In the Middle Ages, Russia was evangelized from Kiev. The St. Sophia Cathedral was built in the middle of the 11th century and was one of the largest buildings in Europe at the time. The monastery has been a museum complex since 1926, which consists of several churches, monasteries and monks’ caves.
St. Sophia Cathedral and Pechersk Lavra in Kiev: Facts
|Official title:||St. Sophia Cathedral and Lavra Pechersk Pechersk Lavra in Kiev|
|Cultural monument:||the St. Sophia Cathedral, in the 11th century one of the largest buildings in Europe, thirteen-domed and five-aisled with two stair towers, floor plan of 37×55 m, in the main dome a 4 m medallion with Christ as ruler, in the apse 6 m representation of the Mother of God Oranta, Scenes of the apostle communion; Kiev-Pechersk Lavra with Upper and Lower Lavra|
|Meaning:||Symbol of the “new Constantinople” and starting point for the Orthodox missionary work in Russia|
St. Sophia Cathedral and Pechersk Lavra in Kiev: history
|980-1015||under the reign of Vladimir the Holy introduction of baptism according to the Byzantine rite|
|988||Christianity becomes the state religion|
|1019-54||under Yaroslav the Wise: 1037 laying of the foundation stone for the St. Sophia Cathedral|
|1051||Establishment of the Kiev-Pecherskaya Lavra, the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra|
|1106-08||Trinity Gate Church|
|1596-1647||Petro Simonovich Mohila, who was appointed head of the cave monastery in 1627 and founded the school of the cave monastery in 1631; he was appointed Metropolitan of Kiev in 1632|
|1680-1752||Johann Gottfried Skull, in Kiev since 1731 and architect of the bell tower of the Pechersk Lavra|
|1698-1701||Fortification of the cave monastery with circular walls and watchtowers|
|1745||Completion of the bell tower of the Kiev Pechersk Lavra|
|1848-63||Renovation and structural changes to the St. Sophia Cathedral|
|1926||Conversion of the cave monastery into a cultural and historical museum|
Wisdom and piety
In the descriptions of the German chronicler Thietmar von Merseburg, Kiev was a city with more than 400 churches and eight markets, while Adam von Bremen, canon in Bremen in the 11th century, called her the »rival of the scepter of Constantinople and the most beautiful gem of Greece Kulturkreis «looked at. Even if there were so many churches in Kiev neither in Thietmars nor in later times, the descriptions show the attraction Kiev must have exerted on its visitors even then. Even today, the Ukrainian capital, stylized as the “mother of Russian cities”, is able to cast its spell over travelers.
In the midst of its beating heart rises proudly the St. Sophia Cathedral, whose eventful fate is closely linked to ancient Russia. In 988, Vladimir the Saint commanded his subjects to be baptized according to the Byzantine rite, and “whoever did not do it out of love did it out of fear of the one who commanded it, because in him both were united – orthodoxy and power.” His son, Yaroslav the Wise, had the foundation stone laid for the St. Sophia Cathedral in the 11th century – the symbol of liberation from “pagan darkness” turned to stone.
The five-aisled cross-domed church was built on the model of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople and was intended to demonstrate the equality of Rus with Byzantium. The number of domes, which symbolize Christ surrounded by his twelve apostles, as well as the pyramidal structure, which can be traced back to the shapes of the down-to-earth wooden architecture, characterize the silhouette of the church. The interior of the cathedral transports the viewer into the world of old Kiev for a moment, amidst the mosaics reflecting the candlelight and the frescoes that have darkened with time. In the main dome, the mosaic of Christ as the universal ruler and judge of the world opens the pictorial program, while the representation of the Mother of God Oranta in the apse dominates the church. Since the people believed.
The cathedral was the seat of the metropolitan who was installed by the Patriarch in Constantinople, to whom an old Russian national opposition developed in the nearby cave monastery. The founders of the cave monastery are Ilarion, the first Russian metropolitan, and Antonij, a monk dressed on the Áthos. In the first few years, the monks lived in caves that they had dug in the hills above the steep right Dnjeprufer and that formed the starting point for the monastery complex. Later the underground passages were used as burial places for the deceased confreres. The Kiev-Pechersk Lavra quickly gained great national prestige and for centuries it was perhaps the most important cultural and religious center of Old Russia. The monks of the monastery lived according to ascetic rules, »in tears, fasting,
The entrance to the monastery area is shown by the Trinity Gate Church, built in the 12th century, with a curved tower roof. The Near and Far Caves are a magnet for visitors. Faint candlelight shines through the oppressively narrow corridors. The deceased monks rest in niches, mummified and guarded suspiciously by their black-clad contemporaries. Among the deceased are said to be the mummies of the monks Alimpij, the first Russian painter, and Nestor, the first Russian chronicler. In the Nestor Chronicle named after him, also known as the »Tale of the Past Years«, it is reported »where the Russian land began from, who began to rule in Kiev, and how the Russian land came into being.«