Kyiv is a city with more than a thousand years of history. By the 11th century, it was one of the largest and prosperous centers of civilization in the Eastern Christian world. At that time, there were about 400 churches, 8 markets, and more than 50,000 inhabitants. Thus, as we, Kiev tour guides say – to walk the streets of Kyiv is to walk through layers of history.
There are several temples that are definitely required to visit. Even despite wars and Soviet vandalism, many Orthodox churches have survived throughout the centuries and have undergone many design alterations throughout those times. And as a Kiev private tour guide, I would really like you to get wonderful impressions from exploring the spiritual and religious sights of my beloved city. I have compiled a list of the 4 stunning Orthodox shrines of Kyiv. Check this infographic below. Don’t pick only one temple you like, but try to find the time and see all of them!
- St. Andrew’s Church stands on a hill in the historic center of Kyiv. This beautiful church, rightfully considered to be a real work of art, is among the most remarkable of the Kyiv’s landmarks. It was erected in 1747-1762, at the hill where, according to legend, St. Andrew the Apostle in the 1st century AD set the cross and predicted the emergence of a big city. Famous architect Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli designed this five-domed church with one cupola in baroque style. St. Andrew’s Church is listed by the World Community in the catalog “1000 Wonders of the World. Masterpieces of the humanity of the five continents ”, published in Germany in 2002.
- St.Michael’s Golden-Domed Cathedral was first mentioned in the Primary Chronicle in 1108. At that time, this church was the only one in Kyiv that had a golden cupola, and because of that, it was called the “golden-domed”. In 1934-1936, the сathedral, the bell tower and some of the monastic buildings were demolished by the Soviet authorities in connection with the project of establishing a governmental center here. During 1995-1999, the temple was rebuilt, and in the 2000s some of the 12-century frescos and mosaics were returned to it from Hermitage and Moscow museums.
- Uspensky (Dormition) Cathedral was built from 1073 to 1089 by one of the founders of the Lavra, Anthony Pechersky. Like the Lavra itself, the cathedral experienced several destructions in the history of its existence. Almost completely destroyed by the explosion planned by the Soviet army in 1941, the cathedral was rebuilt between 1998 and 2000. In the eastern part of the cathedral, there is an altar covered with a marvelous iconostasis. It was carved by Poltava masters in the Ukrainian Baroque style. The iconostasis is 25 meters long and 22.5 meters high. Five and a half kilograms of gold leaf were used to decorate the icons.
- St. Sophia Cathedral is Kyiv’s oldest standing church. According to chronicles the foundation of the cathedral was laid in 1011 by the Kyiv Prince Volodymyr the Great. The name of the cathedral “Sophia” derives from Greek and means ‘wisdom’. As it was built as a major metropolitan church, there were held ceremonies of the coronation of princes for the throne of Kyiv and receptions of foreign ambassadors. The cathedral has stunning mosaics and frescos that were created by Byzantine masters. The walls, pillars, and vaults were decorated with amazing frescos. Since 1934 St.Sophia is a national museum and is included in the UNESCO heritage list.
Kyiv is a city of ancient temples, various architecture, rich history, and hospitable people. Everybody will be able to find something for themselves here: vibrant cultural life, picturesque parks, beach recreational locations, dynamic nightlife, and flourishing foodie scene. Monuments, sculptures, and ancient buildings are almost everywhere, as the capital of Ukraine is full of landmarks. Travelers who come to Kyiv for the first time mainly start their Kiev city tours with exploring local temples. The glorious religious shrines are definitely one of the main points of interest of the city and the whole of Ukraine.