No chicken Kiev in Kiev
It is a bit warmer today at 15 and the sun is trying to come out. We need to try to get insurance if we want to go to Moldova. There is one agency listed in this town. When we had the hotel call all we got was the answering machine. When we went to the address the neighbours say the place is closed down.
Well decision made. We are headed towards Kiev. Today we will go the 280 km to Zhytomyr and this will take about 6 hours.
The road conditions today on the H3, which is a said to be a main road are pretty bad. They are mostly patch.
We had a big day for tanks as well. The last 120 km there was very little civilization, but lots of farms, tanks, and monuments.
The town of Zhytomyr itself is nothing special, but there is a nice orthodox Cathedral.
Today started out cloudy and gloomy, but dry. We only had 140 km to Kiev on the highway, which is smooth as silk, but decided on the 186 km route thru Fastiv.
You go 30 km on the highway and then exit to the village roads. The first 20 km of these roads were pretty bad, but then improved since there was little traffic and no trucks. Check out the centre line.
Leaving Fastiv you do get on the P19, which is a major road under construction and the surface is pretty bad in sections. It is Sunday an a major religious holiday here so getting into the city was pretty easy. We had chosen an old school hotel right out of the Soviet era in design and Motel 6 in Canada cheap as well.
The sun did come out for a walking tour of the city centre. We headed out to see the huge Independence square and grab traditional Ukrainian lunch of Borscht served with “lard on toast” and dumplings!
From the main square we made for the huge Friendship of Nations arch.
“It is dedicated to the unification of Russia and Ukraine within the Soviet Union. It was opened November 7, 1982 to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the USSR and the celebration of the 1,500th Anniversary of the Kiev city. On 20 May 2016 the Ukrainian government announced plans to dismantle the arch as part of its decommunization policy. In its place is planned a memorial dedicated to veterans of the Russian-Ukrainian war.”
“The monument consists of three sculptural elements an arch and two statues.
1.A huge, 50 m (164 ft) in diameter, rainbow-shaped arch, made of titanium.
2. A bronze statue depicting a Russian and Ukrainian workers holding up the Soviet Order of Friendship of Peoples
3.A granite stele depicting the participants of the Pereyaslav Council of 1654.”
There are several spectacular churches nearby including St. Andrews with its golden spires and the St. Sophia Cathedral. Inside the first we found scarlet robed monks chanting and singing in front of the gold encrusted alter. There are no seats in the church and the faithful stand in a semicircle around the monks. It was now after 6 and St. Sophia was unfortunately closed for the day.
Today the weather is much better and sunny, but windy. We walked thru the Mariyinski park and past the palace, which is the official ceremonial residence of the President of the Ukraine and which is under major renovation.
Next stop is at the Memorial of eternal Glory,
“The Park of Eternal Glory to the Soldiers of The World War II has a spectacular view on the city and it showcases the monuments dedicated to those who gave up their lives while protecting the Motherland. The Glory Obelisk takes the central place in the park. It was installed in 1957. At the pedestal of 26meter stella you can find a Grave of an Unknown Soldier. The Eternal Fire also reminds us about heroic deeds of our ancestors. The Flame for ceremonial opening was brought directly from the field of the Stalingrad battle.”
Also located here is the memorial to the victims of Holodomor. The monument to the Victims of Starvation Times 1932-1933. In the center of the monument you can see a bell tower in shape of a burning candle. “
We then walked down to the open air part of the Museum of the history of the Ukraine in WW2. There are a large collection of military items and sculptures depicting war time struggles. The museum is dominated by the Mother of the Fatherland statue.
“The Motherland Monument is a monumental statue of stainless steel that stands 62 m (203 ft) tall upon the museum building with the overall structure measuring 102 m (335 ft) and weighing 560 tons. The sword in the statue’s right hand is 16 m (52 ft) long weighing 9 tons, with the left hand holding up a 13 by 8 m (43 by 26 ft) shield with the State Emblem of the Soviet Union. The Memorial hall of the Museum displays marble plaques with carved names of more than 11,600 soldiers and over 200 workers of the home-front honored during the war with the title of the Hero of the Soviet Union and the Hero of Socialist Labor. The sword of the statue was cut because the tip of the sword was higher than the cross of the Kiev Pechersk Lavra monastery”
This is where we were headed next. This is a huge complex of churches that is inside a small walled city inside Kiev. Here all women must be wearing a skirt or borrow one there and they must cover their hair inside the churches and the caves.
“Kiev Pechersk Lavra also known as the Kiev Monastery of the Caves, has since its foundation in 1051 been a preeminent center of Eastern Orthodox Christianity in Eastern Europe. Together with the Saint Sophia Cathedral, it is inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. While being a cultural attraction, the monastery is currently active. It was named one of the Seven Wonders of Ukraine on 21 August 2007”
One of the most interesting things to visit are the caves. To get there you must find the entry (ask we had to even after following the caves this way signs), which is at the bottom of a very long covered freestanding stairway. Both sides of the narrow lane are lined with stalls selling candles, honey, flowers, and other religious items. Once you have run the gauntlet there is a sign that says cave entrance. There is no entry fee, but you must buy a bees wax candle for 3 Hryvina (about .15 $ Canadian) and you will need it. Once you descend the stair to the cave system it is pitch black except the candle lights. Walking into a tunnel is like going into deep space. Along the walls are carved out areas that the monks created to display the sacred relics. Here you can see the caskets and bodies of Eastern Orthodox religious figures. It is very dark, very hot, and very crowded down here and so is not for the even mildly claustrophobic. There is a larger “room” which was crowded with the faithful and a service was going on. Most of the people are here to pray and honor those buried here. The tradition is of one kissing the relic after saying a quick blessing.
“The Kiev Pechersk Lavra caverns are a very complex system of narrow underground corridors (about 1-1½ metres wide and 2-2½ metres high), along with numerous living quarters and underground chapels. In 1051, the monk Anthony had settled in an old cave in one of the hills surrounding the Kiev Pechersk Lavra. This cave apparently grew, with numerous additions including corridors and a church, and is now what we know as the Far Caves. In 1057, Anthony moved to a cave near the Upper Lavra, now called the Near Caves.” There are over a hundred burials in the Lavra.