Kiev Walking Tour with St. Sofia Cathedral & St. Michael's Monastery
- Cathedral of St. Sofia: Byzantine mosaics and frescos adorn the inside of this Ukrainian baroque cathedral, topped with pear-shaped copulas. Two icons inside are said to grant miracles.
- St. Michael's Gold-Domed Monastery: Completed in 1113 A.D., the monastery was destroyed by the Soviets in the 1930s for having ""no historical value."" It was faithfully reconstructed in 1999, including original rescued frescos and mosaics.
- Independence Square: Maidan Nezalezhnosti, the main square in the heart of Kiev, features six fountains, an artificial waterfall, and the 200-foot white marble Independence Column.
About this Kiev Tour
The Cathedral of St. Sofia is not named after a saint; it's dedicated to the Eastern Orthodox Christian concept of ""holy wisdom"" (sophia being the Greek word for wisdom.). Perhaps that inspired the wise decision to leave elements of the interior decor not normally appreciated in a religious building: graffiti.
This beautiful church was founded in 1037 and rebuilt in 1707, and is worth seeing just for the Ukrainian baroque architecture. Don’t miss the nearly 20-foot Byzantine stone and glass mosaic of the Virgin Mary that decorates the central portion of the cathedral.
But the most unusual feature is the more than 300 medieval graffiti found on interior walls, a sort of running commentary about political events, historical figures, even the purchase of a princess: the wife of Vsevolod Olgovich, Grand Prince of Kiev, in the 12th century.
Aside from providing valuable information on life in Kievan Rus, the language is highly revealing. It shows the people of Kiev to be quite literate in a language very similar to modern Ukrainian, and not Russian-based Cyrillic, or the Church's Slavonic language.
Other graffiti found in the cathedral include a drawing of a horse from the 11th century, the death notice of the great prince Yaroslav the Wise (including a prayer by his wife), and the signature of Grand Prince Vladimir Monomakh.
Because of the graffiti, we know the names of three of the masters who created the cathedral: Georgy, Stephan, and Sezhir, proving the wisdom of allowing the graffiti to remain.
The home built by Dmitri Orlov in the early 20th century was called King Richard's Castle to mock its British-style high tower and spires. But the sounds heard by the tenants were no laughing matter. Terrifying howling, creaking, and murmuring led them to flee in fear. A history professor who investigated the matter found that pieces of construction rubble had been left in the chimneys and ventilation ducts, partially blocking the wind and creating a spooky whistling effect.
Pick-up is included from select hotels. Please specify your hotel name and location during check-out.
Bring some local currency with you for handicraft purchases. You may find it helpful to bring a small backpack along to carry any of your great buys.
Travelers must walk approximately 2.2 miles over cobblestones and other varying terrain with some inclines. Tour is not wheelchair accessible. If your mobility is limited, you may not see all the sites fully. Participate with the group at your discretion.
Walking Tour, Cultural, Family Friendly
English, French, German, Spanish, Russian
Tour Participation Requirements
This experience is rated moderate. Full participation may require extended periods of walking over even and uneven surfaces, steep terrain and/or water activity in a slight current. There may be steps, inclines, cobblestone surfaces, and extended periods of standing. Participants with physical limitations should take this into account.
Suitable for all ages.
Special Medical Restriction
If you have knee or hip problems or you are pregnant, this tour may not be suitable for you, due to the strenuous nature of the walking required.
Full refunds issued for cancellations made 7 full days prior to the date and time of requested services. Cancellations made within the 7-day and 72-hour window will receive a 50% refund of purchase total. Purchases are non-refundable inside of 72 hours.
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