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Kiev, from Russian Киев, is the capital and largest city of Ukraine and has around 2.6 million inhabitants. It is increasingly called Kyiv, from Ukrainian Київ, in English-language publications, as Russian is not an official language of Ukraine and the Russian name can seem anachronistic or offensive.

It has a three line metro system (total length 54.8 km). Visitors to Kiev in May can catch the spring-time festival [1]. The 'old city' is built on hills overlooking the Dnipro (formerly Dnieper) river. On the week-ends, the streets of Kreshchatyk (the center of the city) are closed to vehicular traffic, in favor of walkers.


Kiev (Kyiv) was probably founded in the 5th century CE and functioned as a trade post between Constantinople and Scandinavia. The Gothic historian Jordanes recorded the trading town of Danapirstadir. As the region came under Slav rule the town became known as Kiev. (Legend speaks of a founder-figure named Kiy.)

From 882 until 1169 Kiev was the capital of the principal Varangian/East-Slavic state, known as Kievan Rus' (or Kyivan Rus'). Devastated by the invading Mongols in 1240, it subsequently passed under the rule of Lithuania (1362), Poland (1569), a short-lived Ukrainian Cossack state (1648), and Russia (1654-1667).

On September 19, 1941 during World War II as part of Operation Barbarossa, Nazi Germany occupied Kiev. On September 29 and 30 at Babi Yar, near Kiev, SS Einsatzgruppen carried out the mass murder of 33,771 Jews. The city remained in German hands until it was retaken by the Soviet Red Army on November 6, 1943.

After 57 years as the capital of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic of the Soviet Union, Kiev in 1991 became the capital of independent Ukraine.

The church of Hagia Sophia in Kiev, begun in 1037, was designed to emulate the splendor of Byzantine churches, reflecting the reception of Christianity from the Byzantine Empire. Though it is dedicated to "Holy Wisdom", as was the great cathedral of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, the building has a very different form - rather than a single hemispherical dome rising out of the block of the building, Hagia Sophia in Kiev has 13 onion-shaped domes carried on drums. The central dome is larger than the rest (and in the most recent renovations, gilded), but not significantly so.\n