Modern Kiev is a mix of the old and the new, seen in everything from the architecture to the stores and to the people themselves. Experiencing rapid population growth between the 1970s and the mid-1990s, the city has continued its consistent growth after the turn of the millennium. As a result, Kiev's central districts provide a dotted contrast of new, modern buildings amongst the pale yellows, blues and grays of older apartments. Urban sprawl has gradually reduced, while population densities of suburbs has increased. The most expensive properties are located in the Pechersk, and Khreshchatyk areas. It is also prestigious to own a property in newly constructed buildings in the Kharkivskyi Raion or Obolon along the Dnieper.
Ukrainian independence at the turn of the millennium has heralded other changes. Western-style residential complexes, modern nightclubs, classy restaurants and prestigious hotels opened in the centre. Music from Europeand North America started appearing on Ukrainian music charts. And most importantly, with the easing of the visa rules in 2005, Ukraine is positioning itself as a prime tourist attraction, with Kiev, among the other large cities, looking to profit from new opportunities. The centre of Kiev has been cleaned up and buildings have been restored and redecorated, especially the Khreshchatyk street and the Independence Square. Many historic areas of Kiev, such as Andriyivskyy Descent, have become popular street vendor locations, where one can find traditionalUkrainian art, religious items, books, game sets (most commonly chess) as well as jewellery for sale.
At the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2009 Kiev was the only CIS city to have been inscribed into the TOP30 European Green City Index (placed 30th).
Kiev's most famous historical architecture complexes are the St. Sophia Cathedral and the Kiev Pechersk Lavra(Monastery of the Caves), which are recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
Noteworthy historical architectural landmarks also include the Mariyinsky Palace (designed and constructed from 1745 to 1752, then reconstructed in 1870), several Orthodox churches such as St. Michael's Cathedral, St. Andrew's, St. Vladimir's, the reconstructed Golden Gate and others.
One of Kiev's widely recognized modern landmarks is the highly visible giant Mother Motherland statue made of titanium standing at the Museum of the Great Patriotic War on the Right bank of the Dnieper River. Other notable sites is the cylindrical Salut hotel, located across from Glory Square and the eternal flame at the World War Two memorial Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and the House with Chimaeras.
Among Kiev's best-known monuments are Mikeshin's statue of Bohdan Khmelnytsky astride his horse located near St. Sophia Cathedral, the venerated Vladimir the Great (St. Vladimir), the baptizer of Rus', overlooking the river above Podil, the monument to Kyi, Schek and Khoryv and Lybid, the legendary founders of the city located at the Dnieper embankment. On Independence Square in the city centre, two monuments elevate two of the city protectors; the historic protector of Kiev Michael Archangel atop a reconstruction of one of the old city's gates and a modern invention, the goddess-protector Berehynia atop a tall column.