Love and the Lavra

In March I moved to  Kyiv’s Arsenal’na district, between Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square) and the right bank of the river Dnieper. It is one of the city’s most attractive areas, scattered with lush, sweet-smelling chestnut trees and punctuated by dozens of landmarks.

On a day off from work I spent an hour in Park Slavy, on a mid-May morning that felt more like an attritional November day. The view from the war memorial has always been one of my favourites in Kyiv: it stretches from the steep grass slope that runs into the Dnieper, to the light blue metro trains that slide over the bridge, to the thin yellow strip of beach at Hydropark, to the new office buildings and housing blocks of Livoberezhna, to scruffy Troeshchina and Darnytsya beyond them, to the hazy outline of Lisova on the horizon – the very easternmost edge of the city.

As I sat on a bench not far from the hotel Salyut, I spotted a wedding party below. It is a Ukrainian tradition for the bride and groom to be photographed in front of their city’s landmarks on their wedding day, and the couple were making their way from the Lavra to rest in one of the pagodas by the edge of the river. I couldn’t resist the urge to spy on them, and in doing so took the photograph below, a memento of another happy memory in Arsenal’na.

A couple get married in the grounds of the Kievo-Pecherska Lavra, Kyiv, Ukraine.
A couple get married in the grounds of the Kievo-Pecherska Lavra, Kyiv, Ukraine.

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