The Askold Grave is the picturesque hole that is a part of the park complex stretching over the green slopes of the Dnieper's right bank. Covered with multitude of legends and mystical stories, this historical area has been attracting artists and poets since olden times and is now the true magnet for tourists who are interested in the history of ancient Kyiv.
The hole got its name from the ancient legend, according to which the Novgorod Prince Oleg treacherously killed the Kyivan Princes Askold and Dir near this place in 882. Having arrived in town and introduced himself as a merchant, he invited the princes to the Dnieper slopes supposedly for business meeting and perfidiously killed them with the help of his warriors. Having got rid of them, Oleg, who thought that Askold and Dir didn't have princely linage and therefore had no right to occupy the Kyivan throne, started to reign in town and promised to make it the center of the Russian lands. And he managed to do that: under his government the scattered principalities were united into the single East Slavic state, whose heart was in Kyiv.
The same legend states that Askold was buried at the crime scene, and therefore the ancient hole was considered to be Kyivan Prince's burial place. Ever since, this area was called the Askold Grave.
Soon, the wooden St. Nicholas Church was built over the stone sarcophagus containing the ashes of Askold who had taken the name Nicholas during christening. It was repeatedly destroyed, but then rebuilt again. By the early 19th century, the temple's building was severely dilapidated and the city authorities decided to build a new stone one on its place. Thus, in 1810, the small church in Empire style appeared on the Askold Grave's territory. It was a rotunda surrounded with pillars. Besides princely burial vault located in the basement, the church was famous for its skilled iconostasis, installed in 1893 during the capital repair. It was made of white marble and painted on the sketches of the outstanding Russian painter Viktor Vasnetsov.
For a long period of time, there was a cemetery near the St. Nicholas Church. It belonged first to the monastery, which stood here for several centuries, and then to the city. The necropolis was considered to be elitist one; many famous Kyiv residents were buried here. Most local vaults and grave stones were made by the best sculptors and had a great historical and artistic value.
When Soviet authorities took over Kyiv, the necropolis was closed and razed to the ground, while it was decided to lay out a city park on the Dnieper slopes. The burials were moved to another place, and the St. Nicholas Church was turned into the Park pavilion: the dome was pulled down and the colonnade was built on the church. Only in the late 20th century, the temple passed to the Kyiv Greek-Catholic community and become functioning again.
The St. Nicholas Church is not the only sight of the Askold Grave. The memorial plaque is installed on its territory to commemorate the Ugrians' (Hungarians') stay at this place. They moved from the Volga river basin to the territory of present Hungary in the 9th century. By the way, the hole was called Ugric, before it was renamed into the Askold Grave. In addition, there is a wooden cross in the park area. It commemorates the young patriots who fell in the battle against the Bolsheviks during the civil war in 1918 and were buried here.