Sep 19

KIEV, BETWEEN THE GLORY OF THE PAST AND THE PROMISE OF THE FUTURE (КИ́ЕВ)

The former spiritual center of Russian Orthodoxy and the current capital city of Ukraine is a complex and contradictory metropolis.

Founded around 832 A.D., Kiev was originally an outpost of the Khazar Empire (writer Milorad Pavic had celebrated its memory in his famous Dictionary of the Khazars), an assimilation of Turkic nomadic tribes that created an empire between the Northern part of Caucasus and Pontic steppe. In 882, the city is taken into possession by Prince Oleg’s successor, Riurik, from a Scandinavian dynasty. Oleg unifies under the name of Orthodoxy all the Russian-speaking state formations state, founding the Kievan Russia. And so begins the great glory of the pious city, which focuses and strengthens for three and a half centuries, under the direct political, administrative and religious factor maneuvered by Russia.

Here, for example, during the first half of the eleventh century, the basis of Pecearska Lavra are beginning to raise up – the oldest monastery in Russian space. But the year 1240 brings the most terrible era of in the history of the place: the Mongol invasion of Batu Khan, which had destroyed Kiev literally, by fire. Rebuilt on the old foundations, it will be conquered again in 1321 by Gediminas, who will hand Kiev over to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. In 1569, throughout a century, Kiev goes under Polish administration, as the residence of a semi-autonomous principality. Then it joins the Tsarist Russia, undergoing through a period of prosperity, especially in the nineteenth century, when, under the stimulus of the Industrial Revolution, it become the third city of the empire after St. Petersburg and Moscow. Between 1918 and 1920 the city has changes the ruling regime for about twenty times, its suzerainty being given, one by one, to White Russia, Red Russia, Poland and even transience first Ukrainian state. Finally, in 1921 it became the administrative center of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, one of the most oppressive entities of the USSR.

World War II triggered massive damage, but the postwar period brought Kiev back on the podium of the most important Soviet cities, and in 1991, the city gained the status of the capital of an independent state. Very recently, the tents of the Orange Revolution in Kiev dominated the Independence Square from November 2004 to January 2005, bringing it to power the right-wing candidate Victor Yushchenko who was later defeated in the electoral competition.

The fifteen centuries of political turmoil have not damaged the spirit of Kiev, though, and the city began its development and rebirth, despite periodic historical tragedy which it has been forced to face. Pecearska Lavra – the Monastery of the Grote (1015), the current headquarters of the Metropolitan Ukraine and Saint Sophia Cathedral, a genuine national sanctuary, whose construction began in 1037, are two sites on the list of monuments protected by UNESCO, and represent some of the most prestigious touristic sites. The entry into the old town is made through a Golden Gate, a replica of the one in Constantinople, partially destroyed by the Mongols in 1240.

Next to former Imperial Palace, there rises a Neoclassical building that houses the parliament – Rada. On the right bank of the Dnieper River, the impressive Museum of the Great Patriotic War dominates the panorama, guarded by giant Mother Country allegorical statue of 102 meters height and 530 tons. Other impressive statues evoke the personality of famous heroes of the nation, among who, Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky and King Vladimir the Great, canonized for his contribution in Orthodoxy among Ukrainians, Byelorussians and Russians.

The traditional protector spirit of the city is a pagan Slavic deity, Berehynia, a kind of Rusalka endowed with magical powers, while the modern spirit is embodied by … the legendary football coach Valeriy Lobanovskyi, creator of the great team Dinamo Kiev (winner of the Winners’ Cup in 1986 and defeated the following year in the European Super Cup Stars final), whose statue was erected at the entrance of the stadium that now bears his name.

Kiev was not only a metropolis dedicated to Eastern Orthodoxy, but also a renowned cultural center, whose fame is continued in modern times by institutions like the famous State Opera (with a ballet troupe often compared to that of the Opera in Saint Petersburg), several museums dedicated to traditional art but also parts of western art, a prestigious drama theater named “Ivan Franko” after the national poet who lived between 1856 and 1916, and also a famous puppet theater and a circus. On one of the many islands on the Dnieper there is built a water park with a Venetian theme, and in the southern part of Pirogovo city, there is an impressive museum of folk architecture of the Ukrainian village, dominated by a group of traditional windmills.

The beautiful secular chestnuts planted along the central boulevards are living emblems of a special relationship with nature, transforming the area into a fishing and water sports paradise, regardless of the season (if summer temperature reaches 30-34 degrees Celsius, during winter time, the river is covered by a layer of ice several meters thick – hence the ice fishing and skating performed as leisure time activities).

There are plenty of things to do and discover on a trip to Kiev. And nevertheless, you will fall in love with this wonderful city and its amazing everlasting spirit.

Photo source:

Picture 1: thousandwonders.net; Picture 2: commons.wikimedia.org; Picture 3: cqmsjt.com; Picture 4: bogdankijanica.com; Picture 5: ; Picture 6: commons.wikimedia.org; Picture 7: primetour.ua
Aug 05

CRIMEA – THE CROWN JEWEL OF THE BLACK SEA (КРЫМ)

Catherine the Great named this small mountainous peninsula in the north of the Black Sea “the pearl of the most prominent Russian Imperial Crown”. It remains us to discover together why.

Bathed by the waters of the Black Sea, Crimea is required to be discovered by car: freedom of movement is more than necessary in a land where land forms are changing so fast in front of your eyes.

Whether you’re looking for a vacation spot, be it luxurious or rustic, on the seashore, or you want to follow through pages of amazing history, Crimea has it all. And more than that!

There is no wonder that, over time, the peninsula has fascinated a lot of people, becoming a crossroads of cultures ever since ancient times. Ancient indigenous populations, such as bulls or Scythians were mixed with Greek colonists, Roman or Armenian and the Turkish-Tartar and Slavic conquest added some extra drama and exoticism to the place. Experts estimate that in Crimea there are over 12,000 historical, cultural and architectonic artifacts – ancient Greek ruins, medieval sites Genovese, Armenian, Byzantine, Tatar, Russian palaces of the modern era, all in a natural setting that seems to have been taken out of a beautiful dream.

More than 2,500 years ago, just like in the Romanian region of Dobrogea, the Greeks founded settlements in the north of the Black Sea. Taking advantage of the experience of the Greek settlers, natives (descendants of Scythian and Tauric civilizations) had grown familiar with the trade, crafts and arts.

The most important Greek cities were founded by Panticapaeum (Kersh as it is presently known, situated in the eastern part of Crimea), Kerkinitida (Yevpatoriya) and Crimea (Sevastopol). These cities used to gather houses, temples, theaters and educational centers – all these being documented by the evidence on the peninsula. The best preserved archaeological site located in Chersones impresses by its urban complexity that is revealed by the agora and the temples, the defensive walls and restored amphitheater which today hosts cultural events for tourists.

Located on the outskirts of Sevastopol on a rocky beach, the Greek ruins are embellished with the charm of the sunset and is one of the objectives that the visitors of Crimea must not miss.

The coast rivals in beauty with the famous Cote d’Azur and Spanish Riviera. In the western peninsula, wide beaches with incredibly fine sand are stretching along, while the south and east, the high and sharp cliffs support stunning architectural jewels. As you move toward the center of the peninsula, the relief becomes taller, rocky and drier; waterfalls and canyons in the mountains offers the ideal setting for spending active holidays and for practicing extreme sports.

While the north is a large grain-producing plains (in the seventh century BC the Greek colonists turned the peninsula into the granary of Hellas), the buffer zone between the mountains and the sea is hosting grape-vine terraces, from which famous wines such as Massandra and Inkerman are obtained.

A resting halt

Each path towards Crimea begins and ends at Odessa, the second most important city in the Ukraine and a worthy stop for any traveler. From here, the road accompanies the coast, crossing the Dnieper River and after a few hours away by car, it reaches the “the Crimean Autonomous Republic” border, as the huge billboards will warn you. The name appeared and disappeared from the map of Ukraine and the Soviet Union for several times in the last hundred years.

Unavoidable Highlights

If we attempt to describe how many things can be seen in Crimea it will exceed by far the space for this entry. But you should not missed at any price Stary Krym or Bakhchisaray at least for their Tatar architecture and gastronomy; also United Yalta, which includes, besides the city itself, the palaces and surrounding areas in Livadia, Alupka and Swallow’s Nest. Also, do not miss Sevastopol for the importance acquired during the Crimean War, the Genoese fortress in Sudak and Balaklava for their elegance and exoticism.

No matter who the rulers have been throughout time, the coastal strip exercised a magnet-like attraction on people, resulting in the construction of ports and trade routes. Beginning with the Bosforian kingdom from from Kersh, in the eastern side of the peninsula and ending with the Greek Evpatoria, the region has been ruled by Muslims and Orthodox, who have founded settlements playing a strategic role in terms of military and commercial purpose.

The Imperfect Present

Modern Crimea is undergoing a cloudy present, as that of most post-communist East. It has just been annexed to Russia after the recent war in Ukraine, after decades of being a part of the latter. Even when it was a part of Ukraine, over 60 percent of residents are of Russian nationality, so the political stability has been very fragile. This situation is even more delicate due to the issue of the Tatars and other ethnic groups who want to return after having been deported during World War II.

But regardless of the political instability, Crimea’s charm hasn’t faded one bit and it will always remain a welcoming touristic spot for visitors worldwide.

Photo source:

Picture 1: adonis-crimea.com.ua; Picture 2: memolition.com; Picture 3: miriadna.com; Picture 4: geometria.ru; Picture 5: commons.wikimedia.org; Picture 6: airpano.com; Picture 7: pinterest.com
Jun 01

ODESSA, ONE OF THE MOST POPULAR BLACK SEA RESORTS (ODESSA)

What can be said about Odessa except for nice words?! The town is charming, located in the north-west of the Black Sea and is the capital of Odessa district, one of the largest in Ukraine. It is an important commercial, tourist, industrial and cultural center and one of the biggest Russian ports. It was founded two centuries ago, and only a century after the founding, it became the third largest center of Russian Empire after St. Petersburg and Moscow. Empress Catherine the Great honored the city with the status of Porto Franco – meaning free port. During the communist period, Odessa was the most important trading spot in the USSR. It has a population of over one million inhabitants and nowadays it is increasingly visited by tourists from all over the world.

The city is easy to roam thanks to its wide generous boulevards, many of them on one way, which greatly facilitates the traffic flow. The streets are arranged like a chessboard, being parallel and perpendicular to each other. Avenues and streets are “guarded” on both sides by tall, thick trees that provide shade all day, giving a cool, fresh air all the time. So it is a pleasure to walk on the famous Primorsky, Richelievskaya, Panteleymonivskaya boulevards or Pedestrian Deribasovskaya. All are animated, with many restaurants of different culinary styles (Ukrainian, Georgian, Indian, Japanese, Chinese, etc.), very chic cafés, pubs and shops, ultramodern malls, such as Europe or Athena, historical monuments, museums, theaters where you can enjoy opera and ballet performances, the Vorontov Palace – a true architectural gem -, the City Hall, the statue of Pushkin standing with the back towards the building as in an act of defiance. You can see many other buildings with a wonderful architecture (for instance the Passage), the Variety Theater, the Russian Drama Theater, the railway station (beautiful both on the outside and on the inside) with a huge chandelier decorated with gold hanging under the dome that dominates the entire building, the Orthodox Cathedral, the Synagogue, the Mosque, and several renowned nightclubs: Ibiza, Europarty Club, YO Club, Vis-a-Vis etc.

An important attraction are the famous Potemkin Stairs that took their name after the famous Soviet silent film “Battleship Potemkin” where a group of civilians were massacred by tsarist troops. These steps seen above, give you an optical illusion that gives you the impression that only the first step of each group is visible, when they are actually 192 steps. You can either climb all the steps by foot, or take the funicular. The steps lead to the port, where encounter the passengers’ terminal, a modern naval station.

Here we the magnificent four stars Odessa Hotes is awaiting. Constructed on a strip of land that was imbedded into the sea, the Odessa Hotel is offering its guests a wonderful scenery consisting in the infinite horizon of the Black Sea. In front of the terminal, there is a futuristic bronze sculpture named “Golden Children”.

Odessa also has beautiful parks with ancient trees that are suitable for visits during any season; however, the fall offers an amazing scenery doe to the change of the leaves colors, which, beginning from late September, they turn from green to yellow, orange or rust and the autumn flowers are in bloom.

Odessa is known as the most popular seaside resort, and has two important beaches: Arkadia, with a wide and smooth entry into the sea, an amusement park, and the largest dolphinarium in Eastern Europe, called Nemo.

Odessa is delightful and has many beautiful and interesting places waiting for you to visit; afterwards, you will leave with great memories and beautiful pictures.

Photo source:
Picture 1: turnul.blogspot.ro; Picture 2: commons.wikimedia.org; Picture 3: ua-travels.com; 
Picture 4: ua-travels.com; Picture 5:visittoukraine.com; Picture 6: nektony.com; Picture 7: visittoukraine.com
May 23

KIEV, SLAVIC ELEGANCE AND WONDERFUL CUISINE

Kiev, the capital of Ukraine is a lovely city, full of parks and green areas, which give it an aerated and clean looks, with wide boulevards and imposing architecture.

http://www.entourism.com/

http://www.entourism.com/

As you enter the city from Zytomir via central area, there is a wide avenue of about 5 lanes, where traffic is very fluent. You can drive through the city with a speed of 80-90 km per hour, which is very convenient for a capital of over 3 million inhabitants, whereas on the large boulevards there are hardly any traffic lights and pedestrian crossings; the pedestrians pass through underground passages – some of these passages is true malls that are worth being checked.

http://www.travel-europe.info/

http://www.travel-europe.info/

The best way to enjoy Kiev is step by step, but since it’s so wide, expect your feet to get tired at one point. On the path you will visit the most important edifices and landmarks, such as the Holy Sophia Cathedral – an astounding building and the first patromony on the territory of Ukraine; Lavra Pechersk; Military Museum or the Botanic Garden. The Saint Andrew Church – imposing and beautiful on the outside – is at least twice as spectacular on the inside. You can also visit the Podil area placed on the shore of the Dnieper River, the Euromaidan district, which has gained an unwanted notoriety during the recent Russian-Ukrainian conflicts, the House of the Chimeras and some of the many beautiful parks in the city.

http://www.tourist-destinations.com/

http://www.tourist-destinations.com/

Kiev is a very wide and large city, with an eclectic architectural style and buildings from the interwar or Soviet period, which are very beautiful and well preserved, but you will also find modern sky scrapers and glass buildings of 30-40 storeys high, mostly on the other side of the Dnieper.

One of the beautiful parts of Kiev is that its locals stand out through elegance and style, and walking downtown in your best suit is something very common here.

http://ukrainetrek.com/

http://ukrainetrek.com/

Another plus of Kiev are the restaurants, which are plenty and varied, for all tastes, for all nations and all budgets. You can try at least one a day and you can choose from Georgian, Tartar or traditional Ukrainian, as the prices are low and the quality is amazing. One of great characteristics is that, in this part of the world, food is still natural and healthy, as the “standards” imposed by E.U. and other organisms have not reached this area so far.

Accommodation in Kiev is, just like in the restaurants’ case, affordable and very high quality.

http://ukraineallaboutu.com/

http://ukraineallaboutu.com/

In conclusion as evidence that we liked the city very much, we are already planning another trip to Kiev soon and we gladly advise you to do the same and discover a touristic gem of Eastern Europe, which is too little known, unfortunately.

Feb 11

Olesko Castle

It is amazing how history is inscribed in the massive walls of structures and how monuments are thus given a voice. And this statement can easily be verified by taking a simple exemple and depicting the complex history behind it. And this is going to be our purpose in this piece of writing.

Olesko Castle is a monumental structure which dates back to the 13th century and which has accumulated in its ‘portfolio’ quite a number of noteworthy events.

First of all, it should be pointed out that in the 14th century the edifice was an important fortification of the ancient town Rus. But in almost two hundred years it had changed its scope dramatically, having evolved from a stronghold into a palace of the nobility.

http://www.pbase.com/image/64173686

http://www.pbase.com/image/64173686

It was in the last years of the 15th century that its refurbishing was initiated and due to excellent craftsmenship it became a reflection of Italian Renaissance architecture. Thus began the era when the castle came under the rule of the aristocratic class.  It was in this precise castle that Jan III Sobieski (the king of Poland) was born and where he oftentime lived.

The location of the castle is easily explained if we are to take into account the fact that it was initially a fortification.  The construction stands tall on the top of a hill, guarding Olesko, the small town situated on the slopes beneath, and it has a cellar through which those in the castle could have escaped in case they were under siege.

http://www.lvivadventure.com/en/tours-from-lviv/castles-tours.html

http://www.lvivadventure.com/en/tours-from-lviv/castles-tours.html

In the second half of the 20th century, a new restoration was initiated in order to enhance the condition of the structure and to properly refurbish it for its new purpose: that of housing a museum. And it has maintained this purpose until the present day. The exhibitions on display are impressive, consisting of hundreds of works of art such as paitings, old furniture, jewelry, statuettes, still-lives and different kinds of icons which date back as early as the 10th century. The historical accounts tourists can discover there remarkable.

http://www.tripadvisor.com/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g2339780-d1874853-i29289398-Olesko_Castle-Olesko_Lviv_Oblast.html

http://www.tripadvisor.com/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g2339780-d1874853-i29289398-Olesko_Castle-Olesko_Lviv_Oblast.html

But the castle is not the only attraction. The edifice is surrounded by beautiful gardens which comprise wonderful sculptural designs. It is no wonder that many tourists are drawn to Oleska. They can admire works which are centuries old and which reflect the evolution of the fine arts in time.

Tourists can also venture into the cemetery which is relatively close-by where they will discover fascinating antique shrines. This being said, Oleska Castle is worth your attention if ever in the neighborhood.

Jan 31

Museum of the Great Patriotic War

When it comes to our historical past, there is a lot of information which fails to reach people over generations, especially since history, as it has been pointed out numerous times, is written by the winners. Even if it has always been underlined that history offers an objective look over the events which have changed the face of the world in time, it is worth mentioning once more that subjectivity is forever present in the history books, especially since we have only one side of the story presented to us.

http://enjoykiev.com/entertainment-in-kiev/museums-kiev/the-national-museum-of-the-great-patriotic-war-in-kiev/

http://enjoykiev.com/entertainment-in-kiev/museums-kiev/the-national-museum-of-the-great-patriotic-war-in-kiev/

But nevertheless the accounts historians provide individuals with are of extreme value as they recall the past events which would have otherwise fallen into forgetfulness.

But since the purpose of this website is to allow readers to get as much information as possible about the tourist attractions available throughout Eastern Europe, we are going to do just that.

The subject matter of today’s article is the Museum of Great Patriotic War, or as it is officially known: ‘The National Museum of History of the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945 years.’

http://www.panoramio.com/photo/45892560

Even without knowing too much historical facts, it is quite simple for everyone to determine that the Great Patriotic War is an obvious allusion to WWII and to the Nazi invasion. It is not the purpose of this piece of article to give insight into the conflagration itself, so we are going to focus our attention on the memorial complex which has been developed as a means to commemorate the heroic souls which have perished while protecting their country. The idea to create the Museum of the Great Patriotic War emerged almost immediately, but it was not put into effect as there were other matters more urgent for the government to attend to, such as developing strong plans of reconstructing the nation and building the economy from scraps.

http://www.ratestogo.com/blog/10-must-see-attractions-in-kiev/

It was not until 1974 that the museum came into being and it was initially housed by the former Klovsky Palace. Even though it drew attention since its inauguration, in time it gained even more importance and it became a national icon. This is actually the largest museum located on the Ukrainian territory and even more, the most prominent one. The exhibits contain more than 300 displays and the museum constantly unveils new additions to the exhibitions, keeping the history alive.

The museum houses exhibits which portray the heroic acts of Ukrainian soldiers in battles carried in different parts of the world and what is more, it focuses on enriching the military history of the country by carrying research in the domain, by gathering scientific facts and by cataloguing the developments of the Ukrainian army.

http://pictures-photos.ukraine-photo.com/Ukraine-photos

The impressive expositions have been gazed upon by almost 25 million tourists that have come from all over the world to admire the exhibits the museum has to offer.

The Motherland Monument is part of the National Museum of History and it is a highly recognizable monument throughout the world. This item is a statement for the battle carried and for the bravery with which the soldiers have defended their motherland. This being said, it is no wonder why the monument is named the way it is. In order to best capture the significance of the monument, the architects behind it have developed it at a large scale, in as much as one can spot the immense sculpture from either corner of the Ukrainian capital.

http://resobscura.blogspot.ro/2011/04/worlds-tallest-statues.html

http://resobscura.blogspot.ro/2011/04/worlds-tallest-statues.html

It is erected on a platform which measures 40 meters, reaching 102 meters in height and weighting more or less 500 tons. Standing tall with its sword high above her head, the statue seems to be a guardian of the Ukrainian nation, always being on the lookout for possible dangers and always prepared to take them head on.

The sculpture, as many other monuments which are part of the National Museum of History of the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945 years are unique – most of them due to the intelligently developed mechanisms behind them. The bottom line is that this specific museum preserves a considerable piece of the Ukrainian history and it is worth your time if you ever visit Kiev.

Oct 01

Sophievka Park

Today we are going to travel to Ukraine, and more precisely to the Uman region, near Kamianka River. Why has this particular location drew my attention? Because it is home to Sophievka Park, a real jewel in terms of gardening design. Just to make you understand just how impressive the landscaping architecture is, it is enough to say that the park attracts half a million visitors on an annual basis.

The park dates from the latter part of the 18th century, when a Polish nobleman by the name of Potocki has taken upon himself the task of rebuilding Uman and embelishing the city with a wonderful addition, a botanical garden of massive proportions.

http://en.ukrainecityguide.com/articles/showArticle/A275/National_dendrological_park_%E2%80%9CSofiyivka%E2%80%9D.htm

http://en.ukrainecityguide.com

The first step in putting the project into motion was to import a great variety of rare plants from all over the continent. These were artistically arranged, but the park has become a complete work of art due to the multitude of fountains, ponds, waterfalls and artificial basins which were tastefully prinkled throughout the park. The botanical garden is renowned for its diversity which consists of more than 2.000 forms of plantlife, both local and exotic, but also for the additional decorative objects, such as sculptures, which convey a certain allure to the entire ensemble. If we add the stone garden, the gazebos, artifical cliffs and grottos than we would get a clearer understanding of the reason for which the Sophievka Park is counted as one of the Seven Wonders of Ukraine.

http://www.panoramio.com/photo/23451828

The original appearance of the park has been maintained to the present day so that tourists can indulge themselves with a walk in the park and admire exquisite exemples of European landscape garden design from the turn of the 18th century.

The park is divided in several parts, each named in accordance with the type of trees or bushes grown there. For instance, the area named Small Switzerland came into being in the last decade of the 19th century, when pine trees and cypresses were planted there.

http://ukrainetrek.com

While many of the decorations are artificial, as it has been previously mentioned, there are also natural elements in the park, such as the Silver Sources Spring which has been adorned in the antique style.

Another notewarthy aspect about the park is that it presents fragments of Homer’s masterpieces, the Odyssey and the Iliad. So, the conclusion is that if you have the chance to visit the Sophievka Park, you should take it because you will have no regrets. Unique species of plants and trees as well as inimitable landscaping designs await you.

Oct 10

The Independence Square (Piata Independentei)

The Independence Square, also known as Maidan Nezalezhnosti, is the central square of the Ukrainian capital city, Kiev. The name of this square has changed throughout time due to specific events that took place here, events that influenced the nation to a certain extent. The present name attached to the square derives from the political action of 2004 which led to the freedom of Ukraine.

The importance of the Independence Square cannot be expressed in a few of words. The history of this specific location dates back a couple of centuries and in each of these long gone periods of time the square had played a significant role in the development of the Ukrainian nation.

http://pictures-photos.ukraine-photo.com

In the first decades of the 19th centuries, the first accommodation facilities were built in the area. These were preponderantly made out of wood, but the stone dwellings did not take long to appear (in the 1850s). Probably the most relevant public figure to have dwelt in the area was Taras Shevchenko, the prominent Ukrainian writer.

While the area was not among the most developed regions in the country, this changed dramatically in the middle of the 19th century when due to commercial progress the square became the center of the city. Kiev expanded greatly during the Russian Industrial Revolution, when it occupied the 3rd position among the most important cities in the Russian Empire.

http://en.wikipedia.org

At the beginning of the 20th century (in 1919) the square became known as the Soviet Square, but this name was later transformed into Kalinin Square, after Mikhail Ivanovich Kalinin, the leader of the USSR.

The first reconstruction of the square occurred in the years subsequent to the Soviet War, when the area was completely rebuild from the ground up. The architectural design conveyed to the square was neo-classical Stalinist, the same architecture which was noticeable in the buildings located in vicinity of the square, buildings which were erected in the same timeframe.

http://humanandnatural.com

The second reconstruction occurred in 1976. This time, the square was damaged due to the project undertaken by the municipality to construct the metro, a project which affected everything situated above the area of construction. With this occasion, the square was renamed the October Revolution Square. The reconstruction process took place more or less around the time of the year when the October Revolution occurred so the decision to rename the square was obvious. With the occasion of commemorating the 60 years that had gone by since the October Revolution, a colossal cubist monument and a system of fountains were erected.

In 2001, the square was heavily used as the scene for major protests. In order to prevent such occurrences, the mayor of the city decided to begin another “reconstruction” work for the square. In fact the whole purpose of this plan was to fence the area so as to ban any demonstrators from entering the square.

http://www.123rf.com

But the project did alter the appearance of the square. The elaborate system of fountains, as well as the general look of the Independence Square was changed. The modifications were not necessarily positive. When revealed, the project was not received with appreciation by the viewers. Many did not know how to react when presented with the new square.

But the importance of this specific location goes beyond its look. The square was in fact the center of the public political activity. In the latter decade of the 20th century, the square was used as the center place for various political demonstrations and hunger strikes, events which contributed extensively to the change of the political leaders that were in power. The prime minister at that time, Vitaliy Masol, turned in his resignation when faced with the public’s disdain.

These are but a few of the important events that center around the Independence Square. It is a place filled with history which plays a valuable role in the Ukrainian culture.

If you are in Kiev or you plan on spending your vacation here and you need  to find accommodation for one or several nights, there are different suggestions in terms of apartment rentals at the following link: http://www.accommodation.kiev.ua/pages/apartments.htm

Sep 26

The State Aviation Museum (Muzeul National de Aviatie)

Museums, as institutions, have been developed with a single purpose in mind, that of keeping alive the history of a state, in particular, and of the world, in general. But there are so many different branches worth exploring and so many items, evidence and documentation to be mapped according to the time and place these were discovered in that it is physically imposible for one edifice to comprise them all, not to mention that their diversity makes them a bit too complicated to organize. As a consequence, the institutions have been categorized according to their purpose.

http://www.panoramio.com

While the name museum is usually connected to history, archeology, art,  and the like, there is one sector which should not be overlooked. Aviation has played an important part in our evolution and the different models of aircrafts which exist at present or have existed in the past are exemples of the steps we have taken in our development from an engineering point of view.

Because of the high importance that this branch carries, it has been agreed upon that a museum should be dedicated to aviation, and thus the State Aviation Museum was born. The institution was opened for the public back in 2003 in Kiev and ever since, it has managed to attract an impressive number of visitors. It is no surprise that the Aviation Museum has become one of the most significant tourist attractions located in Kiev.

http://www.aviationmuseum.eu

And the reason for which this happened is obvious if we are to take into account that it is one of the most progressive museum, from a mechanical point of view, located in Ukraine. Not only are the items on display captivating, but these are also interactive.

The exhibitions are organized so as to represent specific timeframes in the history of aviation. While the aircrafts themselves are the main attractions in the museum, there are other items connected to this industry which have found their way into the exhibits. But the items are not arranged solely based on their appearance, but also on the category in which they fit. For example, there is a collection dedicated to the MiG Jet aircraft, while others comprise the aircrafts which have been used in specific warfares.

http://www.aviationmuseum.eu

There is one model of aircraft which plays an important role in the museum and which is the object of admiration for visitors. The Tu-22M, the missile carrier, represents the ‘jewel’ of the Ukrainian Air Force, and there is an entire section dedicated to this specific collection and to the variable models which have been developed under the same name.

Among the items on diplay one is presented with are helicopters, attack aircrafts, fighter planes and ship based aircrafts. In fact, the State Aviation Museum is the largest institutions of its kind to have on display replicas of the Soviet technological innovations.

http://russianwomenblog.hotrussianbrides.com

But the aircrafts are not there only to be gazed upon from the distance. The administration of the museum has developed interactive sessions in which visitors can actually go aboard and can even sit in the pilot’s chair and touch the control panel. It is indeed a one-of-a-kind experience as you no longer sit in the passanger’s seat, in the back, but you can actually see where the ‘action’ takes place. Not to mention that you will see firsthandedly the interior of battle planes and helicopters. Going on board of the planes that have fought in important battles in is not the same as actually participating in that specific war but it is the closest one will ever get to experience a time long gone.

The museum is open throughout the year, but there are some variation in the schedule according to the time of the year in which you visit it. Thus, from April until October, the Aviation Museum opens its doors from 10:00 until 19:00, while the remaining timeframe (from October until the end of February) the visiting hours are 10:00-16:00.

Sep 11

The National Opera of Ukraine (Teatrul de Opera)

Visiting another country is a great way to learn more about the cultural and historical development of that specific location. Tourists who go abroad are generally interested in visiting as many places as possible and this definitely includes cultural institutions where the traditions, principles and customs of a state are revealed.

The National Opera should definitely be included within your tour around Kiev if this is the destination of your vacation. The history behind the Opera in Kiev is complex and it is the edifice where the artistic life of Ukraine has been developed.

http://www.quicksell.ro

The Opera House dates from the 19th century (1867) when the Kiev Opera Group was formed.  The opera came into being due to the efforts of Ferdinand Berger who had managed to bring to Ukraine several talented artists who were to perform at the Opera House. Thus, singers, musicians and conductors took the stage of the City Theatre, which used to house the National Opera at the time of its formation. This edifice dated from the mid-19th century and was constructed after the plans developed by the architect I. Shtrom. While the name attached to the institution was that of City Theatre, it was generally referred to as the Russian Opera.

http://pictures-photos.ukraine-photo.com

Initially, the performances organized were of Russian origin (e.g. Ruslan and Lyudmila by Mikhail Glinka) and of European nature (e.g. The Marriage of Figaro by Mozart or Verdi’s opera pieces).

Near the turn of the century (1896), the edifice which housed the National Opera was consumed by flames. The fire burst from a candle which was left burning after the Eugene Onegin performance. Nothing was left behind except ash and smoke. Everything from musical partitions to costumes and stage props was destroyed. In the coming years after the fire, the Kiev Opera Group held its performances on various stages without actually having a place of its own.

http://www.tripadvisor.com

In was in the 20th century that the City Council decided to construct a new edifice which was to serve the purpose of housing the National Opera. A competition which exceeded the national boundaries was organized in order to find the architect to sketch the new edifice. The project came to architect Victor Schröter who had incorporated various architectural trends in the design of the Opera House. Thus, the façade of the building was created according to the Neo-Renaissance architectural design, whereas the interior bore a more classical look – this style was named Viennese Modern. While the entire edifice is beautifully adorned with elements pertaining to various architectural trends, the most notable element is the stage of the Opera House which was the largest stage located on the European continent and which was constructed while following the most modern standards in engineering.

http://www.allposters.com

Throughout its existence, the Opera House has attracted a number of extremely talented performers. The institution began to flourish in the early years of the 20th century, with famous singers such as O. Petlyash, P. Tsecevich, K. Voronets, M. Medvedev coming to perform for the population of Kiev. But not solely Russian and Ukrainian singers and musicians came to the National Opera, but also Westerners.

After WWI, Kiev witnessed a massive growth and as a consequence the Opera became known throughout Soviet Union, but its fame grew even outside the USSR, being recognized throughout the world for the cultural value it bore.

During WWII, the Opera House was removed from Kiev only to return to the capital city in 1944.

Between 1983 and 1988, the edifice underwent a massive renovation work with the purpose of enlarging the Opera House so as to include many more rehearsal and dressing rooms. Other changes included widening the orchestra pit and broadening the stage. The new building exceeded the dimensions of the former by 20.000 square meters, its collosal size being the in accordance with the importance and value of the cultural institution.