Kiev-Pechersk Lavra along with Saint-Sophia Cathedral and Related Monastic Buildings are two sites in Kiev that make part of UNESCO World Heritage List. Find out why they are so exceptional.
Kiev-Pechersk Lavra is an architectural ensemble of monastic buildings situated on the plateau overlooking the right bank of the Dnipro River. The ensemble was formed over many centuries in organic combination with the landscape, and acts as a general urban dominant. Founded by St. Anthony and St. Theodosy in the 11th century, the monastery became a prominent spiritual and cultural center that made a significant contribution to the development of education, art and medicine. The architectural ensemble of Kiev-Pechersk Lavra comprises unique surface and underground churches, built from the 11th to the 19th centuries, with a complex of labyrinthine caves, as well as domestic and household buildings from the 17th to the 19th centuries. The architectural ensemble acquired its modern aspect as a result of construction activities in the 17th to the 18th centuries in the heyday of the Ukrainian Baroque.
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The main monuments of the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra ensemble are the Dormition Cathedral, the Trinity Gate Church, the Great Bell Tower, the Church of All Saints, the Refectory Church, the monastery defensive walls with towers, the cave complexes of St. Anthony and St. Theodosy with surface churches, the Exaltation of the Cross and the Nativity of the Virgin and the Church of the Saviour on Berestovo.
For centuries, the Kiev-Pechersk Monastery, with relics of saints buried in caves, has been one of the most important Christian pilgrimage centers in the world.
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Saint Sophia Cathedral, located in the historic center of Kiev, is one of the major monuments representing the architectural and the monumental art of the early 11th century. The Cathedral was built with the participation of local builders and Byzantine masters during the reign of the Great Prince of Kiev, Yaroslav the Wise, as the main Christian Church of the Kievan Rus’ capital. The Cathedral has preserved its ancient interiors and the collection of mosaics and frescoes of the 11th century is unique for its integrity.
Its masterpieces include the Pantocrator, the Virgin Orans, the Communion of the Apostles, the Deisis and the Annunciation. The architecture and monumental art of the Cathedral had a wide influence on the architecture and decoration of the Kievan Rus’ temples. Monastic buildings constructed in the 17th and 18th centuries in the Ukrainian Baroque style surround the Cathedral. The architectural ensemble includes the bell tower, Metropolitan’s house, the refectory, the Zaborovsky gate and the south entrance tower.
Over the centuries, the Cathedral and monastic buildings have expressed a unique harmony of architectural and natural forms. It always held a significant place in the traditional historic landscape of Kiev.
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For an incredible beauty, rich decoration and historic significance these two Kiev sites make an important part of UNESCO World Heritage List.