Kiev Pechersk Lavra or Kyiv Pechersk Lavra (Ukrainian: Києво-Печерська лавра, Kyievo-Pechers’ka lavra), also known as the Kiev Monastery of the Caves, is a historic Orthodox Christian monastery which gave its name to one of the city districts where it is located in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine. Since its foundation as the cave monastery in 1051 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.
The monastery complex is considered a separate national historic-cultural preserve (sanctuary), the national status to which was granted on March 13, 1996. The Lavra also not only located in another part of the city, but is part of a different national sanctuary than Saint Sophia Cathedral. While being a cultural attraction, the monastery is currently active. 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 Kiev-Pechersk Historic-Cultural Preserve, and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchy) as the site of the chief monastery of that Church and the residence of its leader, Metropolitan Volodymyr. In the late 2010 a monitoring mission of UNESCO was visiting the Kiev Pechersk Lavra to check on situation of the site. According to the Minister of Culture Mykhailo Kulynyak the Kiev's historic site along with the Saint Sophia Cathedral is not threatened by the "black list" of the international organization.
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 Great Lavra Belltower, the notable feature 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.
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 Chernihiv Prince Sviatoslav. It was built atop an ancient stone church which used to stand in its place. After the fire of 1718 the church was rebuilt, its revere facades and interior walls enriched with ornate. Stucco work made by master craftsman V. Stefaovych. In the 18th century a new gilded pear-shaped dome was built, the facade and exterior walls were decorated with stucco-moulded plant ornaments and a vestibule built of stone attached to the north end.
The All Saints Church
The All Saints Church erected in 1696-1698 is a fine specimen of Ukrainian baroque architecture. Characteristic of the church facades are rich architectural embellishments. In 1905 students of the Lavra art school painted the interior walls of the church. The carved wooden iconostasis is multi-tiered and was made for the All Saints church in the early 18th century.
Church of the Saviour at Berestov
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 10th to 11th century during the reign of Prince Volodymyr 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.
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 many 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.