Saint Sophia Museum

Image - The interior of Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kyiv. Image - Mosaics at Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kyiv: Eucharist. Image - Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kyiv: frescos.

Saint Sophia Museum (Софійський музей; Sofiiskyi muzei). A state historical and archeological preserve established in Kyiv in 1934 to protect and restore the famous Saint Sophia Cathedral and other buildings and structures on the grounds (5 ha) of the former Saint Sophia Monastery. Its constituent monuments include the baroque Zaborovsky Gate, the 76-m bell tower (built 1699–1706; rebuilt 1744–8 and 1851–2), the metropolitan’s residence (1722–48), the 90-m-long bursa (1763–7) housing the Central State Archive-Museum of Literature and Art (from 1970), the brotherhood building (1750s; rebuilt 1760s and early 20th century), the ‘Small’ Saint Sophia Church opposite the cathedral (1722–30, 1760s; rebuilt 1822 and expanded 1872), and the consistory building (1722–30, 1770–83). The museum is a major European tourist attraction. The cathedral contains, in addition to its own mosaics and frescoes, those from the destroyed Saint Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery, the sarcophagus of Prince Yaroslav the Wise, and exhibits dealing with the architecture of Kyivan Rus’ and the history of the cathedral. Kyiv’s famous Saint Cyril's Monastery Church, Saint Andrew's Church, and Golden Gate, as well as the 14th- to 15th-century Genoese fortress in Sudak (Crimea) and the Chernihiv Architectural-Historical Preserve, are branches of the museum. In 1987 the museum received from the Hamburg Foundation the European Gold Medal for the Preservation of Historical Monuments. The Ukrainian Academy of Arts and Sciences in the United States published O. Powstenko’s extensive historical and architectural monograph on the subject, The Cathedral of St Sophia in Kiev (1954). An album about the cathedral was published in Ukrainian and English in Kyiv in 1984.

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




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