Mezhy­hirya, mu­rals & much more stim­u­late Kyiv tourism

Kyiv Post - - Lifestyle - BY TOMA I STOMINA [email protected]

Kyiv has bloomed as a tourist des­ti­na­tion in the last cou­ple of years, with the fa­mous Maidan Neza­lezh­nosti and beau­ti­ful St. Sophia’s Cathe­dral top­ping the list of must-sees in the Ukrainian cap­i­tal.

But there’s more than just his­toric lo­ca­tions to at­tract vis­i­tors to Kyiv: Of­ten de­scribed as the new Ber­lin for its bloom­ing cre­ative com­mu­nity, the cap­i­tal of Ukraine has lots of en­ter­tain­ment op­tions for both first­time vis­i­tors and fre­quent guests.

Here’s a roundup of some of the best, less ob­vi­ous travel ideas for vis­i­tors to Kyiv.

Mu­rals

Kyiv’s street art is just as wor­thy of at­ten­tion as the city’s ar­chi­tec­ture and clas­sic mu­se­ums. Over the last cou­ple of years, street art pieces, mainly mu­rals, have been pop­ping up con­stantly in Kyiv, and to­day there are over 120 of them. De­pict­ing an­i­mals, land­scapes, peo­ple and ab­stract draw­ings, the city’s di­verse and col­or­ful mu­rals have be­come part of its mod­ern face. Many also ad­dress im­por­tant is­sues, such as the en­vi­ron­men­tal one or Rus­sia’s war on Ukraine in the Don­bas.

Vis­i­tors to Kyiv can take one of the walk­ing tours around the best mu­rals pro­vided by sev­eral tourist agen­cies, which last around three hours and are of­fered in English and other lan­guages. Such tours cost around $12 per per­son or $56–68 for a group of up to 10. Those who pre­fer dis­cov­er­ing the city on their own can use the Kyiv Mu­rals ap­pli­ca­tion avail­able for iPhone. The app pro­vides a list of 127 mu­rals, as well as their ad­dresses, in­for­ma­tion about their cre­ators, and the ideas be­hind them.

Mezhy­hirya

Mezhy­hirya, the lux­ury res­i­dence aban­doned by for­mer Ukrainian Pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovych, is lo­cated in the vil­lage of Novi Petrivtsi, about 10 kilo­me­ters north of Kyiv. It is easy to get there by pub­lic trans­porta­tion, and is def­i­nitely worth a visit to un­der­stand the scale of the cor­rup­tion of Yanukovych and his cronies, who are es­ti­mated to have robbed the county of tens of bil­lions of dol­lars. For years, Mezhy­hirya had been a mys­tery to the Ukrainian pub­lic un­til Yanukovych fled the coun­try in the wake of mas­sive protests in Kyiv and through­out the coun­try, known as the EuroMaidan Revo­lu­tion.

Turned into a na­tional park, the 140-hectare es­tate serves as a mon­u­ment to mod­ern Ukrainian his­tory — ram­pant cor­rup­tion and em­bez­zle­ment by top of­fi­cials. Vis­i­tors to the res­i­dence can spend the whole day there view­ing the lux­u­ri­ous houses with fancy fur­ni­ture, Yanukovych’s col­lec­tion of cars, and the es­tate’s parks, lakes, ponds, and even a farm with os­triches. To make it eas­ier to get about the vast es­tate, tourists can rent bi­cy­cles, Seg­ways or Seev minibikes.

The best time to visit is in spring or sum­mer, when the enor­mous res­i­dence is cov­ered in green grass and bloom­ing plants and trees. Lo­cal tourist agen­cies of­fer plenty of op­tions for trips to Mezhy­hirya, in­clud­ing trans­porta­tion and guide ser­vices. Tours are pro­vided in English and other lan­guages for $34–55 per vis­i­tor. How­ever, trav­el­ers can also get to Mezhy­hirya by pub­lic trans­port, pay an en­trance fee and dis­cover the es­tate on their own.

Mezhy­hirya. Novi Petrivtsi. 19 Ivana Franka St. Win­ter — 8 a.m.— 5 p.m. Spring, fall — 8 a.m.— 7 p.m. Sum­mer — 8 a.m.— 10 p.m. Wed-Mon. Chil­dren — Hr 50, adults — Hr 100120. Tue. Chil­dren — free, re­tirees — Hr 20, adults — Hr 40. Bi­cy­cle — Hr 100–150 per hour, Seg­way, Seev — Hr 400–500 per hour. www.mnp.org.ua

City fes­ti­vals

The var­i­ous fes­ti­vals and events held in Kyiv al­most ev­ery week­end dur­ing spring and sum­mer of­fer more rea­sons to pay a visit to the city. One of them is Ku­razh Bazar, a char­ity mar­ket sell­ing both new and used goods, which usu­ally takes place once a month. Each event has a theme (like spring, hip-hop, 90s flash­back) and lots of en­ter­tain­ment.

An­other fes­ti­val, Ulich­naya Eda, which stands for “Street Food” in Rus­sian, brings to­gether lo­cal food­ies and food pro­duc­ers, like cafes, restau­rants or bud­ding food en­trepreneur­s. The two-day fes­ti­val is usu­ally held once or twice a month on week­ends, with each of them fo­cus­ing on a cer­tain type of food — BBQ, beer, Span­ish or Mex­i­can cui­sine, cof­fee, and more. Apart from food, the or­ga­niz­ers pro­vide mu­sic, dance floors, and en­ter­tain­ing shows.

An­other mar­ket, Vsi Svoi, fo­cuses on pro­mot­ing Ukrainian made goods and their pro­duc­ers. Held two or three times a month on week­ends, the two-day mar­ket usu­ally has a theme, sell­ing cer­tain types of goods like sum­mer clothes, fur­ni­ture and dé­cor, or food and drinks. Apart from the shop­ping side, Vsi Svoi of­fers food courts, where vis­i­tors can treat them­selves to street dishes and drinks, and lis­ten to live or recorded mu­sic. They also some­times throw par­ties on the large bal­cony right out­side the venue where the mar­ket is held.

Ku­razh Bazar — www.face­book. com/ku­razh­bazar. Ulich­naya Eda — www.face­book.com/ulich­nayaeda. Vsi Svoi — www.face­book.com/vsi.svoi

Elec­tronic scene

The “new Ber­lin” la­bel has stuck to Kyiv partly be­cause of its re­cently-emerged elec­tronic mu­sic scene. The city’s un­der­ground clubs such as Closer, River Port, and Otel’ at­tract some of the best DJs from all over the world ev­ery week­end. In ad­di­tion, there are lots of lo­cal elec­tronic artists — both up-and-com­ing ones and al­ready fa­mous acts such as DJ Nas­tia. Apart from that, Kyiv holds two an­nual elec­tronic mu­sic fes­ti­vals: Strichka, and Brave! Fac­tory. This year, Strichka will take place on May 18–19, with over 40 DJs in the lineup. Brave! Fac­tory is ex­pected to be held on Aug. 24–25, as usual in an ex­tra­or­di­nary lo­ca­tion — an ac­tual fac­tory build­ing.

Mod­ern gal­leries

Art gal­leries are also de­vel­op­ing fast in Kyiv. Apart from the tra­di­tional mu­se­ums, which are still well worth a visit, there are plenty of mod­ern gal­leries that chal­lenge reg­u­lar ideas about how art should be ex­hib­ited — these are free, rel­a­tively small places bring­ing to­gether the lo­cal cre­ative com­mu­nity and serv­ing as a plat­form for shar­ing con­tem­po­rary art and com­mu­ni­ca­tion. They in­clude The Naked Room, Ya Gallery, Tsekh, Izone, Trip­tych Global Arts Work­shop, and Bursa Gallery, and fea­ture var­i­ous types of art­works, such as pho­to­graphs, paint­ings, graph­ics, col­lages, and in­stal­la­tions by both Ukrainian and for­eign artists. With the num­ber of small gal­leries in Kyiv con­stantly in­creas­ing, it’s never been eas­ier for vis­i­tors to the coun­try to get up to date with con­tem­po­rary Ukrainian art. ■

Peo­ple en­joy par­ty­ing as they at­tend Ku­razh Bazar char­ity mar­ket called "Love Ac­tu­ally" and ded­i­cated to St. Valen­tine's Day on Feb. 16, 2019, in Kyiv. (Cour­tesy)

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