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. Now, following its transfer to Constantinople, the temple will serve a new purpose: as the official representative office of Patriarch Bartholomew in the Ukrainian capital.
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 the famous baroque monument started in 2009 and took place 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 Kyiv Old Town Tour, we visit St.Andrew’s Hill where the church is standing. From the observation deck of St. Andrew’s Church opens one of the most breathtaking views of the city of Kyiv.
Restoration of the exterior of St.Andrew’s Church in Kyiv
After the external fortifications, restorers began to work with the facades 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, the two glorious constructions are similar in style.
The restoration works of the exterior started in 2015 and lasted 2 years. In October 2016, the third stage of restoration work of the interior began. And this time, the church was closed to visitors and parishioners for 5 years.
For the first time in history, in St. Andrew’s Church was restored the throne, which symbolizes the place of the installation of the cross by the Apostle Andrew on St. Andrew’s Hill in the 1st 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.
Unique iconostasis of St.Andrew’s Church in Kyiv
Six art restorers were working on the icons of the iconostasis for 3 years. Experienced craftsmen and restorers of the highest category were involved in the work.
During the restoration works, the restorers got a surprise from their predecessors-colleagues of Soviet times. The restorers 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. It was obvious that the icons in our days are 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 in the “wrong” frames only because some of them fit the size.
13 out of 39 icons of the iconostasis are mixed up. Now the iconostasis is in the exact form it was conceived by Rastrelli and in which it was first realized by St. Petersburg artists.
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 to their places.
Paintings on the walls of St.Andrew’s Church in Kyiv
In total, there are 68 icons from the mid-18th century and 2 large paintings of the 19th century in the church.
Ukrainian Artist Platon Boryspolets created the painting “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.
One of the highlights of St. Andrew’s Church in Kyiv is the stunning painting “Choice of Religion by Prince Volodymyr” by Latvian artist Egginka, which hangs above the stairs leading to the main hall.
This 19th-century masterpiece captures the pivotal moment when Prince Volodymyr of Kyiv made the decision to convert his people to Christianity, a historic event that greatly influenced the cultural and religious identity of Ukraine.
The painting itself is a work of great artistry, with intricate details and vibrant colors that draw the viewer’s eye. It is considered one of the most significant and famous paintings in the church and is a testament to the rich artistic traditions of Ukraine.
Visitors to the church can spend hours admiring the painting, studying its nuances, and reflecting on its historical significance
To enhance the lighting inside the church and allow visitors to better appreciate the beauty of the interior decor, a special system of lamps was installed. This system is designed to illuminate the main elements of the church’s interior.
As part of the final restoration, it is now prohibited to light candles inside the church during church service. This measure was put in place to preserve the church’s delicate and intricate interior decoration.
Visitors to the church can now enjoy the stunning beauty of St. Andrew’s Church without worrying about the safety of lighting candles during the service. The installation of the new lighting system has not only improved visibility but has also helped to preserve the church’s historical and cultural significance.
Pearl of Baroque Architecture in Kyiv
St. Andrew’s Church is an 18th-century masterpiece of baroque art and oil painting that holds great significance in the world of architecture. As a restored Ukrainian gem, it never fails to leave a lasting impression on visitors from all over the globe. The church’s stunning exterior and intricate decoration of the interior will take your breath away, and the experience of being inside will leave a lasting memory. Make sure to take the time to visit St. Andrew’s Church and witness its unique beauty for yourself.
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.
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2 thoughts on “St. Andrew’s Church opens in Kyiv after major restoration”
I am sure I am joined by many in the world in hoping you are safe and well during this war insult on your beautiful country and peoples.
I have just viewed your post regarding St Andrews Church restoration. So much tedious detail and meticulous attention to detail to once again return authenticity to the church. I noted the the restorations were completed during the worst of the Covid 19 outbreak and it seems, just before current invasion and onslaught on your country from Russia. I am curious to know if St Andrews Church has survived the bombing and looting so far in this long war? I very much hope so.
History preservation is so important to the future, most especially to a war-ravaged country who need to see the familiar infrastructure to remind the of how far they have come, remind them of how life was and how it can be again, give hope and determination for people to recover from the devastation and loss. I believe this is also true for those of us who have not experience what your people are going through, that is, to see your country rise from the ashes of war and forge forward also gives hope for the rest of us who could only watch-on in horror.
Best regards to you, your family and your country folk.
Hi Jude! Thank you for stopping by and writing this warm comment to me. The sky fell on my homeland on February 24, 2022. Proud and brave, my people are struggling against the devil enemy. We will withstand.
The pearl of baroque architecture, St.Andrew’s Church is standing and nothing bad has happened to it. How happy I was, showing it to my guests after the long-term restoration. Hopefully, will do it soon again.
Stay with Ukraine! And thank you for your support.