Kiev’s Mykilska Drainage System

History of the tunnels

We explored the Mykilska drainage system, also known as the Nikolskaya drainage system. It is 50km long, reaches depths of 36 metres and is the oldest drainage system in Kiev. It was completed in 1916 by the engineers of the Russian Empire. Its purpose was to drain the saturated ground of the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra hills and prevent landslides. Therefore this is not a sewage system and the water that collects in the subterranean tunnels is safe to drink! Inside the Mykilska tunnels you can find underground waterfalls and awe-inspiring stalactites and stalagmites. However it is not just the geological formations that will amaze you, the fact that these immense tunnels were created using only hand tools is astonishing.

In the labyrinth

Our guide, Max knew the tunnels and led us through the labyrinth with ease. Throughout you have to take care not to hit your head on the jagged low ceilings of these hand-carved tunnels. At times we had to duck or crouch through narrow passages. Max encouraged us to relish in the peace and serenity that being deep under the bustling city provided. He even instructed us to turn off our torches and plunged us into complete darkness for a few moments. Whilst I’m not a huge fan of the dark, there was something magical and unique about the experience. 

In juxtaposition to the serenity we had experienced a moment before, these tunnels are hugely popular with ravers and young partiers. Whilst we had not brought a sound system down the manhole, Max had brought firecrackers. It was hard not to automatically cover your ears when the firecracker went off. The acoustics and echoes were were like nothing we had ever heard. It was clear why the drainage system was the perfect place for a rave.

Last Updated on 16 November 2021 by Michael

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