St. Andrew’s Church – is an 18th century monument of architecture, painting and decorative art of world significance. It was built in the years 1747-1762 by design of Italian architect Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli. The construction of the Andrew’s Church is included in the catalog “1000 World Miracles. And also is included into “Masterpieces of Humanity of the Five Continents “, issued in Germany in 2002.
St. Andrew’s Church was built on the order of the Russian Empress Elizabeth as part of the royal residence of the Tsar (Mariinsky) palace. According to the chronicle “Tale of Bygone Years”, the first preacher of Christianity on the lands of Kievan Rus Andrew the Apostle in the 1century AD put a cross on the hill where the church is standing now and predicted the emergence of a Christian city on that land.
Rastrelli – Creator of St.Andrew’s Church
Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli (1700-1771) was born in Florence in the family of the Italian sculptor and architect Carlo Rastrelli, who worked at that time in the court of King Louis XIV. In 1716, Russian Emperor Peter I invited C. Rastrelli to work in Russia, where he came with his assistant – son Francesco.
The architect created about 70 buildings that brought him recognition and fame. The most famous of them – the Winter Palace and the ensemble of the Smolny Monastery in St. Petersburg, the Catherine Palace in Tsar’s Village, the Grand Palace in Peterhof, and the palace complexes in the Baltics. The architectural heritage of Rastrelli in Kiev includes St. Andrew’s Church and Maryinski Palace.
The success of achieving the plan of Rastrelli should be credited to the Russian architect Ivan Michurin, who came from Moscow to Kiev for management of the construction of the Royal Palace and St. Andrew’s Church.
St. Andrew’s Church stands on a very composite from geological point of view sloping hill which is washed out by the spring and groundwater. So the architect conducted a complex engineering-geological investigation of the construction site. Rastrelli never visited Kiev and he didn’t know that soils of the hill were not good enough to support a stone structure. When Michurin realized this he suggested to construct a stylobate – a two-storied building deepened in the hill and its roof was to become a basement for the church.
Masterpiece of Ukrainian Baroque Art
In the design of the facades of St. Andrew’s Church, Rastrelli used cast of iron decoration, which had not been used for religious objects in the Eastern Europe before. The floor was covered with cast-iron plates. Icons for the iconostasis were painted by St. Petersburg painters.
In connection with the emergence of serious problems in the foreign and domestiv polics of the empire, the royal court became indifferent to Kiev. St. Andrew’s Church was removed from the lists of royal palace buildings. In 1768 the church was transferred to the Kiev magistrate. Since 1785 Kiev City Duma took the church under its protection. Nowadays in the temple are held worship services of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church. The church is part of the National Sanctuary “Sophia of Kyiv” as a landmark of cultural heritage.
St Andrew’s Church is very popular with tourists and film makers. Some of the scenes of the Ukrainian comedy “Chasing two hairs” (might correspond to the English proverb “Trying to seat between two chairs”) was shot here. This is why there was installed a monument to the main characters of this movie right in front of the church.