St. Vladimir’s Cathedral
The ancient city of Kiev boasts a variety of beautiful styled religious buildings and St. Vladimir’s Cathedral is considered as one of the finest. This stunning cathedral has become the icon of the capital while it's distinctive yellow exterior makes it an important landmark of Kiev. This tourist guide will provide details of this imposing and significant building and includes interesting facts, a brief history and tourist information.
The vivid exterior of Saint Vladimir’s Cathedral
Where is St. Vladimir’s Cathedral?
St. Vladimir’s Cathedral is located in the central part of Kiev, on Taras Shevchenko Boulevard. It is only 15-20 minutes walk from Khreshchatik, the main city street, or a short walk from “Universitet” (University) metro station on the Red line. The Cathedral is open every day from 9:00 to 18:00 (Sundays and religious holidays – from 7:00 to 22:00) with religious services and prayers still conducted. There is no entrance fee to visit this beautiful cathedral.
History of Cathedral construction
St. Vladimir’s Cathedral was constructed to commentate the 900th anniversary of Christianity arriving in the Kiev region (the Kievan Rus) and the baptism of Vladimir the Great. The first stone of the cathedral was laid in the foundation in 1862, but it took more than 20 years to complete. The cathedral project was postponed on multiple occasions due to the lack of funds.
The cathedral was built in a new Byzantine style and represents a traditional six-column, three-apse temple crowned by seven cupolas, although according to the original project there had to be thirteen. The most unusual feature of the Cathedral is the lack of a bell tower, instead, the bells are hanging beneath one of the temple domes.
During the 1930s, the Cathedral was closed by the Soviet authorities and transformed into the propaganda museum entitled the "Museum of Religion and Atheism", an unusual combination of ideas that was set in one of the most important religious buildings of Kiev. In 1944, the cathedral was opened again and since then remained freely accessible to locals, and increasingly tourists.
Cathedral interior decoration
The Cathedral is 55m in length, 30m in width and49 m in height. Its façade is decorated with mosaics, whereas on bronze cast main gates there are the images of Duchess Olga and Grand Duke Vladimir.
The interior of the Cathedral has been decorated for the period of 11 years. Elements of the interior and mosaic floor were made of multicoloured marble imported from Spain, France and Italy. Gray Carrara marble was used to make its astonishing iconostasis. The Cathedral is renowned for its unique mosaics and frescos. Its eye-filling mosaics lining the interior were created by masters from Venice. The gallery of Cathedral frescos was made by 96 painters!
The main uniting principle of the Cathedral mosaics and frescos is the salvation. Most of the wonderful frescos were created by outstanding painter V.Vasnetsov. Altogether he created 15 thematic compositions and 30 separate figures of a total area of about 3,000m2. His most famous works are “God’s Mother with a Child” on the eastern altar wall, “Saints” and “Prophets” on its northern and southern walls as well as “Jesus Christ” in the main cupola.
On both sides of the entrance to the Cathedral you may also admire his “Baptizing Vladimir” and “Baptizing Kievans”. Several compositions (“Christmas”, “Resurrection”, “Epiphany”) as well as numerous icons of the iconostasis were made by famous painter M.Nesterov. The purely ornamental murals performed by another famous painter M.Vrubel make the heart soar.