We normally start our Excursion Program with the walking tour of the city center right at the doorstep of NovaMova. This is the historical area full of traces of the distant path. This is where our most important historical ruler Yaroslav the Wise built the Golden Gate of Kiev and the St. Sophia Cathedral back in the early 11th century.
The street where our students walk daily once was a part of Yaroslav’s Barrier Wall that shielded the city from nomadic tribes. This Wall was connected to the Golden Gate which serves today as a museum and an area for public events. The monument of Yaroslav the Wise is located next to the Gate in a cosy park, a favourite spot of buskers, lovers of book-crossing and street coffee.
St. Sophia Cathedral
Continuing along, we reach Kiev’s most important historical landmark - St. Sophia Cathedral. You will learn that it was named after the Holy Wisdom rather than a certain saint as the idea was to build the church in the image of Hagia Sophia cathedral in Constantinople (now Istanbul), the cradle of the Orthodox Church. It’s the burial site of Yaroslav the Wise, a father to Queen Anne of France.
Today the cathedral is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List and it stands as a secular museum of Ukrainian Christianity and history. It carries magnificent original mosaics and frescos from the 11th century that attracts tourists and scholars from around the world.
Street Markets and Parks
To the north-east of St. Sophia Cathedral we will come to St Michael square with an eponymous cathedral also called the Golden Domed, and you will quickly find out why. It was also built in the middle ages and then destroyed during the early years of communist rule. It sits on a bluff with an old park and a beautiful bird-eye view of the river, islands, and the remaining city with the neighbouring towns and villages.
From there you can descend on Kiev’s cable tram also known as funicular that was built in 1905 and runs to the present day or you can walk to St. Andrew Descent with a beautiful baroque church on top of it. It’s a favourite street of all Kievits. It’s famous for its art and souvenir market, stylish cafes and restaurants, theatre and museums.
Mikhail Bulgakov a famous local writer who authored Master and Margarita lived in house #13. Today it’s one of the world’s top literary museum dedicated to Bulgakov and his heritage. The cobble-stoned street will take you down to Podol area where the time seems to stand still.