As the cultural and political focus of life in Ukraine, Independence Square stands on the northern flank of Khreschatyk, Kiev’s major thoroughfare, and its appearance has changed with the fortunes of the country. Today it is lined with an impressive array of grandiose villas dating mostly from the 19th century, which were built when the city was one of the most important in Russia and now house – among others – the Central Post Office and the Trade Union Association. It is the venue for all the city’s major parades and public celebrations but was scene of civil unrest in 2004 as the focus of Ukraine’s Orange Revolution, and again in 2014.
Among the fountains, the 61-m (200-ft) white-marble Independence Monument looms over the middle of the square and celebrates Ukraine’s breaking away from the Soviet Union in 1991; it was designed by Ukrainian architect Anatoliy Kushch and placed in the piazza on the 10th anniversary of independence. The slender column is topped with a bronze sculpture of Archangel Michael, who is the patron of the city; it looks spectacular when floodlit at night. Below ground is the subterranean Globus Shopping Mall – lit by the glass domes that dot the square – and a metro station; the area is surrounded by hotels, restaurants, pavement cafés and late-night bars, making it one of the most popular meeting places in the city.
Independence Square, Kiev. Open to all at no charge. Take the metro to Maidan Nezalezhnosti.