner.
One of the best ways (in my opinion) to really explore different places is to try their street food. Kyiv especially has a huge emphasis on small cafes and food trucks, with inclusion of many different cultures. If you love pastries, both sweet and savory, Kyiv is the place for you. One of Kyiv’s most famous street food destinations is Kyivska Perepichka: home to the beloved Ukrainian version of a hot dog. A simple, but perfectly baked pastry stuffed with a seasoned sausage, amounting to the equivalent of $0.50 USD. This is a steal, which can often be found in other spots in Kyiv as well!
Even in a city that places a huge emphasis on a strong national identity, Kyiv is a cultural melting pot that welcomes people from all over the world. Having survived the Mongol Empire, WWII, and Chernobyl, Kyiv is a proud city.
Hopefully soon Kyiv will be a safe place to travel to again, but in the meantime, support Ukraine and appreciate the strength of Kyiv!