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Kiev is ancient – more than 1,500 years old by most accounts – so it has many streets that are not only very beautiful and unique, but also famous throughout the country. Perhaps the most popular, beautiful, interesting and unforgettable of these is Kreshatyk, the central street of the nation’s capital and even of all Ukraine.

Kreshatyk has an almost regal feel to it. The long, gently curving street is enchanting, especially in May when the stately chestnut trees that line it are in full bloom and attract considerable attention. The street is also home to some of the country’s most impressive shopping malls, restaurants and cinemas.

Kreshatyk always teems with people and on the weekends plays host to musicians strumming variable tunes, dancers, merry-making street buskers and simply interesting people. Children come here with bicycles and inline skates to show their skills and compete with each other. Those fond of horseback riding or carriage rides will find what they like and quickly become the centre of attention enjoying these and numerous other attractions.

An interesting aspect of Kreshatyk is that it is closed to vehicular traffic during much of the day on the weekends, so anyone can walk, run, skate, cycle or otherwise enjoy it in any way they like. During the week the street fills with cars but yet retains its beauty at night, when the street lamps shine and the trees sparkle with their decoration of lights.

While the city is old, the street is quite young by comparison, which makes it all the more surprising that poets write precisely about this street and not some other. Many famous Ukrainian songs name the street, but as for the roots of the name Kreshatyk, nobody really knows.

There are two versions which are considered to be closest to the truth. The first suggests that the named comes from the word “khrest,” which in Russian means a crossing of meadows or streets. Nowadays youngsters like to call it “the Khrest.” The second version is connected with religion. It is said that Prince Vladimir (the founder of the Kievan Rus civilization), when he adopted Christianity as the religion of his people in 988, the event took place where the street is today. So from the word “Christianity” the name Kreshatyk appeared. However, we can only guess which version is real because it isn’t mentioned in any historical sources.

People from all over the world converge on Kreshatyk; as often happens, many tourists make their first acquaintance with the city along the street, so it is easy to meet and become acquainted with people from many countries, even their own. What’s more, it is interesting to know that many Ukrainian cities have their own street also named Kreshatyk because of this Kievan street. You can’t but visit it!


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