1. When did St. Sophia Cathedral appear in Kiev?
The Cathedral of St. Sophia was built in times that are considered the heyday of Kievan Rus. Rules then the son of Vladimir the Great Prince Yaroslav. Having spent many campaigns and battles, having obtained the right to the principality in Kiev, Yaroslav escaped the accusations of cruelty and cunning, but remained in the memory of the descendants of the peace-loving, prudent and quiet prince, a lover of books, who read them both day and night, for which and was given the name of the Wise. We learn about the history of the temple from the chronicle “The Tale of Bygone Years”, where under the year 1037 there is a note: “Yaroslav the city was laid – the great Kiev, and this city has the Golden Gate.” He also laid the church of St. Sophia, the wisdom of God. “
St. Sophia Cathedral was the most magnificent building in Kiev, Yaroslav the Wise. The church built of stone crowned 13 domes, surrounded
on three sides by two rows of open galleries.
From the west to the cathedral were added two towers with a large spiral staircase to church choirs – the second floor of the temple. The cathedral was one of the largest buildings in its time. The total width of the temple is 54.6 m, its length is 41.7 m, in height it reached 28.6 m. The grandiose dimensions are explained by the fact that the Sophia Cathedral was built as the main temple of the state. Not only divine services, but also state and religious ceremonies were to be held in it: ascent to the grand duke’s table, initiation into the metropolitans, church councils, receptions of ambassadors, etc. The cathedral was the center of the chronicle, the first library was created here.
Throughout its history, the cathedral survived several robberies, fires, perennial desolation, repairs and perestroika. As a result of the restructuring of the 17-18 centuries. the temple changed outwardly. Over the ancient one-tiered galleries, the second floors were built up, and the galleries were turned into enclosed spaces. Over the cathedral six new domes
were erected and gave them a pear-shaped form. The facades were plastered and whitewashed, the domes gilded. The interior of the cathedral remained almost unchanged. This is how it has survived to this day.
St. Sophia Cathedral is a part of the National Reserve “Sophia of Kiev”. It is one of the largest museum institutions in Ukraine.
2. How was Sophia Cathedral decorated? What are mosaics and murals?
Yaroslav took care that the main church of the state was decorated “with all manner of beauty, gold, silver and precious stones.” Striking majestic wall paintings – frescoes and mosaics.
Mosaics of Sophia of Kiev are masterpieces of world level. Mosaic images were adorned with walls and polkhrama. The mosaic was laid out from multi-colored slices of smalt – alloy lead and glass. The cubes of smalt were directly weighed into damp plaster. From the mosaics of the St. Sophia Cathedral still majestic figures of Christ and Our Lady of Oranta.
The artistic perfection of these mosaics is evidenced, in particular, by the richness of flowers. According to the researchers, they used 35 shades of green, 31 – red, 44 – yellow. In general, in Kiev mosaics there are 18 basic colors with 143 shades. But the skill of ancient artists is not only in colors. In Sofia, one of the mosaics is closer to the viewer, others – further. Some are shined brighter, others are in shaded places. Some on flat planes, others on curvatures. All this was taken into account by the master: the more distant the image, the larger pieces of it were laid out.