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St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery

St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery is one of the oldest monasteries in Kyiv. Actually, this is a reconstruction of the temple of Kyivan Rus times, destroyed by the Soviet authorities. The amazing sky-blue building with golden domes is located in the heart of Kyiv, not far from St. Sophia’s Cathedral. Nearby, there is a monument to Princess Olha, the funicular, as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine. The first mention of it dates back to July 11, 1108 in the chronicle. The grandson of Yaroslav the Wise, Prince Svyatopolk, laid the first stone to immortalize the victory of the Rus over the Polovtsy in this way. 

St Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery

At that time, this church was the only one in Kyiv that had a golden top, and that’s why it was called "Golden-domed". At first, the church was wooden and small in size. In 1093 Svyatopolk II Izyaslavych, who took the name Michael at Baptism, ascended the throne of Kyiv. During his reign, it was rebuilt in marble and stone, decorated with mosaics. After the death of Prince Svyatopolk, he was buried in a newly built church. The bell tower of the monastery was built in 1719 by Varlaam Lenetsky. It had 3 tiers and 23 bells.

 

For many centuries, the monastery had been attacked. It was badly damaged during the Mongol invasion in 1240, but the ancient temple withstood the onslaught of the barbarians. In the mid 30-ies of the XX century, after the transfer of the capital of the Ukrainian SSR from Kharkiv to Kyiv, the Soviet authorities decided to build a government complex on the site of the St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery. The State Commission, which drafted the act that the monastery is neither historical, nor architectural value, and therefore can be demolished," approved the decision to erect a building in the Stalinist Empire style on the site of the church. Between the two buildings, it was planned to erect a 34-meter monument to Lenin, from which main staircases had to go directly to the Dnieper. Art historians Fedor Ernst, Ippolit Morgylevsky and Mykola Makarenko argued against the destruction of historical and cultural relics. All of them were repressed.

 

On August 14, 1937 St. Michael's Golden-Domed Cathedral was blown up. Only a small refectory survived, in which, after restoration, the shingle roof (a roof made of wooden tiles) was restored. Now this is the only building in Kyiv with a shingle roof. Due to the efforts of scientists, there was a possibility to save the most valuable mosaics and frescoes, some of which were transferred to St. Sophia’s Cathedral, and some were taken to museums in St. Petersburg and Moscow (in the 2000s, frescoes from the Hermitage were returned to Kyiv). The most important relic of St. Michael's Golden-Domed Cathedral - the relics of the Great Martyr Barbara - has been preserved in St. Volodymyr’s Cathedral since the beginning of the 1960s.

St. Michael's Golden-Domed Cathedral was restored only after 60 years. Officially it was opened on May 30, 1999. And today this is an operating monastery, where church services and excursions are held.

 

The Museum of the History of St. Michael's Golden-Domed Cathedral was created in June 1998. The museum, located in the bell tower and adjoining building of the Varvara’s cells, presents mock-ups and images of the cathedral in different historical eras, building materials from which it was erected, fragments of frescoes decorated the temple. A significant part of the museum consists of finds made during excavations of the monastery territory in 1994-99. The museum is decorated with portraits of Kyiv metropolitans, Ukrainian hetmans, abbots and ascetics of the monastery. The church is very important to Kyivans, for it is dedicated to the archangel Michael, the patron saint of Kyiv.

 

Address: Tryohsvyatytelska str., 8, Kyiv.