Since gaining independence, Ukraine has been developing its tourist industry, but westerners still have much to learn about it. For North Americans and Western Europeans who travel to Kiev, the capital, for the first time, an especially fascinating discovery is the One Street Museum. When you go to the city, you’re sure to hear about it in your Kiev hotel from staff or from other visitors, because it has become a top attraction.
The One Street Museum is small, and is but a part of a larger attraction called St. Andrew’s Descent. This is a street that connects Kiev’s Upper Town with the historic and commercial Podil district. It gets its name from the 18th century St. Andrew’s Church located at the top of the Descent. According to legend, the Apostle St. Andrew erected a cross where the church now stands, and prophesied the building of a great Christian city, Kiev. It is said that when the church was built, a spring miraculously bubbled up under the altar.
St. Andrew’s Descent became known as the “Montmartre of Kiev.” Its brick route winds past several landmarks. One is the Castle of Richard the Lionheart, which actually has no connection with the legendary king of England. It was built in the early 20th century by an entrepreneur who ran afoul of city authorities, and lost his title to it. Another is Mikhail Bulgakov’s House. He was a Kiev-born Russian writer, famous for such novels as “The White Guard”. This street is vividly described in his work. The house, built in 1888, is now a museum.
As you walk down St. Andrew’s Descent, you will see several impressive monuments. There is one to Yaroslav the Wise, the Grand Prince of Novgorod and Kiev. There is also a monument to the playwright Mykhailo Starytskyi in the form of characters from his play “Chasing Two Rabbits”. Of course, there is a monument to Ukraine’s greatest writer, Taras Shevchenko. A monument was recently erected in honor of Bulgakov; the first statue in Ukraine dedicated to a Russian author.
Finally, there is the One Street Museum. It houses more than 6,500 exhibits pertaining to the history of this very unique street. There are items from the Castle of Richard Lionheart, St. Andrew’s Church, and other sites on the Descent. The museum pays homage to Bulgakov, and a host of other writers and intellectuals, many of whom lived in this neighborhood. Here you will also see a vast array of authentic relics from a bygone era: vintage photographs, paintings and engraving, article of clothing, rare books, antique playing cards, phonographs, sewing machines, and old paper money. The One Street Museum has even had exhibits of the death masks of famous people, and an exhibit dedicated to the brothels of St. Andrew’s Descent.
Perhaps you would like to stay in a fine Kiev hotel. However, when you are looking for accommodations in Kiev, remember that if Kiev hotels are too expensive, you can also find affordable Kiev apartments.