An important symbol of Kiev and number one travel attraction of the Ukrainian capital, Pechersk Lavra Cave Monastery is a must-visit place in Ukraine. The foundation of Kiev monastery of caves dates back far to the 11th century, when the monk Anthony and his disciple Theodosius settled in the caves on the high Dnieper hills ad established a monastery. It has been a cradle of East Orthodox Christianity ever since. In 1990, Kiev Lavra was included on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
Nowadays, Kiev Lavra consists of two parts – the territory of the monastery that includes the Far Caves and the Near Caves, and the Upper territory that belongs to the National Historical and Cultural Reserve Kiev-Pechersk Lavra. If you’re visiting Kiev, be sure to include Pechersk Lavra Cave Monastery on your bucket list, and here is a short guide of the most significant landmarks of the Monastery for you not to miss.
The Lower Territory or the Pechersk-Lavra Cave Monastery
Orthodox male monastery occupies the lower territory of Kiev-Pechersk Lavra and consists of complex of Far and Near Caves, where the relics of the saints are kept. The caves are opened for the pilgrims and tourists daily, except to some religious holidays, from 9am till 3:30 pm in winter time and from 8:30am till 4:30pm in summer time. The dress code for visiting the Kiev Monastery of the Caves include long-sleeved cloths for men and women, no shorts nor are short skirts allowed. Women should also cover their head with a scarf or a kerchief.
The Far Caves
It was a place where Saint Anthony settled in 1051. Soon after more monks joined him in the monastery, the new cells appeared in underground labyrinths. Today the length of the Far Caves is approx. 290 meters and the relics of 49 saints are kept there. The underground Church of Saint Theodosius located there.
The Near Caves
In 1057, Saint Anthony moved to these caves, looking for a more solitary live, and thus laid the foundation of the Near Caves complex that bear his name. The 383-meter long Near Caves lie at the depth of 10-15 meters and include the underground Church of the Entry of the Holy Virgin, the St. Anthony Church and St. Varlaam Church. Among the 73 relics of the saints kept in the Near Caves, one can name Nestor the Chronicler, venerable doctor Agapi and Ilya Muromets.
Anthony’s and Theodosius’s Wells
According to the legends, the St. Anthony and St. Theodosius, thus named in their honor, dug these wells. The water is believed to have a healing properties and cure from diseases. The wells are located not far from the entrance to the Near Caves.
The Church of the Nativity of the Virgin
Built in the 17th century in Baroque style, this Church is located near the Far Caves. The interior of church is decorated by the contemporary Ukrainian artists. This Church is a part of Kiev Theological Academy and Seminary.
The Church of the Exaltation of Holly Cross
It was established on the place of an old wooden church in far 1700. The church is well known by its unique southern entrance’s decoration with molded garlands, popular decorative folk art’s elements of the 17th century. It is located at the square at the Near Caves.
The Upper Territory or National Historical and Cultural Reserve Kiev-Pechersk Lavra
A splendid architectural ensemble of the Upper Lavra, included on the UNESCO World Heritage List, will amaze you with its beauty and history. The museum complex of Lavra is opened daily from 9:00am till 6pm and if you are interested in getting in-depth information about Kiev Lavra, you may check-out a private guided tour to the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra.
The main Cathedral of Kiev Lavra is perplex history. Original building was constructed in 11th century; however, it was completely destroyed during the World War II. Only in 2000, the Dormition Cathedral was restored and opened for visitors. The process of decoration of the interior continues.
Great Lavra Bell Tower
An imposing building of the bell tower is a highlight of the Lavra complex. Built in 18th century, the Great Lavra Bell tower is 96,5-meter tall and if you climb 374 steps you may observe a splendid bird’s eye view of the city. It is an architectural masterpiece and one of the symbols of Kiev.
The Refectory Church
This ensemble of the Refectory Church, built in the 19th century, remind of the ancient churches of Byzantine. Nowadays, monks have their meals in the refectory. On the backyard of the church, there is an observation deck, overlooking the territory of the Far and Near Caves and the Dnieper River. Not far from the church, there is a grave of P. Stolypin.
The Gate Church of the Trinity
An outstanding Gate Church of Trinity, located above the main entrance to Kiev Lavra, is a valuable architectural monument of the 12th century. The façade of the church is made in Ukrainian Baroque style decorated with paintings of 19th century. The indoor paintings of the Gate Church of Trinity substitute an important example of iconography of the 18th century and the highlights of the church is a gilded wooden iconostasis.
Museums and Exhibitions
On the territory of Kiev-Pechersk Lavra you may find a great number of interesting museums, dedicated to the various aspects of Ukrainian culture and history: Museum of Historical Treasures of Ukraine, Museum of Ukrainian folk art, Theater and film arts museum, Book and print history museum, etc. A visit of these museums can be a pleasant bonus to your Lavra tour.
Mykola Syadristy Microminiatures Museum
A one-of-a-kind exposition of tiny artworks amazes visitors from all over the world. An honored artisan M. Syadristy has created a range of unbelievable microminiatures, including a chessboard on the nail head, a caravan of camels in the eye of the needle and a rose in one human’s hair. To see these masterpieces, you should look through a giant magnifying glass.
Museum of Historical Treasures of Ukraine
Here, you may discover a valuable collection of jewelry from the Scythian and Sarmatian period (9th century BC – 4th century AD) to the European silver artworks of the 15th-20th centuries. One of the highlights of the collection is a golden Scythian pectoral dated 4th century BC.
Museum of Books and Book Printing of Ukraine
Another interesting museum acquaints its visitors with a history of development of book printing in Ukraine. The museum collection consists of more than 56 thousands items, including first editions of works of T. Shevchenko, I, Franko, L. Ukrainka and others.
A visit of Kiev-Pechersk Lavra Cave Monastery is a must-do thing in Kiev for every traveler. You will be definitely impressed with a rich history and outstanding architecture of Kiev Lavra complex.
Useful information about Kyiv Pechersk Lavra:
Address: 15, Lavrska Street
Closest metro station: Arsenal’na
National Historical and Cultural Reserve: 9am – 7pm, daily
Lavra Bell Tower: 10am – 7pm, daily
Museum of Microminiatures: 9am – 6pm, daily except Tuesday