The Green City in Europe: Kiev’s 10 Best Parks
Ask any tourist about his first impressions of Kiev: he’ll almost certainly mention what a green city it is. In fact, according to several recent surveys, our capital is the leader among the greenest European cities. There are more than 100 parks, nearly 500 public gardens, and 78 boulevards, and as a result, there is 20 sq.m. of greenery per resident! All this green space brings joy to Ukrainians and tourists alike. To take a walk in the park, getting some fresh air, to take a break after a hard workday, enjoying the twitter of birds… it sounds perfect, doesn’t it?
In the spring, the atmosphere of the parks and gardens is more than perfect. Flowers have just blossomed out, bushes and trees are blooming, and birds have come back from the warm countries and are chirping without stopping. Today we offer you the chance to postpone all your affairs and join us in a walk through Kiev’s green spaces. Aesthetic pleasure and a good mood are guaranteed!
The Feofaniya Park
If you are looking for a place to relax from the city bustle, the Feofaniya Park is exactly what you need. Located in a historic place on the outskirts of Kiev near the beautiful large Eastern Orthodox St. Pantaleon Cathedral, it was declared a government designated park that belongs to the “Feofaniya” conservatory of the National Academy of Science of Ukraine in 1992. A pilgrimage path runs on the territory of the park, and there are some unusual springs with healing water along it. The park is also known for having many medicinal plants, cozy alleys, the cascade of lakes with plenty of fish, and tiny bridges.
The Feofaniya Park is that rare place where a wild forest and refined territory are harmoniously combined. It looks amazing in each season of the year and is always right for dreaming, taking pictures or going for a walk with your friends or alone.
In May, seize the opportunity to visit numerous events and celebrations organized in Feofaniya Park:
May 1–2 — Picnic party “Family”
May 6–9 —The celebration of Victory Day
May 20 — The dancing festival
May 21 — The festival of martial arts and sports
May 27–28 — The celebration of the Day of Kiev
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Park of the Eternal Glory and the Pechersk Landscape Park
The Park of the Eternal Glory in Kiev is a memorial complex located on the steep slope of the Dnipro River, giving a spectacular view of the city. The park features many monuments dedicated to those who died while protecting the Motherland, which gives this place a special atmosphere. The Glory Obelisk takes the central place in the park. The Eternal Fire also reminds us about heroic deeds of our ancestors.
Finally, there is an observational terrace with a spectacular view on Kiev Pechersk Lavra and the Motherland monument in the park. There is also a Ukrainian tradition that after having the official ceremony at the registry office, the newly married go to the Park of Eternal Glory to lay flowers to the Monument of an Unknown Soldier. Nobody knows when this tradition was born, but it has been popular for a long time.
One of the latest monuments, located in this park, is the monument on the honor of Victims of Starvation during 1932–1933. You can see a bell tower in the shape of a burning candle in the middle of the monument. In a word, the Park of the Eternal Glory is a perfect place to dive into history while having a rest.
If you walk downstairs from the Park of the Eternal Glory, you will find yourself in Pechersk Park. This landscape park was created in 1981 as a line of city parks along the banks of the Dnipro. Since then, pathways have been laid as well as places for relaxation, stairs, flowerbeds and lawns. In the center, there is an open space called Spivoche Pole where numerous concerts, festivals, and exhibitions are held. Every year, you can enjoy wonderful exhibitions of flowers.
From 13 April until 10 May, a grand exhibition of tulips is being held here, called “A Mystery of Easter Egg.” More than 200 species of tulips were planted. As this event coincides with the celebration of Easter, 10 decorative Easter eggs were installed, and you will be able to trace the symbolism of “pysanka” in all the exhibition.
Mariyinsky Park is one of the most popular and romantic parks in Kiev, probably because it is located in the heart of the city and for its incredible loveliness and cleanliness. Combining natural beauty and architectural elements, Mariyinsky Park is one of Kiev’s oldest parks, founded in the eighteenth century. You can see many decorative trees (around 80 species), beautiful flowers and lush bushes.
The Mariyinsky Palace was built in 1755 and named after Russian Emperor Alexander II’s wife Mariya, who admired the palace and actively participated in the reconstruction of the park in front of it. Nowadays, Mariyinsky Palace, located next to the Parliament, is a ceremonial residence of the President of Ukraine (since 2002, the Palace has been under reconstruction).
There is also a viewing platform, an open-air stage with the nickname “seashell,” a fountain, clean alleys and comfortable benches. It’s a great destination for outdoor sports, where you can rent bicycles, rollerblades, and recently popular velomobiles and electric scooters.
The most romantic place, the Lover’s Bridge, traditionally covered with many love locks, is also located here, and it joins Khreshchatyy and Mariyinsky Parks. Don’t forget to take your camera! There are wonderful views of the Dnipro River and many unique monuments.
Taras Shevchenko Park
Taras Shevchenko Park is a small, well-maintained park located just in the heart of the city. The main (red) building of the National Taras Shevchenko University is in Volodymyrska street opposite the park. It is jokingly called the “Green Building” of the university, as students prefer to go for a walk there instead of attending lectures. The park was opened to public in 1890 as “the University Botanical Garden.” Nowadays, in the middle of the park, there is a monument honoring of the poet and cultural activist Taras Shevchenko (1814 – 1861) who remains the great symbol of the independent Ukraine and always keeps a wary eye on everything that is going on here. Walking in the park, you will find a well-equipped playground, many creatively constructed benches and kiosks to stop for a coffee. There is also a beautiful fountain in this park, which usually starts functioning in May.
In short, it is a great place to take a break during a workday, to dance salsa or practice yoga on the weekend, to read a book or play a game of chess, and to get a huge inspiration for the whole day…
Holosiivskyi National Nature Park
This national park covers an area of 140 acres, so it will take you a full day to walk through the territory. In the north of the park, there is a broad-leaved forest (beech, oak, linden, elm, maple trees grow there).
The southern part has a sandy terrain where you will see pine and alder forests. The western part is swampy, where a deciduous forest grows. The eastern part is represented mainly with a pine forest. There are 23 species of different plants registered in the Red Book of Ukraine, and there are also some oaks which are more than 200 years old.
The park also contains four lakes and miles of paved and dirt pathways for walking, hiking, and cycling. It also provides children (both young and old) with an assortment of playgrounds, carnival rides, paddle boats, and booths of toys, trinkets, and snacks. Holosiivskyi National Nature Park is a place where people regularly meet to run or cycle together, to take their pets for strolls in the fresh air or just spend some time with their friends or music in the headphones. The fresh air and natural atmosphere will provide you with a good mood and much energy to discover other places of interest in Kiev.
Note that Hokosiivskyi Monastery is located not far from the park. It has become a residence of Kiev metropolitans since the 19th century. Curative relics of the Holy Righteous nun Matushka Alipiya are stored in this monastery, which cured a lot of serious diseases according to indisputable evidence.
Hryshko National Botanical Garden
This botanical garden of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine was named after the Soviet botanist Mykola Hryshko. Its huge territory covers 1.3 sq.km, so you can stroll around the garden all day. Here you’ll find more than 13 thousand types of trees, shrubs, flowers and other plants from all over the world. The garden has hothouses, conservatories, greenhouses and rosaries on its territory. It is divided into floristic complexes, such as Ukrainian Carpathians, Plains of Ukraine, Crimea, Caucasus, Central Asia, Altai and Western Siberia, and the Far East. The plants typical of each region can be found in each zone.
The Garden of Lilac is a calling card of Hryshko National Botanical Garden. It is the second largest Garden of Lilac in the world with 21 species, 90 kinds and 1500 bushes of lilac. In May, there is a real miracle in Hryshko National Botanical Garden, when the lilac is in blossom. It has become a tradition to come there to admire the beauty of landscapes, the density of flowering, the luxuriance of the bushes and an unsurpassed aroma. Each branch is unique, and each bush is a masterpiece created by nature itself…
Find the calendar of flowering on the official website of the garden (http://www.nbg.kiev.ua/en/) in order not to miss the blossoming of magnolia or the odor of lilac.
Several interesting events will occur here in May:
April 28 – May 2 — Spring landscape 2017 dedicated to the Year of Japan in Ukraine during which many land art competitions will be held.
May 22–26 — the 8th conference “Planta Europe”
Saint Volodymyr Hill
This park is called a “green island” in the center of Kiev. A lot of writers, poets and artists came there to draw inspiration or just to admire the views. Originally, this park was called St. Michael’s Hill, named after St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Cathedral and Monastery. It gained its popularity around 1850-1880 when it was Kiev’s only free park.
A great event took place under this hill: the baptism of Rus by Prince Volodymyr the Great who, according to the legend, observed from this place the process of christening of Kiev citizens. Nowadays, you can observe the monument honoring him, which has become the park’s main attraction, and since then it has been called Saint Volodymyr Hill.
It is a majestic place, with wonderful views of the Dnipro River and the left bank of Kiev. The park contains a spacious observation deck, Kokorivska Arbor, various paths and numerous stairs. At night, the large cross held in the right hand of Volodymyr is illuminated, giving the impression of the miracle. Don’t miss the opportunity to see it with your own eyes!
The easiest way to get to Volodymyr Hill is to take a ride on the Funicular from Poshtova Square and then move to the left or to walk along the Saint Michael Monastery to the Hill.
Open-Air Museum of National Architecture “Pyrogovo”
The Museum of National Architecture and Life is an opportunity to walk through the most interesting corners of Ukraine, to get acquainted with the everyday life and household items, in a word to see the life of Ukrainian people, who lived in the 17th–20th centuries from the inside. The museum was founded in 1969, but opened to visitors in 1976. The territory is divided into the ethnographic regions of Ukraine, which represent the peculiarities of everyday life of one or another historical period.
“Pyrogovo” is growing more and more popular, and the collection of architectural buildings is improving every year. During Ukrainian folk festivals, special theatrical performances take place on the museum grounds, at which people dance around the fire, sing and entertain in traditional Ukrainian ways. If you want to dive into Ukrainian life and feel properly our soul and nature, “Pyrogovo” is the destination for you, a place you will like to come back again and again.
You can also book an excursion in English in order not to miss a thing.
May is exactly when a lot of events are held in “Pyrogovo”:
April 29 – May 2 — Fair of folk arts. Many masters and different folk groups from Belarus will come to show their talents.
May 6–7 — “My native village,” an event dedicated to the 85th anniversary of Kiev region. Every village will share its customs and traditions.
May 14 — Days of Polish Culture
May 21 — Day of the Blacksmith, Memory Day of the victims of political repressions
May 27–28 — Festival of children’s dance “Soniachniy Kashtanchyk”
Kyoto Park is a symbol of the relationship between Japan and Ukraine, which was opened in 1972. In spring, you can feel like a real guest of the Land of the Rising Sun, when Japanese cherries are in blossom.
Architects tried to preserve the appearance and symbols to create a real Japanese park. You can see the stone of honorable sitting, the stone of cave form, the guardian stone, and the stone of the moon shadow. People who are not aware of Japanese culture will explain these symbols as no more than a poetic sophistication. However, for the Japanese, such names have a profound philosophical meaning.
The alley of oriental cherries in Kyoto Park is almost one kilometer long, with 360 trees. There is also a pond with a waterfall, a small hill resembling Mount Fuji, and a selection of trees that carry a certain significant meaning: a tree hiding a waterfall, a tree of the setting sun etc. If you are fond of Japanese culture or just looking for a place to go for a walk, visit Kyoto Park. You will not regret it!
This park is located in the historical part of Kiev, next to the European Square. Visiting here, therefore, means seeing some of the best places in Kiev because it leads to Saint Volodymyr Hill and picturesque slopes of the Dnipro. The old name of this park was the Garden of Merchants’ Meetings because the building for those meetings was located there (today the building is occupied by the National Philharmonic of Ukraine). Many historians believe that there would not have been a park if the meetings had not been held at that place.
Today Khreshchaty and Mariyinsky Parks make up the Park Circle of Kiev. Many native Ukrainian plants grow in Khreshchaty Park, but there are also some species imported from abroad that have successfully taken root in our climate.
One of the main landmarks here is the People’s Friendship Arch, a huge rainbow-shaped symbolic monument that embodies the brotherhood of all Slavic people. Immediately after the Arch, there is an observation point with lovely views of the Dnipro and Kiev’s left bank. Here you may try extreme flying over the Dnieper on a zip line that is very popular in warm weather.
In Khreshchaty Park, you’ll also find the Kiev Academic Puppet Theatre, which resembles a castle with fabulous sculptures in its yard, and the Kiev Water Museum, where you will be able to learn much interesting information about this natural resource, take funny pictures and even stand for a while in a soap bubble!
The capital of Ukraine is truly a green city. Parks can help you to rest for your body and soul, to switch off your brain and just enjoy a pleasant walk, while chatting, eating ice cream or being silent. Fresh air, flowers, and greenery are plentiful in these spaces, the perfect place to turn to when the smog of city life gets you down. Put on comfortable shoes, choose the best park for you and have a nice day!