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Churches & Cathedrals Kyiv

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Kyiv (Kiev) Pechersk Lavra (Monastery of the Caves)

Kiev Pechersk Lavra (Monastery of the Caves)
Kyiv Pechersk Lavra (Monastery of the Caves)

Sichnevoho Povstannya Street, 21, metro stop "Arsenal'na" (red line)

The Kyiv Pechersk Lavra (Ukrainian: Києво-Печерська лавра; Russian: Киево-Печерская лавра), also known as the Kyiv Monastery of the Caves, is an ancient cave monastery in Kyiv. It was founded in 1051 by monks Anthony and Theodosius, and has become an important center of Orthodox Christianity in Kievan Rus'. It's ongoing development and construction followed for the next 9 centuries. The word "pechera" means cave in the Slavic tongue. The word "lavra" is used to describe high ranking monasteries of the Eastern Orthodox Church. The Lavra buildings looked like small towns with their own streets. In Greek "lavra" means "the street".

Kyiv Pechersk Lavra at night
Kyiv Pechersk Lavra at night

Thusly, the name of the monastery is also translated as Kyiv Cave Monastery, Kyiv Caves Monastery or the Kyiv Monastery on the Caves (на печерах). According to the Russian Primary Chronicle, in the early 11th century, Antony, a Greek Orthodox monk from Esphigmenon monastery on Mount Athos, originally from Liubech of the Grand Principality of Chernigov, returned to Rus' and settled in Kiev as a missionary of monastic tradition to Kievan Rus'. He chose a cave at the Berestov Mount that overlooked the Dnipro River and a community of disciples soon grew. Knyaz (prince) Iziaslav of Kiev ceded the whole mount to the Antonite monks who founded a monastery built by architects from Constantinople.

For more than 900 years the imperishable bodies of the monastery's founders - the Venerable Anthony and Theodosius, Agapit the healer, Nestor the Chronicler, and relics of another 118 saints lie here.

There are 102 stone structures set in a 26 hectares area, which are recognized architectural monuments.There are also many wonderful paintings, works of arts, old-painted books and crafts.

St Sophia's Cathedral

St Sophia's Cathedral
St Sophia's Cathedral

Volodymyrs'ka Street, 24, metro stop "Zoloti Vorota" (green line)
Web

Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kiev (Ukrainian: Собор Святої Софії, Sobor Svyatoyi Sofiyi or Софійський собор, Sofiys'kyi sobor) is an outstanding architectural monument from the Kievan Rus' era. Today, it is one of the city's best known landmarks.

The cathedral's name comes from the Hagia Sophia cathedral in Constantinople, Greece. "Sofia" also means "wisdom" in Greek. The first foundations were laid in 1037 by prince Yaroslav I the Wise. The exterior was covered with plinths. The cathedral has 5 naves, 5 apses, and,quite surprisingly for a Byzantine structure, 13 cupolas (domes). The azure and white bell tower is 76meters high and was finished in 1752. It is surrounded by two-tier galleries from three sides. On the inside, it has mosaics and frescos from the 11th century, which were created with a unique technology, depicting Scriptural scenes, individual figures of Church Fathers, Apostles, maidens and warriors.

St Sophia's Cathedral
St Sophia's Cathedral

This majestic cathedral became a holy place of worship for Kyivany, as well as a politicial and cultural center. It was also known as a seat of the Kiev Metropolitan. The first known library in ancient Rus and the first school for boys and girls were both founded by Yaroslav the Wise.

The cathedral achieved its present Ukrainian baroque aspect after its reconstruction in the late 17th century, being completed in 1707.

In 1934 the structure was confiscated by the Soviets and designated as an architectural and historical museum/reserve, including the surrounding 17th/18th century architectural ensemble. The cathedral was the first Ukrainian patrimony to be included in the World Heritage List.

St. Michael's Golden Domed Cathedral

St. Michael's Golden Domed Cathedral
St. Michael's Golden Domed Cathedral

Nearest metro stop: Maidan Nezalezhnosti (blue line)

This multi-tiered church complex is situated just opposite Sophia Cathedral and seems to reign on the steep bank of the Dnipro in all its glory. Originally built by a grandson of Yaroslav the Wise, Kiev Prince Sviatopolk Izyaslavovich in 1108, this cathedral was one of the biggest monasteries of ancient Kyiv. St. Michael's Cathedral, hallowed in the name of Kyiv's saint patron - Archangel Michael. Since the beginning of the thirteenth century the Monastery had kept its prized sacred object - St. Martyr Barbara's relics. Now the relics reside at St. Vladimir's Cathedral.

"The substantial stone construction started in 1710, when the stone refectory, three-tiered belfry and the Cathedrals two large side-chapels were erected. The latter's construction was filled unsuccessfully, and, as a result the Cathedral started to decline in ruin. In 1740 a reinforcment of the abutments to strengthen the walls was done. In 1888 the cathedral was equipped with radiator heating, which also required certain rennovations.

The most noteable construction at the end of the nineteenth - the beginning of the twentieth centuries was the so-called "Inn-court". The Hotel complex of St. Michael's Monastery was built in 5 phases during the period between 1857 and 1907. It became second only to the hotel at the Lavra, as the largest hotel in Kyiv. In addition, in 1898 another noteable building was added; St. Barbara's section. Thus, was created the "background structure" of the Monastery.

St. Michael's Golden Domed Cathedral
St. Michael's Golden Domed Cathedral

The Cathedral's original interior was adorned with Old-Rus' mosaics and frescos. Some of them were discovered during the reconstruction of 1888. The Cathedral's famous altar mosaic composition "Evcharistia" was preserved, and is on exhibit now in St. Sofia Cathedral. Some of the single fresco and mosaic images are now kept in museums of Moscow and St. Petersburg."

St. Michael's Golden Domed Cathedral and some of the Monastery buildings were destroyed in 1934 through 1936 by the Soviet regime of the mid-30s in keeping with their anti-religious propaganda for building a Soviet government center instead. (Currently the Ministry of Foreign affairs building).

Its reconstruction of the original site was completed in 2000 and is a sign of spiritual rebirth of Kiev. The sky blue exterior and glittering golden domes seem a bit too new and shiny for this ancient city, but they are certainly stunning.

Read about the monuments located next to the Cathedral in Kyiv Monuments.

St. Andrew's Church

St. Andrew's Church
St. Andrew's Church

Andriyivs'ky Uzviz, 23

The baroque St. Andrew's Church or the Cathedral of St. Andrew was built in Kyiv between 1747 and 1754, and designed by the imperial architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli.

Overlooking the ancient Podil district from a steep hill, this exuberant and colourful structure with one large dome and five lesser cupolas is one of the city's best known landmarks.

The church was built by a team of Ukrainian masters under Ivan Michurin, the principal architect of Moscow.

It was to replace the older "Church of the Resurrection", on the Women's Market Square (Babiy Torzhok). Legend has it that it was the spot where St. Andrew erected a cross and prophesied the foundation of a great Christian city in what was then a sparsely inhabited area.

Since 1968, the church has been open to visitors as a museum. Occasionally the edifice is used for services of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, one of several national churches unrecognized by major Orthodox patriarchates.

St. Volodymyr Cathedral

St. Volodymyr Cathedral
St. Volodymyr Cathedral

Tarasa Shevchenka Boulvard, 20 (Nearest metro stop: Universytet, red line)

St. Volodymyr's Cathedral is another one of Kiev's major landmarks and the "Mother Cathedral" of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church Kiev Patriarchy. One of two major Orthodox Churches in Ukraine, it is, however, viewed, uncanocical by the Eastern Orthodox Communion. It is one of the three greatest Orthodox churches built in the 19th century, on par with St Isaac's in St Petersburg and Christ the Saviour in Moscow.

In 1852, metropolitan Philaret of Moscow suggested a large cathedral should be built in Kiev to commemorate the 900th anniversary of the baptism of Kievan Rus. People from all over the Russian Empire started donating to this cause, so that by 1859 the cathedral fund had amassed a huge sum of 100,000 rubles. The Kiev Pechersk Lavra (Monastery of the Caves) produced 1 million bricks and donated them to the cathedral as well. The design was executed in a delightful Byzantine style by architects Ivan Schtrom and Alexander Beretti. Being stymied by numerous technical problems, the construction work lagged on for three decades. On August 20, 1896, the cathedral was finally consecrated to St Volodymyr in the presence of Nicholas II and Alexandra Feodorovna.

It is the cathedral's colourful interior that particularly strikes the eye. Mosaics were created by masters from Venice. Frescoes were the work of three outstanding Russian painters of the day: Viktor Vasnetsov, Mikhail Vrubel, and Mikhail Nesterov. Iconostasis is carved from the white marble brought from Carrara.

The construction and interior deco took more than 30 years (1862-96) to complete. This seven dome three-aisled church resembles the buildings of old Ukraine only slightly. Its walls are drenched with ornamental detail. The interior is a reflectiion of the Prince Vladimir period. The main facade is decorated with a double door made of oxidized bronze with enamel, carving and openwork tracery. On the sides of the door are figures of Princess Olga and Prince Vladimir made of embossed bronze and portrayed against a blue enamel background.

St. Nicolas Roman Catholic Church

St. Nicolas Roman Catholic Church
St. Nicolas Roman Catholic Church

77, Velyka Vasylkivska St. (old name Chervonoarmyis'ka Str.) Nearest metro stop: Palace of Ukraine (blue line)

Built by the prominent Kyiv architect Vladyslav Horodetskyi, the Church is immediately recognizable by its two needle like towers stretching up into the sky. It's traditional Gothic style comes from the 1899 through 1909 era. Sculpturing was done in a studio of the sculptor Elio Saal. The Church was re-constructed in 1979-1980. Today it serves as a functioning Catholic Church as well as a concert hall, welcoming anyone who admires organ chamber music, and is considered a "must see".

Church of the Theotokos of Pyrogoshcha

Church of the Theotokos of Pyrogoshcha
Church of the Theotokos of Pyrogoshcha

Kontraktova Ploscha 1, Podil District, nearest metro stop: Kontraktova Ploscha (blue line)

Theotokos Θεοτοκος is Greek for "parent of God" (literally, "whose offspring is god", a bahuvrihi compound of θεος "god" and τοκος "parturition, gestation, offspring", used synonymously is Μητηρ Θεου "Mother of God", often abbreviated to ΜΡ ΘΥ). It is a title assigned by the early Christian Church to Mary, the mother of Jesus, at the Third Ecumenical Council held at Ephesus in 431.

One of the oldest stone buildings in Kyiv, Church of the Theotokos of Pyrogoshcha was destroyed by the Soviets in the 20th century. It was originaly founded in the period 1132 to 1136 during the riegn of Volodymyr Monomach's son Mstyslav at the foot of the Zamkiv mountain in today's Kontraktova district.

Legend has it that the sacred symbol of the Church, being the Icon of the Mother of God/Christ, was saved in the Constantinople tower "Pirgos", and thus the name taken "Church of the Theotkos of Pyrogoshcha". There are several other theories as well.

You cannot be bored walking down Andriyvsky Uzvis. Explore all the crooks, crannies, and corners, because in them you'll find the real masters, who've brought real masterpieces of art, coming from cities and towns all over Ukraine.

Church of the Theotokos of Pyrogoshcha
Church of the Theotokos of Pyrogoshcha

Walls of the Church were decorated by Fresco's. Floors were done with a mosaic flagstone style. In the written sourses of the 16th century the Church is known under the name "Uspens'ka". The Church was destroyed and re-built numerous times, namely in 1613 - 1614 it was re-built by the Italian architect Brachi, then later in the 1870's by the architect Gryhorovych-Bars'kyi, (of who possibly may be buried in the church) in the Barocco style. In the 19th Century it was reconstructed with the elements of classicism.

At the Church's frontal facade, a bell tower was constructed in the 19th Century.
During the middle ages the Church served as a public venue for Kievians. It hosted a school, an orphanage, a hospital for the poor, and a site of the city archives. This Church was a popular place for burial of Kiev-Podil aristocrats. Nearly all of its area occupied with the crypts of 18th - 19th century, which were placed one above the other in 2 and 3 layers.

In the latter 20th Century, excavation revealed the Churches foundation to be 4 meters deep. The most recent rennovation was in 1998.

The Church of the Nativity of Christ

The Church of the Nativity of Christ
The Church of the Nativity of Christ

Poshtova Square, Podil District

Designed by the famous Ukrainian architect A. Melenskiy. The construction of this Church was undertaken from 1809 until 1814.

It was in this church on the 6th and 7-th of May, 1861 that the coffin with the body of the deceased T.G. Shevchenko was layed, while being transported from St. Petersburg to Kaniv. In the face of a tremendous crowd, the archbishop P. Lebedynziv, together with the temple prior J.Geltonigsky met the coffin and held service for the great poet of Ukraine. After that, among Kyiv's citizens the Church was known as the "Church of Shevchenko". In 1930 the Church was destroyed by an order of the Communist government, sharing the same and sorrowful lot with many other unique monuments of Ukrainian architecture.

The Church of the Nativity of Christ reconstruction project was initiated by the order of the Department of Historic, Cultural Monuments and Historic Environment Protection Organization of Kyiv.

Lutheran Church St. Cathrine

Lutheran Church St. Cathrine
Lutheran Church St. Cathrine

22, Lyuteranska Street

Originally built in 1857, the church was closed down by the authorities in 1938 and afterwards used as a goods depot. From 1969 to 1996 it housed the "Museum for the Architecture and Customs of the People of Ukraine". During the renovation, the nave of the church was divided and the front half turned into a community center with facilities for food distribution. Presently the sanctuary, with its nave and galleries, has a sitting capacity of about 600 persons.

A worship celebration on the 29th of October, 2000 marked the re-consecration of the "Evangelical Lutheran Church of St. Catherine in Kyiv", which for six decades had been used for secular purposes. On Advent Sunday 1998, the church had been returned to the German Lutheran congregation for use "free of charge", thereby ending a period of 60 years during which the place of worship had been turned into a warehouse and museum.

The re-consecration of the church by Bishop Edmund Ratz of Odessa followed the conclusion of two years of renovation work. Archbishop Georg Kretschmar of the "Evangelical Lutheran Church in Russia and Other States" (ELCROS) delivered the sermon.

Also dedicated during the October 29 ceremony was the church organ, a gift from a congregation in the Rheine, in Westphalia, Germany.

St. Catherine's congregation in Kiev is the largest of the German Evangelical Lutheran Churches in Ukraine, and is an independent regional church and member of the "ELCROS" fellowship. The origins of the congregation date back to the 18th century, when a German pastor held the first Lutheran worship service in Kiev in 1767. The congregation was reconstituted in 1989-1990 and presently has about 350 members. The majority are descendants of German emigrants to Russia and Ukraine.

There are numerous other wonderful churches and cathedrals in Kyiv. If you would like to share one that you find particularly interesting with the rest of the world, please feel free to send us your info and photos to ubkua@ukr.net and we'll consider posting them here for other travellers to enjoy.



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