If the name Vladimirsky Cathedral does not ring a bell, then you might be familiar with one of the following names which are also attached to the edifice under discussion: St. Volodymyr’s Cathedral, St. Vladimir’s Cathedral, or Volodymyrsky Cathedral.
The cathedral is situated in Kiev, right in the center of the city and it is actually an important symbol of the Ukrainian capital city .
We owe the construction of the cathedral to the Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow who had put forth the idea that an immense house of worship should be erected in the honor of the Keivan Rus state which was formed under Prince Vladimir the Great. This idea came with the celebration of the 900 years which had gone by since the state had been formed (in 1852). Everyone was enticed by the prospect of having a cathedral dedicated to this event so donations coming from all over the Russian Empire started to pour.
In 1859, the fund started for the construction work managed to raise as much as 100,000 rubles and the constructors would soon build the cathedral. Help also came from the Kiev Pecherk Lavra which donated 1 million bricks to the cause. The original architectural style was neo-Byzantine and was developed by a group of 5 architects: I. Schtrom, P. Sparro, R. Bemhardt, K. Mayevsky, V. Nikolayev.
But as it turned out, this was not the structural design which would be used for the cathedral. Instead, the edifice would be constructed in a traditional way. The architect behind the final version of the cathedral was Alexander Vikentievich Beretti who designed an edifice with 3 apses and 7 domes.
The cathedral is beautifully adorned with mosaics, which bear the mark of Venetian artists, and with frescoes, performed by renowned artists, such as S. Kostenko, V. Kotarbinsky, Mikhail Nesterov, M. Pymonenko, Viktor Vasnetsov, Mikhail Vrubel, and many others.
The wonderful coloration of the interior design is impressive, and among all the works of art decorating the cathedral, we have to mention the painting found in the altar apse which depicts the Virgin Mary. This paining, done by Vasnetsov, attracts tourists due to the somber way in which the Mother of Christ is illustrated.
Vladimirsky cathedral stands out due to a multitude of reasons, all reflective of the impressive architectural and decorative design conveyed. But just to create an outline of the cathedral, we are going to point out some of the most relevant elements of the construction.
The cross situated on the main steeple measures 49 m in height. The iconostasis is made out Carrara white marble, while at the entrance of the cathedral one can admire relief sculptural works made out of bronze. These are actually representations of Princess Olga of Kiev (who has been canonized – St. Olga) and of St. Vladimir. The first sculpture was created by R. Bakh, while the second bears the mark of H. Zaieman. The construction work was completed in 1882, but it took another 14 years until the painting work was finished (in 1896).
Vladimirsky Cathedral experienced several threats, meaning that it was prone to suffering considerable damages. The first occurrence of this kind was in 1920 during the Polish-Soviet War. The soviet period was again rather difficult in the “life” of the edifice as it was close to being demolished. But while it managed to survive, its purpose was shifted in as much as until WWII it had been a museum of religion and atheism.
At present, the cathedral holds within its walls the relics of St. Barbara. These were initially found at St. Michael’s Monastery, but they had been transferred to Vladimirsky Cathedral prior to the Bolsheviks destruction of the monastery.
The end of the war marked the “beginning” for the cathedral as it had been reopened and had stayed as such ever since. Vladimirsky Cathedral was among the few locations in the USSR which could be visited by tourists even when the religious services were under way. The cathedral became once more the “home” of the Orthodox religion in 1988.
At present, the cathedral is still used for praying and religious services and the language used in these ceremonies is Ukrainian.