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Streets & Squares Kyiv

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Khreschatik Street

Khreschatik Street, Kyiv, Ukraine
Khreschatik Street, Kyiv, Ukraine

Khreschatik Street is Kiev's, most famous "strip"and one of the cities most congested during the week. It is a wide boulevard shadowed by an elegent array of ancient chestnut trees that add a warmness to Kiev's splendid architecture. The street includes three squares: Besarabs'ka, Maidan Nezalezhnosti and Yevropeis'ka (European). The area includes many shops, international boutiques, banks, luxurious restaurants, cafes, hotels and various governmental buildings.

It is hard to believe that in the past Khreschatik used to lie in a valley with a river surrounded by forest. The valley was called Khreshataya Dolyna (Crossed) because it was intersected by many ravines, thus the name "Khreschatik". Within this valley modern Khreshatik was a road which served as a very important transit route. It was also a favorite hunting spot for Kiev's Princes.

Old Khreschatik Street, Kyiv, Ukraine
Old Khreschatik Street, Kyiv, Ukraine

There is another version as to the origin of the name "Khreschatik". It suggests that it was so called in honor of the transformation of Ukraine from a Paganistic to Christian society carried out with the baptisims of the populace in the year 988 by Saint Knyaz' Volodymyr Velykiy (the Great). The Russian word "krest" means cross.


The first buildings appeared on the right side of the street at the end of the 18th century. In 1805 came the founding of Kiev's first theater. Nowadays at that same location you'll find situated the multi-functional "Ukrainian House".

 

Old Khreschatik Street, Kyiv, Ukraine
Old Khreschatik Street, Kyiv, Ukraine

Khreschatik tooks its current shape in 1837. During a 45 year period from 1870 to 1914, a complete wall of buildings was built. In 1913 and 1914 the famous "Passage" was erected, a project by architecht P. Andreyev.

The architectural look of Khreschatik Street continued to change gradually. For a long time beautiful stone buildings adjoined thatched-roofed houses and clay-walled huts. Pigs would nap in their favorite mud puddle. It was only possible to cross Kreschatik with stilts or by specially built stone crossings. There were people called "bosyaki" (bear footed), who would carry people from one side of Khreschatik to another for a fee. The puddles would seemingly never dry out and would grow into a quite dirty little river during rainy seasons.

The situation changed after the installation of a canal system.

Khreschatik Street, Kyiv, Ukraine
Khreschatik Street, Kyiv, Ukraine

After the aquisition of large deposits of granite taken from the near by town of Fastiv, Khreschatik was layered with granite blocks, becoming quite elegant and fashionable. In 1892 the country's first tram went along the street but eventualy gave way to trolley buses in 1936, when the tram rails were removed and the tram taken out of service.

With many administrative buildings, fine shops, theatres, cinemas, hotels and restaurants, the street became one of the very best streets of the city, the so called "Grand Avenue" of Kiev.

During World War II Khreschatik was almost completely destroyed. However, immediately after Kiev's liberation, in 1943, reconstruction of Khreschatik got under way. After it's renovation was complete the street became "higher and wider", in some instances reaching 100 meters wide. Buildings on the right side of the street became 2 meters higher. Todays Khreschatik is a mixture of varied architecture styles reflecting diverse generations.

On the weekends Khreschatik Street is closed to traffic, so one may be able to enjoy the many different side-shows, street music, and various entertainers all competing for your attention. Don't forget to visit the little bridge adjoining the Hotel Ukraine from which one can enjoy a spectacular panoramic view of Maidan Nezalezhnosti below. Kreschatik buildings of note are the Kiev City Council, the Central Department Store known as TSUM, the National Philharmonic as well as many other administrative buildings, stores, hotels and restaurants deserving of your special attention.

Khreschatik Street Fountains, Kyiv, Ukraine
Khreschatik Street Fountains, Kyiv, Ukraine

Today's modern Khreschatik remains one of Kiev's major attractions. Kievians adore this street, as well do guests to Kyiv who look forward to a stroll down Kiev's finest avenue, taking in all of it's charming atmosphere.

 

The first buildings appeared on the right side of the street at the end of the 18th century. In 1805 came the founding of Kiev's first theater. Nowadays at that same location you'll find situated the multi-functional "Ukrainian House".

 

Khreschatik tooks its current shape in 1837. During a 45 year period from 1870 to 1914, a complete wall of buildings was built. In 1913 and 1914 the famous "Passage" was erected, a project by architecht P. Andreyev. 

Andriyvsky Uzviz / Andrew's Descent

Andriyvsky Uzviz / Andrew's Descent, Kyiv, Ukraine
Andriyvsky Uzviz / Andrew's Descent, Kyiv, Ukraine

Inheriting it's name in the 1840's, Andriyivsky Uzviz (Andrew's Descent) was known as the shortest route from the Upper city to the lower lying Podil district. In 1753 the stunning "St. Andrew’s Church" was designed and built by Bartolomeo F. Rastrelli.

 

It is not only a highlight of Andriyvsky Uzviz and Kiev, but also a Ukrainian architechural treasure.

 

According to legend, there was a "sea" where the Dnipro River now flows. When St. Andrew came to Kiev and erected the cross on the hill where St. Andrew's Church now stands, the "sea" drained down in size, with a part of it remaining hidden under the Andrew's Hill. Later on after the Church was built there, a stream opened up under the altar. This explains why there are no bells at St. Andrew's Church, for with the first bell stroke water would awaken and flood not only Kyiv but the entire territory of the left bank of the Dnipro.

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The principle development and construction of the street was made at the turn of the century, from the 1890's on into the 1900's.

Andriyivsky Uzviz, Castle of Richard the Lion - Hearted
Andriyivsky Uzviz, Castle of Richard the Lion - Hearted

Andriyivsky Uzviz is Kyiv's "Monmartre". It is a place for street vendors and open exhibitions coupled with the cities trendiest and most interesting shops. Come rain or shine artists show and deal their artwork, along side genuine Ukrainian crafts that would be difficult to track down anywhere else. Along with folksy creative goodies, you will find decorative-art, rings, brooches, necklaces, embroidered shirts, earthware in the most unusual shapes and forms, curiosities galore made of wood and various materials, Soviet memorabilia, and now "Orange Revolution" souvenirs.

There's an interesting building that Kyivany refer to as the Castle of Richard the Lion - Hearted, built in 1902.

Kot Begemot at Andriyvsky Uzviz / Andrew's Descent
Kot Begemot at Andriyvsky Uzviz / Andrew's Descent

You can see artists and singers performing on Andriyvsky Uzviz as well as enjoy the many comfortable and cozy little cafes and small shops tucked away into their various niches.

At №13 was the home of Mikhail Bulgakov, the famed author of the novel "Master and Margaret". The house is now the Bulgakov Museum.

Another well known museum of the Uzviz is the quite unique "Museum of One Street". It traces the Uzviz history in pictures, photographs and other things from the earliest times up to the present day.

Pronya Prokopivna Sirkova and Svirid Petrovich Golokhvastov Monument
Pronya Prokopivna Sirkova and Svirid Petrovich Golokhvastov Monument

Uphill from Andriyvs'ka Church on Desyatynna Street (just the beginning of Andriyvsky Uzviz) you'll find the monument dedicated to Pronya Prokopivna Sirkova and Svirid Petrovich Golokhvastov, characters of the cinema version of Mikhail Staritskiy Play "After Two Hares". Many tourists take pictures with Pronya and Svirid, even if it means standing in line. Pronyas waist has taken on a polished brightness from the many hands that have embraced her for pictures.

You cannot be bored walking down Andriyvsky Uzvis. Explore all the crooks, crannies, and corners, because in them you'll find the real masters, who've brought real masterpieces of art, coming from cities and towns all over Ukraine.

Finally, Andriyvsky Uzvis is a street of contrasts. You'll see rich and poor, high fashion along side village costumes in a carnival sideshow type atmosphere. Where there are genuine masterpieces and genuine masters, there are also cheap fakes and immations. Dive in and enjoy!

Sahaidachnoho Petra Street

P. Sahaidachnoho Street, Kyiv, Ukraine
P. Sahaidachnoho Street, Kyiv, Ukraine

Podil, next to Kontraktova Ploscha

This Street could be called "Khreschatik in Miniature". Lots of shops, cafes and bars. During the holidays P. Sahaidachnoho Street is closed to traffic.

Kiev (Kyiv) Squares. Independence Square.

Independence Square, or Maidan Nezalezhnosti, Kyiv, Ukraine
Independence Square, or Maidan Nezalezhnosti, Kyiv, Ukraine

Independence Square, or Maidan Nezalezhnosti, is not only Kievs' main square but also Ukraines most beautiful.

Festivals, parades, concerts and other city events take place here. Maidan Nezalezhnosti was rebuilt in 2002 taking on an updated image.

The splendid panoramic view of Old Kiev appears from the upper floors of the buildings that form the westside enclosure of the Square. You will see the Domes of Sofia Cathedral, Andriyvs'ka Church, City Parliament and many other spectacular buildings.

Independence Square, or Maidan Nezalezhnosti
Independence Square, or Maidan Nezalezhnosti

Many shops, hotels and cafes are situated both on the street level as well as underground at Independence square. There are two metro stations, Khreschatik and Maidan Nezalezhnosti, nearby.

One of the fountains of the square is decorated with statues of legendary brothers Kiy, Schek, Horiv and their sister Lybid' and depicts the four founders of the city.

Till the end of the 10th century this location, including Khreschatik, was called Perevisysche and was covered with forests. Discoveries here include the "Lyads'ky Vorota" or otherwise called Pecherski (Gates), at the beginning of Sofyis'ka Street, leading to the upper town.

Archangel Mikhail on Maidan Nezalezhnosti, Kyiv, Ukraine
Archangel Mikhail on Maidan Nezalezhnosti, Kyiv, Ukraine

It was the same gate which was assaulted by Batu Khan in the 13th century, after having lost all hope of forcing his way through the Golden Gate, he managed to destroy this Gate enough to allow his troops into the city.

You will see the gate, decorated with the statue of Archangel Mikhail, who is considered to be the saint patron of Kiev, with sword and shield, as a backdrop to the fountains where people gather.

In the 18th century, the "Pechers'k Vorota" (Gates) were built on Maidan. They existed until 1833.

Independence Square, or Maidan Nezalezhnosti
Independence Square, or Maidan Nezalezhnosti

At the end of the 18th century and beginning of the 19th, all of the Maidan area was an abandoned lot, the so called "Kozyn Boloto" (Goat Swamp). In 1830 the first wooden buildings appeared and in the 1850's brick buildings appeared.

Before 1871 on this square, then called Khreschatyts'ka, the market or "rynok" was located. Various circus shows were held. The first large stone building was built on the site in the middle of the 19th century.

It was designed by the architect Beretti and housed the Province Noblemen' Assembly.

Ukraine Independence Monument
Ukraine Independence Monument

In 1991 the square became known as "Maidan Nezalezhnosti", along with Ukraine's declaration of independance from the former Soviet Union.

One of the notable figures of the central square is the Ukraine Independence Monument, which includes the statute of a woman in Ukrainian national costume on a 40 meter column, symbolizing the independence of Ukraine.

Kozak-Mamai (folk painting).
Kozak-Mamai (folk painting).

Another attraction of the square is the 5,000-jet-spray water fountain called "Friendship of Nations" designed by architect Komarovsky. Next to the Fountain you'll see the "Cossack Mamai" Monument.

Brief note: Cossack Mamai is an image often portrayed in Ukrainian folk paintings that, beginning in the 17th Century, continues today. Due to it's popularity, Cossak Mamai became a sort of National Ukrainian symbol.

Drop down into the underground area right at Maidan Nezalezhnosti and you'll find a very modern shopping center as well as an assortment of souveniers shops and quick eatery's. Just outside the shopping center toward the metro entrances you'll find plenty of artists and musicians seeking your charity or business. This is the place to have a quick "characture" done of yourself or that special someone. This area is also a favorite late night hang out for Kiev's young music minded crowd with plenty of impromteu concerts and impovisations at every turn.

Just opposite the Main Post Office Building, there's a Marked Readout "Spire" showing distances and directions to various world cities. The Spire is topped with a spinning globe.

Khreschatik Street during winter holidays
Khreschatik Street during winter holidays

The Historical names given to today's Maidan Nezalezhnosti:

* Kozyn Boloto (The Goat Swamp)

* Khreschatyts'ka Ploscha (Khreschatyts'ka Square)

* Dums'ka Ploscha

* Soviyets'ka Ploscha (Soviet Square)

* Ploscha Kalinina (Kalinin Square)

* Great October Socialist Revolution Square

* Ploscha Maidan Nezalezhnosti or Independence Square

Sofiis'ka Ploscha

Sofiis'ka Ploscha / Square, Kyiv, Ukraine
Sofiis'ka Ploscha / Square, Kyiv, Ukraine

Kontraktova Ploscha

Kontraktova Ploscha, Kyiv, Ukraine
Kontraktova Ploscha, Kyiv, Ukraine

There are numerous other wonderful streets and squares in Kyiv. If you would like to share one that you find particularly interesting with the rest of the world, please feel free to send us your info and photos to ubkua@ukr.net and we'll consider posting them here for other travellers to enjoy.

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