Wednesday, 20 March 2013

449 – A map of Kiev

Card no 449 - Iryna (UA-522573) 
A map of Kiev 
Country Card Sent From: Ukraine 
Place that Card Sender Lives: Kiev 
Date Received: 16h March 2013 
Distance Travelled: 1,432 miles 
Time Taken: 17 days 
 Click to enlarge

Situated on the Dnieper River (one of the major rivers of Europe), Kiev (also Kyiv) is the capital city of Ukraine. After a rough and turbulent history, the town has become an interesting array of old and new buildings. More and more of the culture is being influenced by the characteristics of both Western and European customs, yet the Ukrainians who live here still cling proudly to tradition. Once catapulted onto the world scene by the nuclear reactor blast at Chernobyl, the stunning city of Kiev is a world away from the tragedies of the past.

The modern city of Kiev is home to roughly three million people. Some of these people are foreign diplomats while others are students from other parts of the world. Thus, Kiev has a somewhat cosmopolitan feel. While many of its greater architectural and art treasures were destroyed in the Second World War, that which was left has been restored and now proudly adorns the face of this picturesque city. For a while there were understandable concerns about the safety of living in such close proximity to the destroyed nuclear reactor plant, but most scientists agree that the city is safe from the effects of radiation.

You can find out more about Kiev and Ukraine at the country’s official website.

Fun Facts about Ukraine: The Great Gate of Kiev

One of a number of classical pieces in a suite by Russian composer, Modest Mussorgsky, 'The Great Gate of Kiev', is not actually a gate but a design submitted by artist Victor Hartmann to commemorate the attempted assassination of Tsar Alexander II in the city of Kiev in 1866.  'Pictures from an Exhibition – A Remembrance of Viktor Hartmann' is a suite in ten movements (plus a recurring, varied Promenade) composed for piano in 1874.  The suite is Mussorgsky's most famous piano composition, and has become a showpiece for virtuoso pianists.

Hartmann's early death at the age of thirty-nine devastated Mussorgsky, a close personal friend, and he agreed to become involved in a commemorative art exhibition of over 400 paintings by his friend. The exhibition inspired Mussorgsky to complete his piano suite.  While Pictures in an Exhibition has since been orchestrated by at least ten different composers, Ravel's work is easily the most popular finishing with a bombastic, enthusiastic interpretation of The Great Gate of Kiev, fully reflecting Hartmann's celebratory design.

Hartmann's majestic design for The Great Gate of Kiev caused a sensation, and the artist believed it was the finest work he had ever done. The sketch for stone gates to replace the wooden gates of Kiev incorporated a cupola in the form of a Slavonic helmet. In the design, the archway rested on granite pillars and its peak was to be decorated with a huge headpiece of Russian carved designs including the Russian state eagle.

To commemorate what was referred to by the Tsar as "the event of April 4, 1866", a design competition commenced. Though proposals poured in including a drawing by Hartmann, Russian authorities scrapped the effort and while the Tsar may have been relieved to dodge assassination, explicit acknowledgement of the event may have led to the cancellation of the competition.

These were the stamps.

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