Kyiv will soon be ready to host their second Eurovision Song Contest. The competition has grown much bigger since their first hosting in 2005. Kyiv has also developed a lot in this time although the city's cultural heritage, traditions, cuisine and architecture constitute an important part of the Ukrainian capital's spirit.
There is lots of offer for those visiting Kyiv in May who want to discover the city outside the Eurovision bubble. The numerous sights have something for everyone, however Kyiv’s pride partly lies in the varied and grand architecture.
Saint Sophia's Cathedral is one of the most famous architectural monuments in the city. The history dates back to the 11th century and in 1990 it became the first heritage site in Ukraine to be added to the UNESCO World Heritage List together with the Kyiv Cave Monastery complex, named Kyev Pechersk Lavra. This Orthodox Christian monastery is truly something special. Multiple gold-domed churches are the first thing that catches the eye on the hills above the Dnipro river but the site also includes a unique labyrinth of underground caves and catacombs. You can explore this network of narrow aisles below ground and discover its greater meaning as it’s full of mummified monks, religious relics and icons.
Behind Kyiv’s monuments there is often a special story or legend. One such example is the bronze statue of a cat named Pantyusha who lived in the kitchen of a restaurant near the Golden Gate. The cat was said to be always hanging around the restaurant and was loved by the cooks, waiters and visitors. After Pantyusha had died some of the regular visitors of the restaurant donated money to create a statue in his honour. Nowadays, many go by to stroke on the cat’s tail for good luck.
Ukraine also has a strong history of cuisine. Some of the most common dishes are the vegetable soup Borshch, rice and beef-filled cabbage rolls called Holubtsi and the dumplings, Varenyky, stuffed with almost anything from mashed potatoes with mushrooms to cherries. The traditional drink, Uzvar, might not be for everybody though. It is made by using dried fruits which are sweetened with honey. It is drank during holidays and as well as an everyday beverage.
As with most places, coffee is also very popular. You can enjoy a cup in one of Kyiv’s many green parks. For example, the A.V. Fomin Botanical Garden, located in front of the bright red university. Here there are several coffee carts, one of which is an old train wagon!