Kiev Pechersk Lavra, which also goes by the name of Monastery of the Caves, is a monastery located in Kiev, Ukraine, founded in 1051. The beauty and historical weight it carries has made it possible for the monastery to be included in UNESCO’s Program of World Heritages. More so, the building has gained immense popularity with its inclusion among the seven wonders of Ukraine, a title which was conveyed on the 21st of August, 2007.
Even though it is one of the main attractions of the city, the edifice is not used solely as a touristic site, but continues to hold regular sermons within its walls.
The monastic complex is formed of a multitude of structure. On the one hand there are the belfries, cathedrals and fortified walls – elements specific to monasteries, and on the other hand, there are the underground caves, which make the site stand out from the rest of its kind.
One of the noteworthy monuments of the complex is the Great Lavra Bell Tower. This specific construction was the tallest of its kind when it was erected back in the 18th century (1731-1745). The architect in charge of the project, Johann Gottfried Schädel, designed the tower in the Classical architectural style, by means of layers. The finishing touch for the 96.5 m bell tower was a golden dome which is easily depicted on the Ukrainina skyline.
The Church of Trinity replaced the ancient stone church which was still standing at the time when the plan for the new house of worship was put into action. The church suffered immense damaged in 1718 when it caught fire. The reconstruction work brought to light a mezmerising work of art. The façade, as well as the interior of the church, were covered in lavish adornments. The stucco work did not limit solely to the interior walls but included the exterior as well. The church was completed by means of a gilded cupola.
The All Saints Church, built at the end of the 17th century (1676-1698), consists of artistically crafted decorations, being a beautiful example of the Ukranian Baroque architecture. The Church of the Savior, built in the 11th century by the order of Prince Volodymyr Monomakh, is situated in the northern part of the Monastery of the Caves. The architectural style used in the construction work is representative of the Classical period, having been conveyed by the architect Andrei Melenskyi.
The Kiev Pechersk Lavra consists of a complex system of caverns. These include contracted corridors, chapels and even accomodation rooms, all designed in the underground.
This system dates from 1051, when the monk Anthony had established into a cavern located in the nearby hills. In time, the cave expended to comprise several passages and even a church.
The caves were also used as burial places and at present one can run across the tombs of famous figures, such as members of the royal family, intelectuals, and saints.
While still being an active monastery, the Kiev Pechersk Lavra also fulfils the role of museum. In fact, it is one of the principal museums located in Kiev, encompasing various collections which are representative for the upper and lower regions of Lavra. The items on display are portraits of the ordained priests, photographs illustrating church representatives, books and objects made out of precious metals. The main exhibit includes goblets and crucifixes dating from the 16th century, up until de 20th century, and various exemples of needlework, artistically crafted.
Tourists who are interested in discovering the catacombs, will be pleased to hear that tours are organized with regularity to the undergorund where they can behold the mummies of Orthodox saints or their vestiges.