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Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Ukrainian: Майдан Незалежності, literally: Independence Square) is the central square of Kiev, the capital city of Ukraine. One of the main city squares, it is located on the Khreschatyk Street. The square was known under many different names but it became prominent as simply the Maidan due to the political events of great significance that took place there in the recent years after the Ukrainian accession to independence.
"Maidan" literally translates from Ukrainian as square; this word originally came from Persian. It received its current name in 1991 in the aftermath of the Ukrainian accession to independence. Nezalezhnist (independence) commemorates the Ukrainian independence achieved in 1991 in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Throughout its history the square was called by several different names. The area was known since the time of Kievan Rus", but it was not populated or developed until the 18th century, when stone-made fortified walls were constructed. The walls known as Pecherski Gates stood until 1833. Until the late 18th century – early 19th century, the area was a vacant ground known as Goat Swamp (Kozyne Boloto).
In the 1830s, the first wooden dwellings were built, and in the 1850s, stone-made buildings appeared. The development rapidly intensified after the mid-19th century when the territory gradually found itself in the commercial centre of Kiev that boomed immensely during the Russian Industrial Revolution becoming the third most important city of the Russian Empire.
Until 1871 it was called the Khreschatyk Square; it was a location of the market and folk entertainment. In 1876 the Kiev City Duma building constructed in the square gave the square a new name, Duma Square. In 1894 the line of the Kiev tram, the first electric tram in the Russian Empire started in 1892, reached the square. In 1913 in the front of the City Duma, a monument of Pyotr Stolypin (who was assassinated in Kiev in 1911) was constructed, which stood there until 1917.
In 1919 the square was renamed to the Radyanska (Soviet) Square. From 1935 it was called the Kalinin Square to Mikhail Kalinin, the first chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR.
Much of the square was ruined in the World War II.
During the first years after the war, the square was completely rebuilt from scratch. It was architecturally integrated with the newly constructed Khreschatyk in the typical for the time neo-classical Stalinist architecture. The newly constructed Kiev Central Post Office and Trade-Union House with its high-rise clock located on the square to this day became some very well known and frequently pictured views of the center of the city.
In 1976-77, as a part of metro construction, much of the square was again rebuilt and it was renamed to the October Revolution Square (Polshcha Zhovtnevoyi revolyutsii). During the reconstruction, the massive cubist monument to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the October Revolution was put up as well as the complex ensemble of fountains.
After Ukraine’s accession to independence in 1991, the square was given its current name. Following the construction, the old familiar look of the square, with its many fountains, was significantly altered and the public reaction to the new look of the square was initially mixed. However, by now the square's monument to Kyi, Schek and Khoryv - the legendary founders of Kiev, the folklore hero Cossack Mamay, the city’s historic protector Archangel Michael as well as a more modern invention, the protecting goddess Berehynia, and the many glass domes are easily recognizable parts of the modern city centre.
A mostly underground shopping mall, the Globe, was built under Maidan Nezalezhnosti to replace the old and shabby giant underpass formerly dubbed by Kievans as Truba (the Tube). Future developments of the square include the demolition of the old "Ukraine" hotel (formerly hotel "Moskva"), and building a new 68-floor building instead.