Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, is one of the oldest cities of Eastern Europe. It is situated on the hilly right bank and on the low left bank of the Dnieper River.
Inimitable in the beauty and variety of its green landscape, a garden city, a city of museums, Kyiv is the historic, political, religious, scientific, and cultural center of Ukraine.
It is also the largest city (2.5 mln) of the country, and one of the largest industrial centers, and an important transport and communications hub.
The oldest part of Kyiv lies along the high right bank of the Dnieper and it adjacent lower terrace among the picturesque hills between the Dnieper and the valley of its right-bank tributary, the Lybid.
The oldest human traces on the territory of Kyiv date from the late Paleolithic period. Traces of Neolithic Trypilian _ culture settlements are numerous, as are those of the Iron and Bronze ages.
Excavated Roman coins and burial grounds of the 2nd-4th centuries AD show that Kyiv was already a large settlement and important trading locus at that time.
According to the Rus Primary Chronicle, the founders of Kyiv were the brothers Kyi, Shchek, and Khoryv, leaders of the Slavonic Polianian tribe. The city was named after the eldest, Kyi. The memory of the other two brothers has been preserved in the names of two hills — Shche-kavytsia and Khorevytsia — and in the names of the streets. Kyiv was founded in the latter half of the 5th, or the early 6th century.
During the reign of Volodymyr the Great Kyiv consisted of two parts — ' the fortified Upper City and Podil, the lower part. In the upper part of the city lived the prince and his retainers — the boyars and the prince's bodyguard. Podil was inhabited by artisans, fishermen and merchants.
At this time the construction of brick buildings decorated with wall painting and mosaics was begun in Kyiv. The brick Desiatynna (Tithe) Church was among these buildings. It was so called because Prince Volodymyr contributed one-tenth of his income to the construction and maintenance of this church.
During the reign of Yaroslav the Wise three gates led to the city. The remains of only one of them, the brick Golden Gates, have come down to us. In 1037 the foundation was laid for the magnificent Sophia Cathedral, which formed the architectural center of the new "Yaroslav's City".
At that time Kyiv was surrounded by dense forests and the site of present-day Khreshchatyk was a wooded valley.
Considerable progress was noted in the development of Rus culture the center of which was Kyiv. It was during this period that the first schools were built. Literacy began to spread among the princes, boyars, clergy and rich citizens. During the 11-12th centuries remarkable models of ancient architecture were created in Kyiv, mostly churches and monasteries.