Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday Art and History Feature - Kiev (my birthplace)

Center of Kiev
I haven’t been back to the city of my birth in twenty years and from everything I have read and heard about it, it has changed quiet a lot. However, what’s constant is that Kiev, where I lived for the first 13 years of my life, is one of the oldest and most beautiful cities in the world.

Kiev has been the capital of Ukraine since 1934, but it’s history goes back to 480 AD. The legend of the creation of the city tells of two brothers, Schek and Khoriv and their sister Lybid (translated as “swan”). What is known for a fact is that Slavs have inhabited the area of and around kiev since 6th century.

Monument to brothers Schek, Khoriv and their sister Lybid - legendary founders of Kiev
Kiev became the capital of the “old Russia” or the “Kievan Rus’” in the 9th century and remained so until at least the 12th century. It was destroyed by the invading Mongols in 1240 and had to be completely rebuilt. Throughout the next centuries, Kiev was controlled at various times by Tatars, Lithuanians and others. In the 19th century, Ukraine was losing its autonomy and eventually went through a Russification, leading to its eventual inclusion into the Soviet Union in 1917, with Kiev becoming its capital in 1934.

Andreevkiy spusk in Kiev
Today, Kiev is a mix of old and new, more than ever. When I left in 1999 to come to America, it was right after the Soviet Union broke apart and Ukraine was seeking independence. When looking at the pictures of Kiev today, you can see a McDonalds and ad for an Ipad next to a stunning ancient church, and old cobblestone streets run parallel to busy new highways.

There are so many churches in the city, you can encounter one no matter which way you turn. Some of those have survived through the centuries, others have been rebuilt in the past years because so many were destroyed after the Soviet revolution on 1917. Kiev is also still one of the greenest most beautiful cities in Europe (and in the world) today.

Kiev in bloom
 In the spring, it is covered with lilac bushes and the chestnut trees in bloom. In fact, the bloom of a chestnut tree became the unofficial symbol of the city.

I would love to visit Kiev sometime soon and see how it changed. I would also love to show my husband where I grew up. Kiev has a beauty and spirit about it that appeals strongly to me as a writer.

Chestnuts blooming


  1. WOW! That's amazing, Yelena. So many beautiful sights. So, when are we visiting? :D

  2. Tina, it really is such a beautiful city! I just wish it was a little more stable there. But hopefully we can go for a visit soon! I'm ready :)

  3. I'd very much like to visit as well. Although I'm not in possession of the same history with this city as you, I'd still very much like to see the birthplace of a big part of my family, and other places in Ukraine as well.

  4. Oh, and as of now, I'm following your blog :D

  5. Yay, I'm so excited you're following the blog now, Rebecca! :) And yes, you absolutely have to visit the places where your family comes from. It's a good experience.


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