Golden Gate, Kiev

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Coordinates: 50°26′56″N 30°30′48″E / 50.44889°N 30.51333°E / 50.44889; 30.51333

Golden Gates
View of the Golden Gates after recent major renovations
View of the Golden Gates after recent major renovations
General information
Status Used as a museum
Type Fortifications
Address Volodymyrska St, 40А
Town or city Kyiv
Country Ukraine
Current tenants Golden Gates Museum
Construction started 1017
Completed 1024
Owner National Sanctuary "Sophia of Kyiv"
Other dimensions 10.5 m (34 ft) wide x 32 m (105 ft) high

The Golden Gates of Kyiv (Ukrainian: Золоті ворота, Zoloti vorota) was the main gate in the 11th century fortifications of Kyiv, the capital of Kievan Rus'. It was named in imitation of the Golden Gate of Constantinople. The structure was dismantled in the Middle Ages, leaving few vestiges of its existence. It was completely rebuilt by the Soviet authorities in 1982, though no images of the original gates have survived. The decision has been immensely controversial, for there were many competing reconstructions of what the original gate might have looked like.[1]

The rebuilt structure on the corner of Volodymyr street and Yaroslaviv Val Street contains a branch of the National Sanctuary "Sophia of Kyiv" museum. The name Zoloti Vorota is also used for a nearby theatre and a station of the Kiev Metro.


Bolesław I of Poland and Sviatopolk the Accursed at Kiev, in a legendary moment of hitting the Golden Gate with the Szczerbiec sword. Painting by Jan Matejko

Modern history accepts this gateway as one of three constructed by Yaroslav the Wise. The golden gates were built in 1017-1024 (6545 by the Byzantine calendar) at about the same time the Saint Sophia Cathedral was erected. Despite the belief of an older construction such as the painting by Jan Matejko of hitting the Golden Gate during the iev succession crisis in 1018) it is now regarded a legend. Originally named simply the Southern Gate, it was one of the three main entrances to the walled city, along with the Lyadski and Zhydivski (Polish and Jewish) Gates.[2] The latter two have not survived. The stone fortifications stretched for only 3.5 km. The fortification of the Upper City (Fortress) stretched from the Southern Gates down to what is now Independence Square and where the Lechitic Gate (Polish Gate, Lackie wrota)[3] was located. From there the moat followed what is now Kostyol Street, skirting St. Michael's Monastery and continuing along today's Zhytomyr Street toward the Jewish Gates (at Lviv Square). From there the fortification stretched what is now Yaroslaviv Val ("Yaroslav's Rampart") Street back to the Southern Gate.

In the 1970s, prior to reconstruction, the Golden Gate still retained its traditional shape, a shape that had been remembered for centuries.

Later the Southern Gate became known as the Great Gate of Kiev. After the Blahovist Church (Church of the Annunciation) was built next to the gates, its golden domes became a prominent landmark easily visible from outside the city. Since then, the gateway has been referred to as the Golden Gate of Kiev. The gate's passageway was about 40 feet high and 20 feet wide. For almost half a millennium, it served as the city's Triumphal Arch, a prominent symbol of Kiev. It was reputedly modeled on the Golden Gate of Constantinople. Later a similar name was given to the gates of Vladimir city where one of the Monomakh's descendants, Andrei I Bogolyubsky, established his own state, the Grand Duchy of Vladimir. In 1240 it was partially destroyed by Batu Khan's Golden Horde.[4] It remained as a gate to the city (often used for ceremonies) through the eighteenth century, although it gradually fell into ruins.

In 1832 Metropolitan Eugenius had the ruins excavated and an initial survey for their conservation was undertaken. Further works in the 1970s added an adjacent pavilion, housing a museum of the gate. In the museum visitors can learn about the history of construction of the Golden gate as well as ancient Kiev.

The view of the gate from the "city side"
Yaroslav the Wise monument in front of the gate

In 1982, the gate was completely reconstructed for the 1500th anniversary of Kiev, though this was challenged. Some art historians called for this reconstruction to be demolished and for the ruins of the original gate to be exposed to public view.[citation needed]

In 1989 with the expansion of the Kiev Metro, Zoloti Vorota station was opened nearby to the landmark. Its architectural assemble is based on the internal decorations of ancient Ruthenian churches.

In 1997, the monument to Yaroslav the Wise was unveiled near the west end face of the Golden Gate. It is an enlarged bronze copy of an experimental figuring by Kavaleridze.

Church above the passage of the Golden Gate[edit]

In addition to mentioning the construction of the church above the passage of the Golden Gate in the chronicle, it is also mentioned in Metropolitan Ilarion's "Word of Law and Grace" of the Golden Gate[5].

Gate Church had to serve "the heavenly protection of the city"[6], but was also a regular church - people arrived to pray there[7].

The bell chapel is reproduced in the form of a three-nave four-pillar single-dome temple. In the architectural decoration of the facades used ornaments from the brick, typical for the ancient buildings of that period. The floor of the church is decorated with a mosaic, the picture of which is based on the ancient floor design of Saint Sophia`s Cathedral in Kyiv.

Reconstruction of the monument reproduces the segments of the shaft adjoining to the gate. On the outside they have suspended slopes. At the top of the shaft there are wooden bunks. On the ends conventionally shown internal structures. From the city side on the facade there are warehouses. Inside the restored shaft segments there is an exposition of the Museum of the Golden Gate and the stairs leading to the balcony, from which a magnificent panorama of the city is visible.

The square near the Golden Gate[edit]

The square was created in the 2nd half of the 19th century around the Golden Gate. Botanical natural monument was created by the decision of the Kyiv executive committee № 363 20 March 1972.

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ In the Ipatiev Chronicles of that period (1146-1151) mention is frequently made of the "Jewish gate" in Kiev. In 1124 the Jewish quarter of Kiev was destroyed by fire. [in:] S. M. Dubnow, Simon Dubnow, Israel Friedlaender. History of the Jews in Russia and Poland. 2001. p. 10
  3. ^ "Lacka Brama, którą latopis wymienia w 1151 - była jedną z czterach głównych bram tzw. grodu Jarosława (były jeszcze Węgierska, Złota w następnych doszła również Żydowska), która prowadziła na płd. wsch., w kierunku uroczyska Ugorskie. [w:] Goranin. Latopis kijowski 1118-1158. 1995; "już w grodzie Jarosława przy bramie lackiej istniała Lacka Słoboda - dzielnica, Polaków, obok dzielnicy Niemców i Włochów, a przy cerkwi Mikołaja - targowa osada węgierska" [w:] T.M. Trajdos. Kościół Katolicki na ziemiach ruskich Korony i Litwy za panowania Władysława II Jagiełły, 1386-1434. 1982
  4. ^ The next day the Mongols surrounded the city, but they concentrated their catapults against Kiev's obvious weak point—the battlements that flanked the Polish Gate, the only part of the city walls constructed of wood. [in:] Thomas J. Craughwell . The Rise and Fall of the Second Largest Empire in History. 2010. page 184
  5. ^ Bondar, S.V. (1993). The Word of Law and Grace / Translation from the Old Russian by S.V. Bondar / / History of Philosophy of Ukraine: Hestomatyya. Kyiv: Lybid. p. 21. 
  6. ^ Nikitenko, L. G.; Ivakin, L. G.; Kirkevich, V.G. (2011). Orthodox Shrines of Kiev. Kyiv: Technics. p. 10. 
  7. ^ Nikitenko, M.M. (2006). The Phenomenon of the Nativity Churches in Kyiv. Kyiv: Kyiv-Mohyla. pp. 339 —341. 

External links[edit]