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Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kiev
Sights - Kiev churches and cathedrals - Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kiev

Official name: Saint Sophia Cathedral
Adress: Kiev, Volodymyrska street, 24
Built: 1017
Main information:

     Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kiev (Kiev Sofia, Hagia Sophia) is located in the city center, in the old (High) town and was built during the reign of Yaroslav the Wise in the beginning of 11th century. It makes the Church an incredibly valuable cultural heritage of Ukraine. St Sophia Cathedral is a part of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Ukraine.
     St. Sophia Cathedral - the most important historical architectural monument of the period of Kievan Rus.  According to the common version, the construction of St. Sophia Cathedral was finished during the rule of  Prince Yaroslav the Wise, the question for historians - was it laid before the Yaroslav the Wise by prince Vladimir Svjatoslavovich or not. Temple was built in accordance of the model of Hagia Sophia cathedral in Constantinople (modern Istanbul) in honor of Virgin Orans meaning “Holy Wisdom”.


     Originally Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kiev was the place for rich celebrations and ceremonies. Here were held meetings with the ambassadors and special guests. Then cathedral  was a burial place of the Kievan rulers including Vladimir Monomakh, Vsevolod Yaroslavich and of course the cathedral's founder Yaroslav I the Wise, although only the latter's grave survived to our days.
     Hagia Sophia in Kiev was constructed mainly by the and under management of  Greece masters. It was built in the ancient Byzantine traditions of architecture. The cathedral’s structure has 5 naves, 5 apses, and (quite unusual for Byzantine architecture) 13 cupolas. It is surrounded by two-tier galleries from three sides. Measuring 37 to 55 m (121 to 180 ft), the exterior used to be faced with plinths. The interior of church is rich on mosaics and frescos. The interior compositions represents the life of Yaroslav's family and in the upper center of main cupola  is situated the Orans. Inside the St Sophia Cathedral on the roof, or as it is called, the choir, the princes, with their families proclaimed decrees, or simply greeted dignitaries.
     Church was attacked and robbed countless times but it’s exterior and interior miraculously survived till nowadays almost originally from 11th century. As for the interior decoration of the cathedral, there is much less damage than the outside. In pristine condition to have survived the drawings, mosaics and paintings made by another Byzantine masters.
     On the walls of St. Sophia Cathedral were made labels that reflect the basic chronology of each period, and it was possible to trace which public events taking place in politics. Total inscriptions found about 300. On the very first inscriptions, scientists were able to establish the period when it was completed interior of the church.

     The final, present look St Sophia Cathedral gained after some renovations in exterior and interior in 17th  century, that was fully finished in the year 1740. The renovations of exterior were made by the Italian architect Octaviano Mancini in the distinct Ukrainian Baroque style while preserving the Byzantine interior, keeping its splendor intact. The work continued under the Cossack Hetman Ivan Mazepa, and in 1740 the Cathedral was completed to its present form. Also during this time was built outstanding Sophia Tower. Magnificent iconostasis that currently stands in cathedral was created in the end of 18th century. During the soviet regime St Sophia Cathedral was under the thread of destruction, but it survived sever times. Nowadays St Sophia Cathedral in Kiev is a national museum and no church services being held here.


Interesting facts:

The cathedral was traditionally used as a burial place for Kiev's rulers

In cathedral was kept  St. Martyr Barbara's hand and jaw the of Prince Vladimir the baptizer of Kiev Rus

Saint Sophia cathedral is included in the list of world cultural heritage by UNESCO

Saint Sophia Cathedral - one of the best constructions of the  "before Mongols" period in Kiev, so well preserved to the present day

Sight on map:
Kiev sights