Like any other ancient city Kyiv was born on the bank of a river. It happened more than 2000 years ago. The beautiful old legend about the foundation of Kyiv tells about the three brothers – Kyi, Shchek and Khoriv and their sister Lybid, who sailing down the Dnieper saw the picturesque green banks and thought that this place Would be perfect for a new city. They settled there and named the place Kyiv after the eldest brother. The new city started quickly to rise on the hills among the dark forests, full of wild animals, and rich meadows which provided good pastures for the cattle. The river Dnieper was both the friend, as it gave food and water to its people and helped in the city's trade and development, and the enemy, as it flooded the city every year ruining houses, destroying crops and taking away people's lives.
Kyiv grew larger and larger; it attracted many people from other cities, towns and villages. Rich people settled on the hills where the Princes' palaces were built, while common people lived in the lower part of the city, known as Podil, which later developed into a busy trading district. In the 9th century with the establishment of Kyivan Rus, Kyiv became its capital.
In the 10th century Prince Volodymyr the Great expanded the city, and his son Yaroslav the Wise ordered many beautiful churches to be built, including the famous St. Sofia's Cathedral (1037), a wonderful architectural monument which miraculously survived all the invasions and fires and still charms the citizens and the guests of the city with its unique beauty. The Cathedral was erected at the exact place of the victorious battle over the Pechenegs so that other generations would remember the deeds of their forefathers. It was not only a place of worship, it was also a place of learning and preserving the wisdom of the past, because it is there that the first school and library in Kyivan Rus was founded. At the same time the first monks settled in the caves on the steep left banks of the Dnieper, giving the beginning to another place of worship and amazing architectural beauty - Kyivo-Pecherska Lavra. It was an outstanding cultural centre of Kyivan Rus where many famous people lived and worked: the Chronicle writers Nestor, Nikon and Joan, the painters Alimpiy and Grigoriy, the doctors Agapyt and Damian. Several times the Lavra was burnt to ashes by numerous invaders but each time it was restored, and now we can admire the wonderful churches and cathedrals of this architectural gem.
Another famous place in Kyiv is the Golden Gates which were one of the entrances to the city in ancient times and were usually opened to welcome very important guests. Now it has been turned into an interesting museum where you can wander around and imagine yourself in medieval Kyiv.
Opposite St. Sofia's Cathedral there is an impressive monument to Bohdan Khmelnitsky, the 17th century outstanding Ukrainian statesman and military leader who played an important part in Ukrainian history. If you walk up Shevchenko Boulevard you will be amazed by the beauty of Volodymyr Cathedral, whose icons and frescoes were painted by the famous artists Victor Vasnetsov, Mykola Nesterov and Mykhaylo Vrubel. In Andreivskiy Spusk your attention will be attracted by Rasstrelli's masterpiece - Andreyvska Church, and Mykhaylo Bulgakov's readers will find his museum just round the corner from the church.