Orthodox Kyiv | Personal guide in Ukraine

Orthodox Kyiv


Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra – was founded in 1051 by the monk Anthony, who created here the first prayer communities, settling in the caves of the future Pechersky monastery. It is from the caves that the monastery takes its name. At the request of Antony, Prince Izyaslav gave the monastery territory, which includes the whole mountain above the caves. In 1062 the monastery was called Pechersky. Since the end of XI century. began to build-up the territory of the monastery. The Assumption Cathedral, the Trinity Gate Church and the Refectory were built.

It was in the walls of the Caves Monastery in 1113 that the chronicler Nestor wrote “The Tale of Bygone Years” – the main source of modern knowledge about Kyivan Rus. The monastery received the status of the lavra in 1688. The lavra was an honorary title, which was awarded only to large and significant monasteries. The Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra becomes a spiritual and cultural-enlightenment centre. In the middle of the XVIII century was formed a unique architectural ensemble of the Lavra, preserved to this day. The Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra became the largest monastery of Kyivan Rus, the area of which was about 30 hectares.

The territory of the monastery includes near and distant caves. It should be noted that the bell tower is 96.5 m high, which until the 20th century was the highest building in Kyiv. In the 1920’s the monastery was closed by making a museum town on its territory. In 1941 The Holy Dormition Cathedral was blown up. Only in 1988 the Lavra was opened, and in 1990 is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage List. In 2000, the Assumption Cathedral was rebuilt. Today, on the territory of the Lavra, there are museums, unique shrines, and in the caves are the relics of saints.

The St. Sophia’s Cathedral – the greatest architectural structure, built by Yaroslav the Wise the Grand Prince in 1037. It preserved until now not only the richness of ancient architecture, but also the picturesque decoration of the 11th century, mainly mosaics and frescoes. Religious and state ideas of that time were embodied in the artistic image of Sophia of Kiev. The ensemble of mosaics is decorated with the main altar of the St. Sofia’s Temple.

Entering the Cathedral, the glance is captured by the majestic figure of the praying Virgin of Oranta (Divine Wisdom), located in the vault of the altar. Frescoes of St. Sophia’s Cathedral are an interesting source of information about the life of the prince’s court and that way of life. They are the only preserved collection of paintings from the period of Kievan Rus. There are graffiti, i.e. ancient Russian inscriptions, which are the most important document of the dating of murals, on the walls of the cathedral.

Apparently, the central part of the building works was performed in the 40’s, and in the galleries – in the 60s of the 11th century. Along with the famous ensembles of Ravenna, Venice, Montreal, Daphne, Palermo, ancient Constantinople, they occupy a prominent place in the treasury of world culture. St. Sophia Cathedral is included in the UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

Vydubytsky Monastery – is located in the Vydubytsky tract, on a hill above the Dnieper. According to the legend, the pagan idol of Perun, thrown into the Dnieper by Prince Vladimir, was “poured out” on the shore. The origin of the name came after underground monastery, which later “poured out” on the surface. Vydubytsky Monastery was founded in the XIth century by Vsevolod Yaroslavich, the Son of Yaroslav the Wise, the Prince. The main temple of the monastery was laid in 1070, which was partially preserved to the present day.

In 1696 -1701 years. St. George’s Cathedral was built in the monastery, where the relics of St. George, Barbara the Great Martyr, John, etc. are represented. Today there is a shelter for elderly clergy, a school for children from low-income families, workshops, a school of church singing and a clinic in the monastery. Previously, there was a cemetery on the territory of the monastery. 13 graves have been preserved until now. There is a well on the territory there, in which one can get healing water.

Zverinets Caves and Archangel Mykhail Monastery – is an ancient Russian abode, it was presumably founded in the XI–XIIth centuries on the territory of the Zverinets that were the hunting grounds of Vsevolod the Kiev prince. It was destroyed in 1096–1097 by the Polovtsi. The caves of the monastery were found at the end of XIXth century. The monastery was partially rebuilt in 1913. A cave church and a small cell were found not far from the entrance to the caves, an underground corridor with 40 tombs is represented to the left of it.

Ancient Russian drawings and inscriptions, including the famous Zverinets Cross have been preserved on the walls. The Archangel Mykhail Monastery was established on the basis of the Zverinets Skete in 2009. Two churches were built: the Zverinets Venerable Fathers Cathedral, the Mother of God Icon Cathedral. The caves of the monastery are a monument of archeology of national importance. According to one version, the library of Yaroslav the Wise could be kept in the caves of the skete. Caves are visited not only by pilgrims, but also by tourists.

St. Cyril Church – the second church after St. Sophia Cathedral, preserved from the times of Ancient Rus in its original form. It is a unique monument of architecture and monumental painting. The church was founded by the prince of Chernigov Vsevolod Olgovich in the first part of the 12th century and was the ancestral family vault of the Olgovichi. The church is named after St. Cyril, the patron of the prince.

According to the origins the first burial place (of Vsevolod’s wife) dates back to 1179. In 1194 the prince of Kiev Svyatoslav Vsevolodovich was buried here. Frescoes of the 12th century, paintings of the 17th century and oil frescoes of the 19th century still exist in this church. During the restoration in the 17th-18th centuries the church acquired the features of Ukrainian Baroque. Nearly 800 square meters of Old Russian frescoes, which have no analogues in any of the monuments of the Orthodox Christianity, have been preserved till this time.

A special place among the oil paintings made during the restoration in the 19th century takes the works of the famous Russian artist Mikhail Vrubel, whose Mother of God is compared with the Sistine Madonna. There are a lot of excursions in the church every day.

Kytaivska hermitage – is an Orthodox monastery in Kytaiv, as known as hermitage, which means an Orthodox monastic settlement remote from the main monastery. It was founded in 1716, when the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra decided to build a separate hermitage. At the beginning of the XVIII century Kytaiv has already been a popular pilgrimage place. The hermitage was known for its gardens, vineyard. In 1930, the hermitage was winded out.

After the archaeological researches in 1993-1994 were built caves with a length of about 100 m, in which is located the Temple of St. Dositheus. Since 1996 the convent has the status of an independent monastery – the Kytaiv Holy Trinity Monastery. The modern monastery is a complex of buildings, the main of which is the Holy Trinity Temple and the Church of the Holy Twelve Apostles, where the relics of all the twelve holy apostles are collected. Today the monastery is a place of pilgrimage for the Orthodox world.

St. Panteleimon Monastery – is a convent on the territory of Feofania current name is taken on behalf of the Chyhyryn bishop – Feofan, the abbot of the St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery, who received a plot for the construction of a summer residence. The main temple of the nunnery was the St. Panteleimon Cathedral, built in the period of 1905-1912 on the territory of the male hermitage, which was attached to the St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery.

Before the revolution, four temples were built here – the Miracle of the Archangel Michael, All Saints, the Volodymyr Icon of the Mother of God and the Cathedral of St. Panteleimon the Great Martyr. During the World War II the monastery was greatly damaged. In the post-war years, the experimental platforms of the Institute of Mechanics of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR were located here. The object was referred to the category of higher secrecy. Since 1990 the monastery was given to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

The Transfiguration Church (Church of the Savior on Berestov) – one of the oldest churches in Kyiv, it is located near the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra. Being outside the Lavra, the church is still considered to be a part of the historical complex related to the World Heritage. The name of the church comes from Berestovo village, which used to be here (now it is the territory of the Glory Park). The village was a suburban estate of Kyiv princes.

According to the annals, the church was built by Volodymyr Monomakh in the beginning of the XII century as the main cathedral of the Transfiguration Monastery, because it is the residence of princes of the Monomakhovich family. Not only the representatives of princely family are buried here, but also Yuri Dolgoruky, Gleb Yuryevich, the Prince of Kyiv. In the XVII century at metropolitan Petra Mohyla, the Athonite masters were invited to work on the murals of the church.

In the XVIII century the temple was reconstructed, and in the XIX century was completed the bell tower. In the 1980s during the excavation, about 80 different graves were discovered. The Church of the Savior on Berestov has been listed in UNESCO World Heritage List since 1990. Until now, not only the church itself, but also its interior with the ancient frescoes of the XII century, has survived.