St. Sophia Cathedral
Kyiv, 24 Volodymyrska Street
+38 044 278 7662
+38 044 278 6262
Entrance fee: 5 UAH
Museums: 50 UAH
from 10 a.m. till 6 p.m.
The grand Cathedral of St. Sophia (The Holy Wisdom) has been standing dominating the historical centre of the ancient Kyiv for over thousand years. Born in the epoch of the Baptism of Rus, it became the cradle of Kyivan Christianity.
The name of the cathedral comes from Greek word “sophia”, which means “wisdom”, i.e. wisdom of Christianity.
St. Sophia Cathedral was the main church of Kyivan Rus. It was a political and cultural centre of the state. Thus, it was a place of the enthronement of princes, consecrations to metropolitanate, receptions of foreign ambassadors and conclusions of political pacts. The first library and scriptorium of Kyivan Rus were founded in the Cathedral.
The Cathedral has preserved its ancient architecture and the world’s most complete ensemble of the 11th century mosaics and frescoes – masterpieces of Eastern Christian art. In addition, numerous medieval graffiti inscriptions have been preserved on the walls of the Cathedral. They are unique literary texts of the 11th – the beginning of the 18th c. and important primary sources. Of great value are carved parapets of the loft, the remains of the 11th c. floor, 18th glided wooden iconostasis and a marble sarcophagus decorated with carving. In 1054, Yaroslav the Wise, the Grand Prince of Kyiv, was buried in the sarcophagus.
St. Sophia Cathedral is surrounded by the ensemble of monastic buildings (18th c.). These are the outstanding examples of Ukrainian Baroque architecture. In 1633, the Orthodox monastery was established here by Metropolitan Petro Mohyla. The architectural ensemble occupies an area of 5,025 ha and is surrounded by a high wall.
The Bell Tower was erected in the early 17th c. It served as a front gate to the monastic yard from Sofiyska Square. On the second tier, there is a “Mazepa” bell weighting 13 tons. It was cast in the early 18th c. by order and at the expense of Ivan Mazepa.
North of the Cathedral stands the Seminary, erected in the second half of the 18th c. At first, it served as a place of residence for monks. Later, after the closure of the monastery, it housed St. Sophia Theological School (the Seminary). At present, it houses the Archives Museum of Literature and Art of Ukraine.
The Refectory is situated opposite the south side of the Cathedral. It was erected in the first half of the 18th c. Initially, there was the Church of the Resurrection of Lazarus, a dining room and a kitchen. At present, it houses the exhibition dedicated to the architecture and monumental art of the ancient Kyiv.
The Bakery was erected simultaneously with the Refectory. Nowadays, interesting thematic expositions are held in spacious exhibition halls of the Bakery.
The Metropolitan’s Residence is situated opposite the main entrance to St. Sophia Cathedral. It was erected together with the Seminary, the Bakery and the Refectory. After major restoration works in 2005 – 2008, the museum was established there, with reconstructed interiors of metropolitan’s chambers of the 18th – 19th cc. The information about the life and activity of hierarchs is also provided there.
Zaborovskyi Gate is situated west of the Metropolitan’s Residence. It was erected in the middle of the 18th c. and served as a front gate to the metropolitan courtyard. At present, it is used as exhibition hall and children’s centre.
Moreover, in the middle of the 18th c. the Cells of the Cathedral Elders were erected. At the present time, this building houses the storage of the conventional area.
The monuments of the St. Sophia Museum are open to the public. One can visit St. Sophia Cathedral, thematic expositions in the Refectory, the Metropolitan’s Residence and Zaborovskyi Gate, periodical exhibitions in halls of the Bakery and also go up the Bell Tower.
The unique beauty of St. Sophia has earned it the fame of a true wonder of the world. In 1990, St. Sophia Cathedral of the 11th c. and its ensemble of the 18th century monastic buildings were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
In 1994, by Decree of the president of Ukraine St. Sophia Reserve acquired national status.