The St. Sophia Cathedral is one of the main attractions that alone can inspire a quick visit to Kiev.
Last updated: September 3, 2023
A Complete Guide to Visiting St. Sophia Cathedral in Kiev
In Ukraine, the place is known as Sobor Sviatoyi Sofiyi or simply Sofiyskiy sobor. The rest of the world calls it the Saint Sophia Cathedral.
The St. Sophia Cathedral is one of the most remarkable architectural monuments in Ukraine and formal Kievan Rus’.
The outstanding design and historical heritage of the Cathedral didn’t escape the attention of UNESCO. In 1990 the St. Sophia Cathedral in Kiev was recognized as the first World Heritage Site in Ukraine. Almost a decade later, Kiev Pechersk Lavra was added to this list, further identified as a separate structure of the St. Sophia Cathedral – the Kiev Pechersk Lavra Complex.
St. Sophia Cathedral: History in a Nutshell
The history of the Cathedral is arguable. There are a few debates regarding the time of the establishment of the Cathedral. The most popular theory that UNESCO has also accepted takes you back to 1011.
Similar to the date, the name of the person during whose reign the St. Sophia Cathedral came to life is in question. Some suggest, it was Vladimir the Great who gave an order to build the Cathedral. The majority, however, believe that the Great Prince of Kiev, Yaroslav the Wise, was an initiator of such a grand construction.
The Hagia Sophia Cathedral in Constantinople inspired Yaroslav the Wise to create something as holy and majestic in Kiev. Interestingly enough, not many architectural ideas were borrowed from Constantinople during the construction of the St. Sophia Cathedral in Kiev. The name was by far the most recognizable thing that united these two cathedrals.
Years later, the Cathedral fell into despair and remained neglected until the 17th century. In 1633 the Moldavian Orthodox metropolitan, Peter Mogila, commissioned the reconstruction and remodeling of the St. Sophia Cathedral. Later a bell tower, a monastery canteen, a bakery, the House of Metropolitan, and Zborovskiy Gates, the western gate, arouse around the Cathedral.
During the Soviet time, the Cathedral almost became a victim of the anti-religious Soviet policy. Somehow, it was spared due to its historical and cultural importance and turned into a museum.
Visit St. Sophia Cathedral: Admission
Even today, the Cathedral reminds of a museum rather than a religious establishment. The complex remains a secular museum with occasional religious services.
Admission to the complex is not free. The price of the ticket ranges from 20 to 200 Ukrainian hryvnias. While 20 hryvnias allows you to enter the territory of the complex, the highest price of 200 gives you access to all buildings.
A visit to the Bell Tower also comes with its own price tag of about 60 hryvnias. But a 360-degree city view from the top of it justifies this price.
Getting to St. Sophia Cathedral
The complex is located in the heart of the city, making your visit to the Cathedral almost inevitable.
The most popular way to get to the complex is by metro. Make sure to get off at the stop called Zoloti Vorota. From here, walk for about seven minutes.
- The Cathedral is open Friday through Tuesday from 10 am until 6 pm.
- On Wednesdays, it’s open from 10 am until 5 pm.
- The Cathedral is closed on Thursday.