The city was probably founded as a stage in the trade between Constantinople and Scandinavia. According to tradition, the city of Kiev was founded in 482 AD, but archaeological evidence points to the appearance of a first pre-urban centre in the 6th-7th centuries on Zamkova Hill.

According to the chronicle, in 882, Kiev was conquered by Oleg (Ukrainian: Oleh), a Vareg (Viking) successor of Ryurik, prince (kniaz) of Novgorod. The city became the capital of the first Ruthenian state, Kievan Rus' (known in Europe as the Principality of Kievan Rus'), under the name Kønugård.

Greek Christianity was introduced soon afterwards by Olga (or Olha), the regent of Kiev (945-964); it was later imposed by Vladimir I (980-1015), considered the true founder of the Kiev Empire.

Ukraine became part of the Soviet Union in 1922 as the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. The capital of this socialist republic was Karkhov because Kiev was suspect in the eyes of the new regime because of its connections with Ukrainian nationalists. Ukraine became part of the Soviet Union in 1922 as the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. The capital of this socialist republic was Karkhov because Kiev was suspect in the eyes of the new regime because of its links with Ukrainian nationalists. It did not become the capital again until 1934.

During the Second World War, German forces succeeded in annihilating several Russian armies and took possession of the city on 19 September 1941. The Red Army, after a fierce battle against the German troops, managed to cross the Dnieper and retake the city on 6 November 1943.

The Soviet government awarded it the title of Hero City (along with Odessa, Sevastopol and Kerch) to commemorate the fierce resistance put up against German troops.

26 April 1986 explosion of reactor number 4 of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.

The Ukrainian Parliament, based in Kiev, declares Ukraine's independence on 24 August 1991 and the city becomes its capital. The Ukrainian people vote overwhelmingly in favour of independence on 1 December 1991. The Soviet Union is dissolved at the end of 1991.

Following the 2014 revolution, Crimea is annexed by Russia and a civil war breaks out in the east of the country with pro-Russian separatists. Faced with the Russian threat and Russia's failure to honour its 1994 commitments, Ukraine sought new security guarantees by drawing closer to NATO. The crisis took on a new dimension on 24 February 2022, when Ukraine was invaded by Russian armed forces on the orders of Vladimir Putin.