Maidan Nezalezhnosti

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Independence Square
Maidan Nezalezhnosti2.jpg
View of Maidan Nezalezhnosti in 2013 before Euromaidan; the Independence Monument in the foreground
Independence Square (Kyiv).png
Location within Kyiv
Native nameMaidan Nezalezhnosti (Ukrainian)
LocationKyiv, Ukraine
Coordinates50°27′0″N 30°31′27″E / 50.45000°N 30.52417°E / 50.45000; 30.52417Coordinates: 50°27′0″N 30°31′27″E / 50.45000°N 30.52417°E / 50.45000; 30.52417

Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Ukrainian: Майдан Незалежності [mɐjˈdɑn nezɐˈlɛʒnosʲtʲi], literally "Independence Square") is the central square[1] of Kyiv, the capital city of Ukraine. One of the city's main squares, it is located on Khreshchatyk Street in the Shevchenko Raion. The square has been known under many different names, but often it is called by people simply Maidan ("square"). The square contains the iconic Independence Monument.

In the 19th century, the square contained buildings of the city council and noble assembly.

Since the start of Ukraine's independence movement in 1990, the square has been the traditional place for political rallies, including four large-scale radical protest campaigns: the 1990 student Revolution on Granite, the 2001 Ukraine without Kuchma, the 2004 Orange Revolution and the 2013–14 Euromaidan.[2] Maidan is also a regular site for non-political displays and events; however, since 2014, most of them were moved to Sofiyivska Square or elsewhere, because making entertainment on a place where people were killed during Euromaidan was considered inappropriate. Most notably, Christmas Fairs and New Year celebrations were moved to Sofiyivska Square.[3]


The square received its current name on 26 August 1991, two days after the Declaration of Independence of Ukraine, during the collapse of the Soviet Union. Maidan is a Ukrainian word for "square, open space", with widely used equivalents in the Middle East and South Asia to refer to an open space in or near a town, used as a parade ground or for events such as public meetings. It comes from Persian میدان (meydân, "town-square or central place of gathering"), itself deriving from Proto-Iranian, ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *médʰyos. Compare Avestan maiδya, Sanskrit मध्य (madhya) and Latin medius. The word also was borrowed into neighboring Turkic languages, as in the Crimean Tatar and Turkish meydan, which are the likely sources of the borrowing into Ukrainian.

Maidan Nezalezhnosti is the only square in Kyiv officially designated as a "Maidan" in the Ukrainian language, as all other Kyiv squares remain designated as a "Ploscha" (ploshcha, a more common Ukrainian equivalent of "square") as was used during Soviet rule. In the Russian language as spoken in Ukraine, it is also the only use of the word “Maidan” (Майдан) for a public square.

Timeline of the square's names:

  • 1869: Khreshchatyk Square (Khreshchatitskaya ploshchad)
  • 1876: Parliament Square (Dumskaya ploshchad)
  • 1919: Soviet Square (Sovetskaya ploshchad)
  • 1935: Kalinin Square (Ploshchad Kalinina)
  • 1941: Parliament Square (Dumska ploshcha)
  • 1943: Kalinin Square (Ploshchad Kalinina)
  • 1977: Square of the October Revolution (Russian: Ploshchad Oktyabrskoi Revolutsyi, Ukrainian: Ploshcha Zhovtnevoyi revolyutsii)
  • 1991: Independence Square (Maidan Nezalezhnosti)

City squares called Maidan Nezalezhnosti are also found in Khmelnytskyi[4] and Sumy.[5] Kropyvnytskyi, Kremenchuk and Odesa have "Independent Squares" named Ploshcha Nezalezhnosti (using ploshcha rather than maidan for "square").


Independence Square is one of three squares located along Khreshchatyk, close to the northeastern end of the street. It is situated close to European Square, which is the terminal end of Khreshchatyk. Besides Khreshchatyk, which splits the square in half, several other streets lead to the square. These include Architect Horodecki Street, Institute Street, Michael Street, Kosciol Street, Minor Zhytomyr Street, Sophia Street, Taras Shevchenko Lane, and Boris Hrinchenko Street.[citation needed]

The square itself is a multi-level location. At ground level is the intersection of Khreshchatyk, which splits Institute Street (vulytsia Instytutska), and Michael Street (vulytsia Mykhailivska). Underneath the square, the Obolonsko–Teremkivska line of the Kyiv Metro stretches across with its station Maidan Nezalezhnosti located underground.[citation needed] Also the "Hlobus" mall is situated underneath the square.


Early history and Tsarist Russia[edit]

Until the 10th century, the future square's site, as well as the rest of Khreshchatyk, was called Perevisyshch.[citation needed] It was located just to the south of the Kyiv City, beyond which were located territories of the Cave Monastery (Kyiv-Pechersky) along the Dnipro River.

At the lower end of Sofiivska vulytsia (Sofia Street), which led to the High City, stood one of the three main gates of Old Kyiv (Yaroslav's City), the Lyadski Gates; the other two were the Golden Gates and Zhydivski Gates. Those gates are also mentioned in 1151, and around them lived the Polish population of the city, Lacka Sloboda. The Lyadksi Gates were destroyed during the storm of city by the Mongol army of Batu Khan in 1240.

Sometime during the 18th century, the new Pecherski Gates were erected; they stood until 1833. Until the early 19th century, the area was a low-lying vacant ground known as Goat Swamp (Kozyne Boloto).

In the 1830s, the first wooden dwellings were built on the site, and in the 1850s stone buildings appeared. The most famous Ukrainian writer, Taras Shevchenko lived in that area in 1859, in a building between Mala Zhytomyrska (Little Zhytomyr) and Mykhailivska vulytsia (Michael's Street).

Development rapidly intensified after the mid-19th century, when the territory gradually became the commercial center of Kyiv, which underwent an immense boom during the Russian Industrial Revolution, becoming the third most important city in the Russian Empire. Until 1871, it was called the Khreshchatitskaya Ploshchad (Khreshchatyk Square); it was a location for the local market and folk entertainment. In 1876, the Kyiv City Duma building was built here, and the area became known as the Dumskaya Ploshchad (Duma Square). A line from the Kyiv tram, the first electric tram built in the Russian Empire (opened 1892) reached the square in 1894.

In 1913, in front of the City Duma, a monument of Pyotr Stolypin (who was assassinated in Kyiv in 1911) was constructed, and it stood there until March 1917 at the dawn of the Revolutionary war within the Empire.

Soviet prewar years[edit]

Much of the square was destroyed in the Second World War.

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

Soviet postwar years[edit]

During the times of the Soviet Union, the square was also called Kalinin Square

During the first couple of years after the war, the square was completely rebuilt from scratch. It was architecturally integrated with the newly constructed Khreshchatyk in the typical (for the time) neo-classical Stalinist architecture. The newly constructed Kyiv Central Post Office and Trade-Union House with its high-rise clock located in the square, is very well known and frequently appears in pictures 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 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.

During the Soviet period, the square was used for demonstrations and parades in honor of May 1 (until 1969), Victory Day and the October Revolution.

Independent Ukraine[edit]

Maidan Nezalezhnosti after the declaration of Ukraine's independence

After Ukraine's independence in 1991, the square was given its current name. The competing proposal of Liberty Square (Ploshcha 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).

The monument to the founders of Kyiv and the glass domes of the shopping center Gobus 1

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 Kyiv 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,[6][7][8][9] especially since similar tactics were commonly used by local authorities throughout Ukraine.

Maidan Nezalezhnosti in 2018

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 mixed at first.[10] However, by now the square's monument to Kyi, Shchek, Khoryv and Lybid, the legendary founders of Kyiv, the folklore hero Cossack Mamay, the city's historic protector Archangel Michael as well as a more modern invention, the protecting goddess Berehynia surmounting the Independence Monument victory column commemorating the independence of Ukraine, and the many glass domes are easily recognisable as parts of the modern city centre.

A mostly underground shopping mall called Globus was built under the square to replace the old and shabby giant underpass formerly dubbed by Kyivans as "Truba" (the Tube).

Trade-Unions House was severely damaged during the fire in February 2014, so later it went through a reconstruction.

Future developments of the square include the demolition of the old "Ukrayina" hotel (formerly hotel "Moskva"), and building a new 68-floor building instead.

Symbol of political activity[edit]

As the central Kyiv 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 also known as the Revolution on Granite at the Maidan resulted in the resignation of the Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Ukrainian SSR Vitaliy Masol.[11][12]

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.[13][14] Mass rallies for political candidates have attracted large numbers, with the 2009 "Batkivshchyna" party congress (during which Yulia Tymoshenko was nominated as a candidate for president) being a notable example that brought nearly 200,000 people to the square.

The square was the site of Euromaidan protests beginning in November 2013, progressing to violent clashes, fires, and ending in the February Revolution of Dignity.[15] The square was covered in protesters all day and night since 1 December 2013.[16][17][18] On 27 January 2014, Ukrainian police reported a 55-year-old man from Western Ukraine found dead hanging from the framework of a huge artificial 'New Year tree' in central Kyiv. The body was found hanging inside the cone-shaped tubular steel construction on Kyiv's Independence Square. The tree, which had become a symbol of anti-government resistance, was at that time decorated with a poster of jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko and scrawled with graffiti opposing President Viktor Yanukovich.[16][17][18] The Revolution of Dignity of the following month led to more than 100 people perishing.[19]


Current landmarks[edit]

Former landmarks[edit]

Important buildings[edit]


Changes in the appearance of the square during 150 years
image icon Landscape of Khreshchatytska Square. From the series of Polish engravings "Picturesque album of Kyiv. 1861 year"
image icon Square near Duma Square. The beginning of the 1910s
image icon Soviet Square. 1930s
image icon Kyiv during the occupation. 1941-1942 years
image icon The ruins and frame of the burned 12-story "Ginzburg skyscraper" on Kalinin Square after liberation from the Nazis. 1944 year
image icon Victory parade on Kalinin Square in Kyiv. 1945 year
image icon Kalinin Square after reconstruction. 1950s
image icon The view of the square from the side of the current Instytutska Street. 1954 year
image icon Construction of the "Moscow" hotel. 1957 year
image icon Salute on Kalinin Square. 1962 year
image icon October Revolution Square. 1970s
image icon The almost 9-meter granite Lenin became the central figure of the monument to the October Revolution. 1980 year
image icon After the reconstruction, fountains appeared on the square. 1970s
image icon The new fountain on Revolution Square. 1981 year
image icon Dismantling of the monument to the October Revolution in Kyiv. September 12, 1991
image icon Construction works on Independence Square. 1998 year
image icon Construction works on Independence Square. 2001 year
image icon Erection of a stele on the Maidan in honor of the Independence of Ukraine. 2001 year
image icon The opening ceremony after the reconstruction of the Maidan. August 24, 2001
image icon Maidan during the Orange Revolution. 2004 year

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Kyiv: Encyclopedic Handbook. Main Edition of Ukrainian Soviet Encyclopedia. Kyiv 1982
  2. ^ Why Ukraine Is So Important, Business Insider (28 January 2014)
    The Process of Politicization: How Much Politics Does a Society Need?, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2017, ISBN 1-4438-9628-4 (page 154)
    Where does the key to political change lie in the post-Soviet space?, openDemocracy (23 August 2016)
  3. ^ Київська влада оприлюднила план святкування Нового року та Різдва [Kyiv government published the plan of New Year and Christmas celebrations] (in Ukrainian). Тиждень.ua. 6 November 2015. Retrieved 14 January 2019. But, like in previous year, considering the events of winter of 2013-2014, no celebrations are planned on Maidan Nezalezhnosti.
  4. ^ 49°25′08″N 26°58′44″E / 49.419°N 26.979°E / 49.419; 26.979, formerly "Lenin Square" (площа Леніна, 1967).
  5. ^ 50°54′43″N 34°48′14″E / 50.912°N 34.804°E / 50.912; 34.804, formerly "Lenin Square" (площа Леніна, 1970).
  6. ^ Leonovych, Sophia. Зґвалтування столиці. Holosiiv-Inform (in Ukrainian). Archived from the original on 10 June 2006. Retrieved 2 December 2006.
  7. ^ Bilotserkivets, Vlad. Метаморфози київського мера, або дещо з життя хамелеонів…. Ukrayinska Pravda (in Ukrainian). Retrieved 2 December 2006.
  8. ^ "". Archived from the original on 13 March 2007. Retrieved 2 December 2006.
  9. ^ Strikha, Maksim. Київ моєї пам'яті й надії. Ukrainian Republican Party "Sobor" (in Ukrainian). Archived from the original on 10 March 2007. Retrieved 2 December 2006.
  10. ^ Aristova, Natalia. "Maidan Nezalezhnosti: Everything will be not so" in Zerkalo Nedeli, 15–21 June 2006. Available in Russian Archived 11 March 2007 at the Wayback Machine and in Ukrainian Archived 26 May 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ The lesson of the Revolution on Granite, Den (4 October 2016)
  12. ^ (in Ukrainian) "Revolution on Granite". Photos of October 1990, Ukrayinska Pravda (accessdate: 11 November 2017)
  13. ^ Tax code protests intensify, Kyiv Post (26 November 2010)
  14. ^ Update: Yanukovych vetoes tax code after protests, Kyiv Post (30 November 2010)
    Yanukovych vetoes the tax code, Kyiv Post (30 November 2010)
  15. ^ Live updates of the protests, Kyiv Post (27, 28 & 29 November 2013)
    Students in Ukraine threaten indefinite national strike Archived 2 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine, Euronews (26 November 2013)
    Students from various cities across Ukraine are joining the protests, Ukrayinska Pravda (27 November 2013)
    Protests continue in Kyiv ahead of Vilnius EU summit Archived 2 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine, Euronews (27 November 2013)
    In Ukraine, Protests Highlight 'Generational Rift' , Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (27 November 2013)
    Ukraine: tension in Kyiv as pro and anti government protesters hold rallies, Euronews (29 November 2013)
    Ukraine opposition demands leader resign after EU snub Archived 4 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine, Seven News (30 November 2013)
  16. ^ a b "Dead man found hanging on Kiev's Independence Square - police". Reuters. 27 January 2014. Archived from the original on 15 March 2017. Retrieved 31 January 2014.
  17. ^ a b Legge, James (28 January 2014). "Ukraine protests: Man found dead hanging in Kiev's Independence Square". The Independent. Archived from the original on 15 March 2017.
  18. ^ a b "Police: Dead body found hanging on New Year tree in Kyiv". Kyiv Post. 27 January 2014. Retrieved 31 January 2014.
  19. ^ Ukraine accuses Russia over Maidan 2014 killings, BBC News ( 20 February 2015)

External links[edit]