The broad boulevard suffered extensive damages in World War II. Before the Red Army retreated after the Germans had invaded, they had mined almost all the buildings along the street and activated these explosives by radio control when the Nazis occupied Kiev. More than 300 structures in Khreshchatyk were destroyed this way, along with many other buildings in the city center. These explosions caused a high number of casualties not only among the Germans, but among civilians as well. The street was reconstructed even wider and adorned with Stalinist architecture buildings after the war. Finally, when Ukraine gained its independence in 1991, the boulevard changed its face once again, receiving new illumination, large-sized billboards and renovations for many of the structures along it.
Khreshchatyk begins in the northeast at European Square (Yevropeys’ka ploshcha), one of the main locations for the anti-government protests of 2014. On one side, this square is dominated by the massive Hotel Dnipro, on the other end, there is the Ukrainian House, a state-owned building that is frequently used for conferences and trade fairs and occassionally for music and theater performances. In the Euromaidan days, the Ukrainian House served as temporary shelter and counseling center for the activists. Since the Russian stealth invasion in Eastern Ukraine, the house serves as a press coordination center for the National Guard.
Following the street from European Square, the next stop is Maidan Nezalezhnosti (in short: Maidan), probably Kiev’s most widely-known attraction with a number of buildings worth seeing.
Next up, at number 36, is the building of the Kiev City Council (Kyivrada) and several boutiques and department stores. Notable is the Kiev Passage across the street from the Kyivrada, a narrow side street with residential buildings and cafés on the ground floors. More shopping is coming up when continuing down Kreshchatyk, for example in the old-established TsUm Central Department Store which underwent extensive renovations from 2012 on.
The southern end of Kyiv’s main thoroughfare is marked by Bessarabska Square (Bessarabs’ka ploscha), named after a large indoor market building completed in 1912. When it was built, this area was far outside the city center and merchants, often from Bessarabia in southern Ukraine, used this square to sell their products. Although the square is now right down in central Kyiv, it is still a place where fresh produce and other goods can be bought. More shopping is at hand with two major shopping centers located here. Bessarabska Square connects Kreshchatyk to Taras Shevchenko Boulevard, another one of Kyiv’s main streets.