Imagine if the politician you elected stole from his own people?
Growing up in a country with low corruption that’s difficult to imagine. But that’s exactly what Viktor Yanukovych did to the very same people that elected him.
Yanukovych was the President of Ukraine between 2010 and 2014 and his presidency ended with the Euromaidan revolution. Since then he’s been exiled to Russia.
After his removal widespread corruption has been uncovered. Among other things his lavish Mezhyhirya Residence on the outskirts of Kiev. AKA Museum of Corruption.
The residence is a 350 acres luxury estate situated on the banks of the Dnieper river. About 30 minutes north of the Kiev city center. The residence has several fountains, lakes, a golf course, yacht pier, an equestrian club, a shooting range, a tennis court and a private zoo. In addition the estate has several buildings where no expenses were spared decorating the interior and exterior.
A lot of money went into the construction and maintenance of the Mezhyhirya Residence. Money that instead could have benefited the people of Ukraine.
I visited the Museum of Corruption in August of 2017 and I decided to create this guide to help future visitors.
How To Get There
First let’s address the obvious: How to get to Mezhyhirya Residence from the Kiev city center.
The most convenient way is using Uber which cost 150 UAH and took 30 minutes. Getting an Uber back to Kiev was easy but I had to wait about 10 minutes for it to arrive.
You can also catch a shared minibus for 50 UAH per person. They leave frequently but you have to go to Heroiv Dnipra Metro station outside the city center. You’ll also get dropped off here on the return trip. At Mezhyhirya Residence the minibuses are waiting right outside the entrance.
If you want to use a guide I recommend buying a tour from a reputable company in Kiev. The price should include a local guide, entrance to the estate and the Honka house plus the transportation.
How To Get Around
Of course you can walk. But the estate is very large and most people won’t be able to cover it in one day.
I think the most fun way to get around is renting a bicycle. The price was 250 UAH for three hours which includes a helmet. With the bike it took me about four hours to cover the whole area. I took it slow and you can definitely do it faster if you want.
Other options includes renting electrical bikes and Segways. You can also rent a golf car with a driver.
The entrance fee was 120 UAH per person and you’ll receive a stamp so you can get back inside all day for free. As of August 2017 the opening hours are 9am to 8pm every day.
Below is a map of the estate. I recommend buying a map since there are not many signs inside the estate. You can buy maps at the entrance for 10 UAH.
I visited on a Sunday and was expecting huge crowds. But it was not bad. No line to get in and sometimes it felt like I had the whole place to myself.
The downside is that inside the estate the food options are limited. There’s just a few places where you can buy basic food and drinks. I recommend to bring your own food and have a picnic somewhere inside the estate area. There are plenty of benches with tables to sit.
The highlight is the wooden Honka house which was Viktor’s main residence. The name Honka derives from the Finnish company that built it.
It’s a beautiful building with great views of the Dniepr river. Don’t miss the sunset when the building glitters in a golden color. Surrounding the building is a lavish park featuring sculptures, grand staircases and ponds.
The interior resembles an English castle with armor, grand chandeliers and even a private church. To see the inside of the house you need to buy a guided tour. If you buy the ticket at the estate they only seem to offer tours in Ukrainian. To get an English speaking guide I recommend buying a tour in Kiev.
The ship was originally a barge but was turned into Viktor’s reception house and personal office. The interior is decorated with rare wood species, gold leaf, marble and crystal.
If you can’t get inside the Honka house this is a great alternative for a glimpse into corrupt Viktor’s lavish lifestyle.
Right next to the barge was where I found the best food options inside the estate area.
Retro Car Museum
50 UAH gives you entrance to the automobile museum which features Viktor’s private car collection. Here you can find a mix of both western and USSR cars from all ages. In addition there are old military vehicles and motorcycles.
Zoo and Greenhouse
At the southern part of Mezhyhirya Residence you’ll find the animals. This used to be Viktor’s private zoo but now most of the animals have been transferred to public zoo’s around the country. Today you’ll find an ostrich farm, deer, birds and several other animals.
In this area there’s also an orchard and a large greenhouse featuring tropical plants and fruits.
The visit to Mezhyhirya Residence was an eye opener in so many ways. It’s a beautiful place but with a dark history. It makes you understand why Ukrainians don’t have much trust in their politicians anymore.
I rank the Mezhyhirya Residence as one of my best sightseeing experiences here in Kiev. It’s definitely in the top three together with Lavra and Chernobyl. The Mezhyhirya Residence should be on everyone’s Kiev itinerary!
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