Kiev Culture Lab
Learn Russian, Live Ukraine!
SRAS cultural programs are designed to give you a wide introduction to your city and to Ukraine as a whole. These structured experiences are laid-back, educational, and an opportunity for students to get to know each other.
In our experience, however, most students prefer to save on the costs of organized activities and to have mostly free time – to study, to peruse independent interests, and to spend time with the friends they make from around the world while in Russia.
To strike a balance between these needs and wants, we offer several core activities, attendance to which is required and the cost of which is included in most programs (see the individual program pages for details). We also offer several optional experiences that are available at additional cost.
The Golden Gates - the grand former entrance
to Kiev from ancient times, recently restored.
A monument to the victims of Chernobyl stands
outside the Chernobyl Museum.
1. Included Events
Central Kiev Tour
We begin our excursion near the newly renovated Golden Gate site which for many centuries served as the main entrance to Kiev. The street on which NovaMova is located on is called “Yaroslavov Val”- which means "Yaroslav’s Barrier Wall," part of the ancient city walls that once protected the citizens of Kiev from invaders and local, competing tribes. We will view the most ancient of Kiev's cathedrals - the St. Sophia Cathedral, which was constructed during Yaroslav the Wise’s rule in 1037 and has dazzled the world with its unique mosaics and frescos for eleven centuries. Next is the Mikhailovsky Zlatoverhy Cathedral, originally built in the 12th century, but blown up by the Soviets in 1934, and only recently reconstructed following the original plans. Some parts of the frescos and mosaics of the original cathedral survived the explosion and collapse and are now on display in the St. Sophia Cathedral. Further on we pass the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and come to the Andreivsky Church - built with a unique baroque influence. Near the church is Andreivsky Hill - a favorite street of most people from Kiev. Andreivsky Hill is a traditional gathering place of artists, musicians, souvenir dealers, and more.
Lavra Cave Monastery
The Pechersky (Lavra Cave) Monastery, included on UNESCO’s World Heritage list, is a complex of caves, magnificent architecture, churches, and museums. Here, you will be introduced to the history of this place, travel through the caves and see the ancient catacombs, which have been the final resting place for many holy figures since the 11th century. The Lower grounds, where you will find the ancient cave system, are still home to an operating monastery. The cave is open to the public - to all pilgrims as well as tourists just looking to catch a glimpse of a part of Orthodoxy’s rich history.
Chernobyl Museum Tour
Few people of the world have not heard of the deadly accident that took place on April 26th, 1986 at the Chernobyl nuclear power station. This museum is rich with photos, videos, and artifacts from the event. A visual timeline tells the tale of the events which lead up to this disaster and exactly what caused the deadly explosion.
Each semester, students are treated to one cultural performance. In this past, this has generally been a play or ballet but has also, based on requests and scheduling, could be a puppet show, a jazz performance or even concerts by a modern group.
2. Optional Events
Pirohovo Village Museum
Out on the far edge of Kiev, a full hour’s drive from the city center, is the Museum of Ukrainian Folk Architecture and Life, more commonly known as “Pirogovo Museum.” This is an incredibly unique museum consisting of about 500 sites. Almost all are authentic residential and farm structures brought here from different regions of Ukraine. Most buildings are from the 18th and 19th centuries, but the exhibit also includes authentic cottages and churches from as far back as the late 16th century!
World War II Museum Tour
The purpose of this tour is to present you with visual and comprehensive information about the events of the Second World War as it played out in the former Soviet Union, particularly Ukraine.
Photographing Odessa's yummy and
original street food!
Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) Site Museum
A short distance south of Kiev, in the middle of fertile fields, lies what was once one of the deadliest places on the planet – the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile site near the city of Pervomaisk. During the Cold War it housed the unstoppable SS-18 (Dubbed by NATO as “Satan” missiles). These were multiple nuclear warhead missiles with a combined power of nearly one hundred times that experienced at Hiroshima. The 200-ton rocket with ten independently targeted nuclear warheads could reach any place in the world within twenty minutes and penetrate the most sophisticated anti-ballistic umbrella. In the early years of its long-sought independence, Ukraine made a strategic decision to completely abandon its entire nuclear arsenal, which had ranked third in the world after Russia and the USA.
Weekend Trip to Lviv
Without a doubt, the top attraction and premier tourist destination in western Ukraine is the gorgeous city of Lviv. Today it is a vibrant city of nearly a million people that is proud of its long and glorious history, rich heritage, and architectural beauty – which was heavily influenced by Italian styles and greatly resembles Central European cities perhaps more than most Russian. This trilingual city (it is heavy with Ukrainian, Russian, and Polish speakers) is a melting pot of diverse influences, as befits a country at the crossroads of the world, inhabited by well-traveled and novelty-seeking entrepreneurs, merchants, soldiers, and gentry.
A Trip to Odessa
The most noteworthy and picturesque attraction of southern Ukraine is undoubtedly the sparkling city of Odessa, often called the “southern gateway to Ukraine” and has long been revered for its complex and cosmopolitan culture. Odessa is home to people from all over the world. Here, both the American teacher of English and the Arab student of Russian will find their senses roused and their mind enlivened. Odessa’s past is indelibly etched upon its present. A heady mix of class, elegance, and an intense desire to live life to the fullest can be felt throughout the city.
NOVAMOVA keeps a close eye on events and keeps you informed of other unique tours, exciting cultural events, city celebrations, etc. These events are often available at little or no cost.
Find out more!
Ukrainian Folklore Project
The SRAS Newsletter
Journal for Students
SRAS Library on Eurasia
Health and Safety in Eurasia
More Free Resources!
Questions or comments?
Contact the editor.