Interesting history of Kyiv Streets: Yaroslaviv Val

Interesting history of Kyiv Streets: Yaroslaviv Val

Yaroslaviv Val street in Kyiv goes up from the famous Golden Gate, taking us back in history – right to the XIX century, when the street was founded. The street charms tourists and locals by numerous historical landmarks, architectural sights and mystic places that tell interesting stories and allow feeling the old and wise soul of Ukrainian capital.

The street begins at the Golden Gate – the important historical monument, built by prince Yaroslaw the Wise in the XI century. In that period, the massive structure was the main entrance to Kyiv city. In the course of time, the gates turned into ruin, but during two reconstructions (1982 and 2007) the landmark was revived. Now it welcomes visitors to see the renovated structure, museum inside it and observation platform on the top.
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This street has changed its name many times. Nowadays, it is named after the great prince Yaroslaw the Wise who ruled in Kyiv Rus in the X and XI centuries. In that times, the defensive earth wall (“val” in Ukrainian language) was located here. In 1840-50s, remains of the earth wall were demolished, and the new street called Podvalna (literally translated as “under the earth wall”) was founded here. In 1869, the street was officially given the name Yaroslaviv Val (“the earth wall of Yaroslav”). In 1928, the street was named after the Soviet military hero Voroshylov, in 1957 it was renamed as Polupanov street (in honor of Andriy Polupanov, the first Soviet commandant of Kyiv), in 1963, the street was called Velyka Pidvalna. Only in 1977 the street got back its modern name — Yaroslaviv Val.
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When you go along this beautiful street, you feel that you are more in an architectural museum than in a regular part of Kyiv. The street has only few modern buildings of foreign embassies, while all the other buildings are historical monuments with metal memorial tablets on them.
Right at the beginning of the street, at Yaroslaviv Val, 1, you will see the dark red building with pinnacle, lancet windows and winding balconies. This building, which looks like a knight`s castle, has an unofficial name “The house of baron”. The house was constructed in 1897 on the request of Polish landlord Mykhailo Pidgirsky. To see the main entrance of the building, you have to go through the gate decorated with statues of winged demons (often called winged monkeys) that hold the facade. People tell legend that if the building is in danger, the demons come to life to protect it.
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Then we see the building at Yaroslaviv Val, 3 – the ex-property of the popular winemaker and businessman Maxim Steingel. The building was constructed in 1858. Maxim Steingel had the title of the baron; that is why people call the neighbor building on Yaroslaviv Val, 1 “The house of baron”. However, this is a mistake: the baron lived and kept his legendary wines at the address Yaroslaviv Val, 3. Nowadays, this building is the residence of India ambassador in Ukraine.
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The house on Yaroslaviv Val, 5 was also built in the middle of the XIX century. It was owned by Kiseliovs – the successors of the old family of Adam Kisil`, the last Polish military governor of Kyiv, who had a big mansion on Zamkova mountain. Vasiliy Obraztsov, the famous Kyiv professor of medicine, who was the first doctor who described the diagnosis of myocardial infarct and thrombosis, also lived here.
The amazingly beautiful building at the address Yaroslaviv Val, 7 will surely win your heart at the first sight. In the past, it was a Karaim kenesa (house of prayer) of Kyiv Karaim community. The building, constructed in 1902, impresses with gorgeous elements that keep to Moresque and Arabian style. Its decor includes concrete that has just come into fashion in the period of the building construction and was very expensive. The kenesa was designed according to the project of architect Vladyslav Gorodetsky on the request of “tobacco king” Solomon Kogen from Yevpatoriya. In the Soviet era, Karaim community stopped its work in Kyiv. The building served as a puppet theatre, then – as a cinema. In modern time, the old kenesa is the House of Actors.
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The history of the two-storey building at Yaroslaviv Val, 10 is also very interesting. Before the revolution, maternity home and obstetrics classes were located here. From 1915, the building turned into “Versal” hotel. Skirting boards and fitting of the balcony above the entrance remained unchanged from the hotel times, so they are worth attention. In 1919, the building was sold, but the new owners did not move here – the Soviets came to Ukraine so the building became nationalized.
The building at Yaroslaviv Val, 15 surprises with numerous photos of people from pre-revolutionary times, hanging in the windows. These are the photos of persons who stayed in “Krasnaya Zvezda” military hotel that was located at this address before. One more interesting fact: in the building yard, you can find a three-storey building were famous aircraft designer Igor Sikorsky was born in 1889. Igor and his family lived here on the first floor, and the engineer has assembled his second helicopter right here in the courtyard. Medical and pedagogic institute, founded by Igor Sikorsky`s sisters, was located on the second floor of this building.
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Yaroslaviv Val was inhabited not only by well-known scientists and doctors – it was also the meeting point of art Bohemia. For example, violinist Mykhailo Sikard, the friend of composer Mykola Lysenko, lived in the building at Yaroslaviv Val 11. He was regularly visited by his famous friend. Well-known colonel and businessman Leonid Rodzyanko lived at Yaroslaviv Val 14a. He regularly held art-related parties and events visited by famous artists such as the eminent poetess Anna Akhmatova who read her poems here.
The building at the address Yaroslaviv Val 40 is “The house of talents”. Karpenko-Kary Theatre, Cinema and Television university, located here, was the alma mater of many well-known Ukrainian artists: Olga Sumska, Bogdan Stupka, Ada Rogovtseva and other. The building was built in 1907 by sugar magnate Mykola Tereshenko. Before the revolution, it was an economy school. But after 1917, the building served as Academy of arts and even conservatory.
If you are interested to visit old Yaroslaviv Val street, just come to “Zoloti Vorota” subway station – and you are here. Welcome to feel the spirit of history in the heart of Kyiv.
Photo source: katsiaryna sanikovich, Stanislaw Tokarski/ All photos belong to their rightful owners.

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