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Ancient Kyiv open to supporters

Supporters looking for something a bit mad in the Ukrainian capital have the option to be transported back to the Middle Ages for a game of football, Kyivan Rus-style.

Kyivan Rus Park ©Kyivan Rus Park

Fans flocking to Kyiv for UEFA EURO 2012 can watch the action on the pitch in the unforgettable setting of the Middle Ages.

Located in the nearby village of Kopachiv, the Kyivan Rus Park is a 50-hectare cultural centre which is dedicated to recreating the hustle and bustle of the Ukrainian capital from the fifth to eighth centuries. As well as watching the football on large screens, visitors to the attraction can turn their hand to, among other things, archery, horse riding and ironwork.

Park spokeswoman Oksana Dzenenko said: "The idea is to recreate the ancient city fort of Kyiv exactly as it was in the time of Prince Volodymyr the Great. All of the buildings have been reproduced with the maximum historical authenticity."

Volodymyr Yanchenko, president of Kyivan Rus Park, added: "Kyiv was built over several centuries, but my goal is to reconstruct it during my lifetime. I want to bring people joy, but in such a way that they learn about their own history."

One of the park's flagship events is the festival 'Football – a guest of Ancient Kyiv'. "Every weekend during the tournament we have different activities related to football," said Dzenenko. "One of the most popular shows involves visitors taking part in a football match against the inhabitants of Ancient Kyiv. People join hands and try to get a huge ball into the opposition's goal as quickly as possible. It is very funny for both participants and audience."

The most ardent fans can stay overnight and watch UEFA EURO 2012 matches on a huge screen. "We have a full hospitality area," continued Dzenenko. "We have a tent full of amenities that will continue to function after the tournament."

One person enjoying himself was Serhiy, who was in the park with his sister and parents. "I've come here for the first time and really like it," he said. "I was pleasantly surprised by the theatrical scenes, the atmosphere and the kindness of the people who work here. The medieval football was fun – it was unusual to see people in historical costumes playing football."