A relatively new travel attraction of Ukraine – Yanukovych Residence in Mezhyhirya – has quickly become one of the most visited places by travelers from all over the world. Some people find it gaudy and pompous; others adore the park design and landscapes. Anyway, you shouldn’t miss an opportunity to see it with your own eyes now, because no one knows its future destiny and how long it will be open for public.
Palaces and manor houses of the former rulers are often included on the lists of attractions in many cities and countries. As a rule, they are classy: beginning with the size and materials used in construction, finishing with gimmicks, collector’s items, and exclusive features. Most often, these residences date back to 18-19th centuries, when the huge difference between the incomes of the rulers and common people was not surprising.
However, you have an opportunity to visit a quite different kind of a residence, located near Kiev, whose former owner scandalously escaped 3 years ago. Victor Yanukovich was not a king, Sheikh or great industrialist. He was president of a democratic European state in the 21st century. Nevertheless, a lot of things say about his craving for non-European traditions and mentality: a tall fence and barbed electric wire, the tendency to the esoteric and mystical rites, a garage with vintage cars – this is not a complete list of amazing facts you will learn during a tour of the Yanukovych residence.
You can visit the Mezhyhirya Residence Museum any day of the week all year round. The territory is open to the public from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm. The complex is located 30 km north from Kiev, in the Novi Petrivtsi village. Traveling there from the city center, you will pass Podil district, drive along the Dnipro River and spot a medieval fortress of the Kievan princes in Vyshgorod. Therefore, if you go on a guided tour, you can learn many interesting facts about history and present of the Kiev during a half-an-hour ride to the Yanukovych House.
Here you will find a short guide of the Yanukovych Residence that will help you plan your visit there. In summertime and during the warm sunny days, one can spend up to 6 hours in Mezhyhirya residence, exploring its spacious grounds. In winter, people usually choose a shorter tour that aims to see the main attraction of the residence – a sumptuous Yanukovych palace called Honka.
Once you enter the territory of Mezhyhirya, you’ll find stalls with coffee, water, and snacks as well as the bicycle rent. An excellent road surface of the territory, picturesque scenery and fresh air make this place a paradise for cycling. However, if the bike does not suit you, you can rent an electric car with a driver and enjoy a 60 minutes trip throughout the spacious territory, except for the pedestrian zone of the residence.
Walking around the park, you will discover rivers and lakes, admire the panoramic views overlooking the Kiev Sea, sit on a bench on the waterfront alley and step on a perfect lawn of the golf course. If you turn right at the entrance of the ex-president residence, you will pass by a private Yanukovych laboratory, which analyzed food before cooking. The greenhouses for growing vegetables and fruits to the president’s table are right next to it.
Moreover, you will see the well-groomed domestic and exotic animals in Mezhyhirya zoo, and visit kennels for elite bread of dogs. In a small Mezhyhirya zoo, you can see horses and donkeys, sheep and cows, deer, ostriches, and pheasants. Just don’t forget that the terrain is hilly and the residential land area is 137 hectares, therefore, wear comfortable shoes.
The highlight of the Mezhuhirya residence is a VIP territory, surrounded by a high fence with the huge wrought-iron gates, decorated with flowers. One of the buildings there is a Sport&SPA center that used to be a private club for ex-president entourage during his rule. The complex includes a bowling center, swimming pool, super-modern boxing ring, tennis courts, massage rooms, therapeutic baths, cryo sauna, salt-cave, and other facilities. All the equipment of the complex is super modern and expensive that can be compared to the best SPA complexes of the world.
Sport&SPA is connected to the Yanukovych palace with the underground corridor, which wall used to be decorated with valuable paintings, bought on the European and American auctions, and transferred later to the fund of the National Art Museum of Ukraine. There are some worth-mentioning technical premises at the underground level, for example, a room for the climate system, which keeps the whole house dustless.
The tour of the main building takes about one hour and allows you to visit the most interesting rooms of the four-story building. You’ll discover a knights’ hall and the tea room, a table with built-in barbecue facilities and a private cinema, mosaics made with semiprecious stones on the floor and walls and gold-plated plumbing, ceilings, and floors made of expensive varieties of wood, covered with silk carpets. You can take a look at the bedrooms of the former owners of the house. The working cabinet of Yanukovych is also opened for visitors. Many striking details will surprise you – exclusive musical instrument, very expensive furniture customized for the owner, gilded taps and encrusted ash-buckets.
The “conductor” in the Yanukovych house is permanent – Petro. He will meet you wearing military clothing, with a red-and-black flag on his shoulders. He was one of the first revolutionists, who entered the residence in February 2014 after Yanukovych and his guards had escaped. He can tell a lot about the Maidan protests, about the troubles with the most valuable things in the residence, about uneasy relations with the current regime. He is not a professional guide, but he is an insider and he represents the ideas and feelings of a big part of Ukrainian society and it adds some peculiarity to your visit.
The surrounding territory of Honka is a beautiful park zone with lakes, fountains, flowerbeds, sculptures, and alleys for jogging or leisurely walks. You can engage in various activities in the park. Riding a bike or skateboard will give you a lot of fun as the park is very beautiful and the road surface is great for this activity. Another tunnel connects house with the bath complex, which is also worth visiting. There are steam rooms (white banya and black banya), tropical rain showers and a deep bath with ice water. A little further – Japanese tub on the lake. Behind a luxurious golf course, you will find a helipad, private petrol station, hangar with the rest of retro cars, guesthouses and another magical lake.
The attitude to the Mezhyhirya residence is controversial: some people refuse to visit it because it is connected to the former president of Ukraine and provokes negative emotions; others, on the contrary, consider this place a beautiful park and even take their wedding photo shoots there. Nevertheless, Mezhyhirya is one of the most visited places by the foreign travelers who want to see the striking evidence of the high level of corruption in Ukraine.