St. Sofia cathedral

St. Sofia cathedral
Vladimirskaya str., 24
+38(044) 278 26 20

St. Sofia Cathedral was founded by Grand Duke of Kiev Yaroslav Mudriy (Yaroslav the Wise) in 1037 and became the main church of Kievan Rus. Today Sofia complex is included in the UNESCO world-wide heritage list.

History of creation

St. Sofia Cathedral was founded in 1037 by Yaroslav Mudriy (Yaroslav the Wise). By the legend the cathedral was built right in the place were Yaroslav Mudriy gained a victory over heathen pechenegs. The cathedral has been constructing for more than 10 years by Old Russian and Byzantine art masters. Only in 1049 the metropolitan of Kiev Feopemt have consecrated the majestic building. Sofia became the main temple of the country — here ceremonies of ascending the throne were held, here Kiev Grand Duke received the foreign ambassadors, here were placed the burial-vaults of grand Dukes. In St. Sofia Cathedral Yaroslav the Wise had founded first Kievan Rus library — here a chronicle was kept and old books were rewritten and translated. In that time Kievan Rus was one of the largest civilized countries in Europe — it had wide trade and diplomatic connections with countries of West and East, and many kings of European countries considered it an honor to become related with Grand Duke of Kiev.

In XI-XIII centuries cathedral was repeatedly ravaged — by polovtsy, pechenegs, and especially seriously by Tatar Mongols who captured Kiev in 1240 under the leadership of Batiy khan. The cathedral was ruined but not annihilated — the Batiy khan forces «have spared its marvelous beauty».

The threat of cathedral destruction appeared in XX century. In the beginning of 1930th soviet power has decided to abolish St. Sofia Cathedral complex, and only the interference of France where remembered that Queen Anna (the wife of Henry I) was the daughter of Yaroslav the Wise, who founded St. Sofia Cathedral, kept this relic from ruining. Communist was afraid of international scandal — so Sofia museum-reserve appeared in 1934. Research and restoration works was started.

The interior design

The main richness of St. Sofia Cathedral is its mosaics and frescos. The mosaics of main altar, columns and main dome — are the art masterpieces. The main relic of the Cathedral already for many hundred years is a mosaic icon of the Blessed Virgin, named «inviolable wall». Many centuries a legend exists — until the «inviolable wall» is safe as long Kiev will be.


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