Saint Sophia Cathedral - oldest monument of Kiev.
Saint Sophia Cathedral and Sofiivska square with Khmelnitskyi monument.
Interior and ancient wall-painting inside.
Saint Sophia Cathedral stands as the oldest cathedral in Kiev and one of the most amazing historical sites in Ukraine. It was named after the renowned Hagia Sophia cathedral in Constantinople which was built in the 6th century. Due to its rich history and stunning architecture, St. Sophia Cathedral gained recognition on the World Heritage List. It also became one of the Seven Wonders of Ukraine in 2007. This splendid 13-domed cathedral is a must-see. Plus, once you enter the Cathedral complex, you will also witness an impressive world of amazing structures such as a bell tower, the House of Metropolitan and many other buildings along with a museum and various historical treasures.
St. Sophia Cathedral was founded in 1037 by Prince Yaroslav the Wise and it took 20 years to complete it.
In 1169, this place was destroyed and robbed by Andrei Bogolyubsky. Later, in 1240, the cathedral was badly damaged by Mongolian Tatars. Once again, in the 16th century, it was greatly damaged when Ukraine and Poland tried to bring together orthodox and catholic churches. At that time, the cathedral was completely ruined. Its roof and wall paintings were almost gone. In 1633, Bishop Mogila commissioned the renovation work and the upper part of the cathedral was completely built again in the Ukrainian Baroque style. However, the Byzantine interior was kept intact. The work continued until 1767.
During that time, many other remarkable structures were constructed as well such as: Bell Tower, House of Metropolitan, Monastic Inn, Monastery Canteen, Bakery, Bursa (College), Western Gates and Brotherhood Campus. These structures along with cathedral after the restoration represent the distinct Ukrainian Baroque style.
The cathedral has stunning mosaics and frescos that were created back in the 11th century by Byzantine masters. The walls, pillars and vaults have been decorated beautifully with amazing frescos. Along with some religious paintings, there are various secular ones as well. For example, there are some interesting frescos that represent Yaroslav Mudry family members. There is a large mosaic, around 6-meter high, in the cathedral that represents Virgin Mary. The paintings in the belfry date back to the 11th century. They depict games and other entertainments, sponsored by Emperor Constantine, such as race, musicians, dancers, clowns, and so on.
There are many images and notes on the walls that are of great historical value. As many as 300 graffiti unfold many political events and historical personalities that existed many centuries ago.
Be careful when you aim to take some photos, because you might come across a few green-robed ladies, responsible for maintaining order, who will shout at you. When you leave, after exploring the cathedral and other marvelous structures, don’t forget to take a picture with the statue of hetman Bohdan Khmelnytskyi (responsible for liberating Kiev in the 17th century from Poland) on his horse.
Read about another famous place of Kiev - St. Michael's monastery.