In Ukraine it’s known as Sobor Sviatoyi Sofiyi or simply Sofiyskiy sobor. The rest of the world calls it Saint Sophia Cathedral. Regardless of the name, St. Sophia Cathedral in Kiev is one of the most remarkable architectural monuments in Ukraine and formal Kievan Rus’. Not a trip to the capital of Ukraine can happen without including a visit to St. Sophia’s Cathedral to your itinerary. The outstanding design and historical heritage of the Cathedral didn’t escape the attention of UNESCO. In 1990 St. Sophia Cathedral 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 St. Sophia Cathedral – Kiev Pechersk Lavra complex.
Know the History before Your Visit to St. Sophia Cathedral
It’s important to know the history before your visit to St. Sophia Cathedral. There are a few debates regarding the time of the establishment of the Cathedral. The most popular theory that UNESCO also accepts takes you back to 1011. Similar to the date the name of the person during whose reign St. Sophia Cathedral came to life is in question. Some suggest, it was Vladimir the Great who gave an order to build the Cathedral. Most believe though that the Great Prince of Kiev, Yaroslav the Wise was an initiator of such grand construction.
Hagia Sophia cathedral in Constantinople inspired Yaroslav the Wise to create something as holy and majestic in Kiev. However, the name was by far the most prominent thing that united these two cathedrals. Not many architectural ideas were borrowed from Constantinople during the construction of St. Sophia Cathedral.
Years later, the Cathedral fell into despair and remained neglected until 17th century. In 1633 the Moldavian Orthodox metropolitan Peter Mogila commissioned the reconstruction and remodeling of St. Sophia Cathedral. Later a bell tower, monastery canteen, bakery, the House of Metropolitan and Zborovskiy Gates, the western gate, arouse around the Cathedral.
During the Soviet time, St. Sophia Cathedral almost felt a victim of the anti-religious Soviet policy. However, it was spared due to its historical and cultural importance and turned into a museum.
A Visit to St. Sophia Cathedral
Even today, a visit to St. Sophia Cathedral reminds of a visit to a museum rather than a religious establishment. The complex remains a secular museum with occasional religious services.
There is no free admission to the complex. The price of the visit to St. Sophia Cathedral 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. Even a visit to the Bell Tower of St. Sophia Cathedral comes with its own price tag of about 60 hryvnias. But a 360-degree city view from the top of it justifies this fairly low price.
Getting to St. Sophia Cathedral
The complex is located in the heart of the city making your visit to St. Sophia Cathedral easier.
The most popular way to get to the complex is by metro. Make sure to get off at the stop called Zoloti Vorota and continue walking for about seven minutes.
- The Cathedral is open Friday through Thursday from 10 am till 6 pm.
- On Wednesday it’s open from 10 am till 5 pm.
- St. Sophia Cathedral is closed on Thursday.