11 years of unprecedented restoration works
St. Andrew’s Church in Kyiv is a world-known architectural monument and UNESCO World Heritage site. It is part of the National Reserve “Sophia of Kyiv” and a museum since 1968.
The church belongs to the state, but since 2018 it has been partially transferred to the use of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
In December 2020, St.Andrew’s Church was finally opened after almost 11 years of major restoration. Such unprecedented work was done for the first time in the history of the church.
The process of restoration of one of the most famous baroque monuments in Ukraine started in 2009 and was organized in three stages: reinforcement of the basement on the hill; restoration of external facades; work on interiors.
Simultaneously with the work on the facades, for the first time ever, was carried out a restoration of the cast-iron stairs leading to the porch of the church. Each step was dismantled, restored, and returned to its original place after the repair and strengthening work.
On the route of my Kiev Old Town Tour, we always visit St.Andrew’s Hill where the church is standing. One of the most breathtaking views of the city of Kyiv opens from the observation deck around St. Andrew’s Church.
Restoration of the exterior of St.Andrew’s Church
After the external fortifications, restorers began to work with the facads of the temple. Scientists sought to recreate as close as possible to the authentic project of the 18th century. The architect of the church, Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli designed it together with the Mariinsky Palace, therefore their style is very similar.
The works of the restoration of the exterior were started in 2015 and lasted 2 years. In October 2016 came time for the third stage of restoration works. And this time, of the interior, thus the church was closed for visitors and parishioners for 5 years.
For the first time in the history of St. Andrew’s Church was restored the throne, which symbolises the place of installation of the cross by the Apostle Andrew on St. Andrew’s Hill in the first century AD.
Amazing efforts were made by restorers with returning to the church the original colors of the walls. There were discovered 13 layers of later centuries of paint that covered the original authentic surface.
The restorers did an impressive work of literally “digging” through these 13 layers using scalpels. In such a way, returning the original color of the walls that were painted according to the project of Rastrelli.
Six art restorers were working on the icons of the iconostasis for 3 years. These are experienced craftsmen, restorers of the highest category.
During the last restoration works, the restorers got a surprise from the predecessors-colleagues of Soviet times. They noticed that the sequence of icons in the iconostasis was uncanonical.
There was found an archival photo of pre-Soviet times with an authentic image of the iconostasis. Where it was obviously seen that the icons were placed in the iconostasis in the wrong order.
It turned out that during the repair works in the 1950s, restorers did not go deep into details of canonicity and placed icons after repair works into “wrong” frames, just because some of them fit in the size.
13 of the 39 icons of the iconostasis have been confused. Now the iconostasis is in the exact form as Rastrelli conceived it and how the St.Petersburg artists implemented it at the beginning.
It was also discovered that two crosses of the iconostasis had disappeared. The restorers assume that they were repulsed in Soviet times. Now the crosses have been restored back on their places.
Paintings on the walls of the church
In total, there are 68 icons of the mid-18th century and 2 large paintings of the 19th century in the church.
Ukrainian Artist Platon Boryspolets created the painting of “Sermon of Apostle Andrew” and presented it for the centenary of the consecration of the church 150 years ago. The painting was made in Paris, as a project work of the author to join the Paris Arts Academy.
Above the stairs hangs a painting of the 19th century “Choice of Religion by Prince Volodymyr” by Latvian artist Egginka.
For a better light inside the church, there was installed a special system of lamps for interior lighting of the main elements, so that visitors could more easily see all its beauty. After the final restoration, it is forbidden to light candles inside the church.
St. Andrew’s Church – is a prominent monument of baroque art and oil painting of world importance of the 18th century. This is a restored Ukrainian architectural diamond that will surely impress the heart of tourists from any part of the world.
Be sure to find time to visit it. You will be impressed by the decoration of the temple and its stunning exterior.
About the Author
Hello! My name is Victoria, I am a private tour guide in Kyiv. If you plan a trip to the Ukrainian capital, I would be happy to customize your perfect Kyiv private tour.
I can create a private tour of Kyiv on a wide range of topics from ancient times to Soviet-era Kyiv, architecture and street art, and local gastronomy.
Just let me know your ideas and I will design a tour built around a theme of particular interest that you wish to learn more about. I will take great professional care of you, making your visit one to remember.