St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery is located on the edge of the bank of the Dnieper River, northeast of the Saint Sophia Cathedral.
Originally built in the Middle Ages by the Kievan Rus' ruler Sviatopolk II Iziaslavych, the monastery comprises the Cathedral church, the Refectory of St. John the Divine, built in 1713, the Economic Gates, constructed in 1760 and the monastery's bell tower, which was added c. 1716 – c. 1719. The exterior of the structure was rebuilt in the Ukrainian Baroque style in the 18th century while the interior remained in its original Byzantine style. The original cathedral was demolished by the Soviet authorities in the 1930s, but was reconstructed and opened in 1999 following Ukrainian independence in 1991.
The religious architecture of St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery incorporates elements that have evolved from styles prevalent during Byzantine and Baroque periods. The St. Michael's Golden-Domed Cathedral is the monastery's main church, built in 1108–1113 at the behest of Sviatopolk II Iziaslavych. The cathedral was the largest of three churches of St. Demetrius Monastery.
The ancient cathedral was modeled on the Assumption Cathedral (Kyiv) of the Monastery of the Caves. It used the Greek cross plan prevalent during the time of the Kyivan Rus, six pillars, and three apses. A miniature church, likely a baptistery, adjoined the cathedral from the south. There was also a tower with a staircase leading to the choir loft; it was incorporated into the northern part of the narthex rather than protruding from the main block as was common at the time. It is likely that the cathedral had a single dome, although two smaller domes might have topped the tower and baptistery. The interior decoration was lavish as its high-quality shimmering mosaics, probably the finest in Kyivan Rus, still testify.
When the medieval churches of Kyiv were rebuilt in the late 17th and early 18th centuries in the Ukrainian Baroque style, the cathedral was enlarged and renovated dramatically. By 1746, it had acquired a new baroque exterior, while maintaining its original Byzantine interior. Six domes were added to the original single dome, but the added pressure on the walls was counteracted by the construction of buttresses. The remaining medieval walls, characterised by alternative layers of limestone and flat brick, were covered with stucco. Ivan Hryhorovych-Barskyi was responsible for window surrounds and stucco ornamentation. Inside the church, an intricate five-tier icon screen funded by Hetman Pavlo Skoropadsky and executed by Hryhoryi Petriv from Chernigov was installed in 1718. During the 18th and 19th centuries, almost all of the original Byzantine mosaics and frescoes on the interior walls were painted over. Some restoration work on the mosaics and frescoes that remained unpainted was carried out towards the end of the 19th century. However, there were no major and serious investigations of the walls done, so it is possible that medieval frescoes or mosaics were preserved under the newer coats of plaster.
In August 1963, the preserved refectory of the demolished monastery without its Baroque cupola was designated a monument of architecture of the Ukrainian SSR. In 1973–1982 restoration of the Refectory Church of St. John the Theologian (the only building that survived the demolition of the 1930s) was held.
The refectory of St. John the Divine is a rectangular brick building which contains a dining hall for the brethren as well as several kitchens and pantries. The Church of John the Theologian adjoins it from the east. The outside is segmented by pilasters and displays window surrounds reminiscent of traditional Eastern Orthodox church architecture. The refectory was erected in 1713, taking the place of the original wooden refectory. Its interior was overhauled in 1827 and 1837 and the restoration work was undertaken from 1976 to 1981.References:
The Château de Foix dominates the town of Foix. An important tourist site, it is known as a centre of the Cathars. Built on an older 7th-century fortification, the castle is known from 987. In 1002, it was mentioned in the will of Roger I, Count of Carcassonne, who bequeathed the fortress to his youngest child, Bernard. In effect, the family ruling over the region were installed here which allowed them to control access to the upper Ariège valley and to keep surveillance from this strategic point over the lower land, protected behind impregnable walls.
In 1034, the castle became capital of the County of Foix and played a decisive role in medieval military history. During the two following centuries, the castle was home to Counts with shining personalities who became the soul of the Occitan resistance during the crusade against the Albigensians. The county became a privileged refuge for persecuted Cathars.
The castle, often besieged (notably by Simon de Montfort in 1211 and 1212), resisted assault and was only taken once, in 1486, thanks to treachery during the war between two branches of the Foix family.
From the 14th century, the Counts of Foix spent less and less time in the uncomfortable castle, preferring the Governors' Palace. From 1479, the Counts of Foix became Kings of Navarre and the last of them, made Henri IV of France, annexed his Pyrrenean lands to France.
As seat of the Governor of the Foix region from the 15th century, the castle continued to ensure the defence of the area, notably during the Wars of Religion. Alone of all the castles in the region, it was exempted from the destruction orders of Richelieu (1632-1638).
Until the Revolution, the fortress remained a garrison. Its life was brightened with grand receptions for its governors, including the Count of Tréville, captain of musketeers under Louis XIII and Marshal Philippe Henri de Ségur, one of Louis XVI's ministers. The Round Tower, built in the 15th century, is the most recent, the two square towers having been built before the 11th century. They served as a political and civil prison for four centuries until 1862.
Since 1930, the castle has housed the collections of the Ariège départemental museum. Sections on prehistory, Gallo-Roman and mediaeval archaeology tell the history of Ariège from ancient times. Currently, the museum is rearranging exhibits to concentrate on the history of the castle site so as to recreate the life of Foix at the time of the Counts.