What is the capital of Ukraine? History of Soviet Kiev in pictures and maps – Kiev Private Tours
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Soviet Kiev
21 Aug

What is the capital of Ukraine? History of Soviet Kiev in pictures and maps

What is the capital of Ukraine? – KYIV

We have collected various graphic materials that show the history of Kiev’s development during the twentieth century – from a city with a population of less than 250 thousand people to a multimillion post-Soviet metropolis.

The city of Kiev, one of the largest cities in Europe

It lies on both banks of the Dnieper, below the left Desna tributary. The northern part of the city is located on the Polish Lowland, southwest (Right Bank) is on the Dnieper Highlands, southeast (Left Bank) – on the Dnieper Lowland. In the chronicles, Kiev was first mentioned in the year of 860.

The first settlements on the territory of modern Kiev originated 1500-2000 years ago on Starokievska Hill (now the Historical Museum). According to the legend, at the end of the V century – the beginning of the VI century AD, brothers Kiy, Schek and Horyv and their sister Lybid have chosen a place on the Dnieper hills and founded the city on a steep right bank. They named it Kiev – in honor of the elder brother. The continuous history of the city starts from this time. Until the X century, Kiev was the capital of a huge state and has transformed into influential political center of Europe.

However, in our article we will tell in detail about the penultimate century.

Map of Kiev and suburbs, 1911

Map of Kiev

At the beginning of the 20th century, Kiev was a relatively small city – the seventh in size in the then Russian empire. For example, Warsaw and Riga were ahead. In fact, there was only the old part of the city: Podil, Upper city, Pechersk, Khreshchatyk, as well as the modern streets of Antonovich and Velyka Vasylkivska, buildings near the Central Railway Station (Zhilyanskaya and Saksaganskogo Str.), Tatarka, Lukyanivka and the building between the streets of Artem and Gonchar. Instead of Lesya Ukrainka Boulevard one can see gardens and Dog Trail on the map.

Dynamics of population growth in Kiev during the twentieth century

Statistics of Kiev

The diagram shows that since 1943, after the war population of Kiev has grown more than ten times. After the Second World War, the central part of the city was in ruins; therefore, the pre-war Khreshchatyk was not preserved.

Khreshchatyk before the Second World War

Khreshchatyk main street of Kiev

This is a photo of Gorodetsky Street at the corner of Khreshchatyk. Earlier, there were shops on the first floor of the city’s main streets. There were several shopping malls and hotels in the city, and before the revolution – the city council building, the exchange and many other institutions.

Kiev site plan, 1966

Kiev site plan

This master plan became the basis of modern Kiev. One can see already planned areas and housing estates of Obolon, Troyeshchyna, Kharkivsky, Lesnaya, Vynohradar, etc. The project of a closed ring road and many other projects that have not yet been implemented are also clearly visible.

Kiev Building History

Kiev Building History

The Kyiv Buildings History project shows the age of the houses of the capital on the map. In developed countries, such maps are more detailed and complete due to the availability of open data about the city’s buildings. Ukraine is only at the beginning of a long way to genuine access to public information.

Kiev fortress

Kiev fortress

Construction of dungeons and fortress on Pechersk has started in the XI century for the defense of the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra. Over time, when the arrows and stones were replaced by bullets and cores, the ramparts moved farther, and the expanding fortress became the main defensive outpost in the south-west of the Russian Empire.

In the late Middle Ages, wars were of a kind of subversive nature. This is the reason why underground passages (the lunettes) were built on the territory of the fortress. These were brick galleries with special grooves in the setting; it was to weaken the walls to make the structure easier to undermine. These dungeons were filled with gunpowder. In case of an attack, the enemies were blown up. Almost the whole Pechersk district of the city is covered with such dungeons – from the Arsenalnaya metro station to the Olympic sports complex. On the map, this system should look like a huge Christmas tree; however, since the underground passages were created by the military, many of them are not known to this day. All original maps of underground communications are in the Russian archives.

In 1810, in the south of the Pechersk fortress, the Zverinets fortifications were laid. Over the next two years, dugouts and charging cellars were dug up here. The system of lunettes connected the fortress and fortifications.

In the middle of the 20th century, Kiev fortress (44 Shchorsa str.) was considered one of the largest in Europe; its total area was 70 hectares. It has a complicated system of underground passages for individual defensive and brick tunnels of large diameter, intended for moving troops and even two-way traffic of horse-drawn transport.

Trukhanov Island in the 50’s

Trukhanov Island in Kiev

Before the Parkway Bridge was built, it was possible to get to Trukhanov Island by boat. In the 20 years of the twentieth century, such a trip on a boat with oars costed five kopecks; and one had to pay ten for the motor boat trip. There was a settlement of fishermen, the Central beach, berths, and so on. By the beginning of the 50s, they planned to turn the Trukhanov Island into the Kievan Venice – to make canals and a square with a huge fountain in the middle. However, in the site plan of 1966, there is such intentions any more.

Kiev metro map of 1984

Old Kiev metro map

Most of today existing metro stations are only planned here. There is also a project of unconstructed metro line, which was to go to the left bank of the city along the Dnieper River and the notorious “Metro to Troieschyna”.

Construction of Obolon city district

Obolon area in Kiev

Obolon is one of many residential buildings built in the times of the Soviet Union. The modernist principle of building provided a fairly long distance between the buildings, which in the post-Soviet period was seized by parked cars and kiosks.

Dynamics of changes in ethnic composition of Kiev

Dynamics of changes in ethnic composition of Kiev

In less than a hundred years, from a multi-ethnic city Kiev has turned into almost mono-national city. Today, almost 90% of its inhabitants are Ukrainians.

Tram tracks in Kiev

Map of trams in Kiev

From 1991 to 2010, Kiev lost more than 100 kilometers of tramway tracks, mostly in the city center. In addition, the rail transport of the left and right banks is now not connected to Paton Bridge, as it was before.

Construction of Osokorki

Construction of Osokorki

In the 90’s, as was in the site plan of the city, the mass construction of new neighborhoods on the left bank began.

Kiev Tours

To book private sightseeing tours in Kiev, follow this page where we collected the most interesting itineraries of Kiev city.

Kate Dobromishev

Tour Guide in Guide me UA / English language / Private Tours in Kyiv

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