1010 Years Anniversary! Saint Sophia Cathedral of Kyiv!

(historical feature article)

November 4 marks 1010 years since the beginning of the construction of Sophia of Kiyv – a landmark of history and architecture of Ukraine. According to documentary sources, St. Sophia Cathedral was founded exactly 1010 years ago. It is a real miracle that Sophia of Kyiv has survived to this day!

And truly a miracle – St. Sophia Cathedral – a unique cultural and historical monument of Rus-Ukraine, which is perfectly preserved to this day and is considered one of the oldest Christian churches preserved in Ukraine and Eastern Europe. St. Sophia Cathedral began to be built under Vladimir the Great, and was completed during the heyday of Kievan Rus during the reign of Yaroslav the Wise. The name of the cathedral comes from the Greek word ‘Sophia’ – ‘wisdom.’

For a long time the cathedral was used as a tomb of Kiyv princes. A valuable relic of the cathedral is the marble sarcophagus of Prince Yaroslav. It weighs 6 tons and is beautifully painted. Another famous part of Sophia of Kyiv is the first library in Ancient Rus created by Yaroslav. The first library was collected in the basement of the shrine. According to eyewitnesses, it contained more than 1,000 books.

Sophia of Kyiv was not only one of the main churches of Kievan Rus, but also the socio-political and cultural center of the Kievan state.

Here the Kyivan princes were enthroned and given symbols of state power, political agreements were signed, church councils were held and metropolitans were consecrated, foreign ambassadors were met in the square in front of the cathedral, and the most important issues of state importance were decided.

In addition, important, solemn events in the formation of Ukrainian statehood were held there. At the beginning of the twentieth century, Universals of the Central Council of the Ukrainian state of 1917–1918 were proclaimed on Sophia Square, and in 1991 the All-Ukrainian People’s Chamber supported the Act of State Independence of Ukraine.

However, if before all sorts of solemn events were often held in the cathedral, now they cannot be discussed.

“Today, Sophia demands a very gentle attitude towards itself. Everyone gives temperature, gives humidity…We have clearly regulated temperature and humidity. And the higher these figures rise, the more detrimental they are to both the frescoes and the mosaics,” said Nelya Kukovalska, director general of the Sophia Kyivska National Reserve.

Sophia preserves the world’s largest ensemble of unique mosaics and frescoes of the first quarter of the eleventh century – it is 260 square meters of mosaics and 3,000 square meters of frescoes.

The most famous mosaic of the cathedral – Oranta, is an almost six-meter image of the Mother of God, laid out of two million cubes of colored smalt.

“And Oranta has stood here for a thousand years. And since then the Sophia Cathedral has not collapsed. It is immovable!” – says Nadiya Nikitenko, head of the research department ‘St. Sophia Institute’ of the National Reserve ‘Sophia of Kyiv.’

So let the image of Oranta preserve Sophia of Kyiv for many millennia. After all, this place is without exaggeration the spiritual heart of Ukraine.

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