Khreshchatyk (Ukrainian: Хрещатик, [xreˈʃt͡ʃɑtɪk]) is the main street of Kyiv, Ukraine. The street has a length of 1.2 kilometres (0.75 mi). It stretches from the European Square (northeast) through the Maidan and to Bessarabska Square (southwest) where the Besarabsky Market is located. Along the street are the offices of the Kyiv City Council which contains both the city's council and the state administration, the Main Post Office, the Ministry of Agrarian Policy, the State Committee of Television and Radio Broadcasting, the Central Department Store (TsUM), the Ukrainian House, and others.
|Former name(s)||Wacław Worowski Street (1923–1937), Eichhornstraße (1941–1943)|
|Length||1,200 m (3,900 ft)|
The entire street was completely destroyed during World War II by the retreating Red Army troops and rebuilt in the neo-classical style of post-war Stalinist architecture. Among prominent buildings that did not survive were the Kiev City Duma, the Kyiv Stock Exchange, Hotel Natsional, and the Ginzburg House. The street has been significantly renovated during the modern period of Ukraine's independence. Today, the street is still significant to administrative and business city organizations, as well as a popular tourist attraction.
The name of Khreshchatyk is believed to be derived from the Slavic word krest or khrest (cross). It lies in a valley that is crossed by several ravines. When looked at from above, the valley resembles a cross. A small river, the Khreshchatyk River, a tributary of Kyiv's Lybid River, ran along much of the valley, and still runs underground along much of the street.
For a long time, Khreshchatyk remained an undeveloped ravine between several neighborhoods of Kyiv: Podil – the commercial neighbourhood, the Upper City – the administrative neighbourhood, and Pechersk neighbourhood built around the Pechersk Lavra ("Monastery of the Caves").
The development of the area only started in the 19th century. The ravine was filled and accelerating construction quickly followed. By the middle 19th century, Khreshchatyk was developed as Kyiv's main thoroughfare in the climate of rapid growth of the city during the Industrial Revolution in Imperial Russia. The street soon became the center of Kyiv's commercial life, as the city itself developed into the main commercial center in the Empire's south-west.
During the period of chaos after the Russian Revolution of 1917, many buildings on Khreshchatyk were heavily damaged as the city changed hands many times between Ukrainian, German, Polish, and Bolshevik forces. On 9 May 1920, the Polish army under General Rydz-Smigly celebrated their capture of Kyiv by a ceremonial parade on Khreshchatyk. They were driven out by the Bolshevik counter-offensive within weeks.
Between the wars, Khreshchatyk underwent major development and reconstruction. Between 1923 and 1937, the street was named after V.V. Vorovsky, an early Bolshevik diplomat assassinated in Switzerland. In the mid-1930s, the tram lines were deconstructed, and the trams replaced by trolleybuses.
World War II
During World War II, almost every building on the street was mined with explosives by the retreating Red Army troops. In September 1941, after German troops occupied the city, explosions were set off by radio-controlled fuses from over 400 kilometres away. The demolition of over three hundred buildings on Khreshchatyk became the first operation in history where the long-distance radio-controlled explosions were used for military purposes. Much of the surviving historic center of Kyiv was demolished. This unprecedented method of warfare caused panic and brought heavy casualties among both the occupiers and city's remaining civilian population.
Under German occupation, the street was renamed Eichhornstrasse, after the German World War I Field Marshal Hermann von Eichhorn supreme commander of Army Group Kyiv (Heeresgruppe Kiew) and simultaneously military governor of Ukraine during the previous German occupation, who had been assassinated on the Khreshchatyk road in Kyiv by the socialrevolutionary Boris Donskoi in 1918.
Following the war, Khreshchatyk was rebuilt in the 1950s and 1960s. The street was widened to 75–100 meters and new buildings were erected in the Neoclassical Stalinist architectural style. Important buildings of the new ensemble include the City Council House (Kyivrada), the Central Post Office (Poshtamt) and Trade-Union House (Budynok Profspilok).
The street was one of Kyiv's first landmarks that was serviced by the Kyiv Metro in 1960, (see Khreshchatyk (Kyiv Metro)) and was the system's first transfer station when the second line opened in 1976.
On 1 May 1986, a few days after the Chernobyl nuclear accident, Soviet authorities held a traditional May Day parade on Khreshchatyk, to "calm people" and "prevent panic" caused by the disaster. Thousands of Kyivans, including many children, were exposed to dangerous doses of radiation.
In the late 1980s, the porch of the Central Post Office building partially collapsed during heavy rain, killing a dozen people and injuring some. The porch was rebuilt in the following years according to its original design.
On 24 July 1990, the first ceremonial raising of the Ukrainian national flag took place on Khreshchatyk, on the large flagstaff of the Kyiv City Council. Due to its central location, the street became the traditional place for political rallies.
Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union and Ukraine becoming independent, the avenue gained a wider context as the central street of the country. During the late 1990s, a complex reconstruction took place, and most of the buildings were cosmetically cleaned up from elements, structurally upgraded and enhanced with colourful illumination. Modern electronic billboards and screens were also installed.
In 2000–01, Khreshchatyk and Maidan Nezalezhnosti, became the centre of the mass protest campaign known as Ukraine without Kuchma. Allegedly to keep the protesters out, the city Mayor (Oleksandr Omelchenko at that time) ordered a major reconstruction of the street, which led to significant rebuilding of Maidan Nezalezhnosti, and construction of two large underground shopping malls.
In the winter of 2004, Khreshchatyk and Maidan Nezalezhnosti became the centre of the main public protests of the Orange Revolution. The protesters' main tent encampment was situated in the street, and many Khreshchatyk buildings served as makeshift feeding and warming sites for the protesters, including the City Council House. In its peak, over a million people from all around Ukraine attended the rally. Late 2013 Khreshchatyk also became one of the centres of the Euromaidan protests.
Khreshchatyk is a popular attraction for tourists. During weekends and public holidays, the street is closed to road traffic and reserved for pedestrians.
Khreshchatyk contains many up-market stores, cafés, and restaurants.
Points of interest situated along Khreshchatyk are the following (south-west to north-east):
- Bessarabska Square, including:
- Central Department Store (TsUM)
- Kyiv Passage, a small narrow commercial and residential street
- City Council Building (Kyivrada)
- Maidan Nezalezhnosti, including:
- European Square ("Yevropeyska Square"), including:
Khreshchatyk is a traditional setting for outdoor concerts and festivals, and is frequented by street musicians. Major parades and celebrations are held on Kyiv Day (the last Sunday of May), Victory Day (9 May) and Ukrainian Independence Day (24 August).
- No.2 Ukrainian House
- No.4 UNIAN building
- No.15 Pasazh
- No.24 Ministry of Agrarian Policy
- No.36 Kyiv City Council/Kyiv City State Administration
- No.38 Central Department Store
Streets and Squares
- Volodymyr Descent
- Hrushevskoho Street
- Tryokhsvyatytelska Street
- Instytutska Street
- Maidan Nezalezhnosti
- Architect Horodetsky Street
- Prorizna Street
- Lyuteranska Street
- Khmelnytsky Street
- Kyiv Metro, both stations of the city's rapid transit system are transferable.
- In the 1980s Alexander Rosenbaum wrote a song dedicated to the street "Khreschatyk" (the song became famous by the chansonnier Mikhail Shufutinsky).
- In 1994 Pavlo Zibrov wrote a song to the words Yuri Rybchinsky dedicated to the street "Khreschatyk", which was shot a video clip.
- Since 1999, on the street weekly for 20 years, they have been filming the Ukrainian television program "Karaoke on Independence Square".
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 16 December 2013. Retrieved 2 April 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Mirror of the Century Archived 12 May 2005 at the Wayback Machine in Zerkalo Nedeli, 13–19 July 1996.
- Over 10,000 demonstrators rallying on Independence Square in Kyiv – Interior Ministry, Interfax-Ukraine (3 December 2013)
Activists pitching army tents at Independence Square in Kyiv, Interfax-Ukraine (3 December 2013)
- Анатолий Кудрицкий, ed. (1986). Киев. Энциклопедический справочник (in Russian). УРЕ. LCC DK508.923.K54 1986.
- Александр Анисимов (1992). Скорбное бесчувствие. На добрую память о Киеве, или грустные прогулки по городу, которого нет (in Russian). Tabachuk Ltd. ISBN 5-7707-2150-2.
- Анатолій Кудрицький, ed. (1995). Вулиці Києва, Довідник (in Ukrainian). УЕ. ISBN 5-88500-070-0.