The Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kiev

One of the sights to see during a holiday in Kiev is Saint Sophia Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built in 1037, this landmark is both a historic and aesthetic treasure.

Named after the Roman woman whose daughters were martyred for their steadfast faith, Kiev’s Saint Sophia Cathedral is hard to miss. Designed in a Ukrainian (Mazepa) Baroque fashion, its white façade is interrupted in places by brickwork, and the structure is capped off with green domes tipped with gold spires. The powder-blue bell tower stands apart from the complex, angels and embellishments adorning its walls. It was created to match – if not outdo – the Hagia Sofia of the Byzantine capital, Constantinople.

The interior is awe-inspiring; its walls and ceilings are art masterpieces in themselves, filled with mosaics, frescoes, and paintings by Byzantine artists from the 11th century. Icons of Christ, angels, and martyrs are fashioned in intense detail, with tiny stones and glass embedded to form eyes, lips, and clothes. Red, green, and blue dominate the holy scenes, set in gleaming gold. These include Abraham Offers Up Isaac, The Miracle at Cana, and The Last Supper.

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Besides biblical narratives, 300 historical events in the Ukraine are also featured in the cathedral’s interior. One of the most important is the visit of Princess Olga of Kiev to Constantinople, and her meeting with Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus. The Old Slavic alphabet, as well depictions of noble personages also adorn the arches and columns, all the way to the floor.

Saint Sophia Cathedral is also the burial place of Kiev royals. The Grand Prince of Kiev, Yaroslav Mudry, known for advancing Christianity and beautifying the state, lies here in a marble tomb, as does his son, Vsevolod. The former was also responsible for having the cathedral constructed.

Although destroyed and rebuilt several times through the centuries, Saint Sophia Cathedral remains a splendid place to see during a holiday in Kiev.

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