|Select magazine number|
Views of Viktor Pylypyshyn, head of the Shevchenkivsky District Administration, on the tourist potential of the District
Like any other big city, Kyiv is administratively divided into districts, each of which has its own name. One of the central districts of Kyiv is Shevchenkivsky (named after the nineteenth-century Ukrainian poet T. Shevchenko). It is in Shevchenkivsky District that the greatest concentration of historical and architectural landmarks in Kyiv is to be found. Viktor Pylypyshyn, head of the Shevchenkivsky District Administration, answers questions put to him by Viktor Sydorenko.
In 2006 Shevchenkivsky District was recognized as a leader in the number of tourists that visit Kyiv. Was the year 2007 also successful as far as tourism is concerned?
On the Day of Tourism the administration of Shevchenkivsky District received an award for “Active Work in the Development of Tourism.” We have quite a developed tourist infrastructure. We are sort of obliged to encourage tourism — there are over 800 historical, cultural and architectural landmarks that are situated in the district. We have an information center, Kyivsky infotsentr, that was set with tourists in mind, we have a website that provides all kinds of information about Shevchenkivsky District, we publish general and tourist maps of the district. There are over 150 different sightseeing tours offered to the tourists. Incidentally, some of the tours are conducted on foot, which is our contribution to keeping the environment clean — no exhaust gases from the buses. We are going to publish a new tour guide of the district.
What are the places that are particularly popular with tourists?
The Holy Sophia Cathedral, the Mykhailivsky Zolotoverkhy Cathedral, the Cathedral of St Volodymyr, the Golden Gate of Kyiv, the Zoo, the circus, the Fomin botanical garden, the Shevchenko Park near the Shevchenko University, and Maydan Nezalezhnosti.
Maydan Nezalezhnosti was the center of the events of 2004, of what has come to be called “the Orange revolution.”
The eleventh-century Holy Sophia Cathedral is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. I think this in itself is the best advertisement.
The Mykhaylivsky Zolotoverkhy — St Michael’s Golden Domed — cathedral and monastery were recently rebuilt in their former glory, and the square in front of it, which is linked with the square before the Holy Sophia Cathedral is a place to which thousands of people come everyday, both guests of the city and Kyivans themselves. All kinds of festive and solemn events are organized at these squares which are connected with the ancient history of Kyiv.
In fact, taking a walk, say from the Holy Sophia Cathedral to the Golden Gate of Kyiv, you walk across what used to be the city of Kyiv in the eleventh century.
St Volodymyr’s is a functioning church that belongs to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate, and it is in this cathedral that the Patriarch Filaret himself conducts religious services on major Christian feast days.
The Fomin botanical garden and the Shevchenko Park are situated on two sides of the central building of the Taras Shevchenko National University, and if you take a walk through the garden and then in the park, you will both enjoy the relaxing beauty of nature and be exposed to culture — the two major museums of Kyiv, the Russian Art and Khonenko Museums, are situated in the street that runs alongside the Shevchenko Park.
Shevchenko Boulevard that bisects the central part of the city can be regarded as a landmark too — it is probably the oldest boulevard in Kyiv and many of the buildings on it and its vicinity have a landmark status as well, and are connected with important events in the history of Kyiv.
332 tourist companies, 16 excursion bureaus offer their services in Shevchenkivsky District; there are 24 hotels (three of which are five-star hotels) 20 museums, 8 theaters, 4 movie houses, 51 restaurants, 15 community centers, 15 art galleries, 229 monuments and 828 historical, cultural and architectural landmarks that are situated in the district. So, there’s a lot to see, and a lot of places to go to. We are well endowed both culturally, and, so to speak, gastronomically.
Do you know whether any persons, distinguished in art, politics and other spheres live in Shevchenkivsky District?
Oh, yes, there are quite a few of such people who live in Shevchenkivsky District, part of which, mind you, is the very center of Kyiv. There are many academicians, popular actors, politicians, wealthy businessmen who have their apartments in our district. Their presence in Shevchenkivsky District is beneficial for the district for many reasons.
All these landmarks need to be maintained and taken care of. Do you have enough funds to do it?
I can’t say we have enough, but we are doing our best. Tourism is very helpful in this respect — it brings a lot of revenues. We are working out plans for the development of tourism in the years to come. We hope that the revenues from tourism will increase two times by the year 2010. We are getting financed from the state budget rather than from private investments. The money are spent on advertisement, organizing tours for schoolchildren, information support, decoration of the public places on feast days — that sort of thing. The rest is taken care of by private tourist agencies.
I think that local authorities should be given more rights, particularly in handling the funds and revenues. They know best what is needed most at the local level.
What are the major problems that you have to deal with?
Traffic and traffic jams are our major headache. There are too many cars on the roads. It’s a problem that affects everyone who lives in Shevchenkivsky District, not only tourists. New parking lots are needed, new bus routes. We need more hotels — and good hotels. Though we have three five-star hotels in our district, we need more.
You’ve mentioned museums in your district. Could you name at least some of them?
There are, as I said, twenty museums in Shevchenkivsky District, some of them are of an international standing — the History Museum of Ukraine, the Taras Shevchenko Museum, the Russian Art Museum, the Bohdan and Varvara Khonenko Museum (it is also known as the Museum of Western and Oriental Art). Such museums need no promotion — they are known well enough. It’s less known museums that need information support, and we provide it. At the time when we celebrated the 70th anniversary of Shevchenkivsky District, we organized the Night at the Museums event, in which museums and theaters cooperated. The event was a great success. We did not expect such a great turnout — there were ten times more people than the museums and theaters could handle. I think we shall organize similar events in the future as well.
What about sports in your district? How accessible are sports to the people of your district?
We are planning to reconstruct and renovate about fifty stadiums, about one hundred sports grounds and about 200 playing grounds for children. Recently, three up-to-date gyms have been opened. We are building such gyms for schools too, but I think more is needed. I do hope good soccer players and excellent athletes are already doing their workouts at our gyms and stadiums.
What do you do to encourage tourism, tourism for children in particular?
As I’ve already mentioned, we have established an information center. We organize free tours for people of advanced age and for those who are socially disadvantaged. We are planning to install local tourist centers, at which people will be able to rent tourist gear and whatever else you may need for tourism. We are promoting ecological tourism and culture tourism in various ways.
Any particular plans for the year 2008?
Following the decree of the President of Ukraine, 2008 has been declared the Year of Tourism and Resorts of Ukraine. We are planning to organize all sorts of contests among schoolchildren, tourist festivals, local events marking certain memorable dates and state holidays. A new tourist center will be set up which will offer guided sightseeing tours and visits to museums and other places of interest.
Is there a place in Shevchenkivsky District which is particularly dear to you?
The entire district is dear to me. I give all my heart to it. I’m doing my best to make it look better, more comfortable and more enjoyable to live in and to visit.
Photos have been by Shevchenkivsky District’s Press Service
Monument to St Volodymyr at Volodymyrska Hirka;
from this hill opens a magnificent panorama
of the Dnipro River and of Kyiv’s Left bank.
Maydan Nezalezhnosti — Independence Square,
the central square of Kyiv, and the place
where many political rallies are held.
Mykhaylivsky Sobor — St Michael’s Cathedral,