St. Sophia's Cathedral. The cathedral is a part of St. Sophia's Monastery. The cathedral was constructed in honor of Prince Yaroslav the Wise's victory over the Pechenegs (Asian nomadic tribes) in 1017-31. It was the main metropolitan church of Kyivan Rus'. Ceremonies to designate envoys, public meetings, and the writing of chronicles took place here. The cathedral resembles Byzantine constructions, but there is no direct analogy. The original forms of the Romanesque style were preserved until the 17th century. The church facades were not plastered and were embellished with decorative niches, ornaments, and paintings. The interior reveals the harmonious union of mozaics and fresco paintings in a style similar to the Byzantine capital style. Of great value are the decorative works of the 11th century: the Metropolitan's chair, choir loft. The interior of the cathedral is also embellished with fresco ornamentation, mosaic pavement, marble decorations, etc. The cathedral contained the tomb of the Grand Kyivan Princes--Yaroslav the Wise, Vsevolod, Rostyslav, and Volodymyr Monomakh were buried here (only the sarcophagus of Yaroslav the Wise has been preserved). After the Tatar-Mongol invasion of 1240, the cathedral's condition started to deteriorate. In the 1630s-40s, Petro Mohyla, the Metropolitan of Ukraine, founded a monastery in the cathedral. He also engaged an Italian architect O. Mancini to work on its restoration. In 1685-1707, the cathedral was rebuilt in the Ukrainian Baroque style. A Baroque iconostasis was built in 1731-47.
A four-story (76 meters/ 249 feet), azure and white, stone Bell Tower (1744-52) stands behing the cathedral. The fourth story and gilded cupola of the tower were added in 1852.
Return to Ukraine Orthodox Churches Page