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St. Sophia Cathedral Kiev

St. Sophia Cathedral was founded in 1037 by Prince Yaroslav the Wise. According to the legend, the temple was erected exactly on the place where the prince defeated the pagan heathen pechenegs.


In the XI-XIII centuries the cathedral was repeatedly ruined - the Polovtsi, the Pechenegs, and especially the devastating destruction of the cathedral was inflicted upon the capture of Kiev in 1240 by Tatar-Mongols led by Khan Baty. The temple was destroyed, but still not destroyed. In 1385 - 90 Metropolitan Cyprian recreated it from the ruins, after which more than three and a half centuries the temple was in desolation. In 1630-ies Kiev Metropolitan Peter Mogila restored the cathedral and founded a monastery with him. Works on the renovation of the temple continued until 1740 year, when he finally acquired the present look.

The bell tower of the St. Sophia Cathedral was built by order of Hetman Mazepa. Until today, the bell has been preserved, cast also on its order, which is located on the second floor of the bell tower and is called "Mazepa".

The threat of destruction hung over the ancient temple complex in the XX century. At the beginning of the 1930-s, the Soviet government decided to destroy Sophia, only the intervention of France, which remembered that Queen Anne (wife of Henry I) was the daughter of the founder of the temple of Yaroslav the Wise, did not allow the destruction of this relic.

Initially, St. Sophia Cathedral was a five-nave cross-domed temple with 13 chapters. On three sides it was surrounded by a two-tiered gallery, and outside it an even wider one-tiered one. The cathedral naves ended in the east with five altar apses. But as a result of the restructuring of the XVII-XVIII centuries the cathedral changed its appearance significantly. The outer galleries were built up, new chapels appeared, crowned with additional domes (now they are 19). The cathedral was whitewashed. The ancient hemispherical form of the heads was replaced by a high pear-shaped form characteristic for the Ukrainian baroque.

The interior of the cathedral preserved a large number of frescoes and mosaics of the 11th century, made by the best Byzantine masters. The palette of mosaics has 177 shades. On the walls of the temple are depicted scenes from the life of Christ and the Virgin, her parents Joachim and Anna, the apostles Peter and Paul, St. George the Victorious, the patron saint of Kiev - the archistrategos Michael and many Orthodox saints.

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