Great Golden Gate of Kyiv

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Golden gate in Kyiv

The Great Golden Gate of Kyiv, also known as The Golden Gate or «Zoloti Vorota» in Ukrainian, is one of the finest samples of fortification architecture in Eastern Europe. It is also one of very few historical monuments remaining from the Kyivan Rus period. «Destinations» narrows down the most interesting facts from the Kyiv Golden Gate history.

The Great Golden Gate of Kyiv was built as a beautiful entryway that leads into the old city of Kyiv by prince (knyaz’) Yaroslav the Wise in 1037. It was constructed at about the same time as St. Sophia Cathedral and the upper city fortifications, and functioned as the main triumphal entrance and as a defendable portal to the fortified section of the city. It used to be a wide arch with combat ground on it, in the center of which white stone church was built. The height of roadway part of gate was 12 m while the width was 6.9 m. The passageway probably had a wooden or gilded gate, and there may have been turrets on the tower. The Church of the Annunciation with a gilded dome accomplished the passage. Hence, gate got its name "Golden".
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stone monument to Yaroslaw the Wise near wooden wall

In 1240 the Golden Gate was partially destroyed by the Mongols. It remained in use as a portal to the city until the middle of the 16th century. When in 1648, after the Battle of the Yellow Waters the army of hetman Bogdan Khmelnitsky entered Kyiv, soldiers were walking on ruins - only two walls with three arches remained standing after dramatic fight.

old semi-ruined stone wallsIn the middle of 19th century, work was done to clean up and strengthen the ruins. However, masonry, opened to wind and precipitation, continued to deteriorate, causing a constant concern of scientists. The ruins were excavated by the archeologist Kindrat Lokhvytsky, and the structure was reinforced with a metal framework. Only the brick and stone walls and portions of the arch remained. On the outside of the walls one can see impressions left by the oak-beam framework of the walls that used to encircle the old city of Kyiv. Based on archeological excavations, scholars have created various models of the original Golden Gate, which was last restored in the early 1980s.

Golden gate in Kyiv on reconstruction

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The Great Golden Gate of Kyiv or commonly known as Golden Gate is one of the few buildings of Kyiv Rus, which have come down to our days. It is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Photo source: shutterstock.com 

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