Monday, March 17, 2008

St. Sophia's Cathedral Kiev

Beside Maydan, perhaps no other architectural structure is as well known in Ukraine and abroad as St. Sophia's Cathedral in Kiev. Most would agree that the name and model for the Cathedral come from the more well known Hagia Sophia in modern day Istanbul. The building of the Cathedral began in ca 1037 and was completed two decades after the initial foundations were laid. After being built the Cathedral became the burial spot for Kievan rulers, most famous being Vladimir the Wise, the founder of St. Sophia Cathedral. The Cathedral was pillaged several times by various people/ groups, most infamous being Andrei Bogolyubsky and the Mongolian Tatars.

Interstingly enough, the ownership of the Cathedral has been disputed in the past. St. Sophia's ownership has passed from many hands including the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and then the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. After the Bolshevik Revolution and Ukraine's incorporation as the Ukrainian SSR, the communists had ever desire to destroy the Cathedral and replace it with a proposed park. Needless to say this did not happen although the Cathedral did fall into a state of disrepair over the years of negligance. To this day the cathedral is a hotbed of controversy as both the Greek Catholic and Orthodox Churches in Ukraine hold claims to it. A recent controversy about the denial to burial of a leader in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church sparked minor protests. As a result of its rich architercture and history, St. Sophia's cathedral has been named as one the wonders of Ukraine.

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