Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kyiv, Ukraine, is an architectural monument of Kyivan Rus. The former cathedral is one of the city's best known landmarks and the first heritage site in Ukraine to be inscribed on the World Heritage List. Aside from its main building, the cathedral includes an ensemble of supporting structures such as a bell tower and the House of Metropolitan. One of the reasons for the move was that both Saint Sophia Cathedral and Kyiv Pechersk Lavra are recognized by the UNESCO World Heritage Program as one complex, while in Ukraine the two were governed by different government entities. It is currently a museum.
The complex of the cathedral is the main component and museum of the National Sanctuary 'Sophia of Kyiv' which is the state institution responsible for the preservation of the cathedral complex as well as four other historic landmarks across the nation.
The cathedral is named after the 6th-century Hagia Sophia cathedral in Constantinople (present-day Istanbul), which was dedicated to the Holy Wisdom rather than to a specific saint named Sophia. The first foundations were laid around 1011-1037, but the cathedral took two decades to complete. The structure has 5 naves, 5 apses, and (quite surprisingly for Byzantine architecture) 13 cupolas. It is surrounded by two-tier galleries from three sides. Measuring 37 to 55 m, the exterior used to be faced with plinths. On the inside, it retains mosaics and frescos from the 11th century, including a dilapidated representation of Yaroslav's family, and the Orans.
Originally the cathedral was a burial place of the Kievan rulers including Vladimir Monomakh, Vsevolod Yaroslavich and the cathedral's founder Yaroslav I the Wise, although only the latter's grave survived to this day.
After the pillaging of Kyiv by Andrei Bogolyubsky of Vladimir-Suzdal in 1169, followed by the Mongol invasion of Rus' in 1240, the cathedral fell into disrepair. It was greatly rebuilt in its modern splendor in the 16th century when the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth was trying to unite Catholic and Orthodox churches. Following the 1595-1596 Union of Brest, the Cathedral of Holy Sophia belonged to the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church which commissioned the repair work and the upper part of the building was thoroughly rebuilt, modeled by the Italian architect Octaviano Mancini in the distinct Ukrainian Baroque style, while preserving the Byzantine interior, keeping its splendor intact. The work continued under the Cossack Hetman Ivan Mazepa until 1767. During this period around Holy Sophia Cathedral a bell tower, a monastery canteen, a bakery, a 'House of Metropolitan', the western gates (Zborovski gates), a Monastic Inn, a Brotherhood campus and a bursa (seminary) were all erected. All of these buildings, as well as the cathedral after the reconstruction, have distinctive features of Ukrainian Baroque.
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 'Heroes of Perekop' (after a Red Army victory in the Russian Civil War in Crimea). The cathedral was saved from destruction (the opposite St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery was destroyed in 1935) primarily with 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.
Since the late 1980s Soviet, and later Ukrainian, politicians promised to return the building to the Orthodox Church. Due to various schisms, and factions within the Church the return was postponed as all Orthodox and the Greek-Catholic Churches lay claim to it. Although all of the Orthodox churches have been allowed to conduct services at different dates, at other times they are denied access. A severe incident was the funeral of Patriarch Volodymyr of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Kyiv Patriarchate in 1995 when riot police were forced to prevent the burial on the premises of the museum and a bloody clash took place. After events such as those no religious body has yet been given the rights for regular services. The complex now remains a secular museum of Ukraine's Christianity, with most of its visitors being tourists.References:
The castle of La Iruela, small but astonishing, is located on the top of a steep crag in Sierra de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas Natural Park. From the castle, impressive views of the surrounding area and of the town can be enjoyed.
The keep dates from the Christian era. It has a square base and small dimensions and is located at the highest part of the crag.
There are some other enclosures within the tower that create a small alcázar which is difficult to access.
In a lower area of the castle, protected with defensive remains of rammed earth and irregular masonry, is an old Muslim farmstead.
After a recent restoration, an open-air theater has been built on La Iruela castle enclosure. This theater is a tribute to the Greek and Classic Eras and holds various artistic and cultural shows throughout the year.
The first traces of human activity in La Iruela area are dated from the Copper Age. An intense occupation continued until the Bronze Age.
Originally, La Iruela (like Cazorla) was a modest farmstead. From the 11th century, a wall and a small fortress were built on the hill to protect the farmers.
Around 1231, don Rodrigo Ximénez de Rada, Archbishop of Toledo, conquered La Iruela and made it part of the Adelantamiento de Cazorla. Over the Muslim fortress, the current fortress was built.
Once the military use of the fortress ended, it was used as cemetery.