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The Kyiv-Pechersky Monastery (preserved as an ancient monu­ment) stands on the green hills above the Dnipro. Its sparkling gold cupolas can be seen from outside the capital. [1]

The huge territory (22 hectares) of this first Russian monastery (built in the middle of the 11th century) covers two big hills and the valley between them. The highest hill is the site of the Higher Monas­tery (Lavra). The valley is occupied by the Near Caves with a whole ensemble of buildings of various kinds and the smaller hill is the loca­tion of the Far Caves, with their churches and other premises. [2]

It was these cave-like cells of the monks that gave the monastery its name, peshchera being the Russian for "cave." [3]

The monastery developed rapidly. It became the seat of Chris­tianity in ancient Rus, and the stronghold of feudalism and the Prince's power. It was also Chronicle of Past Days. [4]

The focal point of the architectural ensemble of the monastery and its most ancient monument was the collegiate Church of the Dormition (1073 - 1089) which was ornamented with mosaic work and paintings. Later the Cathedral of St. John the Forerunner was built at the north-western corner of the collegiate church. [7]

The collegiate Church of the Dormition, a brick and mortar building, was a typical ecclesiastical structure of ancient Russia built on a cruciform plan. Its architectural interpretation fully harmonized with the picturesque environment of the Dnipro heights. It was charac­teristic of the period of feudal disintegration with its tendency towards simple ornamentation, compactness, and austerity of style. The drum of the cupola was decorated with small semicircular niches. The interior of the church was adorned with mosaics and frescoes, the work of Greek and Russian masters. In the 12th and 13th century the church was a model for other ecclesiastical buildings in Kyiv, Cherni­gov and other towns on the territory of the present Ukraine. During the German-fascist occupation this remarkable monument was completely destroyed. [8]

As one approaches the Pechersky Monastery today, the first thing that catches the eye is the Church of the Trinity. Built in 1108 above the central gates both as a church and look-out post it has been well preserved to this day. This outstanding example of ancient Russian architecture continues the traditions of the church built by Yaroslav the Wise in 1037 above the Golden Gates. The interior is decorated with a splendidly carved iconostasis and beautiful frescoes, the work of 18th-century Ukrainian craftsmen. [9]

Another ecclesiastical monument is situated on the outer side of the monastery's walls. This is the Church of the Saviour "at the village of Berestovo." In ancient times Berestovo was a domain of the Kiev Princes. When Prince Volodymyr died in 1015 in his wooden palace in Berestovo the village became the property of his son Yaroslav the Wise. At the turn of the 11th century Prince Volodymyr Monomakh built the stone Church of the Saviour. In 1157 the body of his son Yuri Dolgoruky, the founder of Moscow was interred in the church. The structure was partially ruined in 1240 and rebuilt only in the for­ties of the 17th century. Originally the building had a cruciform ground plan with three apses and a cupola. Its interior, considered to be one of the last models of Byzantine art, was decorated in the 17th century by Greek craftsmen from Aphon. [10]

In the Church of Berestovo there are two unique 11th-century reliefs on mythological subjects, cut into huge slabs of red slate in a style resembling wood-carving. [11]

When the 800th anniversary of Moscow was celebrated in 1947 a granite tomb was erected in the church over the grave of Yuri Dolgoruky. [12]

In the 13th century the wealth, power and glory of Kyiv passed away in face of the ravages of the Mongol-Tatar hordes. The monas­tery was neglected, and its restoration and reconstruction was begun only in the 15th century. That was the time of intensive economic development of the Dnieper area; Kyiv's importance as the economic, political, and cultural centre of the Ukraine grew apace. Parallel with this, the Kyiv-Pechersky Monastery grew wealthier, and its lands increased. [13]

In 1615, one of the oldest printing works in Ukraine was set up in the Monastery and its books on history and theology were distributed throughout the Slav countries. [14]

In the 18th century the Kyiv-Pechersky Monastery was actually a large-scale enterprise with 56,000 serfs. Among numerous other establishments it owned 13 monasteries, seven settlements, 189 villa­ges and three glass works.[15]

Intensive construction work inside the monastery grounds was begun in the period 1690-1702, when several new ecclesiastical buildings were erected, including All-Saints Church over the Economic Gates (1696-98), the Church and Tower of St. Onuphri (1698-1701), the Church and Tower of Ivan Kushchnik (1698-1701), a stone forti­fication (completed in 1701), the refectory church of St. Nicholas in Bolnichny Monastery (end of the 17th century), monastic cells (pre­sent Building No. 4; end of the 17th century), and the churches on the sites of the Near and Far Caves (1700 and 1696 respectively). They were in the Ukrainian baroque style which prevailed at that time and expertly combined the age-old traditions of Ukrainian wooden churches, Ukrainian folk motifs and the decorative elements of Russian architecture with the principles of classical baroque. [16]

In 1718 most of the wooden structures were destroyed by fire. Those that survived were remodelled. [17]

All-Saints Church over the Economic Gates and the Church and Tower of St. Onuphri with their faceted crosses and richly ornament­ed walls are lavish in detail: pilasters intersected with numerous bands, windows with half-faced platbands, semicolumns and pedi­ments of diverse shape niches of the most fantastic form. Yet the abundance of ornamentation and the extensive play of light and shade do not obscure their main features - the clear-cut tower-shaped sil­houettes. [18]

The same principle is observed in the other structures of the Monastery. This is particularly true of the former monks' dwelling quarters. Such is Building No. 4 (built in the 17th century and remo­delled in the 18th) whose lay-out follows common pattern of a pas­sage-way bordered by two rooms, each room opening on a garden. [19]

The dominating structure is the 96-metre-high Belfry of the Higher Monastery (1731-1745), in its time the tallest building in Russia. Designed by Johann Shedel, Petersburg archi­tect, the Belfry follows an octahedral ground plan and has four beau­tifully proportioned tiers. The first tier is built of hewn stone slabs, while the second is encircled by 32 Roman-Doric columns grouped in four. The third tier is surrounded by 16 ionic columns in groups of two, and the fourth by eight Corinthian columns in groups of three. The cupolas are plated with gilded copper, and the entire struc­ture blendsmagnificently with the surrounding landscape. [20]


1. Uspenskiy Cathedral 8. Ukrainian State Museum of Books and Printing
2. Great Lavra Bell Tower 9. Ukrainian State Museum of Decorative Folk Art
3. Troitska Church 10. Ukrainian State Museum of Theatrical, Musical and Cinema Arts
4. Mykolska Hospital Church 11. Thematic exhibitions
5. All-Saints Church with economic gates 12. Exhibition of micro-miniatures
6. Refectory and church 13. Rebirth Church
7. Museum of historical treasures  




Date: 2016-01-14; view: 1053

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