Maidan Nezalezhnosti and Khreshchatyk
Maidan Nezalezhnosti (literally: the Independence Square) is the heart of the modern Kyiv, its main and the most beautiful square that has become the symbol not only of the Ukrainian capital, but of the whole country. Being significantly transformed in the last ten years, it turned into the favourite walking place of Kyiv's locals and its numerous guests. Today it is the capital's most famous and visited sight.
In Kyivan Rus times, the territory of the modern Maidan Nezalezhnosti, former marshy area, was a part of the fortification facilities that protected ancient Kyiv from hostile invasions. In particular, wooden Lyadski Gates, leading to the princely part of the town, stood here. It is believed that is was they who became the vulnerable place in the Kyiv defensive system, thanks to which the Mongolian Tatars managed to occupy and destroy the city in 1240.
In the late 18th century, there was a waste plot of land with the remnants of the ancient defensive walls on the place of the modern square. In 1830s, they were finally pulled down and wooden buildings started to gradually appear here, and later, the first stone houses were built. By the late 19th century, the square was formed and named after the street adjoined to it - Khreshchatitskaya Ploshchad (Khreshchatyk's Square). It was a market square where trade was conducted and folk festivities took place during the holidays.
Most buildings on the Maidan Nezalezhnosti were raised after the World War II - in 1950s - 1970s. At the same time, one of the square's most famous buildings appeared - Ukraine Hotel. Later the square was repeatedly rebuilt and reconstructed. In 1991, with proclamation of Ukraine's Independence, it got its modern name, and another 10 years later - its modern look.
In 2001, the Maidan Nezalezhnosti underwent fundamental reconstruction, and as a result, interesting monuments, original sculptures and very beautiful fountains were built. At the same time, Ukraine's capital's main square obtained its key symbol: a tall column with a statue of a girl dressed in national clothes, standing on the globe and holding a cranberry branch, the symbol of Ukraine's independence, was installed in its center. On the other side of the square, Lyadski Gates were restored and crowned with the statue of the Archangel Michael - the patron of Kyiv. In 2004, the Maidan Nezalezhnosti became world-famous for being the epicenter of the Orange Revolution in Ukraine during several weeks.
The main square is crossed by the legendary Khreshchatyk, Kyiv’s main street, stretching for almost one and a half kilometers (one mile) and connecting two small squares: European and Bessarabian. When German forces entered Kyiv in 1941, the retreating Red Army mined and exploded the center of the city. As a result, the historical buildings on the main street were destroyed. Thus, Khreshchatyk's architectural ensemble consists predominantly of monumental buildings in 'Stalin-era' Empire style, built after World War II.
Khreshchatyk is the perfect place where you can best feel the original rhythm and atmosphere of Kyiv. Here, you can admire interesting buildings, listen to street musicians, watch the performances, and enjoy the sights of the blossoming chestnut trees in the spring.