Today I got up early (earlier…), had breakfast (the bread was nice and crispy on the bottom today. High hopes for crispy top as well by Sunday) and went out into Kyiv.
My first destination was St Sophia’s Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage site, along with Kiev Pechersk Lavra, the monastery where I went yesterday. And when I say “along with”, I mean the two are considered one entry on the list.
I paid my 20UAH to go into the grounds. It’s a good cathedral although I start to wonder if someone around the 11th century had a lot of green and gold paint to sell off. The trees here were yellow and the grounds were relatively quiet and the sun came out so I sat on benches and looked at it and maybe took a few selfies.
Then I went back outside & spotted another gold-domed church at the other end of the road. This is St Michael’s Gold Domed Monastery and it’s another 21st century reproduction of an ancient building destroyed in the last seventyish years. I suspect the Kyiv of 100 years ago would look very different. This church is bright blue and you can see it beautifully from outside the walls so I enjoyed it for a while and then walked round the back to the funi.
For another 8UAH you can go down to the river and the Podil district. From down by the river I could see the floodlights of a stadium up on the hill – the very same ones I can see from my window. I hadn’t gone as far as it felt. The road would go up the hill, turn right and end up on Maidan. Bit steep though.
I took the funi back up & went into the grounds of St Michael’s through the side gate. This is one of those rare ones that’s free to enter. You can go inside the cathedral free too. There are two things inside Kyivan churches – old ladies sweeping the floor and people kissing the icons. They even keep a cloth on the frame to wipe them clean. I’ve never been anywhere where I’ve seen religion taken so seriously.
I was right about St Michael’s, it’s prettier from outside the walls, although from the inside you can see how very very blue the cathedral is. I walked back up to St Sophia’s and down the hill to Maidan, popped into the Billa for more supplies and came home for lunch.
After lunch I set off for St Amdrew’s Descent, which starts near St Michael’s. No need to walk all the way up there, not when it’s one stop on the Blue Line to the metro outside the funi. 65p to be too lazy to walk up the hill in the drizzle. It probably took longer, though.
St Andrew has a good church. I’d seen it from the river this morning. It’s closed for renovations so you can’t go inside. Behind it is a nice winding steep street with interstate yellow buildings. It doesn’t take long to realise it’s just a steep street lined with souvenir stalls. I’m sure St Andrew did walk here when he put his cross on the hill but this vitally important sight is not as exciting or beautiful as it was made out to be.
At the bottom was a big square with a Ferris wheel. Can’t be a serious capital city without a wheel in this century. Attached to the square was the ruins of an old shopping centre, with neither insides, roof or windows. Beyond that was another square, clearly a hub for minibuses and trams and just up the road is what I think the guidebook called Kyiv’s oldest surviving church. No gold here but the customary green domes very much present.
Once I’d wandered this square two or three times, gone in the big sweet shop and got lost, I found the metro. I could have walked along parallel to the river and returned to the one at the bottom of the funi, where I’d emerged earlier but this one was closer and still only two stops from home.