The Majdan Nesaleschnosti is the central square of the Ukrainian capital Kiev. There are monuments, fountains, a hotel block, neoclassical buildings and an underground shopping centre. It became world-famous due to the weeks-long occupation during the Orange Revolution in 2004, as well as due to fierce street battles ten years later.
The Majdan Nesaleschnosti (also spelled Maidan), also known as "Independence Square", is located in the centre of the Ukrainian capital Kiev. Especially since the Orange Revolution in 2004, the Majdan Nesaleschnosti is known worldwide and an absolute MUST for every visitor to Kiev.
The Nesalezhnosti Maidan has had many names. At the time of Kiev's foundation in the mid-19th century it was called "Khreschatyki", then "Dums'ka" when it became the seat of the Duma (city council).
After the October Revolution the square was called "Sovietska", from 1935 "Kalinin Square" after the politician Mikhail Kalinin and from 1977 to 1992 "October Revolution Square". Its appearance has also changed greatly over the decades.
The Maidan Nesaleshnosti reached its first heyday during the Industrial Revolution, when Kiev was the third most important city in the Russian Empire.
During the Second World War, like the entire city centre of Kiev, it was badly damaged and completely redesigned. At that time, the Soviet signature was clearly visible in the design of the Majdan Nesaleshnosti, and a huge Lenin monument was erected in the middle of the square, but it was torn down again after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The last time Majdan Nesaleshnosti was redesigned was in 2001 in the course of the 10th anniversary of Ukraine 's independence.
Pioneer: In 1894, the first electrically operated tram in the entire Russian Empire led directly to Majdan Nesaleshnosti.
Riots on the Maidan Nesalezhnosti
The Maidan in Kiev has repeatedly been the scene of political demonstrations, such as the student revolts and hunger strikes in 1990 that led to the abdication of the then Prime Minister Vitaly Masol.
The most famous demonstration on the Kiev Maidan was probably the one in 2004 in the course of the Orange Revolution, when hundreds of thousands occupied the square for weeks in tents despite snow and cold and protested against the fraud in the Ukrainian presidential elections.
The Maidan Nesalezhnosti also hit the headlines in mid-February 2014, when demonstrators fought fierce street battles with the police and military on the brink of civil war, resulting in over 70 deaths. The conflict already started in December 2013 after the decision of the Kiev leadership to put the planned association agreement with the EU on hold for the time being. The unrest ended at the end of February when President Yanukovych resigned from office and fled Kiev. On 21 February 2014, the government and the opposition signed an agreement.
Imposing architecture on Majdan Nesaleshnosti
Kiev's main street, Khreschatyk, divides the square into a northern and a southern half. The southern part is about 70m wide and is adorned by three fountains and a 60m high Independence Monument in its centre. On one of the fountains, the four legendary founders of Kiev, Kyy, Shchek, Khoryv and Lybid, are immortalised in statues with the Ukrainian national flag fluttering above their heads.
The colossal 68-storey Hotel "Ukrajina", the former Hotel "Moskva", overlooks the square from a hillside, the building of the National Academy of Music towers in the west and a gigantic TV screen has been erected opposite it for important broadcasts. The pavement is made of granite slabs decorated with Ukrainian embroidery patterns.
The north side of Majdan Nesaleshnosti is flanked by several buildings, all built in the style of Soviet realism. Five streets branch off from here in a star shape, leading to other sights of Kiev, such as St. Sophia's Cathedral or St. Michael's Monastery.
The monument in the centre of the square here represents the Archangel Michael, the city's patron saint. There are also several fountains here, as well as Kiev's neoclassical main post office and the House of Trade Unions.
Below the square is the "Globus", a modern five-storey shopping centre with restaurants, western shops and Ukrainian stalls. Its skylights can be seen as glass domes on Majdan Nesaleshnosti.
Centre of Kiev
The Majdan Nesaleshnosti can be easily reached by metro and is not only the spatial but also the socio-cultural centre of Kiev. "See and be seen" is the motto of the strollers, shoppers and flirts here.
The central square is the perfect starting point for a city tour and is therefore populated at almost any time of the day or night. Various events are held almost every day. At night, the Majdan Nesaleschnosti is fantastically illuminated.
All in all, one can say that anyone on holiday in Kiev must definitely have seen the Majdan Nesaleshnosti. But you don't need to spend more than half an hour there.