Kiev: Saint Sofia Cathedral (Museum)

Following the disaster at Notre Dame de Paris yesterday, and because I’m in Kiev this week, it seems appropriate to share my photos of Saint Sofia with you today.

Begun in the early 11th century, Saint Sofia is the most famous site in Kiev, Ukraine. It was built in the eastern orthodox style. Its roof contains 13 cupolas of varying sizes, some of them covered in gold. A gold-covered carved screen surrounds a door made of silver.  Two-tier galleries comprise a second floor on three sides. Fresco paintings — some ancient and most newer – grace the galleries.

Through the centuries Saint Sofia has often been at the center of conflict between various Christian sects.  Wikipedia says, “After the Russian Revolution of 1917 and during the Soviet anti-religious campaign of the 1920s, the government plan called for the cathedral’s destruction and transformation of the grounds into a park. The cathedral was saved from destruction primarily by 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.”  It remains a museum today.

(The image at the top of this post is of a model of St. Sofia located at the site. I think it gives you a better idea of the cathedral than any of my photos of the exterior do.)

This is the baptistry which is still in its original condition. If you look carefully you may see images of people.

This is the interior of the main dome which is located above the altar. The paintings are recent.

This is the gold and silver screen that separates the altar from the nave. It is wood covered in precious metals.

Fresco paintings on the old walls, some recently restored and some not.

This is the bell tower (and the last blue sky I’ve seen in Kiev.)

A personal note: Since my granddaughter was a tiny child I’ve told her I’m taking her to Paris one day. Soon she’ll be old enough for that. Sadly, she will not be able to experience the awe-inspiring beauty of Notre Dame cathedral. Paris, my favorite city, has been the location of some very unfortunate events in the past few years. Don’t let that keep you from visiting!  Paris will always be the world’s most beautiful city. If you have been to Paris, please share your favorite memory or place with us in the Comments section below.

8 thoughts on “Kiev: Saint Sofia Cathedral (Museum)

  1. Vespers in Notre Dame in September 2015 with my sister and my daughter. A treasured memory, even more so now that we won’t be able to repeat it for quite a while. Having been to Berlin recently I am optimistic that Notre Dame will be rebuilt beautifully.


  2. I saw Notre dame when I was in Paris in 1962. For some reason, I could not get inside, but I saw it from many angles outside. it was such an icon sight on the Ile de la Cite’ in the Seine! I remember too all the art and book stalls along the Seine with Notre Dame as the back drop.


      • I was able to see the inside of the Cologne Cathedral a few times and once with the massive organ playing! Priceless!!!


  3. The year was 1955 and Bill and I were newlyweds living and working in London. We intended to get to Paris as soon as we could and I don’t remember the date but it was a 3 day weekend (Easter, maybe) so we took the boat train to Paris. We stayed at a small hotel recommended by a girl I had worked with in N.Y. Our main criterion was price – we had set a limit of $10 per day for everything. Weather was wonderful and Paris is fortunately another “walking” city. Notre Dame was always in sight and just as fabulous as we had read about. I always thought Notre Dame was not just a French masterpiece – it belonged to the world – iconic. Later that same year when we were getting ready to head back to NY, my sister came to visit and this time we drove to Europe and everything was so perfect – first thing we looked for was Notre Dame. Yesterday when I turned on the TV I felt gob smacked seeing the spire fall. Seems like another tragedy that we have to become adapted to – glad to see Macron being so positive, and happy to have seen this in my lifetime!


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