Kyiv’s notoriety as the birthplace of Slavic culture is reflected in its’ architecture, language, and traditions of city inhabitants. Ukraine used to be a part of the USSR and of course this period of Ukrainian history was too long to leave no marks. During 15 years of Ukraine’s independent many of soviet era symbols have gone, but some of them still continue to adorn buildings and even surviving statue of Lenin still stands on Besarabs’ka Square. So if you don’t want to miss such exotic sights and venues keep reading this chapter to find out where they are located.
Things to see
The city’s grandest thoroughfare of slightly intimidating Stalinist architecture of uninterrupted facades reminding a stone carved canyon wall. Many of the original buildings in the city were destroyed in WWII and this street was rebuilt in characteristic soviet style. Khreschatyk is closed to automotive traffic on weekends.
Eighty years after his death, 93 since the Russian Revolution and 19 since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the declaration of Ukrainian independence, the city’s only remaining statue of Lenin still stands at one of the central squares, close to Khreschatyk. And believe it or not, it was named the world’s best monument at a 1939 international art exhibition in New York.
After 11 years of construction, the first line of the Kyiv Metro opened in 1960. In typical soviet fashion, the Metro was designed to be a showcase of craftsmanship, style and technological innovation for the capital of one of the largest member states of the USSR. The older metro stations in the city centre were built in the underground palace style similar to Moscow’ metro. Most of the soviet style metro stations are located on the Red line.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs Building
Next to the St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Cathedral, which was destroyed by the Bolsheviks in the mid-1930s and was rebuilt in 2000, stands a grandiose architectural Soviet era masterpiece of the columned Foreign Ministry building. Just beneath the new blue-and-yellow Ukrainian flag there was a large hammer and sickle carved into the building facade during its’ days as Soviet Ukraine’s Communist Party headquarters. It was removed several years ago.
Rodina Mat’ (the Motherland)
An enormous stainless steel statue of a fierce female warrior, 68 m high, standing on a 40 m pedestal and holding a 12-ton sword in her right hand and a shield in the left, dominating the heights above the Dnieper River. Giant, threatening and unescapable, the statue is known locally as ‘Brezhnev’s Mother’, as L. Brezhnev opened the monument in 1981.
The Friendship of Nations Arch
The steel rainbow of the Arch was erected in 1983 to commemorate unification of Ukraine and Russia in 1653, as a monument supposed to symbolize general to show friendship and mutual respect of the two nationsThere are great views from here over the Dnipro River and the vast steppes beyond it.
Ukraine House (former Museum of Lenin)
The original Museum of Lenin was built in 1938 and was then located at Volodymyrs’ka str. In April 1982 the new building on European Square was finished. It was designed specifically to house the museum. In 1992 the museum was renamed as ‘Ukraine House’. All the old exhibits of the former Museum of Lenin are stored in one of the buildings in the Expocentre. Now the venue hosts temporary fairs and exhibitions including commercial trade fairs. The building features some of the most memorable Soviet stained glass in the whole of the former Soviet Union, and is one of the best examples in Kyiv of the futurist style of Soviet architecture.
Things to Do
Drive the soviet party boss’ car
To feel as a soviet party boss, call Ukrainian Express travel at tel. 536 12 37 to rent Chaika or ZIM brand of a limousine-class car. In the past, Chaikas could only be purchased by the Soviet communist party or government offices, and were not available to the members of public (who probably couldn’t afford one anyway). Chaikas were one step down from the more prestigious ZIM limousines, and were issued to the elite few top professionals, party officials, top scientists, academics, and other celebrities. For their massive size Chaikas were also purchased in some quantity by the KGB. Nikita Kruschev, although entitled to a ZIM, was known to prefer Chaikas, and kept Chaika M13 at his summer dacha.
Drive a Soviet tank
19 years ago, after obtaining independence, as part of former Soviet Union’ military heritage Ukraine received the most complex military bases with the most advanced armament of that time. If you feel enthusiastic about monstorus tanks and roaring high-powered military vehicles, you may as a crew member participate in a real test drive of an old and modern machines, even the most exotic ones, at one of the Ukrainian Army’s proving grounds. You may also take part in the real combat shooting excercies on one of the real shooting ranges of the former Soviet Army. www.ukrainianexpress.com, www.alaris.com.ua.
Souvenirs & Gifts
Kyiv’s so-called “most charming street,” Andriyivsky uzviz is a lure for tourists: escape from the hustle and bustle of the city that is rapidly changing, a repository of Kyivan history, and a teeming bazaar, where vendors sell former Soviet uniforms, Shapka-Ushankas (Russian fure winter hat with ear warmers), military or traditional Russian/Ukrainian souvenirs like Matrioshka dolls, gypsum Lenin busts, creepy Wehrmacht medals left from the World War II and banners proclaiming communism’s glory peacefully coexist until a tourist stops to inspect the wares more closely.
We can definitely say that the gallery has become a center of collecting Socialist Realism works. Here you can find hundreds of the best paintings from the Soviet period that represent al the genres and regions of Ukraine.The main distinguishing feature of this art trend is that it was patronized by the Soviet state, and the works of Socialist Realism period were made to the state’s order. The task of the art of those times was to create an ideal image of the future and to enhance people to work harder and be socially active.
Where to eat
Their entrance sign with fish, sausage and beer bottle in the shape of hammer and sickle sums up the concept of this outdoor restaurant. Pictures on the walls depict some of the most famous moments in the history of the Soviet Union, while TV screens show classic films from the era. Guests can sample cuisine from all the 15 former Soviet republic states, and at the end of the meal receive their bill on a ‘piece of happiness’ - an old Soviet era check book.