Kiev Pechersk Lavra

Kiev Pechersk Lavra (українська. Києво-Печерська лавра, Kyievo-Pechers’ka lavra; русский. Киево-Печерская лавра, Kievo-Pecherskaya lavra), also known as the Kiev Monastery of the Caves, is a historic Orthodox Christian monastery in Kiev, Ukraine. Since its foundation as the cave monastery in 1015 the Lavra has been a preeminent center of the Eastern Orthodox Christianity in Eastern 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 internet community.

Currently, the jurisdiction over the site is divided between the state museum, National Kyiv-Pechersk Historic-Cultural Preserve, and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church as the site of the chief monastery of that Church and the residence of its leader, Metropolitan Volodymyr.

Etymology and other names

The word pechera means cave. The word lavra is used to describe high-ranking monasteries for (male) monks of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Therefore the name of the monastery is also translated as Kiev Cave Monastery, Kiev Caves Monastery or the Kiev Monastery of the Caves (на печерах).

Foundation and early history

According to the Primary Chronicle, in the early 11th century, Antony, a Greek Orthodox monk from Esphigmenon monastery on Mount Athos, originally from Liubech of the Principality of Chernigov, returned to Rus' and settled in Kiev as a missionary of monastic tradition to Kievan Rus'. He chose a cave at the Berestov Mount that overlooked the Dnieper River and a community of disciples soon grew. Prince Iziaslav I of Kiev ceded the whole mount to the Antonite monks who founded a monastery built by architects from Constantinople.

Buildings and structures

The Kiev Pechersk Lavra contains numerous architectural monuments, ranging from belltowers to cathedrals to underground cave systems and to strong stone fortification walls. The main attractions of the Lavra include the Great Lavra Belltower, the notable feautre of the Kiev skyline, and the Dormition Cathedral, destroyed in World War II, and fully reconstructed in recent years. Other churches and cathedrals of the Lavra include: the Refectory Church, the Church of All Saints, the Church of the Saviour at Berestove, 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, and the Church of the Life-Giving Spring. The Lavra also contains many other constructions, including: the St. Nicholas Monastery, the Kiev Theological Academy and Seminary, and the Debosquette Wall.

Great Lavra Belltower

The Great Lavra Belltower is one of the most notable features of the Kiev skyline and among the main attractions of the Lavra. It was the tallest free-standing belltower at the time of its construction in 1731-1745, and was designed by the architect Johann Gottfried Schädel. It is a Classical style construction and consists of tiers, surmounted by a gilded dome. Its total height is 96.5 meters.

Gate Church of the Trinity

The Gate Church of the Trinity is located atop the Holy Gates, which houses the entrance to the monastery. According to a legend, this church was founded by the Chernigov Prince Sviatoslav. It was built atop an ancient stone church which used to stand in its place.

Church of the Saviour at Berestove

The Church of the Saviour at Berestove is located to the North of the Kiev Pechersk Lavra. It was constructed in the village of Berestove at the turn of the 11th century during the reign of Prince Vladimir Monomakh. It later served as the mausoleum of the Monomakh dynasty, also including Yuri Dolgoruki, the founder of Moscow. However being outside the Lavra fortifications, the Church of the Saviour at Berestove is part of the Kiev Pechersk Lavra complex.

Caverns

The Kiev Pechersk Lavra caverns are a very complex system of narrow underground corridors (about 1-1½ metres wide and 2-2½ metres high), along with numerous living quarters and underground chapels. In 1051, the Reverend Anthony had settled in an old cave in one of the hills surrounding the Kiev Pechersk Lavra. This cave apparently grew, with numerous additions including corridors and a church, and is now what we know as the Far Caves. In 1057, Anthony moved to a cave near the Upper Lavra, now called the Near Caves.

Foreign travellers in the 16-17th centuries had written that the catacombs of the Lavra stretched for hundreds of kilometres, reaching as far as Moscow and Novgorod, which had apparently brought about to the knowledge of the Kiev Pechersk Lavra around the world.

Burials

  • Ilya Muromets - in the caves (ca. 11-12 century)
  • Nestor the Chronicler - in the Near Caves (ca. 1114)
  • Saint Kuksha - in the Near Caves (ca. 1114)
  • Alipy of the Caves - in the Near Caves (ca. 1114)
  • Agapetus of Pechersk - in the Near Caves (ca. 11 century)
  • Oleg son of Vladimir II Monomakh - in the Church of the Saviour at Berestove (ca. 12 century)
  • Eufemia of Kiev daughter of Vladimir II Monomakh - in the Church of the Saviour at Berestove (1139)
  • Yuri Dolgoruki - in the Church of the Saviour at Berestove (1157)
  • Skirgaila - regent Grand Duke of Lithuania (1397)
  • Vasily Kochubey - near the Refectory Church (1708)
  • Ivan Iskra - near the Refectory Church (1708)
  • Pyotr Stolypin - near the Refectory Church (1911)

During the Soviet times, the bodies of the mummified saints that lay in the caves were left uncovered due to the regime's disregard for religion. However, after the fall of the Soviet Union, the bodes were covered with a cloth and to this day remain in the same state Шаблон:Fact.

Museum

The Kiev Pechersk Lavra is also one of the largest Ukrainian museums in Kiev. The exposition is the actual ensemble of the Upper (Near Caves) and Lower (Far Caves) Lavra territories that houses more than 100 architectural relics of the past. The collection within the churches and caves include articles of precious metal, prints, higher clergy portraits and rare church hierarchy photographs. The main exposition contains articles from 16 to early 20th centuries which include chalices, crucifixes, and textiles from 16-19th centuries with needlework and embroidery of Ukrainian masters. The remainder of collection consists of pieces from Lavra's Printing House and Lavra's Icon Painting Workshop.

The museum also provides tours to the catacombs, which contain mummified remains of Orthodox saints or their relics.

See also

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Lucille Fisher
17 February 2016
Beautiful, historic, religious & World Heritage site. Stunning with its history, architecture, views, serenity, interesting exhibitions. And great place to purchase icons.
Jaspreet Ahuja
13 August 2014
Beautiful architecture and amazing views of the left bank. Transports you to a older era and just takes you away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Nice place to walk around and get lost!
Kinoida
18 June 2017
If you have limited time, use it to see Pectoral in the Historical Treasures Museum. The details and artistry are unbelievable!!! Very friendly museum staff is a welcome bonus.
Simon Keim
17 May 2013
Must see place in Kyiv! The view in Summer is absolutely gorgeous! Students can get in for 25 Grivna only! Great place to walk and discover and relax!!
Nicholas
18 May 2017
This place wasn't my favorite sight to see in Kiev. If you're a religious sort, maybe it's worth your time. Climbing the bell tower was the only thing I found interesting. The caves I found grotesque.
ALFAVITO Hotel Kiev
14 October 2014
Amazing! Entrance without visiting exposition - 3 UAH! Entrance includes visiting expositions and guiding tour: Adult - 50 UAH. Pupil or student - 25 UAH
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