Ancient Autographs: Graffiti of Kiev’s St. Sophia Cathedral

Ancient Autographs: Graffiti of Kiev’s St. Sophia Cathedral

Built in the early 11th century by Kiev’s first Grand Princes, Volodymr the Great and Yaroslav the Wise, St. Sophia’s imposing asymmetrical green domes, rising over white plastered walls, are tipped with gold, and golden scales cover its 94-foot central dome. Apparently, though, some early Kievans weren’t as impressed as they should have been with this magnificence. Researchers with magnifying glasses have over time discovered some 300 graffiti scratched into the walls of the cathedral; most of them are at eye-level, but a few of the graffiti artists needed ladders or scaffolds to make their marks. Read More


Celebrate More Than 25 Years of an Independent Ukraine

Celebrate More Than 25 Years of an Independent Ukraine

August 24, 2016 is the 25th anniversary of Ukraine’s Independence Day. On this day, 25 years ago, Ukraine’s parliament adopted the Declaration of State Sovereignty of Ukraine. The momentous declaration came on the heels of the collapse of an attempted coup in Moscow, when communist hardliners tried to overthrow Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev to prevent the looming dissolution of the USSR (see our series on Witnessing the Fall of the USSR). The coup ultimately failed, and so did the Soviet Union. Now, 25 years down the line, Ukraine celebrates long and loud on this proud national holiday. Parades, fireworks, private parties and public festivals are staged across the country. Read More


Why Move Eastern Europe to the Top of your Travel Bucket List?

Why Move Eastern Europe to the Top of your Travel Bucket List?

How about choosing destinations your friends have never been to, or even considered? How about discovering people in places totally off your travel radar that nevertheless are happily going about their business in a dimension you are unaware of? How about joining “Journey to Eastern Europe,” a MIR Private Journey that has been opened to travelers who are ready to go beyond the familiar? Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Serbia, Kosovo and Macedonia strut their stuff on this wildly different one-time-only itinerary. Read More


“Primitive” Prymachenko: National Artist of Ukraine

“Primitive” Prymachenko: National Artist of Ukraine

Born in 1909, Maria Prymachenko spent her long life in a Ukrainian village with the humble name of Bolotniya, which means marsh or swamp. As a girl she came down with polio, which interfered with her schooling and left her with a painful limp. But her vivid imagination and irrepressible use of color made her a giant in the Ukrainian art world in spite of, or perhaps because of, the limitations she encountered. Her fantastical paintings of imaginary beasts, birds, flowers and ordinary villagers doing everyday things brightened the walls of Kiev’s Art Arsenal earlier this year in a first-ever retrospective of more than 300 of her works. Read More


6 Hands-On Fun, Fascinating and Educational Travel Experiences

6 Hands-On Fun, Fascinating and Educational Travel Experiences

Are you one of those people who prefers to learn by doing, rather than by watching? You like to jump right in and get your hands into the paint, or the flour, or the dirt, to put on a hardhat and go where the action is. You can take the heat in the kitchen – in fact, you go looking for it. As it turns out, quite a few of MIR's intrepid travelers are this type of bold and action-oriented person. And we like to keep you happy learning to do things you may have never done before. Here’s a roundup of six fascinating and perhaps challenging hands-on experiences you can have on our small group tours. Read More


5 FAQs About Travel to Ukraine

5 FAQs About Travel to Ukraine

Bigger than either France or Germany, Ukraine is much less frequented and more unspoiled. A visit to Ukraine is packed with contrasting experiences. The region has for centuries been known for its rich soil and farmlands. But there is far more to Ukraine than tractors, sunflowers and wheat fields. Here are some common questions we are asked about Ukraine... Read More


From Folk Wear to Fashion Week: Ukraine’s Vyshyvanka

From Folk Wear to Fashion Week: Ukraine’s Vyshyvanka

The traditional Ukrainian embroidered shirts called vyshyvanka, once relegated to souvenir shops and folk dance performances, made a huge comeback in 2015. The shirts date back at least a hundred years, when the embroidery on the vyshyvanka’s sleeves, front, neck and cuffs was different in each small region of Ukraine; different colors and varying motifs told a detailed story about the person wearing it. Luba Rudenko, Director of MIR’s Ukraine affiliate office, was born and raised in Western Ukraine, where the Hutsul tradition of embroidering and wearing peasant shirts was particularly strong. Here’s her take on the sudden popularity of Ukrainian folk motifs. Read More


Peaceful Holidays in Kiev, Ukraine

Peaceful Holidays in Kiev, Ukraine

Preparations for a peaceful and joyous 2015 holiday season are underway in St. Sophia Square in the center of Kiev, Ukraine. Luba Rudenko, Director of MIR’s affiliate office in Kiev, shared this photo of the square's holiday tree taking shape. St. Sophia's 18th century blue bell tower stands on the east side of thousand-year-old St. Sophia Cathedral, festive in its green and gold cupolas. Built by Byzantine and Kievan masters in the early 11th century, the cathedral (now a museum) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The holiday tree, decorated with apples, oranges, nuts, candies and gingerbread cookies, serves to mark three holiday dates. Read More


8 Must-See Places in Central and East Europe: Hot Spots in Poland, Ukraine, Moldova, Bulgaria and More

8 Must-See Places in Central and East Europe: Hot Spots in Poland, Ukraine, Moldova, Bulgaria and More

Changing with every moment that goes by, the hip and historic countries of Central and East Europe should be visited now before they are fully and irretrievably “discovered”... but where to start? Born and raised in Poland, MIR’s Director of Sales Joanna Millick has traveled all over Central and East Europe. Here are some of her personal favorite places. Read More