Since Ukraine became independent, it has been building its tourist industry and inviting foreign visitors to travel to Kiev, the national capital. For tourists who have accommodations in Kiev, there is plenty to see and do. Kiev is a very old city with many historic sites and impressive monuments, most of them within easy reach of your Kiev hotel. One place that is a must-see on your tour of Kiev is Independence Square (Maidan Nezalezhnosti in Ukrainian). During the Soviet era it was called Soviet Square, and then Kalinin Square, after a Soviet chairman. In 1991 it received its current name to commemorate Ukraine’s independence after the disintegration of the Soviet Union.

Even though Kiev is 1,600 years old, this square dates back only to the 18th century, when this part of Kiev was fortified. Previously the ground here had been called Goat Swamp. By the mid-19th century this area had become the commercial center of a growing and industrialized Kiev. During World War II, the retreating Red Army mined the square and then set off the explosives by means of radio control when the Nazi army marched in. The explosion completely destroyed the square, killing many civilians as well as German soldiers.

After the war the square was rebuilt from the ground up. It was remodeled again in 1976 – 77. Today it is Kiev’s central square, and the most beautiful one in the city. This is where the people of Kiev gather for parades, concerts, festivals, and various holiday related activities. There are six fountains, the most impressive of which is called the Freindship of Nations. Here you can also see an artificial waterfall, and the towering Independence Column. One of the most popular places on Independence Square is the new Globe Shopping Mall, most of which is underground. Here visitors from North America and Western Europe will find such familiar brands as Hallmark, Pierre Cardin, Adidas, and Tommy Hilfiger. You can even get Baskin Robbins ice cream to take back to your Kiev hotel.

There are two Metro (subway) stations on the square, and in one of the subterranean passageways you can see the foundations of the Pecherskie Gate, a remnant of the old fortifications. Among the monuments to be seen on the square are statues of the brothers Kie, Schek and Khoryv, and their sister Lybed, who founded Kiev (which was named after the eldest brother) around the end of the 5th century. On top of the Independence Column there is a statue of St. Michael the Archangel, who is considered to be the patron and protector of Kiev. There is also an arch with a representation of Michael the Archangel bearing his sword and shield. Nearby are statues of the folk hero Cossack Mamay, and the Slavic goddess Berehynia, another legendary protector. From tall buildings, such as the Trade Union Association House, you have some spectacular views of the city.

When you are preparing for your vacation here, be sure to ask agencies about Kiev apartments.

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