Saint Sophia's Cathedral, Kiev
|Saint Sophia Cathedral (Собор святої Софії)|
|Eastern Orthodox Cathedral|
|Name origin: Hagia Sophia|
|Districts||Shevchenko Raion, National Sanctuary "Sophia of Kiev", Saint Sophia Cathedral Complex|
|Landmarks of complex||Saint Sophia Cathedral, Belltower, Refectory Church, Consistory, House of Metropolitan, Southern entrance tower|
|Length of cathedral||29.5 m (97 ft)|
|- Length w/galleries||41.7 m (137 ft)|
|Width of cathedral||29.3 m (96 ft)|
|- Width w/galleries||54.6 m (179 ft)|
|Height of main dome||28.6 m (94 ft)|
|Styles||Byzantine architecture, Ukrainian Baroque|
|Founded||Eastern Orthodox Cathedral|
|- established 1||Greek-Catholic Cathedral|
|- established 2||Returned to Orthodox Church|
|- date 1||1596|
|- date 2||1630s|
|Government||Ministry of Culture of Ukraine|
|UNESCO World Heritage Site|
|Name||Kiev: Saint Sophia Cathedral and Related Monastic Buildings, Kiev Pechersk Lavra|
|Region||Europe and North America|
|Criteria||i, ii, iii, iv|
|Recognition||Seven Wonders of Ukraine|
Saint Sophia Cathedral is a cathedral temple of Kiev Metropolis (Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople) in 1037-1299 and second one after the Church of the Tithes. Today, it is an outstanding architectural monument of Kievan Rus' and a multi-structural complex-museum. The cathedral is one of the city's best known landmarks and the first patrimony on territory of Ukraine to be inscribed on the World Heritage List along with the Kiev Cave Monastery complex. Aside from its main building, the cathedral includes an ensemble of supporting structures such as a bell tower, the House of Metropolitan, and others. In 2011 the historic site was reassigned from the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Regional Development of Ukraine to the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine. One of the reasons for that move was the fact that both "Sofia Kyivska" and Kiev Pechersk Lavra are recognized by the UNESCO World Heritage Program as one complex, while in Ukraine the two were governed by different government entities.
In Ukrainian the cathedral is known as Sobor Sviatoyi Sofiyi (Собор Святої Софії) or Sofiyskyi sobor (Софійський собор). In Russian it is known as Sobor Svyatoi Sofii (Собор Святой Софии) or Sofiyskiy sobor (Софийский собор).
The complex of the Cathedral is the main component and museum of the National Preserve "Sophia of Kiev" which is the state institution responsible for the preservation of the Cathedral complex as well as four other historic landmarks across the nation.
The cathedral's name comes from the 6th-century Hagia Sophia cathedral in Constantinople (meaning Holy Wisdom, and dedicated to the Holy Wisdom rather than a specific saint named Sophia). According to a less popular theory, its model was the 13-domed oaken Saint Sophia Cathedral in Novgorod (c. 989), which Yaroslav I the Wise determined to imitate in stone as a sign of gratitude to the citizens of Novgorod who had helped him secure the Kievan throne in 1019.
The first foundations were laid in 1037 (or 1011), but the cathedral took two decades to complete. (According to Dr. Nadia Nikitenko, an historian who has studied the cathedral for 30 years, the cathedral was founded already in 1011, under the reign of Yaroslav's father, the varangian [Viking] and Grand Prince of Kievan Rus', Volodymyr/Vladimir/Valdemarr the Great. This info has been accepted by both UNESCO and Ukraine, which officially celebrated the 1000:th anniversary of the cathedral during 2011.) The structure has 5 naves, 5 apses, and (quite surprisingly for Byzantine architecture) 13 cupolas. It is surrounded by two-tier galleries from three sides. Measuring 37 to 55 m (121 to 180 ft), the exterior used to be faced with plinths. On the inside, it retains mosaics and frescos from the 11th century, including a dilapidated representation of Yaroslav's family, and the Orans.
Originally the cathedral was a burial place of the Kievan rulers including Vladimir Monomakh, Vsevolod Yaroslavich and of course the cathedral's founder Yaroslav I the Wise, although only the latter's grave survived to our days (see picture).
After the pillaging of Kiev by Andrei Bogolyubsky of Vladimir-Suzdal in 1169, followed by Mongolian Tatars in 1240, the cathedral fell into disrepair. It was also greatly damaged in the 16th century, when Poland and Ukraine were trying to unite catholic and orthodox churches. At this period Cathedral was almost ruined: its roof decayed and a lot of wall paintings had gone. Following the 1595-96 Union of Brest, the Cathedral of Saint Sophia belonged to the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church until it was claimed by the Moldavian Orthodox metropolitan Peter Mogila (Mohyla) in 1633. Mogila commissioned the repair work and the upper part of the building was thoroughly rebuilt, modeled by the Italian architect Octaviano Mancini in the distinct Ukrainian Baroque style, while preserving the Byzantine interior, keeping its splendor intact. The work continued under the Cossack Hetman Ivan Mazepa until 1767. During this period around Saint Sophia Cathedral were erected bell tower, monastery canteen, bakery, House of Metropolitan, western gates (Zborovsky gates), Monastic Inn, Brotherhood campus and bursa (seminary). All of these buildings as well as the Cathedral after the reconstruction have distinctive features of Ukrainian Baroque.
After the Russian Revolution of 1917 and during the Soviet antireligious campaign of the 1920s, the government plan called for the cathedral's destruction and transformation of the grounds into a park "Heroes of Perekop" (after a Red Army victory in the Russian Civil War in Crimea). The cathedral was saved from destruction (the opposite St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery was destroyed in 1935) primarily with the effort of many scientists and historians. Nevertheless, in 1934, Soviet authorities confiscated the structure from the church, including the surrounding 17th–18th century architectural complex and designated it as an architectural and historical museum.
Since the late 1980s Soviet, and later Ukrainian, politicians promised to return the building to the Orthodox Church. Due to various schisms and factions within the Church the return was postponed as all Orthodox and the Greek-Catholic Churches lay claim to it. Although all of the Orthodox churches have been allowed to conduct services at different dates, at other times they are denied access. Most memorable was the funeral of Patriarch Volodymyr of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church - Kiev Patriarchy in 1995, when riot police were forced to prevent the burial on the premises of the museum and a bloody clash took place. After events such as those no religious body has yet been given the rights for regular services. The complex now remains a museum of Ukraine's Christianity, with most of its visitors being tourists.
On 21 August 2007, the Saint Sophia Cathedral was named one of the Seven Wonders of Ukraine, based on votes by experts and the internet community.
Cathedral complex 
- Sophia Cathedral
- Bell tower
- House of the Metropolitan
- Refectory Church
- Brotherhood building
- Bursa (high school)
- Southern entrance tower
- Zaborovsky Gate
- Monastic Inn
- Memorial Stela of Yaroslav's library
See also 
- Architecture of Kievan Rus'
- List of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Ukraine
- Saint Sophia Cathedral in Novgorod
- Saint Sophia Cathedral in Polotsk
- Seven Wonders of Ukraine
- Інформація щодо передачі заповідників, зокрема Софії Київської, у сферу управління Мінкультури
- Голос України.–2011.–9 лютого. Міністерств багато, а Софія Київська – одна.–Градоблянська Т. (government website)
- 32-page booklet "The Millenary of St. Sophia of Kyiv" by Nadia Nikitenko, Kyiv 2011
- Forgotten Soviet Plans For Kyiv, Kyiv Post (28 July 2011)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kiev|
- 3D-model of Sophia Cathedral (3.2 Mb)
- (Ukrainian) Official Website of the museum
- Saint Sophia Cathedral - Kiev History Site
- (Russian) Sobory.ru - information about the cathedral
- Travel.kyiv.org - information for tourists
- Mosaics and frescoes of St. Sophia Cathedral
- (Ukrainian) Софійський собор in Wiki-Encyclopedia Kyiv
- (English) Must see places in Kiev - Saint Sophia Cathedral