Visiting Mezhyhirya Residence – opulent house of Yanukovych
Mezhyhirya Residence (pronounced mez (z like in television)-a-gor-ia) was the home of ex-Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych before he fled the country following the 2014 revolution. Perhaps oddly, it’s now a tourist attraction and visiting Mezhyhirya Residence is an interesting thing to do while you are visiting Kyiv. It’s not just Yanukovych’s House that you can see, but the extensive and slightly quirky grounds.
A bit of history before visiting Mezhyhirya Residence
In late 2013, President Yanukovych rejected an agreement which would have brought Ukraine closer to the EU, favouring instead closer relations with Russia. This led to Euromaidan, protests in ‘Maidan’ Square in the centre of Kyiv, which went on for several months. In February, violent clashes in the square resulted in many dead and Yanukovych left the country. To get more on this, visit the memorials in Maidan Square.
Anyway, this is a very basic overview of what happened, and opinions can still be divided on it. When he left, the guards also left and protestors were allowed into the grounds of his residence, Mezhyrirya, for the first time. What they found was ridiculous in its content and decor. A garage of classic cars, a pirate ship restaurant, a gold toilet, and even a zoo – it all seemed too much for someone who was basically a government employee on a salary of around $60,000 a year.
We were living in Odessa during the Maidan revolution and watched it on TV and on the internet. We specifically remember the reports when the protestors went into Yanukovych’s house. You can still watch on Youtube. Since then, the new government has opened the grounds of Mezhyrirya to the public as a park and recreation land, as well as a museum. Visiting Mezhyrirya has become a popular weekend activity in Kyiv. When we moved to Kyiv, we were keen to go.
For another weird day trip in Ukraine, don’t miss the Catacombs under Odessa.
Visiting Mezhyrirya Residence
The main house, known as the Honka, is a huge construction of pine. Inside it has ornate mosiac flooring, gold chandeliers, carved wooden fireplaces, marble and crystal and is full of elaborate furniture. It’s also apparently got a boxing ring! You can do tours of the house for 200 grivna, but they are only in Ukrainian, so we didn’t. If you are visiting Mezhyyrirya, you can organise a tour guide to take you there who can translate for you like this one.
In front of the honka is a big duckpond, where the ducks have their own little wooden houses, in the same design as the main house. Seriously, the ducks have their own houses…..
The bath house is separate to the honka, with jakuzzis and an outdoor sauna.
Next to the house, inexplicably, there are two giant chairs that you can climb up to sit in.
At the bottom there is even what looks like Greek-Roman ruins, including columns and a horse’s head. Ridiculous.
The honka looks down over the 350-acre estate and to the river beyond. It’s now all open to the public to walk around, explore and have picnics. You can also rent bikes or get a golf cart to carry you around. On the river, there is a pirate ship. Yes, a pirate ship. It had a private restaurant on it apparently. Seriously, why do you need a private restaurant? Can’t you just have a dining room?
One of the things that was talked about a lot when people got into Mezhyriya was the private zoo. Yanokovich had a private zoo on the estate, with various deer and ostriches. When asked why, he said the animals weren’t his, they were just on the land and he supported them. You know, he found ostriches on his land, like you do. In Ukraine.
You can visit the animals now, although the enclosures are a bit small and it’s quite sad. There is a big red deer stag, a well as some fallow and roe deer. I can’t really understand why they didn’t just release them and give them free range of the estate. Some of them are incredibly tame, suggesting that they were used to being petted.
Next to the zoo, is a farm. With cows. If you’re going to have ostriches, you might as well also have some useful animals too. So Yanokovich had his own dairy and produced his own milk. Saves popping to the shop when you run out. He did have quite a long driveway.
Horse riding centre
The old stables have been opened to the public and you can go horseriding around the grounds. I’m not sure how many of the horses were originally part of the estate, but given the other animals that were there, it was probably a lot.
Dog training centre
Another thing found on the estate was a full dog breeding centre, complete with surgery rooms, beauty rooms, training area and accommodation for the staff. There was a range of dog breeds, including huge English mastiffs and shepherd dogs from Central Asia. Yanukovich used to give puppies as gifts to dignitaries. It’s better than Ferrero Rocher.
You can tour the dog training centre for 50 grivna. We haven’t done it yet, but we will one day.
For another 50 grivna you can visit Yanocovich’s private car collection complete with USSR and western cars as well as military vehicles and motorcycles.
Heading to Kyiv for a few days? Why not do our Craft Beer and Street Art Walking tour?
Nuts and Bolts for visiting Mezhyrirya Residence
How to get to Mezhyrirya from Kyiv
We took a taxi organised using the app Uklon both there and back. It cost us 217 hrivnas each way for a large four-door car with four of us inside. The Uklon app can be used in English and it tells you the price when you book. We use it for all our taxi rides in Kyiv. Uber also works in Kyiv.
You can also get a bus from the end of the blue line metro at Novyie Petrovsky.
Entry fees for Mezhyrirya
It cost 120 hrivnas each to get into the grounds, including the farm and zoo. On top of this, you can pay extra to get into the various exhibits. It’s 200 hrivnas to do a guided tour of the house. You can’t get into the house without the tour, but it is in Ukrainian. You’d still see things, but won’t understand much. We didn’t do this, but if we go again with a Ukrainian speaker, we probably will. Many tour guides in Kyiv run tours to Mezhyrirya and I think that would give you a really great introduction to the situation and the place. One option is to book through the online agent Get Your Guide, like this one for $45.
It’s 50 grivnas to get into the dog training centre, and another 50 grivnas to see the classic cars.
Getting Around Mezhyrirya
Golf cars run ‘tours’ around the extensive grounds for anyone who doesn’t want to walk. You can also hire bicycles at the entrance. There are some good signposts around the grounds, although it could do with a bit more. I’m sure this will come soon though.
Mezhyrirya Residence has quite a nice website that is being developed. It includes a map of the main sites.
Food and Drink at Mezhyrirya
Since we’ve been in Kyiv we’ve had two opportunities for visiting Mezhyrirya Residence, once in the winter and once in the summer. In the winter, we only found one little cafe open next to the cowshed where we got a cup of tea and some biscuits. In the summer, probably unsurprisingly, there was much more. There were kiosks selling drinks and ice-creams, a place serving shashlik and lots more cafes. Basically, if you go in winter, take your own snacks!
If you have a few days in Kyiv, then visiting Mezhyrirya Residence is a great day trip from Kyiv to do. The grounds are stunning, you can learn some interesting history and have a long walk outside the city.
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