Published: July 24th 2009July 21st 2009
Maidan Nezalezhnosti or Freedom Square
It was here the biggest and most important demonstrations were held during the Orange Revolution.
Kiev - the capital of Ukraine
For our summer vacation this year we went to Ukraine
. We started our tour of the country in Kiev
, the capital and the largest city of Ukraine.
In the centre of Kiev is Maidan Nezalezhnosti
or Freedom Square. This square is a natural focus point of activity in Kiev. People come here to for partying, for shopping or just to sit in the sun and eat an ice-cream. During weekends Maidan Nezalezhnosti and a few streets around it are closed for traffic making the area a pedestrian only zone. The square and the streets then turn into a large party zone. It was also in Maidan Nezalezhnosti the biggest and most important demonstrations were held in 2004 and 2005 during the Orange Revolution
Kiev has a few important tourist sights. The first one we visited was the Saint Sophia Cathedral
, a cathedral dating back to the 11th century.
From 1922 to 1991 Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union. In Soviet Union religion was seen as, in the words of Karl Marx, "an opium of the people" and religious activities were by various means suppressed. Some churches were closed and left
Top of a monument
Top of a monument at Maidan Nezalezhnosti
abandoned, others were turned into cinemas or nightclubs and some churches were torn down. Saint Sophia Cathedral could have torn town but was saved by being turned into a museum. St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery
, a monastery build around the same time as Saint Sophia Cathedral, was not as lucky. In the 1930-ies the monastery was demolished by order from the Soviet leaders. After Ukraine became independent in 1991 the monastery was reconstructed and is today a working monastery again.
One of the other major tourist attractions in Kiev is Kiev Pechersk Lavra
, or in short just Lavra. Lavra is a monastery and a pilgrimage place. In the compounds there are churches, bell towers and chapels. Some of the churches in Lavra are built over natural caves. These caves have been incorporated in the church and are used for worship and as burial chambers.
In Kiev we also visited a few other places such as:
• The Mariyinsky Palace. The palace was currently under renovation so it was just a large construction site
• The Dynamo Stadium, the stadium where Dynamo Kiev plays most their games. At the stadium we looked for but never managed to find
Emma dips her feet at Maidan
At Maidan people gather for all kinds of reasons. One is on hot days to cool off by walking in the fountains
the monument to the football players who were executed by the Germans during the German occupation in the World War II. They were executed for refusing an order to loose a match set up between the Kiev team and a German team.
• Friendship of Nations Monument. It is an arch, made of titanium, under which there is a statue of two brothers symbolising Ukraine and Russia. Lately the two countries haven't been best friends though but the monument still stands.
• The Chernobyl Museum
• The Famine Monument - a monument over the millions of Ukrainians who were deliberately starved to death
in 1932-33. We say deliberately
because there was plenty of food in Ukraine, more than enough to feed the people, but by order from Moscow it was all confiscated by the authorities.
Kiev has a very efficient and well developed metro system
. Mainly it is a means of transportation of course but it is also in itself a sort of tourist attraction. Several stations in the metro have interesting designs with chandeliers, vaulted ceilings or artistically designed lighting.
What strikes visitors in the Kiev Metro the most is how deep underground the stations are located.
Vulitsa Khreschatyk is one of the major boulevards in central Kiev. On weekends it is closed to traffic and at night it turns into a party zone
The rides in the escalators down to the deepest stations take several minutes. According to Wikipedia the station Arsenalna
is at 102 meters below ground the deepest metro station in the World. On another page on Wikipedia it says that in the near future the station Admiralteyskaya in the St Petersburg Metro System is going to be 105 metres below ground when it opens so this record is probably not going to stand for much longer.
We have not added photos of any station on the blog because from what we understand it is not permitted to take photos in the metro system. Before we knew of these restrictions we did take a few photos of the incredibly long escalator down to one of the stations. You can see one of those photos on the blog.
There are more photos below