We left our flat and headed to “Peter’s House,” so named because of a persistent legend that the emperor Peter I stayed here in August 1706 and January 1707 when he visited Kyiv to supervise the reconstruction of the Pechersk fortress. At the turn of the 19th century, it housed a hospital for the insane. Later it became an orphanage. Now it is used for offices.
As we strolled towards Kontraktova Ploshcha we couldn’t help but notice the contrast between the old and the new. This is such an old section of Kyiv, but much is being done to give it a fresh facelift. (From time to time I feel like I’m walking down Main Street at Disney World!)
Throughout Kyiv, memorial plaques are attached to buildings where famous people studied…or spent the night…or lived. Some buildings have multiple plaques (especially around universities). This memorial plate marks the concert tour of Ferenz Liszt.
In 1809, per our guidebook, construction began on a square building with shopping arcades in the middle of the square. The first floor was barely completed when Podil was struck by fire. As a result, the shopping arcades were finished in haste, and remained only one story. Restorers subsequently unearthed the original blueprints, and in the 1980s, Gostiniy Dvor (Hospitable Courtyard) came to look the way it orginally was designed. In addition to shops and cafes, the building now houses the V. Zabolotniy Institute and the Library of Civil Construction of Ukraine.
A landmark along the square is the Kyiv Mogila Academy. The history of this academy begins in 1615 with the creation of the Fraternal School. Over the years the complex expanded and was reorganized as a collegium. In 1819 it was transformed into the Theological Academy and became a largely religious education establishment. During the Soviet era, the Theological Academy was closed, and its buildings were used for training sailors. But since 1992 the university is again “Kyiv Mogila Academy” and its history is a mandatory subject for all its students.
This arched brick pavilion with Corinthian columns was built in 1749 above a fountain that was pay of Kyiv’s first water supply system. Over the pavilion stands a statue of the apostle Andrew. At the end of the 19th century a sundial was placed over the columns. Though the fountain was demolished in the 1930s, it was rebuilt to its former shape.
Inside the pavilion is a concrete copy of Samson and the lion. To mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Poltava, a wooden sculpture of Samson and the lion was added. One of several legends associated with this fountain says: A person that drinks water from this fountain will stay in Kyiv forever.”
A short distance from the square stands the 1998 reproduction of the Church of the Blessed Virgin Pirogoshya, originally built in 1132-1136. Before the original construction began, the icon of the Blessed Virgin Pirogoshya was shipped from Byzantium. In a classic literary work “The Lay of Igor’s Campaign,” Prince Igor Sviatoslavovich came to Pirogoshya to give thanks for his delivery from captivity among the nomads.
Coming up: more Kyiv tours…but not Podil!