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Kiev History, Ukraine

Kiev History – Kiev in the Middle Ages

Kiev is Ukraine’s capital and the largest city in the country (2.6 million inhabitants, followed by Kharkov and Dnepropetrovsk). Across its 14 centuries of existence, Kiev has been an important link in the history of Eastern Europe. Historians assume Kiev was founded by the Eastern Slavic tribes, somewhere in the 6th century. The legend says that the name 'Kiev' comes from one of the three brothers that founded the city – Kyi, spelled ‘Kyiv’ in Ukrainian and ‘Kiev’ in Russian. In 988, Grand Duke Vladimir, ruler of Kievan Rus princehood, was baptized and Kiev became a center of Orthodox spirituality ever since. The Mongols lead by Baty-Khan burnt Kiev to the ground in 1240. On its way to recovery, the city became a part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in 1362. Nevertheless, across the next centuries, Kiev had to face the constant attacks of the Crimean Tartars.

Kiev History – From Polish to Russian Rule

The protectorate of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, which lasted almost a century, was marked by religious conflicts between Catholics and Orthodox and the founding of Kiev first academic institution, the Kiev Moglia Academy. Following the Cossacks uprising in the mid 17th century, Kiev accepted Russian suzerainty. As a part of the Russian Empire, Ukraine underwent a process of Russification and modernization. Kiev developed as an important trade center, focusing its economic activities on sugar and grain export. Kiev history during the 19th century is marked by important achievements, like the inauguration of the first electric tram, the construction of numerous buildings and cultural institutions and pioneering work in the field of aviation.

Kiev History – Kiev in the 20th and 21st Centuries

When the Russian Empire collapsed in 1917, Ukraine strove for independence. The Ukrainian People’s Republic was established on the 7th of November 1917, with Kiev as its capital. The newly gained independence only lasted until 1922, when Bolsheviks took control of Ukraine and transformed it into a Soviet Republic. Between 1932 and 1933, Kiev’s population suffered enormous losses due to the “Holodomor”, a wave of famine that hit Ukraine as a result of imposed collectivization. The series of misfortunes continued with the beginning of the World War II, when Kiev buildings were destroyed by Russian mines set as traps for the German soldiers and the numerous Jewish population decimated by the Nazis. After the war, Kiev went under the massive wave of industrialization and urbanization. Ukraine finally gained its independence again in 1991 and Kiev was proclaimed its capital. The latest major event in Kiev’s history was the Orange revolution, a nickname referring to a series of street protests, which lead to a re-run of the presidential elections in 2004.

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