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Culture & People
 
 
 

General

Ukrainian culture is a result of influence over millennia from the West and East, with an assortment of strong culturally-identified ethnic groups. Like most Western countries, Ukrainian customs are heavily influenced by Christianity. Russian and other Eastern European cultures also have had a more or less significant impact on the Ukrainian culture.

Architecture

Ukrainian architecture is a term that describes the motives and styles that are found in structures built in modern Ukraine, and by Ukrainians worldwide. These include initial roots which were established in the Eastern Slavic state of Kievan Rus'. After the 12th century, the distinct architectural history continued in the principalities of Galicia-Volhynia.

During the epoch of the Zaporozhian Cossacks, a new style, unique to Ukraine was developed from the western influences of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. After the union with the Tsardom of Russia, architecture in Ukraine began to develop in different directions, with many structures in the larger eastern, Russian ruled area built in the styles of Russian architecture of that period, whilst the western Galicia was developed under Austro-Hungarian architectural influences. In both cases producing fine examples.

Ukrainian national motives would finally be used during the period of the Soviet Union and in modern independent Ukraine. Good examples of modern Ukrainian architecture include the reconstruction and renewal of the Maidan Nezalezhnosti in central Kiev, despite the limit set by narrow space within the plaza, the engineers were able to blend together the uneven landscape and also use underground space to set a new shopping centre.

The major project that will take up most of the 21st century, is the construction of the Kiev City-Centre on the Rybalskyi Peninsula, which, when finished, will include a dense skyscraper park amid the picturesque landscape of the Dnieper.

Literature

The history of Ukrainian literature dates back to the 11th century, following the Christianisation of the Kievan Rus’. The writings of the time were mainly liturgical and were written in Old Church Slavonic. Historical accounts of the time were referred to as chronicles, the most significant of which was the Primary Chronicle. Literary activity faced a sudden decline during the Mongol invasion of Rus'.

Ukrainian literature again began to develop in the 14th century, and was advanced significantly in the 16th century with the introduction of print and with the beginning of the Cossack era, under both Russian and Polish dominance. The Cossacks established an independent society and popularised a new kind of epic poems, which marked a high point of Ukrainian oral literature. These advances were then set back in the 17th and early 18th centuries, when publishing in the Ukrainian language was outlawed and prohibited. Nonetheless, by the late 18th century modern literary Ukrainian finally emerged.

The 19th century initiated a vernacular period in Ukraine, lead by Ivan Kotliarevsky’s work Eneyida, the first publication written in modern Ukrainian. By the 1830s, Ukrainian romanticism began to develop, and the nation’s most renowned cultural figure, romanticist poet-painter Taras Shevchenko emerged. Where Ivan Kotliarevsky is considered to be the ‘father’ of literature in the Ukrainian vernacular; Shevchenko is the father of a national revival. Then, in 1863, use of the Ukrainian language in print was effectively prohibited by the Russian Empire. This severely curtained literary activity in the area, and Ukrainian writers were forced to either publish their works in Russian or release them in Austrian controlled Galicia. The ban was never officially lifted, but it became obsolete after the revolution and the Bolsheviks’ coming to power.

Ukrainian literature continued to flourish in the early Soviet years, when nearly all literary trends were approved. These policies faced a steep decline in the 1930s, when Stalin implemented his policy of socialist realism. The doctrine did not necessarily repress the Ukrainian language, but it required writers to follow a certain style in their works. Literary activities continued to be somewhat limited under the communist party, and it was not until Ukraine gained its independence in 1991 when writers were free the express themselves as they wished.


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