St. Volodymyr's Cathedral

Kyiv, Ukraine

St Volodymyr's Cathedral is one of the city's major landmarks and the mother cathedral of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. In 1852, Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow suggested a large cathedral should be built in Kyiv to commemorate the 900th anniversary of the baptism of Kievan Rus by prince Vladimir I of Kiev (St. Volodymyr). People from all over the Russian Empire started donating to this cause, so that by 1859 the cathedral fund had amassed a huge sum of 100,000 rubles. The Kyiv Pechersk Lavra produced one million bricks and presented them to the cathedral as well. The design was executed in neo-Byzantine style initially by the architects I. Schtrom, P. Sparro, R. Bemhardt, K. Mayevsky, V. Nikolayev. The final version of the design belongs to Alexander Vikentievich Beretti. It is a traditional six-piered, three-apsed temple crowned by seven cupolas. The height to the cross of the main dome is 49 m.

The colourful interior of the cathedral is particularly striking. Its mosaics were executed by masters from Venice. The frescoes were created under the guidance of Professor Adrian Prakhov by a group of famous painters: Wilhelm Kotarbiński, Mikhail Nesterov, Mykola Pymonenko, Pavel Svedomsky, Viktor Vasnetsov, Mikhail Vrubel, Viktor Zamyraylo (1868-1939), and others. The painting of the Holy Mother of God by Vasnetsov in the altar apse of the cathedral impresses by its austere beauty.

The entrance door is adorned with relief bronze sculptures of St. Olga (Princess Olga of Kyiv) by sculptor Robert Bakh and St. Vladimir (sculptor H. Zaieman) against a blue background. The iconostasis is carved from the white marble brought from Carrara. The cathedral was completed in 1882, however, the paintings were fully completed only in 1896.

The cathedral risked damage during the Polish-Soviet War in 1920. During the Soviet period, the cathedral narrowly escaped demolition, but not closure. Until the Second World War it served as a museum of religion and atheism. The relics of St Barbara, a martyr of the 3rd century AD, were transferred to St Volodymyr's from the St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery before it was destroyed by the Bolsheviks, and have remained there since.

After the war the cathedral was reopened and since remained continually open. It was then the main church of the Kyiv Metropolitan See of the Ukrainian Exarchate. The cathedral was one of the few places in the USSR where tourists could openly visit a working Orthodox Church. It saw the revival of Orthodox religion in 1988 when the millennium celebration of the Baptism of Rus' marked a change in Soviet policy on religion.

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, St Volodymyr's Cathedral ownership became an issue of controversy between two denominations that both claim to represent Ukrainian Orthodox Christianity - the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, a church with an autonomous status under the Moscow Patriarchy, and the newly established Ukrainian Orthodox Church - Kyiv Patriarchy, which, ultimately, won the control over the cathedral.

Spiritual leaders of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kyiv Patriarchy continue to conduct religious services and prayers in St. Volodymyr's Cathedral. All the ceremonies are conducted in Ukrainian, accompanied during religious holidays by the Cathedral choir, which is often joined by opera singers.



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Founded: 1882
Category: Religious sites in Ukraine

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4.8/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Carlo Hermans (3 years ago)
What a beautiful place ! One of the most beautiful churches i ever visit ! I didn't took to much pictures because i was to impressed... I didn't think about taking pictures.. Just amazing ! ?
Chan Komagan (3 years ago)
I walk to this church almost everyday when I was living near this church. I go there just to admire the beauty and tranquility it offers. Interior architecture is nicely done.
Marina Barnett (3 years ago)
It is a handsome church on the outside, but the inside will take your breath away. It was decorated by several famous Russian painters and it is absolutely spectacular! Video and photos are allowed for a very small fee, and scarves are available for women to cover their heads.
Mehmet ÜNAL (3 years ago)
Unbelievable architecture. When you enter the Cathedral you will see magnificent athmosphere. Recommend to visit strongly…
Igor Bershadsky (3 years ago)
Beautiful Cathedral, always brings peace and harmony. Weather you are a religious or just looking to visit a historic and my importantly a place on the list of place to visit in Kiev this is a must see. The art, the culture traditions are all of the things you will definitely see and experience at the St. Volodymyrs Cathedral.
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