Add to Travel

Saint Sophia Cathedral

St. Sophia Cathedral is a national shrine and world-famous monument of history, architecture and wall-painting of the Kyivan Rus period.

Being built during the reign of Yaroslav the Wise, the cathedral was a significant spiritual, political and cultural centre. Here was the metropolitan see; here enthronement ceremonies of grand princes and consecrations of metropolitans were held; here foreign ambassadors were received and important agreements were concluded. The cathedral had a unique library, as well as a scriptorium where writing of annals was carried on and where copyists of the manuscripts and translators from Greek into Slavonic worked.

As to the exact date of erection of St. Sophia, debates continue till now – discrepancy is between 1011 and 1037. The name of the cathedral is connected with a religious interpretation of the Greek word “sophia” meaning “divine wisdom”.

The initial dimensions of the cathedral were 43x56 metres in plan, and the height of the central dome above the floor was 29 metres. The temple was more than once remodelled and reconstructed. Within 1685–1707, it was rebuilt in the Ukrainian Baroque style, and a stone three-tiered belfry was erected. In 1852 the fourth tier was added to the belfry and its height made up 76 metres. Preserved at the second tier is the bell dating from the 18th century and weighing 800 poods (13.1 tons). Inside the cathedral, 260 square metres of the wall mosaics and about 3,000 square metres of frescoes have remained intact. In particular, the mosaic portrayal of the Virgin Mary Orant (5.45m high) in the central apse has been preserved quite well; below you can see a large composition The Eucharist and images of the Church Fathers. Of special value among the frescoes is a group portrait of Yaroslav the Wise’s family. He was buried here in the marble sarcophagus which you can see at the side-altar.

Graffiti on the cathedral walls are also a unique source of information about the history of Kyivan Rus.

Information is used from the resource

Stars Reviews 0

Kiev region, 24 Volodymyrska St, Kyiv

50.452854 | 30.51432