Kiev Monuments

Why did people erect them? What can they tell you about?

Kiev Monuments

Kiev monuments are like a mirror which reflects its 1,500-year history.There are a lot of them in Kiev since fifteen centuries for the city is pretty respectful age.

People usually create monuments in order to commemorate some significant events of the state history or to honor some national heroes.

Kiev monuments are not exception from this rule. But there is one interesting thing about all those monuments. For some reason people don’t treat them the same way.

Some monuments people visit, stop to lay flowers or to take a picture while the others hardly anyone ever visits. For example, the monument of Volodymyr the Great on the high right bank of the river Dniepr, Kiev’s the oldest religious monuments St. Sophia Cathedral and St.Michael Golden-Domed Monastery are gathering spots for tourists, for wedding parties taking pictures and just unique spiritual places in Kiev one must see.

Then there’s the other kind of Kiev monuments, like Motherland Statue (Defense of the Motherland), Kiev Arch (Friendship Arch), statues of Lenin here and there. One can consider some of them sooner as curious engineering design than the monuments to be particularly proud of. People don’t visit them often. Monuments are well maintained, but look alone and abandoned.

During last 7-10 years Kiev monuments family “adopted” new generation of monuments. They are not actually the monuments yet, but rather so called “garden sculptures”. When you look at those garden sculptures, you will notice that some spots on them are polished by people’s hands. People love to touch them, to greet them, and make jokes.

The most famous among this kind of Kiev monuments are “Pronya Prokopovna and Svirid Golohvastov”, “Cat at the Golden Gate”, “Panikovsky”, “Actor Leonid Bykov”, “Architect Vladislav Horodetsky”, “Actor Nikolay Yakovchenko”, etc. Information about these and other extremely warm and human “garden sculptures” you will find at the Great Gate of Kiev page.

Kiev Monuments.
Bogdan Khmel’nitsky’s monument.

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Location: Sofiyskaya Square by the St. Sophia Cathedral.

Unveiled: 1888.

Description: The monument is dedicated to the Cossack leader Hetman Bogdan Khmel’nitsky, who led the Ukrainian people during national liberation wars against Turks, Crimean Tatars, and the Polish nobility. To secure a military ally against Poland, Hetman Khmel’nitsky signed an agreement with Muscovy in 1654, known as the Pereiaslav Agreement.

The authors of the monument are the sculptor M. Mikeshin and the architect V. Nikolaev. Besides the major sculpture, original project included dozens of smaller sculptures. But due to the luck of money they have never been made. The more, since pedestal also was not built at that time, the sculptures spent eight years “under arrest” in the yard of the Starokievsky police department.

Finally the monument was “rescued”. Architect Nikolaev suggested the best possible at that time solution. Pedestal was made of the leftover of the granite boulders which were used to build the Chain bridge in Kiev. It came out lower than it was originally designed.

Although the monument looks somewhat disproportional, we already can’t imagine something different on that place. The monument became one of the Kiev’s easily recognizable symbols as a part of the Sofiyskaya Square ensemble.

Kiev Monuments.
Memorial to the founders of Kiev.

Location: Navodnytsky Park.

Unveiled: 1982. Was set commemorating the 1500 anniversary of Kiev’s foundation.

Description:The monument is dedicated to the legendary founders of Kiev the brothers Kiy, Schchek and Khoriv and their sister Lybed. The sculptor Vasily Borodai and the architect Nikolai Feshchenko made it as an ancient Russian shallop. A good way to find this monument is to walk down the alleys of Navodnizky Park which begins near the Ye. O. Paton Bridge or from the Dnipro Metro Station south along the bank of the Dniepr River (around 20 minutes).

Kiev Monuments.
The Friendship Arch.

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Location: Khreschaty Park.

Unveiled: 1982

Description: Sculptor A. Skoblikov and Architect I. Ivanov and others. Kiev Arch (Friendship Arch) is a 50-meter diameter rainbow and two groups of sculptures dedicated to the Ukrainian-Russian friendship. Kievans call it “The Yoke”. Perhaps, it sounds not very respectfully, but pretty predictable.

It happens always when somebody tries to substitute real sincere and kind feelings by their silly symbolic “equivalents”. Especially when it is very far from good taste. But there is a consolation prize at that place.

From the observation platform wonderful views of the River Dniepr and most of the flat east bank can be observed. All in all it’s a quiet place and you can enjoy nature, a small bistro, and an amphitheater next to the arch where you can see concerts on holidays.

Kiev Monuments.
Volodymyr the Great’s Monument.

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Location: Volodymyr’s Hill.

Unveiled: 1853.

Description: Sculptors: V. Demut-Malynovsky and P. Klodt. Architect: O. Thon. Monument to Volodymyr the Great or Saint Vladimir, first Christian grand duke of Kiev (c.980–1015) stands tall on the slope of the Volodymyr’s Hill. From there one of the best panoramas of Kiev opens out onto the Lower City – Podil.

Volodymyr the Great, certainly deserved his name. In many ways he was an outstanding and extraordinary person. Volodymyr’s most important merit was the Christianization of Kievan Rus. The foundation of the Desyatynna Church, the first brick Christian temple in Kiev, is located nearby the monument.

St.Michael’s Golden-Domed Cathedral is not too far from Volodymyr’s monument. A surrounding park is the most beautiful of Kiev’s parks. It is an inspirational place for artist, poets, ans writers. In some mysterious way it attracts both Kievans and tourists. Astrologers say that there is an energetic tunnel between Earth and Universe over there.

Kiev Monuments.
Monument to Cyrill, Methodius, St. Andrew and Princess Olga.

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Location: Mikhailivska Square. Next to the St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery.

Unveiled: 1911.

Description: Sculptor: Ivan Kavaleridze. Coauthors: F.Balavensky, A. Snitkin, and V.Rikov.

Princess Olga was the first and the only woman in Ukraine history who ruled the state (945-962). In 1919 Olga’s monument was broken by the communists into many pieces and buried under the flower bed. For a long period of time it was considered to be lost. Statues of Cyrill, Methodius, and St. Andrew were destroyed in 1923.

The monument was reopened once again and installed in its original place during the reconstruction of the Mykhailivska Square in 1995. Sculptors of reconstructed statues are: V. Sivko and N.Bilik (Cyrill’s, Methodius,and Princess Olga’s statues), V. Shishov (St. Andrew’s statue.)

Kiev Monuments.
Grigory Skovoroda’s Monument.

Location: Kontraktova Ploscha.

Unveiled:1976.

Description: Sculptor: Ivan Kavaleridze. The monument is dedicated to the 18th-century Ukrainian philosopher, mystic, poet Gryhory Skovoroda, who was such an extraordinary and diversified personality. For thirty years he walked along Ukraine roads, taught people grammar, sang his song, talked to people about soul. None of his books was published during his lifetime, but Ukrainian national speech still saves his jokes, sayings, and aphorisms.

A legend says that he exactly knew the date of his death, and himself had dug his own grave in a park. In his last will he asked to put on his grave the words full of deep sense and humor.

“The world chased me, but could not catch me.”

Kiev Monuments Yaroslav The Wise
Kiev Monuments.
Yaroslav the Wise’s Monument.

Location: Next to the Golden Gate.

Unveiled: 1997.

Description: Sculptors: V. Chepelik. Architect: N.Kisliy. The small original sculpture of Yaroslav the Wise, created by the outstanding sculptor, film-maker, and dramaturgist Ivan Kavaleridze became the source of their inspiration.

The monument to the Grand Prince of Novgorod and Kiev Yaroslav the Wise is located downtown Kyiv, just outside the Zoloti Vorota (Golden Gate) metro station. Yaroslav is holding a model of the Saint Sophia Cathedral in his hands. It is an attractive and talented sculpture, but looks pretty lonely at the place where it is installed.

Kiev Monuments.
The Motherland Statue and
The Museum to the Great Patriotic War (WWII).

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Location: 24, Lavrska st.

Unveiled: 1981.

Museum open hrs:

Tuesday – Sunday

10.00 – 18.00

Description: Sculptors: E.Vuchetich, V.Boroday, F. Sagoyan, V.Vinaikin. Architects: V.Elizarov, G. Kisliy, N. Feshenko.

Technical Characteristics: The statue is made of stainless steel and weighs 450 tons. The overall height is 102 meters (third the tallest statue in the world after Ushiku Amida Buddha, near Tokyo – 120 meters and the Guanyin (Buddhist Goddess of Mercy) statue, Sanya on Hainan — 108 meters ). In the right hand there is a sword which weighs 9 tons and is 16 meters long.

In the base of the statue is the Museum to the Great Patriotic War. (WWII). It has a lot of examples of classic Soviet-era memorial statuary as well as some amazing exhibits of military hardware.

From this short review of the Kiev’s monuments you can see that the monuments have their own history and their own fate. Similar to a human life sometimes they are not very lucky. Sometimes we don’t like them too much. But all of them went a long way through the turbulent history of our State. This is a good reason to respect them. They have deserved it.

Kiev Monuments.
Taras Shevchenko’s Monument.

Location: The Taras Shevchenko park.

Unveiled:1939.

Description: Sculptor: M. Manizer.

Taras Shevchenko has a uniquely important place in Ukrainian history. The name and activities of Taras Shevchenko, outstanding Ukrainian national poet, artist and great patriot of Ukraine, is connected to many places in Kiev named after him.

The monument is located in the Shevchenko Park, directly across the street from the deep red building of National University (also known as Shevchenko University). This is Kiev’s most prestigious institution of higher education. There are Shevchenko Boulevard and Shevchenko Museum downtown Kiev.

Kiev Monuments.
Afghanistan 1979-1989 War memorial.

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Location: : Situated between Pechersk Lavra and The Great Patriotic War Museum.

Unveiled: 1994.

Description: Sculptor: N. Oleinik.

There are three sombre figures of the young boys. Those who didn’t come back from that war. There are painful and bitter feelings when you look at them. There are always a lot of flowers and a small museum of the Afghan conflict nearby.

You can see ammo boxes, as the miniature display, portraits, letters, bullet-gouged things still encrusted with blood. When you go through the exposition and look at the dates of birth and death, you realize that all those boys-soldiers were hardly 19 when they were killed.

“Not all of us came back: forgive us, Mothers.”