Mariinsky Palace, located next to the Parliament building and in a park bearing the same name is a venue that is not a venue.
This baroque palace is the official residence of the President of Ukraine and it is used on special occasions and for greeting visiting dignitaries, but the rest of the time this beautiful building, a work of art in itself, stands empty and unused.
What’s the point of that?
People can admire the building, completed in 1752, from beyond the gates, but nobody is allowed to walk through the ornate rooms. In the United States the White House is (still, today) open to the public for prearranged tours because it is known as “the people’s house” and maybe we should begin a petition to get the same kind of visitation or access rights to Ukraine’s magnificent equivalent?
Nestled on the hilly bank of the Dnipro, Mariinsky Park is by far the most romantic park in Kyiv. If you need proof of this, just take a look at Park Bridge, aka ‘Lovers’ Bridge’: it’s covered in padlocks.
For a panoramic view of the city’s left bank, head to the viewing platform. For a touch of grandeur, marvel at the majestic outline of the recently-renovated Mariinsky Palace. Built in the mid-18th century for Russian empress Elizaveta Petrovna, this Baroque building now serves as the ceremonial residence of the Ukrainian president. And of course, not far away is Ukraine’s parliament – the Verkhovna Rada.
Besides all the pomp and ceremony, the park is also home to over 80 different tree species. So bring a good friend, a good book, or a steaming cup of coffee, and breathe in the special atmosphere of this peaceful space in the very heart of the city.