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A guide to Kyiv's districts: hipsters' points, what to see, and where to find nature in the city

On the last Sunday of May — this year, it is May 28 — Ukrainians celebrate Kyiv Day. The Ukrainian capital is home to more than three million people, and now, during the full-scale invasion, despite regular shelling by the Russians, life in Kyiv is bustling.


It is challenging to describe Kyiv in one sentence, as it is a diverse and dynamic city that welcomes proactive and motivated residents who are constantly developing and transforming it. Kyiv is both young and ancient, a place where the history of Ukraine began. Kyiv is about creative parties, quiet parks, bars, coffee shops, galleries, offices, universities, and supermarkets. And the most exciting thing is that Kyiv has many unique neighbourhoods. We hope that by telling you about at least some of them, you will be able to understand what the phrase "Kyiv is diverse" means. So, let's talk about the unique districts of Kyiv.


Center

Independence Square (Maidan Nezalezhnosti). Photo: Maksym Klovak

First of all, it is lined with chestnut trees main street of Kyiv, Khreshchatyk. There is always rhythm, movement and many tourists.


Central government buildings are located here, such as the Office of the President of Ukraine, Kyiv City State Administration. In addition, there is the Ukrainian House, one of the centers of business, social and political, educational, cultural, and artistic life in Ukraine. The street is also home to the Central Department Store of Kyiv (TSUM), the main and only classic department store in Ukraine, built in the Art Deco style in 1936-1939; and the largest market with Ukrainian brands Vsi.Svoi, which offers products from more than 250 Ukrainian brands, including women's and men's clothing, furniture, textiles, accessories, interior items, gastronomy, and stationery.

A large banner with the slogan "Azovstal. Free Mariupol Defenders" is on the main Kyiv street, Khreshchatyk

Next to Khreshchatyk there is another spot and, at the same time, an iconic landmark for Ukrainians — Independence Square (Maidan Nezalezhnosti). It was here that Ukraine was proclaimed an independent state on August 24, 1991. Since then, Maidan has been a place where peaceful rallies, protests, and large gatherings of Ukrainians take place. Most notably, in 2013, the Revolution of Dignity unfolded here, aimed at overthrowing the criminal regime of pro-Russian President Yanukovych and fighting for a pro-European course of development.


Nearby, there is the Universytet (University) metro station. The name of the station speaks for itself: the main building of one of the most famous Ukrainian universities, Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, is located here. A spacious park is located near the university, where student meetings, picnics, and sometimes movie screenings are held. In addition, just behind the metro station, there is one of Kyiv's botanical gardens, where magnolias bloom in early spring.


Pechersk

This close to the center district, Pecherskyi, is considered one of the most expensive and elite.


One of the tallest buildings in Kyiv, 142 meters high, is located here, near the Olimpiyska metro station — the Gulliver shopping center. The building consists of two blocks: A 35-story business center and a 16-story entertainment complex. Gulliver is also close to Star Square, where the names of prominent figures in Ukrainian culture, sports, and show business are engraved: for example, director Akhtem Seitablaev, actress Ada Rogovtseva, and Eurovision 2016 winner Jamala.

Olimpiiskyi stadium

An important spot here is Olimpiiskyi stadium — a multi-use sports and recreation facility. The Olympic National Sports Complex Stadium, the home of Dynamo Kyiv football club, is the premier sports venue in Ukraine. Since May 2020, due to the Russian aggression in the east of Ukraine, the stadium is also used for the home matches of Shakhtar Donetsk football team. The complex beside its stadium also features several other sports facilities and is designed to host the Olympic Games (the stadium hosted some football matches at the 1980 Summer Olympics).


Podil

Photo: Maksym Klovak

It is one of Kyiv's oldest districts and geographically the city's lowest point. Buildings here are mostly old and low-rise, where apartments have high ceilings. Various cultural and artistic events often take place here, organized by young enthusiasts, activists, and artists, thus, posters with announcements of various projects are everywhere too. Also, third-wave coffee shops with locals sitting there with their laptops and top-quality coffee on every corner — the most popular of them are First Point, Buck Coffee, Svit Kavy and EspressoHolic.


Ukraine's leading festival movie theater, Zhovten, is located in Podil too. Zhovten Cinema is 91 years old. It has six halls that not only host film screenings but also various film-related events and festivals (Kyiv Critics' Week, Docudays, Molodist). In addition to premieres and festival films, Zhovten often shows old movies: for example, Ukrainian poetry films like "White Bird with Black Mark," "The Missing Letter," or earlier films by David Lynch.


There is also one of the best universities in Ukraine in Podil, Kyiv-Mohyla Academy (Mohylyanka), which was founded in the seventeenth century. Among the famous graduates of Mohyla Academy are philosopher and writer Hryhorii Skovoroda, future Hetman Ivan Mazepa, and the creator of the world's first Constitution, Pylyp Orlyk. Nowadays, famous Ukrainian literary critics, directors, and writers teach here, and students study humanities, economics, law, natural sciences, computer science, social sciences, and technology. In addition, Mohylyanka students publish their own newspapers, organize exhibitions, develop environmental education activities, and are generally considered one of the centers of active and progressive youth in Ukraine.

Andriyivskyi uzviz. Photo: Maksym Klovak

Another unique Podil spot is St. Andrew's Descent (Andriyivskyi uzviz) which connects Podil with the old part of Kyiv. There are numerous museums, galleries, restaurants and a permanent market of folk craftsmen on the street. It is here Kyivans agreed to meet to party in case things go hopelessly bad — so, ask your Ukrainian friends or check out memes about Shchekavytsia mountain and the nuclear threat.

From the lower city of Podil to the upper center of Kyiv, people can get by Kyiv funicular, which is considered the safest means of transportation. The local legend has it that a garden used to be located on its territory, where witches held covens

Zoloti

Zoloti area (Zoloti Vorota, the Golden Gate), first of all, is an architectural monument of Kyiv and the main gate of the city in ancient times

Nowadays, Zoloti is a neighbourhood of creative youth and hipsters. There are galleries with paintings and photo shows in coffee shops, such as Naked Room, or in places, such as Avangarden, where people can have dinner, some wine, and at the same time attend a lecture, jamming, poetry reading, or book presentation. The Golden Gate area also has a favorite film photographer's shop, Fotovramci, flea markets, second-hand shops, showrooms of Ukrainian brands, and the famous Kashtan coffee shop, home to old ravens.


Arsenalna

Art Arsenal

Arsenalna Street is home to the Mystetskyi (Art) Arsenal National Cultural, Art and Museum Complex, one of Ukraine's most important cultural institutions, located within the walls of the fortress and hosting exhibitions, educational events, and festivals (such as the Book Arsenal). There are also many independent bookstores in the area, such as Sense and Misto, where people can buy books and have a cup of coffee at the same time.


The Kyiv Food Market, a modern space with more than 20 restaurants, is also famous in the area. It was once the place where President Zelenskyy used to hold a press conference with journalists.

The Arsenalna metro station is located at a depth of 105.5 meters, thus, it is the deepest subway station in the world. And during the full-scale war, Arsenalna became a refuge from Russian shelling for many Kyiv residents. Learn more about this metro station in our video withukrainengo (@withukrainengo) | TikTok.


Solomianka

Solomianskyi district is about a steady pace of life, large avenues, parks and squares. There is also the Central Railway Station here.

Shuliavka area in the Solomianskyi district. Photo: Sviatoslav Vietrov

Future IT professionals study here, at the Kyiv Polytechnic Institute (KPI) of Engineering and Humanities. The big campus is located in a vast park and it is a castle-like.

Kyiv Polytechnic Institute

Another symbolic spot here is Protasiv Yar, a natural area located on the right bank of the Lybid River. Today, Protasiv Yar is associated with the figure of activist Roman Ratushnyi, who died last year in the Russian-Ukrainian war. With the help of an active community, it was Roman who saved the historic green area from being destroyed by building projects so that festivals, poetry readings, presentations, and film screenings could now take place there.

Obolon

Obolon is often called the most comfortable neighborhood in Kyiv for its modernity and well-thought-out design, extensive infrastructure, and beautiful churches and parks. Obolonska Embankment and Natalka Park, with a jogging track, exercise equipment, a gazebo, and terraces, are also favourite here.


Livyi Bereh

Going from the right bank of Kyiv to the left bank, or vice versa, means crossing the Dnipro, and it is like taking a mini-trip (however, there are many jokes around the required for crossing time). Livyi Bereh is about large sleeping building communities, both modern and Soviet-like, massive markets and forests.


There are Berezniaky and Rusanivka, built on an artificially created island surrounded by water — with illuminated colour fountains, as well as views of the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra and the Motherland monument.

Troieshchyna

Another area on the left bank of Kyiv, Troieshchyna, remains a mystery to most Kyiv residents, as many have lived in Kyiv for decades and have never been to this remote sleeping residential area of the capital. Yet, locals love it, including jokes about it. For example, the city authorities have long promised to build a subway to Troieshchyna to make it easier to get to the center of Kyiv, but this has not happened yet, thus, Kyivans, when discussing plans that are not yet realized, use the phrase "as soon as they build a subway to Troieshchyna.” Among everything, the largest Ukrainian film studio FILM.UA is located here, a reason why contemporary Ukrainian artist Mykhailo Alekseyenko also calls Troieshchyna Hollywood.


Kyiv has many more districts and places worth introducing, and, definitely, visiting. So, let us know if you have any questions, and welcome to Ukraine when it is safe here.

With love from Kyiv, WithUkraine team


Compilated by Olha Dudenko and Ira Hadetska

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