Saint Sophia's Cathedral, Kiev
Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kiev is an outstanding architectural monument of Kievan Rus'. The cathedral is one of the city's best known landmarks and the first heritage site in Ukraine to be inscribed on the World Heritage List along with the Kiev Cave Monastery complex.[nb 1] Aside from its main building, the cathedral includes an ensemble of supporting structures such as a bell tower and the House of Metropolitan. In 2011 the historic site was reassigned from the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Regional Development of Ukraine to the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine. One of the reasons for the move was that both Saint Sophia Cathedral and Kiev Pechersk Lavra are recognized by the UNESCO World Heritage Program as one complex, while in Ukraine the two were governed by different government entities.
|Saint Sophia's Cathedral, Kiev|
Собор святої Софії
|Location||National Sanctuary "Sophia of Kiev"|
Holy Sophia Cathedral Complex
Shevchenkivskyi District, Kiev
|Heritage designation||Seven Wonders of Ukraine|
|Years built||11th century|
|Length||29.5 m (97 ft)|
|Width||29.3 m (96 ft)|
|Dome height (outer)||28.6 m (94 ft)|
|Official name||Kiev: Holy Sophia Cathedral and Related Monastic Buildings, Kiev Pechersk Lavra|
|Criteria||i, ii, iii, iv|
|Inscription||1990 (14th Session)|
In Ukrainian the cathedral is known as Sobor Sviatoyi Sofiyi (Собор Святої Софії) or Sofiyskyi sobor (Софійський собор).
The complex of the cathedral is the main component and museum of the National Sanctuary "Sophia of Kiev" which is the state institution responsible for the preservation of the cathedral complex as well as four other historic landmarks across the nation.
The cathedral's name comes from the 6th-century Hagia Sophia cathedral in Constantinople (meaning Holy Wisdom, and dedicated to the Holy Wisdom rather than a specific saint named Sophia) (Present-day Istanbul). The first foundations were laid in 1037 or 1011, but the cathedral took two decades to complete. According to Dr. Nadia Nikitenko, a historian who has studied the cathedral for 30 years, the cathedral was founded in 1011, under the reign of Yaroslav's father, Grand Prince of Kievan Rus', Vladimir the Great. This has been accepted by both UNESCO and Ukraine, which officially celebrated the 1000th anniversary of the cathedral during 2011.) The structure has 5 naves, 5 apses, and (quite surprisingly 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. On the inside, it retains mosaics and frescos from the 11th century, including a dilapidated representation of Yaroslav's family, and the Orans.
Originally the cathedral was a burial place of the Kievan rulers including Vladimir Monomakh, Vsevolod Yaroslavich and the cathedral's founder Yaroslav I the Wise, although only the latter's grave survived to this day (see picture).
After the pillaging of Kiev by Andrei Bogolyubsky of Vladimir-Suzdal in 1169, followed by Mongolian Tatars in 1240, the cathedral fell into disrepair. It was also greatly damaged in the 16th century when Poland and Ukraine were trying to unite Catholic and Orthodox churches. At this period the Cathedral was almost ruined: its roof decayed and a lot of wall paintings had gone. Following the 1595-96 Union of Brest, the Cathedral of Holy Sophia belonged to the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church until it was claimed by the Moldavian Orthodox metropolitan Peter Mogila (Mohyla) in 1633. Mogila commissioned the repair work and the upper part of the building was thoroughly rebuilt, modeled 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 until 1767. During this period around Holy Sophia Cathedral a bell tower, a monastery canteen, a bakery, a "House of Metropolitan", the western gates (Zborovsky gates), a Monastic Inn, a Brotherhood campus and a bursa (seminary) were all erected. All of these buildings, as well as the Cathedral after the reconstruction, have distinctive features of Ukrainian Baroque.
After the Russian Revolution of 1917 and during the Soviet anti-religious campaign of the 1920s, the government plan called for the cathedral's destruction and transformation of the grounds into a park "Heroes of Perekop" (after a Red Army victory in the Russian Civil War in Crimea). The cathedral was saved from destruction (the opposite St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery was destroyed in 1935) primarily with the effort of many scientists and historians. Nevertheless, in 1934, Soviet authorities confiscated the structure from the church, including the surrounding 17th–18th-century architectural complex and designated it as an architectural and historical museum.
Since the late 1980s Soviet, and later Ukrainian, politicians promised to return the building to the Orthodox Church. Due to various schisms, and factions within the Church the return was postponed as all Orthodox and the Greek-Catholic Churches lay claim to it. Although all of the Orthodox churches have been allowed to conduct services at different dates, at other times they are denied access. A severe incident was the funeral of Patriarch Volodymyr of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Kiev Patriarchate in 1995 when riot police were forced to prevent the burial on the premises of the museum and a bloody clash took place. After events such as those no religious body has yet been given the rights for regular services. The complex now remains a secular museum of Ukraine's Christianity, with most of its visitors being tourists.
On 21 August 2007, the Holy Sophia Cathedral was named one of the Seven Wonders of Ukraine, based on votes by experts and the internet community.
The Virgin Orans, c. 1000
- Sophia Cathedral
- Bell tower
- House of the Metropolitan
- Refectory Church
- Brotherhood building
- Bursa (high school)
- Southern entrance tower
- Zaborovsky Gate
- Monastic Inn
- Memorial Stela of Yaroslav's library
- In late 2010 a UNESCO monitoring mission was visiting the Kiev Pechersk Lavra to check the situation of the site. At the time the Minister of Culture Mykhailo Kulynyak stated the historic site along with the Holy Sophia Cathedral was not threatened by the "black list" of the organization. The World Heritage Committee of UNESCO decided in June 2013 that Kiev Pechersk Lavra, and St Sophia's Cathedral along with its related monastery buildings would remain on the World Heritage List.
- "7 чудес України - Новини". Archived from the original on 18 August 2007. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
- Kyiv Pechersk Lavra, St. Sophia Cathedral remain on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, Interfax-Ukraine, 20 June 2013, archived from the original on 24 June 2013
- "Міністерство культури України". Archived from the original on 11 July 2015. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
- "Міністерство культури України". Archived from the original on 21 July 2012. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
- Голос України.–2011.–9 лютого. Міністерств багато, а Софія Київська – одна.–Градоблянська Т. (government website) Archived 2012-07-16 at Archive.today
- Facts.kieve.ua Archived 2010-01-17 at the Wayback Machine
- Booklet "The Millenary of St. Sophia of Kyiv" by Nadia Nikitenko, Kiev 2011
- Forgotten Soviet Plans For Kyiv, Kyiv Post (28 July 2011)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kiev.|
- 3D-model of Sophia Cathedral (3.2 Mb)
- (in Ukrainian) Official Website of the museum
- Holy Sophia Cathedral - Kiev History Site
- (in Russian) Sobory.ru - information about the cathedral
- Travel.kyiv.org - information for tourists
- Mosaics and frescoes of St. Sophia Cathedral
- (in Ukrainian) Софійський собор in Wiki-Encyclopedia Kiev
- (in English) Must see places in Kiev - Holy Sophia Cathedral[permanent dead link]
- Mosaics and Frescoes of St. Sophia's Cathedral of Kiev. Photoalbum. Kiev, Mistectvo, 1975.