Saint Nicholas's Military Cathedral

Image - The bell tower of Saint Nicholas's Military Cathedral (1920s). Image - Saint Nicholas's Military Cathedral in Kyiv (floor plan and western facade). Image - Saint Nicholas's Military Cathedral in Kyiv bell tower (floor plan and drawing).

Saint Nicholas's Military Cathedral (Собор св. Миколая, aka Військово-Микільський Собор and ‘Великий Микола’; Sobor sv. Mykolaia, aka Viiskovo-Mykilskyi Sobor and ‘Velykyi Mykola’). One of the finest Cossack baroque buildings financed by Hetman Ivan Mazepa. It was built by Yosyp Starchenko in 1690–3 on one of the highest sites in Kyiv, on the grounds of Saint Nicholas's Monastery. The cathedral consisted of three naves, five domes, an elaborately carved façade, and richly embellished portals. Inside was a unique baroque seven-tier iconostasis (15.5 m high, 22.0 m wide) donated by the Kyiv burgher Sozon Balyka. After Mazepa's death his coat of arms was removed from the façade. A three-story baroque campanile was built in the 1750s. In 1831 the Russian military expropriated the monastery, which was then within the area of the Kyivan Cave Fortress, and began using the cathedral as the Kyiv garrison church. In the 1920s, restoration of the cathedral was supervised by the All-Ukrainian Academy of Sciences. Nevertheless, as part of their antireligious campaign, the Soviet authorities dismantled the iconostasis, and in 1934 they demolished the entire cathedral.

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 4 (1993).]

Image - Saint Nicholas's Military Cathedral in Kyiv (portal detail). Image - Saint Nicholas's Military Cathedral in Kyiv bell tower during its destruction by the Soviet authorities in 1934.

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