Maidan Nezalezhnosti

Maidan Nezalezhnosti

Coordinates: 50°27′0″N 30°31′27″E / 50.45°N 30.52417°E / 50.45; 30.52417

Maidan Nezalezhnosti as seen from the Hotel Ukraina on May Day in 2006.
An early-20th century Russian postcard depicting the Dumskaya, as it was then called, Square. The Kiev City Duma building is seen in the center.

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 has been known under many different names, but it became known simply as the Maidan due to the political events that took place there in 2004 after the Ukrainian accession to independence.


Current name's etymology

"Maidan" literally translates from Ukrainian as square; coming from the Persian word for "square" or "plaza." 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.


Early history and Russian Empire times

Until the 10th century, the square as well as the rest of Khrestshchatyk was called Perevisyshch. Where began the Sofiivska vulytsia (Sofia Street) that led to the High City there stood one of the three main gates of the Old Kyiv (Yaroslav's City), the Lyadski Gates (other two were Golden Gates and Zhydivski Gates). Those gates are also mentioned in 1151, and around them lived the Polish population of the city, Lacka Sloboda. Lyadksi Gates were destroyed during the storm of city by the Mongol's army of Batu Khan in 1240.

Sometime during the 18th century, the new Pecherski Gates were erected and 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 most famous Ukrainian writer, Taras Shevchenko lived in that area in 1859, in a building between Mala Zhytomyrska (Petite Zhytomyr) and Mykhailivska vulytsia (Michael's Street).

The development rapidly intensified after the mid-19th century when the territory gradually became the commercial centre of Kiev, which boomed immensely during the Russian Industrial Revolution, thus becoming the third most important city in the Russian Empire. Until 1871, it was called the Khrestshchatitskaya Ploshchad (Khrestshchatyk's Square); it was a location for the local market and folk entertainment. In 1876 the Kiev City Duma building was built here and the area became to be known as the Dumskaya Ploshchad (Parliamentary Square). In 1894 a line from the Kiev tram (the first electric tram built in the Russian Empire, 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, and stood there until March of 1917 at the dawn of the Revolutionary war within the Empire.

Soviet prewar years

Soviet Square circa 1930.

In 1919 the square was renamed to the Soviet Square. Beginning in 1935 it was called the Kalinin Square named after Mikhail Kalinin, the first chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR.

Much of the square was ruined in World War II.[citation needed]

Soviet postwar years

During the first couple 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 in the square, is very well known and frequently viewed in pictured taken 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 the October Revolution Square (Ploshcha Zhovtnevoyi revolyutsii). During the reconstruction, the massive cubist monument to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the October Revolution was put up as was the complex ensemble of fountains.

Independent Ukraine

Maidan Nezalezhnosti after its renovation in 2002. Exactly at this place once stood the City Duma. The street on the far left is Instytutska Street.
A fountain on Maidan Nezalezhnosti in the evening (2004).
Maidan Nezalezhnosti at night (2005).

After Ukraine's accession to independence in 1991, the square was given its current name. The competing proposal of Liberty Square (Ploshchad' Svobody) was raised at the time as well as in the years to follow, but the current name commemorating the Ukrainian independence is now firmly associated with the square (see the section below).

In 2001, as the square was the major center of the "Ukraine without Kuchma" mass protest campaign, the new extensive construction of the area was abruptly ordered by the Kiev mayor of the time, Oleksandr Omelchenko. The square was fenced off for construction and became inaccessible for the protesters and many observers claimed that the main goal of the project ordered by the city mayor was to disrupt the protests,[1][2][3][4] especially since similar tactics were commonly used by local authorities throughout Ukraine.

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.[5] 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 recognisable as 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 "Ukrayina" hotel (formerly hotel "Moskva"), and building a new 68-floor building instead.

Centre of public political activity

The square with the monument to Berehynia in the foreground.

As the central Kiev square, following the end of Soviet era the Maidan has been the centre of public political activity. In the autumn of 1990, students' protests and hunger strikes in the Maidan resulted in the resignation of the Ukrainian Prime-Minister Vitaliy Masol.

In the 2000s the biggest political protests in Ukraine, such as the Ukraine without Kuchma campaign and the Orange Revolution took place in this square. During the Orange Revolution in late 2004, Maidan Nezalezhnosti received global media coverage, as hundreds of thousands of protesters gathered in the square and nearby streets, and pitched tents for several weeks, enduring the cold and snow. One of the eminent activists during that time became Paraska Korolyuk. The protests against electoral fraud resulted in an additional round of presidential elections being ordered by the Supreme Court of Ukraine, which were won by the opposition candidate, Viktor Yushchenko.

Following his election as the President of Ukraine, and after taking the official oath in the parliament, Yushchenko took a public oath at Maidan Nezalezhnosti in front of his numerous supporters.

After the Orange Revolution, Maidan Nezalezhnosti continues to attract political protesters, but no event has ever approached the scale of the Orange protests.[6][7][8]


  1. ^ Leonovych, Sophia. "Зґвалтування столиці" (in Ukrainian). Holosiiv-Inform. Retrieved December 2, 2006. 
  2. ^ Bilotserkivets, Vlad. "Метаморфози київського мера, або дещо з життя хамелеонів…" (in Ukrainian). Ukrayinska Pravda. Retrieved December 2, 2006. 
  3. ^ "". Retrieved December 2, 2006. 
  4. ^ Strikha, Maksim. "Київ моєї пам’яті й надії" (in Ukrainian). Ukrainian Republican Party "Sobor". Archived from the original on March 10, 2007. Retrieved December 2, 2006. 
  5. ^ Aristova, Natalia. "Maidan Nezalezhnosti: Everything will be not so" in Zerkalo Nedeli, June 15–21, 2006. Available in Russian and in Ukrainian
  6. ^ Tax code protests intensify, Kyiv Post (November 26, 2010)
  7. ^ Update: Yanukovych vetoes tax code after protests, Kyiv Post (November 30, 2010)
  8. ^ Yanukovych vetoes the tax code, Kyiv Post (November 30, 2010)

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