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Значна фігура з найдавніших часів 22/05/2011

Posted by brendan in Avions, Trains et Voitures, Leçons Culturelles.
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Ukrainian House

A grim slab haunts the edge of Khreschatyk. An allowance of sunlight is sacrificed to the glory of gravity-defying concrete, intermittently interrupted by squared columns and doorways untarnished by visitors. Constructed in 1982 the Ukrainian House welcomed party-faithful into the life and times of Lenin. In the wake of Soviet collapse boosters found a more lucrative purpose, a conference center for international business, trade shows and consumer events.

Tucked behind progress is a tiled plaza cut from a hillside with a cracked brick and stone cascading fountain keeping nature at bay.Throngs competed for relief amidst the ceaseless flow of water filling Maidan Nezalezhnosti, but here Janice and I were free to wander the receding tiers gushing pale green water.

Volodymyrs'ka Girka Park

Civilization surrenders to an unkempt urban forest hunting the Dnieper west. Sounds of passing cars and the whisper of a thousand conversations receded with the sun, leaving us to wander paths slowly being consumed by time. Manicured greenery was replaced by trees stretching towards the sky, grass uninhibited by mower blades. Our surroundings sprang from another time, when Kyiv was young and wild. The day took a cleansing breath and freed us from anticipation or an adherence to schedule.

The canopy opened for a towering sculpture, awarding observation of the river. Volodymyr the Great stands hewn from stone and ore, an imposing figure from ancient times, with eyes piercing the distance between centuries. A warrior king of the Dark Ages who expanded his realm by sword and fire, his lasting legacy is bringing Christianity to the Rus.

Prince Volodymyr

Nestor the Chronicler, a cave-dwelling monk from Pechersk Lavra, collected the most enticing, apocryphal accounts. After securing authority during a fratricidal war the bastard heir Volodymyr waged violence against his neighbors, ensuring military success through human sacrifice. During one such gods-pleasing ceremony the king was touched by a father’s defense of his son; touched after killing them both. In a fit of religious reconsideration emissaries sought other faiths to research. Bulgarian Muslims were too dour and their rejection of pork and alcohol antithetical to the Rus. Jewish theologians left an impression but Volodymyr saw their loss of Jerusalem as evidence of God’s displeasure.

During an uprising the Byzantine Emperor begged for aid. The hand of his sister was set as the price of intervention, but her feelings on marrying the illegitimate pagan king caused contractual complications. Volodymyr submitted to baptism in the conquered Crimean city of Chersonesos, won the girl, dispatched troops and quelled revolt. Filled with conviction Volodymyr returned to Kyiv, razed his own idols, and promulgated the mass baptism of his people in the Dnieper. One thousand years later and people flock to the multi-domed cathedral in mustard and white trim which bears his name.

Which barred entry to Janice unless she conformed to antiquated concepts of femininity. To which we said, fuck that.


In another clearing rests an iron and copper veranda, abandoning chrysalis with stained green shaking free from chipped black paint. The one-sided conversation of a girl on her phone was all that kept us from climbing its tresses and surveying what lay below. Instead we turned out attention to the funicular tracks, watching a carriage ferry tourists fresh from their pilgrimage to Mihaylivskiy Zolotoverhiy.

A dirt utility road runs past a shuttered shack decorated by wayward youth. We walked along a ridge through a growing collection of trash and abandoned produce racks rusting in the sun. Bereft of trees and defined by a tall retaining wall this section of the park had been left to stencil artists and connoisseurs of beer sold in plastic liter jugs. Common sense grew louder, suggesting we’d found the perfect place for foreign idiots to run into trouble.

Authenticity Reigns

Trouble was an abandoned construction site encroaching on the rear of Andriyivsky Church. Fences has been sent sprawling, equipment left to collect dust. Pressing onward could have brought squatters or guard dogs with limited avenues of escape. We retraced our steps, back underneath the funicular tracks, down along crumbling footpaths, carefully navigating stone stairways which shuddered and slipped and invite lawsuits in America. Two buildings heralded a return to the city, one under construction but free from workers and the other a collection of ruined air-conditioners hanging from power cords. We cut between to rejoin civilization.



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