The Kiev Pechersk Lavra: A Historical Wonder of Ukraine’s Capital

Dear friends,

Today we will talk about one of the most amazing and gorgeous creations of historical culture of Ukraine, namely: The Kiev Pechersk Lavra.

The Kiev Pechersk Lavra, Kyiv Pechersk Lavra, or more simply, the Kiev Monastery of the Caves, is an Eastern Orthodox Christian monastery within Kiev’s Pechersek Raion district. The particular name “Kiev Pechersk Lavra” roughly translates as “Kiev Cave(s) Monastery,” with pechersk being the Ukrainian word for “cave.”

Kyiv Pechersk Lavra

The cave portion of its namesake is relevant, as the complex originated as a subterranean monastery founded by Saint Anthony of Kiev during the 11th century, partly because it overlooked the Dnieper River. The land was eventually given to the Antonites by King Iziaslav the first, with the initial structures of the monastery being built by architects of Constantinople.

A variety of churches and cathedrals have been established around the area, beyond the initial cavernous monastery and include the:

  • The Refectory Church. Which held the funeral service for Pyotr Arkadyevich Stolypin after his assassination in 1911.
  • The Church of All Saints
  • The Church of the Saviour at Berestove. A church strongly associated with Ukrainian rulers and which now mostly serves as a museum.
  • However, it still holds weekly church services.
  • The Church of the Exaltation of Cross
  • The Church of the Trinity
  • The Church of the Nativity of the Virgin
  • The Church of the Conception of St. Anne
  • The Church of the Life-Giving Spring.

Kiev Pechersk Lavra

Notable structures within, and around, Pechersk Lavra include the Great Lavra Bell Tower the Dormition Cathedral, and the Debosquette Wall. The Great Lavra Bell Tower (or Belfry) was the tallest free-standing belfry during the time of its construction, with a total height of 316 feet when counting the cross which tops it (or 96 and a half meters).

The only three bells remain from the Belfry’s construction days, named Balyk, Voznesenskyi, and Bezymiannyi. Its fourth, central bell, named Uspenskyi weighed one ton but was lost. Dormition Cathedral is a recently restored center of worship, having been destroyed during the tumult of the second World War. The Debosquette Wall is a fortification that was established to protect the surroundings of the monastery.

Pechersk Lavra

The caverns of Pechersk Lavra consist of a winding complex of narrow corridors (roughly 5 by 8 feet) which were added to over time, eventually extending far enough to reach parts of Moscow and Veliky Novgorod. This deep penetration is regarded as an explanation for awareness of the church throughout Europe.

Together with the Saint-Sophia Cathedral, it is inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was named one of the Seven Wonders of Ukraine on August 21, 2007, based on voting by experts and the community.

Video: 3D Virtual Travel to Kiev-Pechersk Lavra



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