Jul 27

Kiev Pechersk Lavra (Manastirea Pesterilor din Kiev)

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.

Jul 11

St. Sophia Cathedral (Catedrala Sf. Sofia)

St. Sophia Cathedral is one of the most impressive cathedrals in Kiev. Tourists from all over the world who come to Kiev do not miss their chance to visit the most renowned landmarks of the city. There is a fee which has to be covered when entering the cathedral, but it is all worth it. The architectural design is outstanding.

The cathedral is actually the first edifice of its kind on the Ukrainian territory to have been included in the World Heritage List. This goes to prove just how valuable this construction is.

In addition to the main building which is actually the cathedral under discussion, there are other constructions which are a part of the monastic ensemble (the bell tower, the House of Metropolitan, etc.). The cathedral has been administered by the Ministry of Regional Development up until 2010, but afterwards, it came under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Culture.



The explanation is more of a practical nature. The fact is that UNESCO World Heritage Program considers both this cathedral and the Monastery of the Caves (also located in Kiev) as being part of a sole ensemble. But the edifices were under different jurisdictions. So the contradiction had to be resolved in a way, and the obvious solution was to have them both be administered by the same Ministry.

St. Sophia’s Cathedral has been erected in 1037 by Prince Yaroslav the Wise. The construction consists of 5 apses, 5 naves and 13 cupolas, and while the exterior decorations are no longer noticeable, tourists still have the possibility to gaze on beautiful frescos and mosaic works which have been wonderfully preserved at the interior of the cathedral since the 11th century.



By 1240, the cathedral was in a bad condition, but renovations were by no means initiated. Thus for 4 centuries, the construction was left to chance. It was not until 1633 that restoration work on the cathedral began. The architect behind the project was Octaviano Mancini, of Italian origin, who preserved the interior of the church unchanged, but added a new architectural design on the exterior – elements representative for the Baroque style.

The cathedral was finally restored to the fullest in the 18th century (1740). In the years to come, the complex was extended to comprise the Bell Tower (1744-1752). But while the building work occurred in the specified timeframe, additional elements were added much later. The golden cupola was actually added in mid-19th century (1852).



The Dining Hall which dates from the 18th century was later on changed to host a museum. At present, exhibitions found here present various models of the city prior to the Mongol invasion (which occurred in 1240), as well as from the 10th up until the 12th century.

The name of the cathedral is given after the edifice which was actually used as inspiration for the construction: the Hagia Sophia Cathedral, located in Constantinople. The name conveyed does not make reference to a specific saint. Hagia Sophia translates into ‘holy wisdom’ and this is the connotation of the name.

In terms of structure, the cathedral is encompassed by galleries on three sides, and the exterior reaches 37 to 55 m.



Initially, the cathedral had quite a different purpose: the rulers of Kiev used it as their burial place. While the catacombs of the majority of them did not survive the passage of time, there is one tomb still standing: that of the founder of the cathedral, Yaroslav the Wise.

The cathedral, as well as the adjacent buildings, has been used for various ceremonies and official events. The wonderful architecture and the historical weight it carries make the St. Sophia Cathedral a must-see touristic attraction.