Russian Language Blog

A History of Kiev, Part 1 Posted by on Dec 22, 2010 in Culture, History

«Киев—очень старый город» [Kiev is a very old city], so there’s a lot to learn about its history. I’ll be splitting up these posts on «история Киева» [the history of Kiev] into multiple parts to make them more manageable.

There exists «легенда» [a legend] concerning «основание Киева» [the founding of Kiev]. According to this legend, «Киев был основан тремья братьями Кием, Щеком и Хоривом и сестрой Лыбедью» [Kiev was founded by the three brothers Kiy, Shchek, and Khoriv and their sister Lybed]. As you can see from its name, «город назван в честь старшего брата» [the city is named in honor of the eldest brother]. The picture at the beginning of this post is a monument in Kiev that commemorates this legend, or «памятник основателям Киева» [a monument to the founders of Kiev].

Another legend says that «Киев» emerged from «Хазарский каганат» [the Khazar khaganate] and was named in honor of «хазарский визир Куй» [the Khazar vizier Kui].

Nevertheless, archaeological evidence suggests that the first settlements «на территории Подола» [on the territory of Podol (an area in Kiev)] appeared no earlier than the 880s. (Quick quiz for you «литературоведы» [literature scholars, literature experts] out there: what famous Russian writer was born «на подоле» [in Podol]? I will give the answer at the end of this post.)

«С 882 (восемьсот восемьдесят второго) года, Киев стал столицей Киевской Руси» [From 882, Kiev became the capital of Kievan Rus] when «князь Олег» [Prince Oleg, also known in English as Oleg of Novgorod] conquered «Киев» and made it his residence.

«Киевский Русь» [Kievan Rus] became Christianized over a long period of time. The date of the conversion is generally given as «988 (девятьсот восемьдесят восьмой) год» [the year 988] with «крещение князя Владимир I Святославич» [the baptism of Prince Vladimir I Svyatoslavich or Vladimir I of Kiev]. After Vladimir was baptized, he urged the people living in Kiev to be baptized «в реке Днепре» [in the river Dnieper], thus rejecting the traditional «язычество» [paganism] that had been present in Kiev.

«Результат крещения Киевской Руси» [the result of the baptism of Kievan Rus] was that it became firmly aligned with the Byzantine Empire. This would prove significant when «раскол христианской церкви» [schism of the Christian church] happened in 1054.

This seems a good enough place to leave off as any–next week I’ll write about «Великий раскол» [the Great Schism] and the centuries after that. Also, I promised to give you the answer to my question I asked earlier: «Михаил Булгаков родился на подоле» [Mikhail Bulgakov was born in Podol].

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About the Author: Natalie

I'm Natalie and I love the Russian language and sharing my knowledge with others. I graduated from university with a dual degree in Russian language & literature and history.


  1. Pasquale F:

    I was there 3 years ago, it was the best ever.