KIEV, a city of Russia, capital of the above government, on the right or west bank of the Dnieper, in 50° 27′ 12″ N. and 30° 30′ 18″ E., 628 m. by rail S.W. of Moscow and 406 m. by rail N.N.E. of Odessa. The site of the greater part of the town consists of hills or bluffs separated by ravines and hollows, the elevation of the central portions being about 300 ft. above the ordinary level of the Dnieper. On the opposite side of the river the country spreads out low and level like a sea. Having received all its important tributaries, the Dnieper is here a broad (400 to 580 yds.) and navigable stream; but as it approaches the town it divides into two arms and forms a low grassy island of considerable extent called Tukhanov. During the spring floods there is a rise of 16 or even 20 ft., and not only the island but the country along the left bank and the lower grounds on the right bank are laid under water. The bed of the river is sandy and shifting, and it is only by costly engineering works that the main stream has been kept from returning to the more eastern channel, along which it formerly flowed. Opposite the southern part of the town, where the currents have again united, the river is crossed by a suspension bridge, which at the time of its erection (1848–1853) was the largest enterprise of the kind in Europe. It is about half a mile in length and 521 ft. in breadth, and the four principal spans are each 440 ft. The bridge was designed by Vignoles, and cost about £400,000. Steamers ply in summer to Kremenchug, Ekaterinoslav, Mogilev, Pinsk and Chernigov. Altogether Kiev is one of the most beautiful cities in Russia, and the vicinity too is picturesque.
Until 1837 the town proper consisted of the Old Town, Pechersk and Podoli; but in that year three districts were added, and in 1879 the limits were extended to include Kurenevka, Lukyanovka, Shulyavka and Solomenka. The administrative area of the town is 13,500 acres.
The Old Town, or Old Kiev quarter (Starokievskaya Chast), occupies the highest of the range of hills. Here the houses are most closely built, and stone structures most abundant. In some of the principal streets are buildings of three to five storeys, a comparatively rare thing in Russia, indeed in the main street (Kreshchatik) fine structures have been erected since 1896. In the 11th century the area was enclosed by earthen ramparts, with bastions and gateways; but of these the only surviving remnant is the Golden Gate. In the centre of the Old Town stands the cathedral of St Sophia, the oldest cathedral in the Russian empire. Its external walls are of a pale green and white colour, and it has ten cupolas, four spangled with stars and six surmounted each with a cross. The golden cupola of the four-storeyed campanile is visible for many miles across the steppes. The statement frequently made that the church was a copy of St Sophia’s in Constantinople has been shown to be a mistake. The building measures in length 177 ft., while its breadth is 118 ft. But though the plan shows no imitation of the great Byzantine church, the decorations of the interior (mosaics, frescoes, &c.) do indicate direct Byzantine influence. During the occupation of the church by the Uniats or United Greek Church in the 17th century these were covered with whitewash, and were only discovered in 1842, after which the cathedral was internally restored; but the chapel of the Three Pontiffs has been left untouched to show how carefully the old style has been preserved or copied. Among the mosaics is a colossal representation of the Virgin, 15 ft. in height, which, like the so-called “indestructible wall” in which it is inlaid, dates from the time (1019–1054) of Prince Yaroslav. This prince founded the church in 1037 in gratitude for his victory over the Petchenegs, a Turkish race then settled in the Dnieper valley. His sarcophagus, curiously sculptured with palms, fishes, &c., is preserved. The church of St Andrew the Apostle occupies the spot where, according to Russian tradition, that apostle stood when as yet Kiev was not, and declared that the hill would become the site of a great city. The present building, in florid rococo style, dates from 1744–1767. The church of the Tithes, rebuilt in 1828–1842, was founded in the close of the 10th century by Prince Vladimir in honour of two martyrs whom he had put to death; and the monastery of St Michael (or of the Golden Heads—so called from the fifteen gilded cupolas of the original church) claims to have been built in 1108 by Svyatopolk II., and was restored in 1655 by the Cossack chieftain Bogdan Chmielnicki. On a plateau above the river, the favourite promenade of the citizens, stands the Vladimir monument (1853) in bronze. In this quarter, some distance back from the river, is the new and richly decorated Vladimir cathedral (1862–1896), in the Byzantine style, distinguished for the beauty and richness of its paintings.
Until 1820 the south-eastern district of Pechersk was the industrial and commercial quarter; but it has been greatly altered in carrying out fortifications commenced in that year by Tsar Nicholas I. Most of the houses are small and old-fashioned. The monastery—the Kievo-Pecherskaya—is the chief establishment of its kind in Russia; it is visited every year by about 250,000 pilgrims. Of its ten or twelve conventual churches the chief is that of the Assumption. There are four distinct quarters in the monastery, each under a superior, subject to the archimandrite: the Laura proper or New Monastery, that of the Infirmary, and those of the Nearer and the Further Caves. These caves or catacombs are the most striking characteristic of the place; the name Pechersk, indeed, is connected with the Russian peshchera, “a cave.” The first series of caves, dedicated to St Anthony, contains eighty saints’ tombs; the second, dedicated to St Theodosius, a saint greatly venerated in Russia, about forty-five. The bodies were formerly exposed to view; but the pilgrims who now pass through the galleries see nothing but the draperies and the inscriptions. Among the more notable names are those of Nestor the chronicler, and Iliya of Murom, the Old Cossack of the Russian epics. The foundation of the monastery is ascribed to two saints of the 11th century—Anthony and Hilarion, the latter metropolitan of Kiev. By the middle of the 12th century it had become wealthy and beautiful. Completely ruined by the Mongol prince Batu in 1240, it remained deserted for more than two centuries. Prince Simeon Oblkovich was the first to begin the restoration. A conflagration laid the buildings waste in 1716, and their present aspect is largely due to Peter the Great. The cathedral of the Assumption, with seven gilded cupolas, was dedicated in 1089, destroyed by the Mongols in 1240, and restored in 1729; the wall-paintings of the interior are by V. Vereshchagin. The monastery contains a school of picture-makers of ancient origin, whose productions are widely diffused throughout the empire, and a printing press, from which have issued liturgical and religious works, the oldest known examples bearing the date 1616. It possesses a wonder-working ikon or image of the “Death of the Virgin,” said to have been brought from Constantinople in 1073, and the second highest bell-tower in Russia.
The Podol quarter lies on the low ground at the foot of the bluffs. It is the industrial and trading quarter of the city, and the seat of the great fair of the “Contracts,” the transference of which from Dubno in 1797 largely stimulated the commercial prosperity of Kiev. The present regular arrangement of its streets arose after the great fire of 1811. Lipki district (from the lipki or lime trees, destroyed in 1833) is of recent origin, and is mainly inhabited by the well-to-do classes. It is sometimes called the palace quarter, from the royal palace erected between 1868 and 1870, on the site of the older structure dating from the time of Tsaritsa Elizabeth. Gardens and parks abound; the palace garden is exceptionally fine, and in the same neighbourhood are the public gardens with the place of amusement known as the Château des Fleurs.
In the New Buildings, or the Lybed quarter, are the university and the botanical gardens. The Ploskaya Chast (Flat quarter) or Obolon contains the lunatic asylum; the Lukyanovka Chast, the penitentiary and the camp and barracks; and the Bulvarnaya Chast, the military gymnasium of St Vladimir and the railway station. The educational and scientific institutions of Kiev rank next to those of the two capitals. Its university, removed from Vilna to Kiev in 1834, has about 2500 students, and is well provided with observatories, laboratories, libraries and museums; five scientific societies and two societies for aid to poor students are attached to it. There are, besides, a theological academy, founded in 1615; a society of church archaeology, which possesses a museum built in 1900, very rich in old ikons, crosses, &c., both Russian and Oriental; an imperial academy of music; university courses for ladies; a polytechnic, with 1300 students—the building was completed in 1900 and stands on the other side of Old Kiev, away from the river. Of the learned societies the more important are the medical (1840), the naturalists’ (1869), the juridical (1876), the historical of Nestor the Chronicler (1872), the horticultural (1875), and the dramatic (1879), the archaeological commission (1843), and the society of church archaeology.
Kiev is the principal centre for the sugar industry of Russia, as well as for the general trade of the region. Its Stryetenskaya fair is important. More than twenty caves were discovered on the slope of a hill (Kirilov Street), and one of them, excavated in 1876, proved to have belonged to neolithic troglodytes. Numerous graves, both from the pagan and the Christian periods, the latter containing more than 2000 skeletons, with a great number of small articles, were discovered in the same year in the same neighbourhood. Many colonial Roman coins of the 3rd and 4th centuries, and silver dirhems, stamped at Samarkand, Balkh, Merv, &c., were also found in 1869.
In 1862 the population of Kiev was returned as 70,341; in 1874 the total was given as 127,251; and in 1902 as 319,000. This includes 20,000 Poles and 12,000 Jews. Kiev is the headquarters of the IX. Army Corps, and of a metropolitan of the Orthodox Greek Church.
The history of Kiev cannot be satisfactorily separated from that of Russia. According to Nestor’s legend it was founded in 864 by three brothers, Kiy, Shchek and Khoriv, and after their deaths the principality was seized by two Varangians (Scandinavians), Askold and Dir, followers of Rurik, also in 864. Rurik’s successor Oleg conquered Kiev in 882 and made it the chief town of his principality. It was in the waters of the Dnieper opposite the town that Prince Vladimir, the first saint of the Russian church, caused his people to be baptized (988), and Kiev became the seat of the first Christian church, of the first Christian school, and of the first library in Russia. For three hundred and seventy-six years it was an independent Russian city; for eighty years (1240–1320) it was subject to the Mongols; for two hundred and forty-nine years (1320–1569) it belonged to the Lithuanian principality; and for eighty-five years to Poland (1569–1654). It was finally united to the Russian empire in 1686. The city was devastated by the khan of the Crimea in 1483. The Magdeburg rights, which the city enjoyed from 1516, were abolished in 1835, and the ordinary form of town government introduced; and in 1840 it was made subject to the common civil law of the empire.
The Russian literature concerning Kiev is voluminous. Its bibliography will be found in the Russian Geographical Dictionary of P. Semenov, and in the Russian Encyclopaedic Dictionary, published by Brockhaus and Efron (vol. xv., 1895). Among recent publications are: Rambaud’s La Russie épique (Paris, 1876); Avenarius, Kniga o Kievskikh Bogatuiryakh (St Petersburg, 1876), dealing with the early Kiev heroes; Zakrevski, Opisanie Kieva (1868); the materials issued by the commission for the investigation of the ancient records of the city; Taranovskiy, Gorod Kiev (Kiev, 1881); De Baye, Kiev, la mère des villes russes (Paris, 1896); Goetz, Das Kiewer Höhlenkloster als Kulturzentrum des Vormongolischen Russlands (Passau, 1904). See also Count Bobrinsky, Kurgans of Smiela (1897); and N. Byelyashevsky, The Mints of Kiev. (P. A. K.; J. T. Be.)